Gloucester Rugby: Old boys are heart of Kingholm as new bar opens
A 'PROPER home' is the least they deserve, and now they have it.
The countless who have sacrificed safety, spilled blood, beer and banter – now they can convene in a purpose-built home within Kingsholm.
The Gloster Boys Bar was officially opened on Thursday night, packed to standing room in the back of Kingsholm's Lion's Den with a who's who of Gloucester old boys.
The Gloucester Former Players Association teamed up with the Kingsholm management to ensure a focal point for anyone who has ever won the privilege to wear Cherry and White.
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Gloucester's proud new club president Eric Stephens was the first to sign the Gloster Boys' board, where the stars of yesteryear can literally leave their mark.
Kingsholm's CEO Steven Vaughan hailed the club's historic heroes as the Cherry and Whites' heartbeat.
And all within marvelled at the myriad memorabilia already adorning the new bar's walls, courtesy of the meticulous Gloucester Rugby Heritage project team.
Humbled Gloucester chief Vaughan paid fitting tribute, explaining: "The former players are the heartbeat of this rugby club.
"They needed a proper home, and this is it.
"I'm so proud that we've been able to help make this happen, and I hope that this will be the place you can toast the continued strength of the club, and reminisce on the many glories of the past.
"I'd like to thank all the men in here who put their bodies on the line for Gloucester, and wish them and this bar all the best for the future."
Former Players Association chairman Fred Reed led a toast to Gloucester and Lydney stalwart Gordon Sargent, who passed away in June.
And 87-year-old Tuffley resident Ken Daniell was amazed to find a cutting about him from The Citizen from 1946 displayed on the walls.
New Gloucester president Stephens takes over from Allan Townsend, who completed his term in June.
Stephens headed the queue of men to sign the Gloster Boys board that included luminaries like Terry Fanolua, John Watkins, Andy Deacon, Pete Glanville and many more besides.
Both Stephens' grandfathers played for Gloucester, but despite his family's long-standing Kingsholm connection, he cannot quite believe he is now club president.
The proud former full-back, who played 221 Gloucester games, thanked the Kingsholm management, and community department boss Gary Little, for helping the bar bear fruit.
He said: "It's a great honour to be the first to sign this board, and I'm mightily pleased to be able to do it.
"I'm also honoured, of course, to have been elected club president, and I'm looking forward to that role for the season ahead.
"The former players association is now very active, and striving to be more so all the time.
"When I first joined the club I was just a lowly member fighting hard to get a game.
"I never thought I could aspire to such a high honour.
"But to be here now, I'm pleased indeed.
"There's been a huge effort to bring this bar together, we're indebted to the club for providing the facilities, and the former players' committee for strong support, and the turnout vindicates the initiative.
"Looking around and seeing the host of great players, all from different generations, it just epitomises the enduring and great strength of Gloucester as a rugby club.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to continue to be a part of it all.
"Nigel Davies would have been here had it not been for the training abroad.
"We'll look forward to welcoming him and the players here often throughout the season."