Brighton programme notes
May 2, 2008
From the Chair
It is hard to believe, (and I know that many of you still don’t believe it!), that this is the last scheduled match at the current Memorial Stadium. It is bound to be a bit emotional I suppose, especially for those of us who have worked in and around the place for the last decade or more. Still, we have much experience of leaving grounds and transferring to new ones and this time our reward for another two years in exile will be a brand new state of the art all-seater stadium on this site when we return. I know that every supporter will have a question to ask about the move and its implications. Shareholders will have the opportunity to do that at the Football Club’s AGM on Monday evening and, as a major shareholder, the Supporters Club will be in attendance.
Also, the SC Executive has its next quarterly meeting with the Board of Directors on the 8th May by which time we expect to be able to progress our own move out of the stadium into new premises – this still being under discussion at the time of writing. There is much to happen so we will keep our members informed via the website and mail-shots if necessary. Personally I am hoping that we can hold some sort of forum with Football Club representatives present as soon as the moves are finalised. I can’t say ‘watch this space’ because it won’t exist but we’ll try to keep everyone informed. Meantime our headquarters at 199 Two Mile Hill Road, Kingswood, will remain open throughout. Have a great summer, prepare for the last big hurdle and we’ll meet again somewhere in August!
Up the Pirates!
We Deserve It
Good afternoon to all at the Memorial Stadium for the final home league fixture of the 2007-08 season. We extend a very special and the warmest of welcomes to the supporters of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club.
It is over ten years now since The Seagulls were forced away from the historic Goldstone Ground in Hove. It is a total credit to Brighton supporters that they have never given up. Most ably led by Paul Samarah, they have continuously kept the issues in the public eye and in the minds of local and national politicians. All of their hopes and aspirations will come to fruition in 2010-11. Brighton supporters have kept faith and will be rewarded with a fine new state of the art stadium at Falmer.
With so little by way of essential resources at the Withdean, Brighton have chalked up national awards for their efforts which has included Community Club of the Year in 2007 and for best Community Initiative in 2008. At the awards evening in February Paul Samarah was acclaimed The Football League Football Supporter of the Year. Many congratulations to Paul from Bristol Rovers Supporters for an accolade so richly deserved.
There are many parallels with us at Bristol Rovers, loosing our traditional home of decades, forced into exile, returning to a stadium not intended for league football and working so hard to bring about a replacement to at least Championship levels for our supporters to enjoy for many seasons to come.
As our friends in football from Brighton have played their part, so have we. Maintaining our support during the Twerton Years and since then running essential customer services such as match day reception, the ticket office, match day shops, Young Pirates, Football in the Community and all from temporary buildings in what otherwise would be car park here at the Memorial Stadium.
Just like Brighton we can see light at the end of the tunnel. We require that final push from the football club and from our supporters alike. The Supporters Club has so much to do over the course of this summer and we wait patiently for red and amber to turn to green. Our fans will want to crack on with their personal arrangements for the next season as soon as possible.
I look forward to visiting Falmer when that work is done and to welcoming Brighton here to our new stadium in Bristol. In the meantime progress on the playing side is paramount. May that be to The Football League Championship respectively; Seagulls and Pirates both, we deserve it.
Today sees what is expected to be our last league game before the stadium is pulled down to make way for a shiny new ground. Like many fans I will mourn the loss of terracing and feel it is a shame that safe standing areas are not allowed. However I will not miss the standing in the rain and wind or the antiquated facilities.
I won’t miss standing on the Centenary Terrace staring into the sun. Most of all I won’t miss the uncertainty surrounding all games when there is the slightest hint of rain. Won’t it be great to have a decent playing surface which the proposed new Desso pitch should provide. I have many memories of this ground that will last forever particularly over the last two seasons with the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game against City and the FA Cup run this year. But for me those early days will be best remembered. The move back to Bristol was full of promises and the old financial worries. However we were not alone on that front and our landlords, the rugby club, faired worse when the cost of building two stands and going professional caught up with them. In order to safeguard the ground ownership the football club bought the ground from the rugby club and that brought worse financial problems but also the opportunity we now have to throw away the rag bag Rovers tag forever.
Fans can proudly boost that they have helped Rovers survive a very difficult period in its history. There have been two major fundraising initiatives in that time. The Supporters Club were developing a 50/50 draw modeled on other clubs and at the same time a group of fans had formed a committee to get the Blackthorn End covered. The two combined and the 50/50 draw was launched with its first aim to ‘Raise a Roof’ for the Blackthorn End. The 50/50 draw will have raised over £250,000 by the end of this season and has also provided a roof to the Family Stand and new floodlights amongst other ground improvements for fans. The second initiative was the share scheme. In our darkest hour with debts growing and the club plummeting towards the Conference League various groups of fans pitched in. The Supporters Club was traditionally the fundraisers for the club and they were joined by Premier Blue and The Gas Trust in trying to develop a fundraising lifeline for our club. Many fundraising ideas were hatched by all participating groups and eventually the Supporters club was chosen by the club to promote the share scheme which expects to raise £775,000 by the end of the year.
Today also sees the return of the great Smash and Grab. I have too many memories to list but will always fondly remember them. I recall seeing them many times together in Bath where they enjoyed a pint and the jazz in the Bell at Walcott Street. Their friendship is perhaps why they could read each other so well on the pitch. Bruce I remember particularly for his headers which proved that ‘size does not matter’. How often did Bruce out jump defenders and I especially remember his near post header from, a Kenny Hibbitt free kick, at Roker Park which stunned the Sunderland fans. As for Alan I remember him most for the fun character he was and that is not taking anything away from his ability because he was also a fine footballer. How often did he take the oppositions throw-ins to waste time and yet referees could not book him because the fans were in stitches when he would throw the ball to their players as if trying to get the game flowing quickly. The good old days indeed! A big thank you to Alan and Bruce for coming today and they will be in the Supporters Club bar after today’s match.
Remember that even though the season is drawing to a close the Share Scheme continues throughout the Summer.It is still not too late to join the scheme which runs until December 8. If you are or have been a member of the share scheme you will be aware that we will be having a ‘Roll of Honour’ in the new stadium to record the names of all those who have been members during the scheme. Can you please check that your details are on the ‘Roll of Honour’ on the Supporters Club website and that your name is spelt correctly? Please notify Clare McDonagh of any changes [email protected] or telephone (0117) 952 4001 with any changes.
The cheque presentation for £55K at last Tuesdays game at Swindon brings the Supporters Club total holding as at the 5th April 2008 to £734,578 which is 329,510 shares and represents 9.74% of the issued share capital in Bristol Rovers 1883 Ltd. This total is made up as follows:-
Organised Juniors Matchday Parties
We welcome St Nicholas Youth FC Under 11’s from Yate. This season we have provided over 650 free tickets to 14 different clubs utilising 12 free or subsidised coaches. Many clubs have returned annually and I see the same children from 3 years ago now turning up in their Rovers shirts when in the beginning most were coming to their first match. I hope we can run the scheme next season but this will depend on a number of factors not the least of which is where we are playing. Any interested parties should contact me at [email protected]