Chairman’s Annual Report
September 11, 2009
It is most pleasing that the team has made such a good start to the new League season with Rovers lying in a play-off position at the time of writing. The best start for some years has come on the back of consistent improvement since Paul Trollope and Lennie Lawrence took over team affairs nearly four years ago. I like to think that the Supporters Club has more than played its part in helping to raise the club from the depths of League 2 during that time and that we have adapted to the changes necessary to enable further improvement to take place in the future.
Whilst the on-going delay in making a start to the Memorial Stadium redevelopment is a major disappointment we at least can relax in the knowledge that it will no longer be necessary for the Rovers to relocate to another ground whilst rebuilding takes place. Nevertheless the future plans are bound to cause major disruption and changes to the day-to-day operation of the business. Those of us ‘long in tooth’ on the Executive had always thought that the Football Club would want to resume the retail operation at the stadium once it had been rebuilt into a modern purpose-built complex but it came as something of a surprise when we were told late last year that this change back was more urgently required. After only a few brief meetings we agreed to hand back control of Pirate Leisure and its three staff members to the Football Club whilst of course retaining the Supporters Club shop in Kingswood. It was agreed to continue as the two organisations had done before we took over the original PL shop in Gloucester Road shop a few years ago. That of course meant severing our employment of Steve Burns, Kay Monks and Clare McDonagh who are now back in the direct employ of the Football Club. I would like to place on record my thanks to all three for the way they accepted this change, albeit one that was anticipated for the future in any case, and of course for their years of dedicated service to the Supporters Club. I would also like to thank Ann and Zoe Paramore and Alison Gibson, who, after years of voluntary service to the Supporters’ Club, agreed to stay on and help at Pirate Leisure.
The handover went almost without a hitch, certainly nothing that can have given our customers any cause to complain that I know of. The two shops continue much as before with all the same staff still employed within each, liaising with each other as before and both providing the same retail and ticketing service as hitherto. As for the Executive, we are trying to develop the Kingswood shop as much as possible without spoiling the close relationship necessary between the two sites. We are also looking to revamp our shop and to maximise revenue from what is now otherwise a somewhat underused three-storey building. This is ongoing business that will take some time to finalise but we’ll keep the membership advised as and when developments take place.
Another change of Football Club policy in the close season happily coincided with the SC having the previous summer altered the focus of our hugely successful 50/50 half-time draw away from stadium to youth development. With Rovers now taking the Youth Policy back under their own wing and appointing a Head of Youth to direct it there became an urgent need for a minibus to convey the young players to and from training and matches. This provided us with the opportunity to provide such a vehicle from the 50/50 fund and we were able to locate and purchase a really fine coach that is now in daily use under Darren Patterson’s control. I hope that every member has had the opportunity to see it either at the Fun Day or running around resplendent in both FC and SC logos and lettering. There are further items required for the Youth Department and we’ll be making maximum publicity as and when we purchase them. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the 50/50, the Share Scheme of course and the other lotteries that we operate such as the Gold Bond. Every penny gained eventually ends up funding our football team!
All the other SC activities carry on as before and the EC is always striving to improve all aspects of the club’s operations; formation of more branches, on-line newsletter and sales, revamped and improved hard copy newsletter, more social events, early arrival away coaches, train travel for the first time in many years are just some of the many things going-on at the time of writing. None of this would be possible without a hard-working and dedicated EC and I would like to thank each and every one of them for their support again this last year. Also, and it always goes really without saying, a great big thank you to our small army of match-day workers and sellers and all those volunteers who step in to assist at various events or just when we need help at busy times. An organisation such as ours simply could not run without such people to assist, usually only for the reward of another Rovers win as ‘payment’!
Finally, I cannot finish without mentioning our long-standing Treasurer and a cornerstone of the SC, Jane Browne, who is fighting a serious illness at the time of writing. Jane is stoically continuing her job despite everything, even attending and working at most of the home games, thanks to her loyal husband, Wes. The rest of the EC are trying to help her whenever we can but she really is an inspiration by carrying on regardless. Most of our members will know her and I’m sure every one of you will join with me in wishing Jane the very best for the future!