Gordon League RFC head coach Jake McMahon is eager to write the class of 2023 into the annals of club folklore with a trip to Twickenham.
The Gloucestershire grassroots club host local rivals Dursley this Saturday, as teams at this level of the inaugural Papa Johns Men’s Community Cup begin with local fixtures, before travelling further afield to take on opponents in different regions as winners progress through the competition.
Involving over 500 grassroots clubs in 24 competitions, the finalists will earn themselves a trip to the Home of England Rugby or other prestigious venues as part of the Papa Johns Community Cup Finals on 30 April and across the weekend of May 6 and 7.
McMahon’s family played for Gordon League in its 1980s heyday, and stories of their exploits still float around the clubhouse, something the latest crop are aiming to replicate.
McMahon said: “Back in the day, my dad and uncle played for Gordon League in what used to be called the John Player Cup – it was like the FA Cup in football.
“Stories from those days when they used to play in the 80s are still getting talked about at the rugby club now, like when Peter Winterbottom as the England captain played against some of the players’ clubs.
“So 30-40 years on they’re still talking about those semi-finals and near finals. Hopefully this year we can get to the finals and 30-40 years from now we’re the guys talking about when we got to Twickenham. For clubs it could be historic really.”
McMahon coached fellow Counties 2 Tribute Gloucestershire North side Old Cryptians to successive National Cup semi-finals before returning to Gordon League.
So the head coach knows exactly what effect a deep cup run can have on the club and the surrounding community.
McMahon said: “Every week a cup competition just gathers momentum – you get more people watching more coach trips away, more people supporting, and the energy and the buzz just gets bigger and you can really feel it.
“And it pretty much becomes the talk of the city, especially in Gloucester.
“We’ve got 16 clubs in a 10-mile radius so it’s just constantly rugby, rugby, rugby when the national cup runs are on.
“If we can get on a bit of a roll, it will just unite the village and the club and we can’t wait.”
And as for the ultimate prize, a final showdown at HQ would be the icing on the cake after a rollercoaster ride pitting themselves against rugby clubs from all corners of the country.
McMahon said: “It’s not very often local amateur clubs get a chance to take their club to Twickenham. So obviously that would just be brilliant to get the club busy and earn some really good revenue.
“As much as we would like the big coach trips to Devon or London, we’re also really looking forward to welcoming other teams to Hempsted Lane and showing our club off and getting the whole village down to support us.”