News from the SC
December 30, 2008
Bristol Rovers Supporters Club notes
compiled by Dennis Payter
Everyone is welcome
This afternoon’s holiday fixture brings along not only still very new opponents in the Dons from Milton Keynes but also those fans of a Rovers ‘persuasion’ who just make the occasional visit when the local football leagues are taking a rest or ‘er indoors’ allows freedom from shopping at The Mall or Cabot Circus!. The last game here produced a long-awaited ‘clean sheet’ and a comfortable three points against a pretty much outplayed Tranmere. A repeat of that this afternoon will be very difficult as the Dons have followed last season’s promotion with a fine showing in League 1 to date. It promises to be a cracking match!
I hope that both regulars and occasional attendees alike will purchase at least one 50/50 Draw ticket from one of our many sellers in and around the ground today. The Tranmere draw produced our fourth consecutive cash prize in excess of £800, the previous game against Swindon paying out this season’s first £1,000-plus winner. The total paid out to winners this season is £8,320 and so an identical sum has been put aside for use by the Rovers’ Youth Department. It looks like it will be money well spent as our under-18 side has progressed to the 4th Round of the F.A. Youth Cup and our next opponents will be the mighty Liverpool – a match to be played here at The Mem on January 15th. It is a long time since Rovers got this far in the competition and with City having been put out in the last round it will be great for our lads to have all the publicity for a change. Congratulations to Billy Clark and his boys and I hope that there will be a large crowd here to support them.
The transfer of the Pirate Leisure shop here at the stadium from the Supporters Club back into the control of the Football Club went more or less without a hitch thanks mainly to the efforts of our staff and the BRSC Commercial Business Committee. I guess most of our regular customers never even noticed the change, which is in preparation for the stadium rebuilding due to commence next summer. My thanks go to everyone who took part in the handover for another thoroughly professional job. There is still much being done behind the scenes of course as this is, you may not realise, a multi-million pound business when you take into account not only all the club’s merchandising but also the lotteries and all Rovers’ tickets sales, both seasonal and match-day, not forgetting of course last season’s long cup run and two recent cup finals at Cardiff and Wembley! I must reiterate that the Supporters Club shop at 199 Two Mile Hill Road in Kingswood remains under our control and will continue with the full range of souvenir and tickets sales, albeit as a ‘satellite’ of the Football Club as in the past. Our Commercial Committee met last week with the Pirate Leisure handover top of the agenda but we are now looking at ways to streamline and improve the service to our members and customers at Kingswood, also in the cabin and trailer van in the car parks here on match days. We will be keeping our close links with what is now the Football Club’s shop, just as we do with all our other activities. Everyone involved remains on close, friendly terms with each other, all of us committed to the good of Bristol Rovers. Thanks for your continuing support!
A warm festive welcome our visiting supporters. To my mind, and to many others the Dons are very firmly a club from Buckinghamshire these days. The new stadium built there has especially cemented the club as Milton Keynes and all reference to Wimbledon is almost forgotten. The success of AFC Wimbledon is also a contributing factor to this. If you are from London or from the new found fan base, thank you for being with us, enjoy the game and a safe journey home afterwards.
Our work to strengthen support in our own wide regional fan base is really paying dividends. I have held the view for the past year that the way to increase and to involve our membership socially and otherwise with match day transport for one example is to expand our Branch network.
I took my inspiration from Weston Super Mare I am bound to say. The Gas scene there by way of friendship, social activity, transport linking and fund raising is really superb. What I like about Weston as well is that they do not keep themselves to themselves. They are always to be found in the Memorial Room on match days, they are well known to the wider membership and they represent well at the AGM in Bristol. The Weston Banner can be seen flying prominently at away matches far and wide.
Norton Radstock, taking their lead and have done so well in North East Somerset. A strong and growing membership with a sound social start, trip to Leicester and a planned excursion to Leyton Orient in January all bodes well for a bright branch future. The pictures show how well they are doing with Weston in toe to enjoy a joint social night of pub games and good gas gossip. Funds are rising at a pace too but the main thing at this stage is sustaining what has already been achieved in such a short time. Many thanks to Caroline, Sally, Louise and Derek and a special thanks to the landlord at the Crown, Mike Baber.
Many thanks also to Eric Whitlock in South Wales, Gary Olds in Edinburgh and Terry in Yate for all that they are doing to get their respective branches up and running. The first social gathering of Yate and Sodbury Gas will take place very soon in the New Year. We are very close to announcing where and when. Please give Terry a ring on 07811531042 if you can help in any way. Your support will be greatly appreciated.
There will be many exiles with us today who have come home for Christmas and who may be taking a rare opportunity to support The Rovers at the Mem. A special Bristol Rovers welcome to all exiles; it is so good to have you home and back with us this afternoon. If you think you can help us set up a branch in the region where you work and live please make contact with me. In the meantime a happy New Year and a happy new Gas Branch to you all.
Sales of our Black Arab centenary shirts are proving very popular with nearly 1,000 already snapped up despite our trading results for the Pirate Leisure and Kingswood shops continuing to reflect the economic down turn. This is tremendous news and a welcome boost to club finances.
Half season tickets are now on sale at competitive rates with details available from the website or our shops.
As most of you know, we have handed back the commercial activities carried out at Pirate Leisure to the Football Club. From a customer point of view you should not notice any difference with the same dedicated staff serving you as in the past. It was sensible to deal with this prior to the end of the season when we hope to have other projects to focus on. From a staffing point of view, Steve Burns and his team have worked extremely hard to make the transition as painless as possible and their efforts are greatly appreciated. I would also like to place on record my thanks to all our staff and volunteers at both Pirate Leisure and Kingswood for their commitment and loyalty throughout 2008.
Best wishes for a prosperous 2009
Organised Juniors Matchday Parties
We welcome today Yate United Junior Football Club and Combe Dingle Colts.
Combe Dingle run five teams from more than 100 members. They play friendlies until Year 11 when they are affiliated with Shirehampton Colts. We welcome the club’s Year Two team to the Memorial Stadium today.
Yate United has more than 150 members playing in 11 sides from under 7’s to under 16’s in the Hanham Minor and Avon Youth Leagues. Its party today includes players from all age groups.
The Matchday Parties scheme has again been a massive success and all games to the end of the season have now been booked up. Should you want to put your club on a reserve list please get your applications to [email protected] or (07765) 254110.
Mark Smith, who was a guest in our corporate hospitality, won £805 in our 50/50 draw at the Tranmere Rovers game from a ticket sold by Sandra Jaques in the DAS stand.