7th January 2012 Aston Villa
January 1, 2000
On behalf of everyone connected with Bristol Rovers Football Club it gives me great pleasure to welcome the players, staff and supporters of Aston Villa to the Mem this afternoon.
For many it will be their first visit here, although I know there will many Villa fans who will remember as far back as meeting Rovers at Eastville back in the old days of Division Three.
As you will have read in the special Evening Post Supplement, Cup contests in particular, between Rovers and Villa over the years have always been very keenly and excitedly fought and today will be no exception. Over the years players such as Gary Penrice, Ray Graydon and none more than Brian Godfrey have all represented superbly both clubs.
There has also always been a friendly relationship between us. Having run Villa Park during the Euro 96′ Championships (not 2006 as quoted in a local newspaper).
I realise that no one should underestimate what a massive club Aston Villa are. They too, like us, have massively underachieved in recent years and their victory at Chelsea last week is a sign that perhaps their fortunes are about to change. However, I sincerely hope it is not at our expense today.
In regard to our own situation, all of us have been extremely disappointed by recent results. I cannot describe my extreme disappointment after watching the poor performance against Crewe. I sincerely hope this has improved with the new signings ahead of the Barnet game (at the time of writing) and is a step in the right direction of helping to turn our fortunes around. The FA Cup is about making impossible dreams come true and a victory for the Gas would be exactly the tonic we need to get our season kick started today!
Finally, on behalf of everyone at the club, I would also like to send our congratulations to former Villa Chairman Doug Ellis who was awarded a long overdue knighthood in the New Year’s Honours list. It’s been a busy week for Doug, who celebrated his 88th birthday on Tuesday. Not only has Doug dedicated his life to football, but has also worked tirelessly for charities, hospitals and local communities in the Midlands who would have struggled considerably without his help and support!
Up the Gas!
Yours in Friendship
CHRISTMAS DRAW WINNERS
We hope you had a Merry Christmas and picked up a prize in our popular annual Christmas Draw, made at half time in the Plymouth Argyle game.
First prize – £1,000 Winner:
Mrs A.Froggatt with ticket 03700
Second prize – £l50 Winner:
Natalie Bethell (22530)
Third prize – £50 Winner:
Abbie Bethell (22521)
Ten Rovers’ Shopping Vouchers worth £10 go to:
10433 – M.Holley; 08986 – Mr ].Grant; 01461 – Mrs J.Sage; 27734 – B.Farley; 16255 – Hayley Parker; 27724 – R.Curthoys; 20539 – T.Bartlett; 22984 – Ruth Redding; 12989 – A.Sewell; 02002 – Adrian Parker.
ORGANISED JUNIOR MATCHDAY PARTIES
This scheme is for schools and organised Junior teams who can apply for up to 50 free matchday tickets in the South Stand or Family Enclosure.
It will include for some adults to supervise them. Eagle Coaches provide free transport within the Bristol area.
Ashley Wyatt picks up his 50/50 winnings of £669 from Jim Chappell at the Crewe game. Ashley’s winning ticket was 58628 purchased from Ray Exon in the main car park.
A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL AT THE MEMORIAL STADIUM TODAY!
Unfortunately, a Happy New Year is not what most of us are contemplating after another defeat at Barnet on Monday.
Following a dismal couple of ‘festive period’ home performances here against previously ‘lesser’ opponents, (they may no longer be lesser by the time you read this!), and a heavy defeat at Gillingham the best that can be said is that we can kiss goodbye to a truly awful 2011!
I frankly cannot believe how far this club has sunk in the last year, both in terms of performance and status – the latter now involving Rovers in another fight for League survival nearly a decade after the last close call.
Just over 12 months ago I was enjoying watching Paul Trollope’s Pirates deservedly win at Huddersfield and taking points at Brighton and Charlton. Where are they now! In the ensuing year we have suffered relegation, had our hopes greatly raised by a completely new management team and a successful pre season campaign but, despite a decent start, results have just not been good enough in the basement division.
A goal away from home and two goals scored in home matches should guarantee at least a point and most often all three but, the four goals conceded at Priestfield and eight put past us here by bottom club Plymouth and struggling Crewe tells one all that we need to know.
Defensively we are inept, at least we have been in most games so far this season! Rovers have suffered more than their fair share of injuries, but this happens to every club at some time or another and the squad just does not seem to be strong enough in mind or body. The transfer’window’ opens for a few weeks now and I know that some new faces can be expected at the ‘Mem’, perhaps by the time you read this.
Unfortunately some big Rovers’ characters have left us in recent times including Stuart Campbell, arguably the most popular Pirate since our return to Bristol.
Stuart’s case is not as simple as it must appear to many supporters and all I can say is that his departure was probably inevitable come the summer. To Stuart, thrice winner of our Clubman of the Year award, I say thanks for the memories such as Wembley and the Millennium Stadium and thanks for being a great captain and caretaker manager, a genuinely nice guy to everyone here and for the dignity shown during the last few sad months. My very best wishes to you Stu, for the future, from everyone in BRSC!
Since the setting up of the highly successful Share Scheme that played such a huge part in preventing that earlier possible drop into the Conference I referred to before, the Supporters Club has been represented on the board of the Football Club and has become both the third largest investor and shareholder.
Since we started the scheme we have, thanks to you good folk out there, bought just over £950,000
worth of shares as well as paying in large sums of money from the 50/50 Draw and numerous other donations for one thing or another.
Some big decisions may need to be made by the Board in the coming weeks and I am always in constant touch with the our two directors, Ken Masters and Brian Seymour-Smith, to ensure that our member’s views are being put across the boardroom table. Of course much has to remain confidential, for contractual and financial reasons, but you can rest assured that the view of the ordinary supporter is being aired where it matters most and hopefully the Rovers can get out of the current mess very soon. Time is now of the essence!
I apologise for such a downbeat column on a day when we should be celebrating an exciting cup tie that is being televised live on national TV. The cameras are here for the same reason that they were at Totton of course, but this time the roles are reversed and it is our esteemed opponents this evening who have their heads on the cup upset chopping block this time!
Apologies, also, to our visitors for the basic facilities on offer here, (a superb new stadium is on the way, in case you didn’t know!), and for the state of the pitch if the ‘egg chasers’ have been on it in the rain again! Hopefully we’ll have a dry evening and a cracking match like the two clubs used to share back in the 1970’s at Eastville and Villa Park.
Enjoy the game, and a much happier New Year!
Jim Chappell, BRSC Chairman.
Jim Chappell hands over the Plymouth 50/50 winnings of £938 to Mike Powell, who won with ticket number 56620 sold by Mark Smith and Alan Williams in the Civil Service Club