Delve - Fans deserve better
Gareth Delve is determined to repay Gloucester fans for years of 'underachieving' with European glory.
Last Updated: 07/10/09 5:02pm
Co-captain Gareth Delve is determined to repay Gloucester fans for years of 'underachieving' with some long-awaited European glory this season.
The Cherry and Whites kick off their Heineken Cup campaign on Friday night having exited the competition at the pool stage in four of their previous seven attempts.
And Wales international Delve, who has been named Gloucester co-captain alongside England centre Mike Tindall this term, admits their record is simply unacceptable.
"I joined the club to win trophies and we've come up short at the end of each season," he said.
"We've got a lot closer than most teams have to winning those trophies but we didn't. So we have to accept, in that case, we've under-achieved.
"We are not happy with that situation and the only way of changing it is to finally come up with some silverware. Everyone is putting in the work to try to make sure this is our year.
"I think you need to have a bit of that pain and punishment of getting close - and then having the door slammed shut on you.
"We've experienced that heartache and more over the past few years. Last season's EDF final against Cardiff Blues (Gloucester lost 50-12 at Twickenham) was probably the final kick in the teeth that we could take.
"It is situations like that when you either roll over and die or you come back stronger and not make the same mistakes again. That's what I am hoping the response will be this season."
Gloucester welcome the Dragons to Kingsholm on Friday with the Welsh outfit coming into the match on the back of impressive Magners League victories over Ulster, Glasgow and Connacht already this season.
"It's going to be a very tough match for us," acknowledged Delve.
"We got our basics right in the first match of the season against Bath and played in the right areas, then against London Irish a week later we just didn't perform - we missed tackles all over the place.
"Then the Northampton game (Gloucester lost at home) was a continuation of that. We are not glossing over the mistakes but it is about saying that was the lowest ebb we are going to reach this season."
Despite winning the Guinness Premiership regular season back-to-back in 2007 and 2008, Gloucester twice fell at the final stage to the agony of their fans.
The West Country club also failed to progress from Pool 6 of the Heineken Cup last term, and Delve admits their passionate supporters deserve better.
"We certainly understand there is a degree of repayment to them," he said.
"They need to come and see that we care about the club and to see we are in there to win everything.
"You can try as hard as you like in the Heineken Cup - you can give your heart and soul - but there is no guarantee of success.
"All we can ask of the supporters is they keep turning up, they keep lifting us like they have done for however many years, and we will keep doing our best.
"From my experience of the hard times with the injuries I've had, I do believe you only truly understand what you've achieved when you have been through the tough times."