A lot can happen in 24 years. Six World Cups can pass in that time. Come the year 2015 our nation will host its second Rugby World Cup in 24 years.
It’ll be part of a sporting decade that sees London host the Olympic Games, The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the Rugby League World Cup and the Cricket World Cup in England and, who knows – perhaps the football World Cup too in 2018.
In the year 1991 I was a student at Nottingham University and can clearly recall the Rugby World Cup which saw England ultimately finish runners up to Australia at Twickenham. And just how much change will a visitor to Gloucester for the 1991 group game between New Zealand and the USA see if they return to visit us again when Kingholm hosts another World Cup match in 2015? By then Kingsholm is likely to hold 18,000 spectators.
Well, back in 1991 they would not have had the choice of hotels in Gloucester that we have developed and are continuing to develop. They wouldn’t have been able to travel in through the South West by-pass, they wouldn’t have been able to shop at the Quays, see new life in the Docks and then wander through the town to admire the new stand at Kingsholm.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot more to do for our visitors and our own residents, which is part of the reason I’ve spent so much time trying to help sort out the multi-millions in funding required for the ‘linkages’ work between the Docks and the Town Centre, but look, as a City we are now a world of progress beyond where we were in the investment starved days of 1991.
The fact that alongside great stadia of world renown, like Wembley, Anfield, Twickenham and the Emirates stadium will be the our own City’s sporting cathedral of Kingholm is not just a big boost, I think its also an acknowledgement of how far the City has progressed.
We’re the best in the world at running ourselves down, but this week’s decision is real reason to be proud – of Gloucester Rugby and our City.