Positive Signs From Filton Evening

September 30, 2005


Last night’s Supporters Club open evening at Filton was a huge success, with over 150 Gasheads attending.
College principle Kevin Hamblin addressed those present and spoke about the facilities and values of the college and how the new approach would benefit Rovers.
The facility is designed to attract and retain elite players, ultimately preparing them for a pro football contract. It is a corner stone of their policy that anyone taken on is a full time student, and the curriculum ensures sufficient flexibility to meet the needs of each student. Kevin went on to explain that though the football is a big part of the student’s activity there, educational study comes first. “Our student’s have to accept there will come a time when they are not playing football, be it if they don’t make it as a pro, get injured, or when they finish playing at the end of their playing career. The study part of being here dictates availability to play for college and reserve teams, that is to say if the student’s study is not up to date, they will not be available to play football. It is a self monitoring system as all students realise as this is the case, and we make no exceptions, they really have to get their study up to date.”
He went on to discuss the college’s values. “Our elite players need a development process to protect and nurture them. They also need effective college/home/club links. Whilst the importance of academic study is made clear to students, the structure is flexible enough to accommodate playing and learning.” [image2]
Kevin continued to discuss what advantages the facilities offer Rovers. “ I have seen premiership facilities and facilities at other clubs and those offered here at Filton are the best outside the premiership. They will attract players, coaches and players from other clubs, in some cases players from premiership clubs that have been released.”
Kevin then spoke about the football league system and explained the differences. “With the football league system clubs can have a maximum of 6 scholars a year, whereas here at Filton there is no limit. Whilst on the football league system, the boys get paid £40 per week, and though there is no pay for them here, the advantage of the top class facilities coupled with training with the first team, something less likely to happen with the football league scheme, are aspects that are likely to be a very strong draw for the boys. It IS starting to pay dividends. In season 04/05 four boys came through the ranks to the first team squad and in 05/06 six boys have made it.”
The audience then had the opportunity to ask questions of the top table. Paul Trollope was asked what he thought and how much importance he put on the development of youth at Rovers. “One cannot fail to be impressed by the facilities here at Filton. Clubs like Rovers need to be looking at local talent and this gives us a massive boost in our search in that area. These days many managers only have a comparatively short time to make an impact at a club and sadly it means youth often takes a back seat. It’s the manager’s job on the line if the 1st team don’t make sufficient progress, and it is likely he won’t benefit long-term from any youth development he implements. To have this system in place to compliment those pro’s signed on for the first team gives reassurance for the future and encouragement to all young players that they have a chance to make it in the professional game”.
Kevin Hamblin was asked whether we are just preparing the youth for clubs like Chelsea to just come along and snap them before we see them in a Rovers shirt. “It’s life, sadly. Lads of 16 can go where they want and are not compelled to sign a contract with Rovers once they reach that age. If big clubs like Chelsea are going to come in and take these boys away, they will have to pay compensation and the league is currently looking at whether the clubs are acting in the interests of the game by doing this. Whatever happens, Rovers benefit because firstly money will come in and secondly it gives kudos to both Rovers and Filton if these lads are spotted here.” [image3]
The Football Association (FA) announced recently that Filton College has won the prestigious National FA Charter Standard Colleges (Male) 2005 Award for outstanding achievements in using football to provide high quality Academic and Football programmes.
Simon Panes, Filton College’s Director of the Bristol Academy of Sport – which includes the highly acclaimed Filton College Football Development Centre – will be representing the College at the FA’s VIP ceremony and presentation on October 8. The National FA Charter Standard Award will be presented to the College on the pitch at Old Trafford during half time of the International England v Austria match in front of an expected full house.
After a tour of the whole facility Gasheads were back in the hall for a question and answer session with a top table comprised of, Mike Turl, Ron Craig, Geoff Dunford, Paul Trollope, James Hunt, fans director Jane Browne, fans associate director Kim Stuckey and Paul Molesworth.
The first question was about redevelopment of the Mem and what the latest news was. Mike Turl answered that a 17000 all-seater stadium was what we were working towards and that some news would be forthcoming within the next few weeks.
Paul Molesworth was asked about the current state of our scouting system. He reassured those present that it was in a fine state and working well, despite what people’s perceptions were, giving encouragement and instilling confidence in both it and him.
Caretaker manager Paul Trollope was asked how he thought things were progressing since he took over. He made it clear he was delighted with the win on Saturday and the effort shown by the team and was disappointed with the result on Tuesday as it was not a fair reflection on the effort put in by the players. He felt decision making on the pitch needed improving, but was confident it is going the right way, particularly having gone back to a 4-4-2 style of play, which seemed to suit the players better. When asked if he wanted the manager’s job permanently, he would not be drawn too much, but made it clear he is enjoying the job and sees it as his next step in his football career. [image4]
Geoff Dunford was asked how the falling gates were affecting the club’s finances. He explained that the club had budgeted for an average gate of 6200 this season. Whilst this is not a break-even figure, it was one they felt they could manage moving forward.
He was then asked about the news on selecting a new manager. Geoff said he had received over 50 applications, which were being given consideration. He said it was vital that a new manager would live in Bristol. He also went on to explain he was looking for interviewees to put their cards on the table and lay out what they would pledge to do to move the club forward. He said it would be likely that if these pledges could be included in a prospective manager’s contract they would be. Geoff is hoping to have a new man in place in 2 to 3 weeks and realises this could be Rover’s most important choice for many years.
Geoff was also asked about the Ryan Williams events that occurred some 4 weeks ago on deadline day. He said Ryan was upset that his details had been circulated without his knowledge and was reluctant to go to Aldershot on loan. While Geoff tried to get in contact with Ian Atkins with no success, Ryan decided he should just go on loan and use the opportunity to his advantage. [image5]
Geoff was asked about Ryan Clarke, who also came along as a special guest. Geoff explained Ryan had signed for a 12-month period with Forest Green and that stands so we would see what happened at the end of it.
Jane Browne also spoke of her experiences as fans director and said despite her years of experience helping the supporters club; nothing had prepared her for the boardroom experience. That said, she was enjoying herself and making sure that through her and Kim Stuckey the fans had a voice in the boardroom. She also reminded people that as she works at Pirate Leisure during the week fans have an opportunity to contact her either in person or by telephone with any matters they feel the fans need representing on at board room level. Kim Stuckey also spoke and said how some of the positive PR to come out of Rovers this season had helped, things like the pink shirts and the £5000 donation from them to the breast cancer charity.
Finally, David Brain, share scheme chairman addressed the meeting briefly explaining the continued importance of it and how it benefits the football club.

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