21st February 2014 Burton Albion
February 22, 2014
WELCOME, all, to the Memorial Stadium for the first of a pair of Friday night matches, the second being exactly one month before we entertain promotion chasing Southend United.
Tonight it’s another high flying opponent in the shape of Burton Albion, who appear to be one of several very well run ‘small clubs’ to have made the step up from the Conference in recent seasons and to have made a big impression and steady progress in the Football League. Albion are chasing promotion themselves and are sure to provide another stiff test in Rovers’ attempts to climb away from the relegation zone for a third consecutive season. As for this column, I hope you will not find it too depleted from its normal content and style but unfortunately Ken Masters, who ‘sub edits’ the Supporters Club’s pages, is having to deal with some difficult family matters at the time of writing and is unable to contribute the large amount of time that it usually takes him to put it all together! I’m sure you will all join me in wishing Ken all the best as he gets to grips with important things unconnected with Rovers for a change!
We’ve had a bit of a mixed couple of weeks since we last wrote for the Oxford and Cheltenham programmes. Fortunately we were unbeaten in those two home games and four valuable points were gained on the back of a couple of strong performances. It was a pity we could not complete a first ‘double’ of the season over the ‘U’s after they had scored a brilliant early goal with their only shot on target, inevitably it seemed from James Constable, but Rovers finished strongest and, equally inevitably, grabbed a well earned point courtesy of John-Joe O’Toole.
‘JJ’ was at it again of course to win Rovers aiftnree points the following Tuesday night in the local ‘derby’ against Cheltenham and I wonder just where we would be without the midfielder who manager John Ward seemed to be chaslng all through the close season, A good job, then, that Ward was finally successful in his chase as without JJ’s goals we would be in a very difficult position now and it has been apparent for a while that strengthening of our attacking options was desperately required!
Particularly disappointing has been our away form with only one win and eight League goals on the road and it was a great relief to me, and no doubt to most ‘Gasheads’, when the boss made two significant loan signings in time to make appearances in those two home games. Steven Gillespie and Alan Gow both made valuable contributions and I extend a belated welcome to them on behalf of all us success starved Rovers’ supporters!
Whilst home form has generally been good before their arrival I was looking forward to seeing what effect Steve and Alan would have on our travels but the late postponement of last Saturday’s visit to fellow stragglers Bury scuppered that idea and their away debuts will now no doubt be in next Tuesday night’s long trip to Scunthorpe. I hope we really see what Steve and Alan are made of in that game and it’s a pity that only a relatively small following will be able to assess their value in what is going to be a very hard fixture!
One last point on those signings is that I felt it was a pity young Eliot Richards had to go in exchange for Gow, to Exeter, to make the latter’s signing a done deal. Eliot has, in my opinion, looked good this season but unfortunately he has simply failed to find the net and goals have definitely been needed so it will be interesting to see what happens to him when the loan deals expire in May!
The Bury postponement means yet another long midweek trip for the travelling ‘Gas’ and we have some tough trips coming up! Following Tuesday’s trek all the way to “sunny scunny’, tomorrow week we are involved in a vital fixture at the ever cold Sixfields Stadium in a definitely must not lose match against the Cobblers of Northampton. The Supporters Club will be running coaches to both games of course and you can book a seat in the Bristol Room tonight or at 199 Two Mile Hill Road during normal working hours. See you there!
Meantime more vital points are on offer tonight and our support should be boosted by many local footballers who have a rare chance to get behind Rovers, so let’s hope they are impressed by an enhanced crew of ‘Pirates’ come 9.30!
The first prize in the 50/50 draw at the Oxford game was claimed by Pete Szabunas, who picked up £887 with ticket number 03591.
David Woodland, with ticket number 19213 claimed the second prize of £100. Ticket sellers were Sandra Jaques and Jackie Hawkins.
First prize of £509 at the Cheltenham game went to Mr N Roynon with ticket number 23140, while the second prize of £100 remains unclaimed so if you have ticket number 19978, make sure you collect your winnings!
Ticket sellers were Jackie Chappie and Sandra Jacques (again!)
Pete Szabunas collects his 50/50 winnings
from Jim Chappell at the Oxford game
A VERY good evening and a warm welcome to the Directors, Players and Supporters of Burton Albion FC to the The Memorial Stadium tonight.
May I personally pay tribute to our ground staff, club staff and all the volunteers who have worked so hard to keep our games on over what has been a terrible wet winter. When you consider rugby is played on this pitch, it is incredible that both the Cheltenham and Oxford games went ahead and how worthwhile, points wise, they proved to be. The new covers have done their job and our league position has improved dramatically because of it. Thank you so much!
I would also like to thank you, our supporters, for the way you have kept right behind the lads in all winds and weathers both home and away when it would have been so easy to stay at home in front the fire. Your support is invaluable and I hope you have felt reassured by the commitment the board are making to ensure we continue to make progress on the pitch as the season progresses.
You may be aware that the Judicial Review over the Stadium will be heard on 14th and 15th March. Again, we would urge you to let events take their course and stay away from the hearing. I am delighted to tell you that Dave, Chris and Angela and their team continue to collect signatures and we are now approaching 13,000 at the time of writing. That is amazing and I’m sure Trash will be stunned by the vast level of support Charlotte’s campaign has. Again, thank you so much.
If this is your first visit to the Mem, I hope it proves to be enjoyable providing your supporting the boys in blue and white of course. I would like to welcome Tom Parsons the press officer manager for Worcester Warriors who is here tonight to see our communications in action so he can take his experiences back to Worcester. Tom is originally from Weston super Mare so it’s almost home from home for him.
To Tom, and to you all, enjoy the game!
PS I love watching games under floodlights. Reminds me of the old days of Eastville.
CONGRATULATIONS to the following supporters who have won a signed shirt in the Share Scheme draw.
Simon Hartley collected his at the Cheltenham game, Moira Duggan’s is in the post, and Bill Foord will be collecting his this afternoon
IT’S A KNOCKOUT!
THOSE of you who are fans of the noble art wilt have seen Rovers supporter and British Bantanweight Champion Lee Haskins at our game against Cheltenham Town, along with Olympic Gold medallist and Super Middleweight James DeGale.
Both boxers are in action at the City Academy on Saturday March 1st and we wish them every success.