GLOUCESTERSHIRE and England cricket legend Jack Russell is joining in Kingsholm’s centenary celebrations by producing a special painting of the club’s Sandhurst ground.
Jack, who has carved out a career as a professional artist since retiring from the sport, was at Kingsholm this week beginning work on a painting which will later this year be available as a limited edition print.
Neil Rayer, Kingsholm’s vice chairman and who is also chairman of the club’s centenary committee, said: “Jack’s been absolutely brilliant and we’re thrilled that we were able to arrange for him to come along and paint the ground.”
Arrangements for a special cricket week to mark the club’s centenary are fast coming together. Kingsholm are due to face the Gloucestershire Gipsies on Tuesday July 25, with the match being followed by a quiz night hosted by Chris Coley.
The Forty Club, which describes itself as “the largest wandering cricket club in the world”, will visit the next day while on Thursday July 27 a Kingsholm XI will take on a chairman’s side composed of former players and friends from local clubs.
All of these events will be setting the scene for what players and officials hope will be a memorable Friday. The day will begin with a match against former player Tom House’s Twigworth Travellers side from London ahead of Kingsholm packing out a marquee for a black tie dinner featuring former England spinner and renowned raconteur Graeme Swann.
The marquee will be put to use again the following day for a junior celebration while Kingsholm are also planning a golf day in September.
There’s already a buzz around the club with players wearing a special new kit featuring the words ‘100 years’ in gold under the crest.
And Neil hopes Kingsholm can harness the energy and enthusiasm being generated by the centenary to continue building an exciting future.
He said: “We’re lucky to be in rude health. The majority of our first team are former juniors, our numbers across the board are strong and we’re performing well.
“We’re particularly pleased with the way our 3rds are going … we got the side going six years ago and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. Our long-term aim is to find a home for them closer to Sandhurst, and a priority for next year is to get a ladies softball team off the ground.”
Famous former players at Kingsholm include Gloucestershire and England quick bowler David ‘Syd’ Lawrence and county professional Mark Hardinges who turned out for the club as a junior.
And Kingsholm have maintained strong connections over the years with Gloucester Rugby Club.
Former flanker Gareth Evans has already pulled on his whites this season, members of the Fortey families appear for the junior sides and John Watkins, an England international flanker who has gone into the history books as an all-time Gloucester great, still pops in regularly to watch matches.
Neil added: “We put together our centenary committee back in October and everything is starting to fall into place.
“We would love to get back in contact with as many former players as possible and hopefully see a few at the dinner and the matches we have planned.”