Gosport & Fareham’s ‘blue and gold army’ of supporters are being urged to march on Basingstoke tomorrow for the Hampshire Cup final (3pm).
And to help make sure as many fans as possible are there to recreate a Gosport Park atmosphere in North Hampshire, the team coach has been upgraded to a 77-seater to enable supporters to travel with the players.
‘The Gosport travelling support is the best you will come across. Their enthusiasm and vocal support is unmeasurable,’ said assistant player-coach Richard Daly.
Daly is urging the Gosport supporters to turn up at Down Grange and drown out the home support to nullify the home advantage of the National League hosts.
‘Many of the supporters are family of the players and have a real connection with the team,’ added Daly.
‘They feel every tackle and, as players, we like to see as much blue and gold as possible in the crowd because it can give the team a real lift.’
Gosport & Fareham are at full strength, making only one change to the starting line up from their last outing.
Jonathan Wood switches from flanker, where he played for the first time against Guildford, back to his more familiar centre role.
The unlucky Liam Moggeridge makes way and is one of the seven replacements on a bench packed with first-team regulars.
The change sees the recall of the experienced Daly.
The assistant coach takes the flanker shirt vacated by Wood, and his recall is a boost for the starting line-up.
Richard’s brother, Jamie Daly, Gos’ director of rugby, said: ‘This is the biggest game for a long time in our club’s history.
‘Once we had achieved our priority this season, which was to retain our place in London two south west, then we were able to focus on the Hampshire Cup.
‘Even though Basingstoke have been relegated this season (from National League National three London & south east) they have several Tongans in their side and the Samoan international Junior Paramore as their coach.
‘That just shows the task we face and how tough the challenge will be.
‘They are a fit, young and fast team and we will have to cope with that and make sure our defence is at its best.
‘But we also have plenty of experience to match that and we will have to play smart rugby and play to our strengths.
‘Our two best performances of the season came in the cup semi-final when we beat Havant 24-20 and our final league game of the season when we beat promotion challengers Guildford 18-12.
‘The style and quality of rugby and the commitment we showed in those two games is what we have to carry into tomorrow’s match.’
Gosport & Fareham: Duncombe, Thorne, Dugan Wayne, Wood, Heron, Foster, Dugan Wes, Burton, Clark, Whitehead, Woodford, Pollard, Snowden, Daly R. Replacements: Westerman, Barnes, Field, Reynolds, Cleary, Paterson, Moggeridge.
n Don’t miss The News on Monday for a report and pictures from Gosport & Fareham’s Hampshire Cup final.