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Why I live in Cheltenham

This month we profile rugby legend, Andy Goode, who has won 17 caps playing for England.

Club wise, Andy has played for Leicester, Brive, Saracens, Natal Sharks and is now mid-way through a 3 year contract at The Worcester Warriors. Andy was the catalyst player and commanded national headlines recently, when Worcester beat Gloucester in an epic, local derby.

So why did you choose to live in Cheltenham?
Fundamentally because I decided it was a fabulous place to bring up my daughter. There are so many exceptional schools here and she and I love having long walks up Leckhampton Hill, with our rescue dog Megan. We love the outdoors and it’s just a great, family town. My fellow team mates, Joe Carlisle and Kai Horstmann (owner of Tivoli Wines), also live here.

A number of the Gloucester rugby players also live in Cheltenham– does this cause any bar fights?
Oh plenty! No, we live in harmony and actually socialise a lot together. I am particularly good friends with Mike Tindall and there are a group of us who play poker together quite regularly. It all changes though when we face each other on the pitch – that’s when the banter really starts!

After matches most sportsmen become night owls and I am sure you are no exception. Where do you like socialising?
The places I enjoy the most are The Retreat in The Suffolk’s and of course the iconic Montpellier Wine Bar. They both have great atmospheres and a good crowd that go there. I do enjoy the odd meal out and highly recommend the steaks at Coco Brasserie and a dinner at Hotel du Vin. My favourite take-away is the Indian, Masala Bites, especially as it’s much healthier than other places and they deliver to your door. Club 13 and Subtone are my late night haunts where I can let my hair down with the boys over a couple of beers.

And the quiet days...
I spend my entire life in training and preparing for matches and therefore my off-time is spent looking after my daughter. I do the school run, help her with homework and spend hours washing her sports kit, let alone mine. I have become a mean man with an iron and her school uniform, I like to think, is immaculately pressed each day!

Do you get involved in other sports?
I was offered a contract to play cricket for Warwickshire, so am a keen follower and love The Brewin Dolphin Cheltenham Cricket Festival each summer. It’s a great day out sitting in the Montpellier Wine Bar tent, watching Gloucestershire play. I am also a very keen race goer and nowhere is there an atmosphere like we have at Cheltenham Racecourse, especially during The Festival. I enjoy a little flutter – Paddy Power, who owns the bookies, is a friend of mine and therefore a pretty useful tipster I can call upon. I am hoping that Worcester has a week’s break during this year’s Festival so my fellow teammate, Joe Carlisle and I can attend. I play golf and my favourite course is Cotswold Hills. It’s a challenging course but then that’s what ilife’s all about – a challenge!

So what does the future hold for you?
I would very much like to stay in Cheltenham forever. My contract at Worcester runs out in 2013 and ideally I would love to become a player backs coach. Anything though can happen in rugby, so I’m savouring everyday I’m living here.

Photograph by Rob Wheatman.