28th January 2012 Bradford City
January 1, 2000
Welcome back to the Memorial Stadium today – and a much happier place it has become in the last three weeks or so with a new manager in place and a big upturn in fortunes on the back of Rovers’ last three results!
Following the dismissal of Paul Buckle, his assistant Shaun North took initial charge of the team and, after an expected FA Cup exit at the hands of Premiership Aston Villa, he organised a vital and deserved win at Hereford then claimed a first clean sheet for three months with a sound draw against then league leaders Crawley. The four points gained from those two matches certainly gave Chairman Nick Higgs and the board a few extra days in which to make a more considered judgement on a new manager.
In hindsight that extra time now looks crucial as Mark McGhee only entered the fray at almost the last minute and he was able to take in an ‘undercover’ visit to witness the team’s performance against Crawley before being interviewed. I must say that Mark never appeared on my ‘radar’ but there is no doubt that he has both the playing experience and management credentials to take Rovers back up the League. I have been very impressed with the press interviews he has given to date and he does not seem likely to get carried away with the superb start made by the team under him at Cheltenham last Saturday.
As the boss says, he was only appointed two days before and the result was down to the team, greatly aided no doubt by Shaun North’s guidance. Personally I have never been one to advocate the’entire new coaching staff’ idiom favoured by so many managers these days, as I think a manager of any business should be able to manage whoever comes under his control whether they are known to him or not.
As I said, that is a personal view, but bringing in your own team does not happen in most other businesses! Shaun got the lads well organised for the Villa, Hereford and Crawley matches and can surely have a part to play in Rovers’ future. Finally, every Gashead must have been pleased to hear Mark say that he needed to get the fans on his side, as it was probably the rift between Paul Buckle and the supporters that finally put paid to his short reign in BS7. Having said that, he certainly brought in some good players and the latest of them have both played a big part in tightening up a previously leaky defence in no uncertain measure.
A belted welcome is due from this column to Aaron Downes and Michael Poke and I sincerely hope that their loans to us can either be extended or made permanent by the time you read this. With those two in place and with all the long term injured players back to health I don’t think Mr McGhee will need many more additional signings to secure our League status and improve the team’s position.
It was great to have such a brilliant turnout of supporters at Whaddon Road last Saturday with all Rovers’ allocation being sold out and things seemingly back to normal for one of our most local matches. It is clear that such a level of support is fully appreciated by management as well as the team and that everyone must now pull together to get Rovers back up the table and most definitely away from the drop zone as soon as possible. Very few clubs in this basement division can muster the sort of fan base we have here at Rovers, but today’s opponents are one of them having fallen even further, from the very top of football’s pyramid, in recent years.
Bradford have such great home support, albeit aided by reduced ticket prices, you have to wonder why the Bantams are still struggling in the lower reaches of League Two. City will see this match as a great chance to make some progress of their own and any Rovers’ supporter who made the long trip to Valley Parade back in September will feel that we are owed one after a very dubious late penalty award cost us two deserved points. So, a great home debut is in prospect for Mark McGhee this afternoon and we must get right behind the boys in blue to ensure a winning start.
Jim Chappell, BRSC Chairman
The latest signed shirt winner in the Share Scheme draw, Les Barnes, collected his prize from Brian Seymour-Smith at the Crawley game. Today we will be handing over a shirt to Justine Mapstone
Brian Seymour-Smith and Jim Chappell hand over the 50/50 prize of £745 to Jamie Gale (and friends!) – the money was won at the Crawley game with ticket number 67663, sold by Pete Collins on Filton Avenue
HIGHS AND LOWS
On behalf of the Bristol Rovers Supporters Club, I am delighted to welcome the players, supporters and management of Bradford City FC to the Memorial Stadium this afternoon.
They say a week is a long time in politics. Maybe they should have included football in that statement. As far as Bristol Rovers is concerned this has been an exceptionally short period of highs and lows.
On Wednesday we finally said a very sad farewell to Denis, our friend and the man whom we all owe so much. I sincerely hope, as you do, that we can find a way to recognise his enormous contribution to this football club with something permanent which will be a reminder of him to us for years to come. This I know is something our Supporters Club are already looking at. However, I would welcome your suggestions on email to [email protected] btinternet.com and I will pass these on to Geoff. Nick and the board accordingly.
Had Denis still been with us today I know he would have shared our delight in the turnaround of our fortunes on the pitch. Excellent wins at Hereford and Cheltenham and an excellent draw against Crawley has set us up nicely for the return fixture with Bradford today. As Jim Chappell says ‘as well as the need for a good win at home, we also owe them one after we felt we were hard done by at Valley Parade.’ No one would argue with that.
Reading the forums and websites and having met supporters at matches and at Gloucester and Bradley Stoke, it’s clear that Mark McGhee has already brought an immense stabilising factor to our football Club. One supporter rightly commented that we mustn’t get carried away in the euphoria. He’s right. There’s a long road ahead, but at least it is now a road in which we are all walking side by side and that can only be good for all of us as we look forward now to the rest of the season with optimism instead of trepidation.
Brian Seymour-Smith, BRSC Director
The next Supporters Club General Knowledge quiz is on Thursday, February 23rd, with a 7.45pm start. Entry only costs £1 and all profits go to the Share Scheme. Maximum of five players per team, cash prizes for the winners.
The Supporters Club is looking to run a table football competition at the stadium. If you have a football table we can borrow for a month or so, please pass your contact details on to our Shop at 199, Two Mile Hill or the matchday cabin.
ORGANISED JUNIOR MATCHDAY PARTIES
Today we are pleased to welcome ‘Gashead’ Peter Belcher and the Bromley Heath based Icthus Boys Football Club which has been playing in the Bristol Saturday Youth League (BSYL) for five years. Icthus Boys Football Club is now at U-13’s level. Its name is a Greek word that means ‘fish’ and was used by the first Christians as a mnemonic to make ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour’. It’s the fish symbol you see on some cars. Icthus is a church team (as were Manchester City, Aston Villa, Everton, Southampton, Swindon, QPR and others in their early days) but are not exclusively so. Icthus essentially offers access to competitive football for boys who, for one reason or another, couldn’t play in the Sunday leagues. Icthus is not doing too badly this season after relegation last term. The BSYL is a well run operation clue to the hard work of Steve Murray of Ingleside; see the FA’s ‘Full-time’ website. Our matchday scheme is booked up until the Macclesfield game on March 3rd. Of the remaining five games we potentially only have AFC Wimbledon left on March 17.
Please email your applications to [email protected] net or phone on 07765 254110. There will only be one coach per game so priority will be given on a first come first serve basis but we will also give higher consideration to parties who will fill the coach.