From the Chair – Stockport

March 1, 2007


Last Wednesday’s tight and tense tussle at Ashton Gate produced a game of few chances and was generally a disappointment after all the hype of the previous days.

However, whilst it was not the spectacle that we might have hoped for, it does at least mean we start with a completely ‘clean sheet’ this evening and this second leg of the area final now becomes a ‘one-off’ cup tie with a definite result at the end of the night. So far all the talk has been about the first competitive Bristol derby for five years and I’ll admit that it is only now I have personally started thinking seriously about the prize for the eventual winners. It does of course mean a trip to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and, should the Rovers be the victors tonight, it will mean another huge call on the Supporters Club as it is Steve Burns and the rest of our Commercial staff who will once again bear the brunt of the ticket and souvenir sales. Not that we don’t want it – of course we do! The first leg of the area final, following so soon after our FA Cup trip to Pride Park, proved to be a great test which I’m pleased to say our staff have passed with flying colours.

After conveying some 6,000 Gasheads to Derby only around half that number could be accommodated at Ashton but, an evening match of such magnitude, combined with Bristol’s horrendous rush-hour traffic was enough to test any logistical operation! We have taken a fleet of buses to the Gate on two previous occasions and presumably they were successful enough for our fans to want a repeat service. Well, Steve booked every available bus and no less than 15 of them roared out of the Mem last Wednesday evening on the circuitous journey to Ashton. So long was the convoy that the escorting Police had to split it in two outside the Zoo, (no puns please!), for the drop down Bridge Valley Road and onto the Cumberland Basin system. Unfortunately for those of us in part two of the convey the last seven buses were not able to get ‘permission to land’ and the ‘pilots’ were forced to ‘circle round’ the Basin’s one-way system before being granted ‘landing rights’ next to the stadium! Still, everyone got inside in time for the kick-off and there was a great atmosphere on board. Pullman travel it was not but, at least we made a major contribution toward easing traffic congestion and global warming!

I understand there was a problem with the first 7 buses after the game who were given a tour of North Somerset and arrived at the Stadium an hour after me, which was unfortunate.

My thanks to everyone who helped out on the night – the drivers, the Memorial Stadium staff, the impromptu bus stewards, (henceforth known as ‘clippies’) and the Police who did a fantastic job with such an unwieldy convoy! Let’s hope we have the opportunity to run a much bigger fleet to Cardiff on April Fools Day!

Tonight the eyes of the city of Bristol will be on us all again, aided no doubt by the local media on a lookout for a good story about crowd trouble and the like. So, I ask every supporter here this evening, whether you be red or blue, to enjoy a great game of football and to treat the result in the same vein. Have some humility and good humour not aggression and violence and may the best team win – hopefully the Pirates but it won’t be easy I’m sure. Have a great night!

Jim Chappell.

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