November 20, 2007
[image1]In the first of a series of articles leading up to the AGM I reproduce here Jim Chappell’s Chairman’s Report from our recently published newsletter:
When I resumed the Chairmanship twelve months ago I could not have envisaged that the new season would produce a repeat of my first in that office seventeen years previously with a fantastic run to promotion. Not only that but a season with visits to two national stadiums thrown in for good measure! I do not however intend to make a habit of resuming office – this will definitely be my last stint, however long it takes to produce my eventual replacement!
Enough has already been written about the achievements of the first five months of this year and it only really remains for me to formally congratulate all the team, management and coaching staff for the fantastic success and happiness they brought to thousands of Rovers supporters. It took incredible effort to be victorious in what amounted to a string of ‘must-win’ matches during a pressure-filled period of only a few weeks. I’m sure that in return they would join me in thanking those supporters for the fantastic backing that the team received in those never-to-be-forgotten battles at Cardiff, Hartlepool, Lincoln and Wembley, as well as at home to Swindon and Lincoln etc. A few precious weeks which have already become a part of Rovers folklore!
Something perhaps even more important than the much longed-for escape from the basement division was of course the granting of planning permission for the complete redevelopment of the Memorial Stadium. This came early in the year when the team was struggling to make any impression in the lower reaches of League 2. Perhaps it was the planning decision that provided the boost required to improve the club’s playing fortunes. Whatever, the eventual success on the field of play produced a very stark reminder of just how inadequate the facilities are that currently exist at the Stadium for dealing with the very large crowds a club of our size can generate. Thanks are due to everyone on the stadium team that won over the City planners on this vital issue and also those fans who turned up to support the Club in the Council Chamber on that ‘electric’ night! The Board’s decision to relocate to Cheltenham whilst the 18-month stadium redevelopment takes place was probably the most popular choice amongst the club’s supporters but I must say that any repeat of this year’s success whilst we are in exile there will prove a major problem in terms of capacity at Whaddon Road. It is also a very long way to travel for ‘home’ games and a difficult venue to access, either on a Saturday afternoon or during the evening rush-hour. It is a great pity that the attitude of a minority on both sides of the ‘Bristol divide’ prevent us from performing in a perfectly adequate stadium in our home city, just because it is painted red. It was the same colour when we played there back in the 80’s! Maybe the delay until the end of this season before redevelopment takes place will provide opportunity for renegotiation but wherever we end up I know that the Football Club can rely on everyone in the Supporters Club for our support. In this context I must record my thanks to all our staff and volunteers who collectively triumphed, (just about), over adversity during the manic rush of all-ticket matches which really only finished with the visit of Leeds United a few weeks ago. Six months near ‘flat-out’ pressure for everyone at ‘199’ and Pirate Leisure that I think they would probably all relish, such is their dedication, should we have a repeat this season!
It only remains for me to thank all the Executive Committee and those on the sub-committees for their support during what has been a very testing year following the resignations during the Autumn of 2006. I have been particularly impressed with the work of the three replacements – Director and Vice-Chairman Ken Masters, Dennis Payter in Communications and Clive Farquhar who heads the Commercial sub-committee. Without those three individuals the remainder of us would certainly have struggled to cope with what turned out to be a quite momentous season. The pressure brought about by the play-offs and two cup finals has meant that some more mundane items have had to be put on the ‘back-burner’ but already such things as the club’s website are now being tackled properly and the rest will follow. As with all voluntary bodies it is down to priorities and availability of personnel. My thanks to all those who have helped us, especially a new band of matchday volunteers who have stepped in at a time of need this season.
I hope that the team will start to pick up soon, that you will enjoy the latest venture in League 1 and that it will soon prove just a stepping-stone to the Championship in the not too distant future!