Chairman’s Annual Report
January 1, 2000
BRSC’s Annual General Meeting and Football Forum will take place on Thursday, 23rd September 2010 at 7.30 pm in the Bristol Room at the Memorial Stadium.
CHAIRMAN’S ANNUAL REPORT
There is no doubt that the last year for the Supporters Club’s executive committee has been totally dominated by the passing of our long time Honorary Treasurer and dear friend, Jane Browne. I mentioned Jane’s illness and her great fortitude in dealing with it in my report last year knowing only too well that her condition was in fact terminal and that, sadly, we would not have too long left together. As it was Jane battled on, still performing her treasurer’s duties despite being in great discomfort right through until the early months of this year when she began passing on her lifetime of knowledge and experience to her successor Sandra Jaques.
Sandra was of course previously on both the Pirates and Supporters Club committees and was as much a friend of Jane as were the rest of us, so we are lucky indeed to have such an experienced and, incidentally, fully qualified replacement. Not that the handover has been totally without difficulty, though, as the banks have proved to be disappointingly incompetent despite Jane’s best efforts to lay a smooth path before she became too ill to deal with it.
During those past difficult months we also lost the services of former Commercial sub-committee Chairman Clive Farquhar who resigned for personal business reasons but who has since remained in close touch, initially with Jane until the handover was complete, then latterly with Sandra and myself so that the effect on the club was minimised throughout. I would therefore like to pay tribute to Clive for his work on the Executive and especially for his help with the handover of the accounts and with his continuing assistance. Likewise I am eternally grateful that Sandra agreed to come back on board, especially to take over the reins during such a personally upsetting time as that which we have suffered as long-term friends with Jane and her family. I cannot finish this without mention of Jane’s husband Wesley, daughter Lucy and brother Pete who wanted to club together and provide a trophy in memory of Jane’s years of service to the Rovers and we have been pleased to arrange this. Henceforth the scorer of Rovers’ ‘Goal of the Season’, as currently voted for during our presentation evening, will receive the Jane Browne Memorial Trophy provided by the family and a replica paid for by the club, the first winner being Andy Williams for his great last-ditch winning strike against Southampton at St. Marys last September.
During the last year in addition to Jane we also suffered the passing of former Football Club Chairman Ron Craig and life-long member and former colleague of Jane and myself on the Pirates committee, Gordon Pearce. My deepest condolencies go to the families of all three, in addition of course to all those other club members who have lost loved ones during the past twelve months.
On the field of play a truly excellent start was never likely to be maintained throughout the season and two really barren periods left the team just not quite able to improve for the first time in five years under Paul Trollope’s stewardship. The squad size, strength and financial power of League 1’s ‘big guns’ saw three of them promoted, only to be replaced this time round by the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Notts County, so the Rovers’ recommitment to a proper youth policy is greatly welcomed and I in turn am proud that the Supporters Club is now the main sponsor of that policy. Two big ‘away days’ last season firstly at Norwich and then that incredible final afternoon in the cauldron of Elland Road were proof of what we are up against in what is after all only the third tier of English football! A club like Rovers, with its own ‘big neighbour’ almost on our doorstep and competing directly with us for local talent and paying customers, simply has to have a good youth policy to survive and prosper. The 50/50 half-time draw has been pumping money into the Rovers Youth Scheme for just over a year now and already we are seeing the likes of Charlie Reece, Ben Swallow, Eliot Richards and Charlie Clough regularly in the first team squad with a string of other promising youngsters coming along behind them. Last season we contributed another £7,000 for equipment intended for the youth department but which can also be used as required for the senior squad when required and this was demonstrated at the Fun Day held at the stadium in July. We also provided a further £1,000 to sponsor Bristol Rovers Central, a highly successful ‘satellite’ youth organisation being run by Chief Scout Paul Molesworth that has taken a large group of players from Midlands Premiership clubs and is making a big name for Bristol Rovers in that area. It takes a big commitment to pursue such a policy so my thanks go to all our customers and of course our loyal band of volunteer sellers who brave all winds and weathers to sell the tickets, (and of course the match-day programmes), at no cost to the Football Club.
The Share Scheme is next up for a review as we have to make a decision soon on a successor for something so valuable that it effectively saved Rovers from non-League oblivion. The Gold Bond and Christmas Draw also continue to drain much-needed funds from supporters’ pockets and I thank everyone who continues to put his or her hard-earned money into helping the club in such a highly competitive division. We are currently investigating making better use of the Supporters Club headquarters building at 199 Two Mile Hill Road and thereby earning more money for the Rovers. The Committee is determined to keep the shop running six days per week as now and to provide the full range of merchandise and ticketing as a ‘satellite’ of Pirate Leisure. We are also considering our own Supporters Club lines of stock where practical and economically viable. Thanks to all our customers who continue to support us during these hard financial times.
Ken Masters was re-elected last year alongside David Brain as one of the two supporters Directors on the Board of the Football Club. Ken has been a great help to me in promoting our financial support of the Rovers Youth Scheme and has been a valuable link in setting up the various ventures that we are now undertaking. In addition to that and his other Board duties Ken has also been the driving force behind promotion of the various regional Branches that have followed on the back of the success at Weston-Super-Mare. My thanks go to Ken and all those branch committee people who do so much to promote Bristol Rovers in the outlying districts.
The Supporters Club’s communications are, I believe, improving all the time thanks to a dedicated band of helpers under the guidance of Dennis Payter. Members will I’m sure be pleased with the revamped website that has taken us so long to get sorted for various unrelated reasons. Likewise the new full colour, bi-annual Newsletter that we considered converting into a ‘yearbook’ but which we have held back from implementing as it needs to be kept as up-to-date a publication as possible. The ‘jury is still out’ on that possibility. The E-newsletter is still being worked on as its function really could be/is being covered by the website but, it has quite a lot of advertising/promotion value so I’m sure we will be persevering with it. Members’ views on any of this would be welcome.
We ran our first train for many years to an away game last season, thanks mainly to the efforts of Clive Farquhar, but it turned into something of a disaster as it resulted in a crushing defeat! We made a loss on the train which proved very expensive to hire and, like the early departure ‘meal-stop’ coaches, its’ running had an adverse effect on the normal away travel. However, we have not necessarily given up on running either alternative method of travel to support the team but will have to give it careful consideration in the future.
The annual ‘Player of the Year’ presentation night was unfortunately totally overshadowed by Jane Browne’s passing just 24 hours before which made it quite a sombre occasion. The Committee had already taken the decision to award the Steve Larkins Trophy for ‘Clubman of the Year’ to Jane for her lifetime of service, and her close family were there as our guests to accept the trophy on her behalf. I am pleased to report that her husband Wesley was able to inform Jane of the award just before she died. The winner of the main accolade was the ever-reliable Captain Campbell and Young Player was on-loan ‘keeper Mikkel Andersen. As mentioned, Andy Williams won the ‘Goal of the Season’ award and Jane’s family took part in the presentations and were able to say a few poignant words.
Phil Draper continues to run his highly successful general knowledge quizzes and we hope to run more social events, possibly involving visitors from the Branches, in the future. The ‘Man-of-the-Match award, supposedly to take place in the Clubhouse after every home game, has been revamped and is now more or less working despite various difficulties that are out of our control. I am hoping that we can improve this in future.
In closing it only remains for me to thank all of the Committee for their support and invaluable assistance over what has been a very sad and trying year. The same goes without saying to all the match-day workers, sellers and volunteers, far too numerous to mention but on whom we rely to make the club function week in and week out.