Day 25 of the blog post a day in May challenge and we enter the final week with a touch of egg chasing.
“I put a note in my diary today. It simply says… ‘bugger’.Captain Kevin Darling, Blackadder Goes Forth
THERE was a time on the way back from Gloucester’s Gallagher Premiership play-off semi-final defeat at Saracens when today’s blog post was going to ape Captain Darling’s diary entry.
It wasn’t really the way the season was meant to end, going down 44-19 and, to be frank, not really being in the contest for much of the 80 minutes.
But ‘bugger’ does not really do the positive mood among Gloucester fans justice – and they are not normally too slow in having a good moan. Think we had enough time knowing the outcome was inevitable to come to terms with it.
It is perhaps a fitting epitaph to today’s game, but not to this season which has been studded with highlights and third place, our highest finish for… look, it’s late, it’s been a long day. Do you really want me to look it up? Trust me, it’s been a while.
We beat the top two (one of them twice), didn’t lose to our biggest rivals, returned to the play-offs and the top level of European competition without being embarrassed (safe to say that, the one heavy defeat was the only home game without me in The Shed all season).
And we have welcomed new stars from the Southern Hemisphere (Franco Mostert is on his way to a statue in the city centre which is likely to tackle passers-by, get up and keep on doing it) and just down the road – try of the season scorer Ollie Thorley, once of Cheltenham College.
Familiar faces like Ben Morgan have shown their true worth (even the bloke behind me in The Shed seems to have stopped complaining about him) while Josh Hohneck and Fraser Balmain have performed wonders as, for a long time, the only fit, experienced props.
And then there’s Danny Cipriani.
The player of the season – don’t take our word for it, pretty much every individual award has gone his way – announced himself with a real ‘I was there’ moment with a ridiculous scoring pass in the home opener and (bar brief injury and suspension breaks) has not really let up compiling his personal highlight reel.
If only Eddie Jones felt the same way we do ahead of the World Cup – although, given events in Jersey and Munster, maybe a good job if we don’t let him head off to play on another island.
Yep, it’s been a good season but let’s not kid ourselves – we were, by some distance, second best today.
Saracens are a formidable outfit who have hit top form at the right time, claiming a third European Champions Cup success two weeks ago and bringing that form into today’s clash.
Which serves as a reminder, if anyone needed it, that there’s a long way to go for Gloucester.
Johan Ackermann has just completed his second full season as head coach – his opposite number Mark McCall has been there a decade and has built an extraordinary machine crammed with top-notch players (Maro Itoje was remarkable today while if Ben Spencer is not in England’s World Cup squad, questions need to be asked).
That’s a lot of ground to make up on the pitch, that we travelled with a degree of hope shows how far we have come.
And we travelled in numbers – reckon at least half of the 9,500 crowd were clad in Cherry and White. Which is a remarkably low number for the champions of Europe in a semi-final of the top domestic competition.
Don’t want to knock Saracens or their fans, the vast majority of whom were welcoming, fun and enjoyed the occasion with us – every club has a few cocks, we certainly do, and the less said about the one by us who decided to celebrate tries in such confrontational fashion the better.
One question though. When cruising to a final place, do you really need to be urged to ‘make some noise’ over the tannoy throughout the final quarter? Kingsholm would have been rocking throughout.
Not the place then for the bloke sat next to me who got upset his conversation was interrupted by shouts of “Glawster, Glawster…”.
To the rest of the Saracens fans who were excellent, good luck in the final.
To the Gloucester fans licking their wounds, let’s end this in the finest possible style (if not the best quality)…