Andy Deacon's Citizen column: Psychologists, AWOL coaches and a changing room stitch-up...it's all part of a West Country derby at The Rec
GLOUCESTER coaches have tried everything to win at The Recreation Ground over the years.
Richard Hill brought in a psychologist to the Bath Spa Hotel on the morning of a match once.
He had us lie down in a group, and told us to clear our minds.
He was talking about taking us on a journey to take our thoughts away from the game.
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But to be honest the only thing I wanted to be thinking about was the match.
I wanted to be on my own preparing mentally, getting excited about the challenge ahead and running through my personal challenges.
Bath's changing rooms are notoriously horrid, atrocious even.
Their old method was to fill the baths and leave the water running so you would arrive to a steam-filled, cramped room.
For one game there we actually travelled on the morning of the match, having already changed into our kit.
Another time we walked to the ground through the city centre, to soak up the atmosphere.
Absolutely none of this worked.
Bath in their pomp were easily the best side in the country, and hardly lost at home.
I have only ever played in one Gloucester win at Bath.
And after all those novel, brave and sometimes far-fetched plans designed to claim victory, it was the time the management did nothing at all that wound up working.
Philippe Saint Andre selected basically a United side for our Tetley's Bitter Cup clash at The Recreation Ground in 2000.
Then he promptly went on holiday and didn't even come to the game.
The uproar among our squad was enormous.
We felt he had misjudged the passion and intensity of the West Country derby, whatever the stakes.
We had been written off well before the weekend.
But then we pulled off a 24-18 victory, and the feeling is something I'll never forget.
The supporters went wild: we were celebrating with them in the crowd, and I gave away all my kit, boots included.
It was such a special day, it was crazy.
Far better than the time I got whacked in the head, and had a badly cut eyebrow.
After the match I had to be stitched up.
In those days Bath insisted their doctor did everything like that, for both teams.
So I found myself in the home changing room with the Bath players celebrating like crazy, still wearing cherry and white and wishing for all the world the doctor would hurry up.
Whatever the contest, something always happens when it's Gloucester against Bath.
I'll be at The Rec as a supporter on Friday night, and I can't wait.
Gloucester fans hate it when it rains at Bath, because there is no cover in the stands.
But I would tell the Gloucester players to relish in it if it pours down on Friday night.
Do a rain dance, and rip into Bath in brutal style.
Turn it into a dogfight: kick the corners, hold high field position, and let them have the ball.
All the pressure will be on Bath: so heap it on them by saying 'go on then, break us down'.
Create a good, old-fashioned derby of yesterday.
Bring the dog and the fight, and the rest will flow off the back of that.