This is Bristol Rovers our Club

January 1, 2000

Good afternoon and a warm welcome to all our visiting supporters from North Wales. Wrexham fans have suffered badly over the past few seasons with a great deal of uncertainty over the future of their club. Football supporters from all parts rallied round and it is good to see just what unity can bring about.

Ground ownership and related financial pressure is foremost in the minds of many fans. A number of football league clubs have taken the decision to sell their most prized asset in order to survive. It is a great credit to our football club that we are not in that position. Indeed we have been going in the opposite direction. Having secured the Memorial Ground, transformed it as far as we could to make it the Memorial Stadium, we are now moving forward to regenerate the site and build a state of the art stadium fit for Bristol Rovers and fit for Bristol. Many people have worked very hard to put us in this position. Credit where credit is due and a huge vote of thanks to all who have made financial contribution either from there own direct resources, through the Supporters Club Share Scheme, or by any other way.

Many of our fans agree with me that our regeneration project should not detract from ambitions on the playing side. Success in cup competitions this season has been very positive and very exciting. I for one am determined that this should be a springboard for ambitions in our league programme. It is not unrealistic to suggest that we open the regenerated Mem as a Division One club and in a strong position to push on from there. Two weeks ago I visited Scunthorpe United and I am grateful to them for giving me a good deal of their time. I wanted to learn from them how they supplement the income they receive from their Playing for Success programme and how their community programme had contributed to the success that they are presently enjoying.

Scunny generate very healthy sums from a number of sources to spend directly on the local community. A great sense of community and pulling in the same direction goes hand in hand with their success on the field. I am working with Peter Aitken and Mandy Thorpe to do the same here at Rovers. Well done to Mandy and Becky Hunter for bringing in an additional £10,000 to be spent on computer hardware. We will be working hard to ensure that this is the first of many such sums to come. I am convinced that we will move forward as a football club only if we move forward together. Unity is the key to success. Divisions, petty politics and playing with words, mostly other peoples, do not achieve anything, in fact it does just the opposite. History has proven that time and time again! West Brom is another club with a strong reputation for education and community. I am visiting them next Thursday to share a few ideas and to learn from them too.

Cardiff draws closer and closer; the perfect opportunity to come together as one big Bristol Rovers family. United in our support for the football club we love and united in our belief and in our hopes and in our expectations. We told them 35,000. Don’t let them ever say small or smaller ever again. We will look around that magnificent stadium, we will remember how we got there and we will say, “This is Bristol Rovers, our club.”

First of all, a not so small matter of this afternoon’s fixture. Get behind our team Gas. Come on Rovers; Come on you Blues.

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