8th February 2014 Oxford United
February 9, 2014
It’s been a couple of weeks of highs and lows, in that order, since I last wrote for this column.
First up was a fine win over promotion-chasing Newport County who were despatched by a solid team performance in terrible conditions here at the Memorial Stadium. In hindsight Rovers got lucky with the appalling weather as County played into the fantastic rainstorm in the first half and by the time the second ’45’ got under way things had calmed down somewhat. Having said that the ‘Pirates’ were well worth a valuable three points and finished much the better side.
So we were well set for another home win the following Tuesday with fellow strugglers Accrington Stanley the visitors to Horfield. However, we forget the power of the infamous ‘bogey team’ as Stanley, who were totally outplayed throughout, unbelievably snatched victory with virtually the last kick after Rovers had blasted no less than nineteen goal attempts anywhere but on target! Our lack of strike power on the team’s travels had literally come home to haunt us as Stanley recorded a fourth consecutive victory and their ‘Army’ of just 34 fans returned north with a late Christmas present.
That crushing defeat did nothing to instil confidence for the long trip to Division leaders Chesterfield last Saturday and we duly returned home empty-handed after another barren away fixture. The ‘Spireites’ were good but not that good in my opinion as the defence uncharacteristically gifted them three goals, all at vital times in the game, the last two after wing-back Lee Brown had deservedly struck a fine equaliser. Even a goal down at the interval, so good was our fight-back I thought we could still snatch a point when playing with the strong wind at our backs in the second half but a quick goal for the home side soon put paid to that idea. Our turn to make a long trip home soaking wet and freezing cold – the joys of being a football fan!
We could not return home from two defeats to a harder task than this afternoon’s encounter with high-flying Oxford United as the ‘U’s are the only unbeaten away team in the League. There is no doubt that present squad are good enough to climb away from the relegation zone provided we can return to the sort of home form we were in before Stanley came to call. With the sort of support you can provide I know we can give Oxford a stern test of their travelling credentials so please get behind the boys in blue and let’s put an end to their away success and gain some much needed points.
Up the Pirates.
After the joys and tribulations of the Newport result last Saturday, we finally thought we had turned the corner.
Harold Wilson once said ‘A week is a long time in politics.’ It’s even longer in football. One minute your hopes are sky high, the next well!
I received numerous tweets following the game against Chesterfield. You possibly notice I do try to get back as soon as I can but obviously not while I’m driving! One supporter suggested he felt I wasn’t doing enough to try to rectify our current position.
I think it is only right that people express these views and I welcome comments however positive or negative they may be, providing it’s done in a friendly manner with a view to obtaining a positive outcome.
Let me reassure you, the board are united in doing everything we can to get us out of this plight and move forward. That also goes for the Supporters Club who have also pledged their support to helping bring a striker in. This may have happened by the time this programme is printed. If not, the search will continue urgently.
For obvious reason we cannot get out of this plight alone! Your support is vital this afternoon. I know there will be an excellent crowd at the Mem today with Oxford bringing their usual ‘big’ following. For two seasons running, we have had excellent result at their ground, now let’s look for the double this afternoon and move forward!
Enjoy the game! UTG!
Watling’s a Winner
Usually Jim Chappell has the pleasure of presenting an envelope full of cash to either a complete stranger or a fan who’s face is familiar but name hitherto unknown to him when he hands over the winnings of the Supporters Club’s highly successful 50/50 half-time draw.
‘Josser’ Watling, seen left picking up his 50/50 winnings from Jim, is shown on the right during his playing days
However, for those last two home games he had the added pleasure of handing-over large sums of money to two winners who are well known to him. First up the terrible rainstorm ceased just in time for Jim to present £867 to the Newport-match winner Pete Gildersleve in the dry. Pete, who is the brother of our much-loved former Treasurer, Jane Browne, who passed away nearly four years ago now, was instrumental in obtaining planning permission for redevelopment of the Supporters Club shop in Kingswood, along with his colleague Mike Reed, another keen ‘Gashead’ and SC member. Jim hopes to report more on that development in the next ‘Pirate’ but the Committee is indebted for all the expert work that Pete and Mike put in, free of charge, on our behalf. Then, on the Tuesday evening Jim had the great pleasure of handing over £716 to no less a man than Josser Watling. ‘Josser’ is the sole surviving member of Rovers’ first promotion-winning team – the 1953 3rd Division South Champions. Josser was also in the first Rovers team Jim ever saw play in the final match of the 1958/9 season when we beat the Champions-elect Sheffield Wednesday to equal our best-ever finish of sixth in Division 2, now the Championship of course. Those were indeed the days and Jim longs for a new stadium to provide us with the opportunity to repeat those great times. For the record Josser played 323 games for Rovers between 1947 and 1962 scoring 19 goals. Well done Josser, Rovers legend, still a Gashead and still going strong; great to see.
The next quiz will be held next Thursday 13 February 2014 and we are actively encouraging more new teams to take part.
If you are a young brainbox why not take a note of the date and raise a team of friends, family or workmates and see how you get on against our resident egg heads. The quiz is open to everyone and all profits help raise funds for the sharescheme.
Share Scheme Hospitality
Many of the Share Scheme members have enjoyed hospitality this season so far and a good number will be in the Dribuild suite today to take advantage of the unique matchday experience.
The share scheme is very important to us and members past are present are very special and important people. We appreciate that in the present economic climate our members do not find it easy to support us in the way that they do.
We thank you most sincerely.