BRSC Chair’s Report 1
September 12, 2014
BRSC CHAIR’S REPORT 2014 (Part One)
There is no doubt that the last year has been the worst in Bristol Rovers’ history and consequently the same can be said for its Supporters Club. I wrote last year’s report with a ‘true sense of optimism’ after John Ward had become the latest Manager to save the club from relegation out of the Football League. However, just as with his predecessor Mark McGhee, John’s first full campaign in charge simply did not match up to the great run of results from his opening three months in charge and, disastrously, his own appointed successor Darrell Clarke was unable to save our great club from the unthinkable! More than enough has been said and written about Rovers’ fall into the non-League wilderness and this is not the place to be going over it all again – it is far too painful for one thing!
I have to mention though that the Supporters Club’s Executive Committee did everything we could in the circumstances to help save Rovers from the ‘drop’ as we authorised our two Directors, Ken Masters and Brian Seymour-Smith, to offer an ‘up-front’ payment of £20,000 from monies that would in any case eventually become due to the Football Club, in order to secure the services of an on-loan Premiership striker. At this stage the final transfer window was due to close as it became obvious to all that the first-team squad simply did not have the fire-power to keep us up. Unfortunately John Ward was moving up to become Director of Football with Darrell taking over as Manager and, for whatever reason, the much-needed striker was not signed. The rest, as they say, is history!
The anger at Rovers’ demise as a League club was intense and it was obvious to your Committee that we had to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting for members to air their grievances as soon as possible but this took some time to organise as most of the ‘main players’ were unavailable for one reason or another. The EGM eventually took place some six weeks after the end of the season but even so I think it was a more than worthwhile exercise and since that date there has been a somewhat similar ‘follow-on’ forum set up and run by the Football Club. Supporters Club members should again have the opportunity to question Chairman Nick Higgs and Manager Darrell Clarke at the Annual General Meeting for which this report is prepared.
The pain of dropping out of the Football League is still there and I have to admit I am even now, well into the new Conference season, struggling to come to terms with it. But, everyone connected with the club just has to accept the difficult position we now find ourselves in and to get on with the big job of getting our League status back. Yet again I have to say that this time I think we have the right man in Darrell Clarke to eventually achieve that aim, even if Rovers have not made the most auspicious start to our Conference career. I believe the reason for the slow start has been due to the string of inward transfers and trialists that have been necessary to achieve the right blend with a much reduced playing budget.
At the time of writing, (the end of August), there are signs that things are starting to come together but there is much ground already to make up and only time will tell if my optimism will, at long last, be well founded! The dire consequences of dropping out of the League have compounded four seasons of under- achievement with two relegations when Rovers should have been building on the rapid success of the ‘Lennie & Trolls’ era. That lack of success on the pitch has of course been reflected in the finances of both the Football and Supporters Clubs and our end of year figures will show this. That is not to say we have been deserted by our brilliant fans, quite the contrary, but the prospect of playing the likes of Dover , Braintree and Altrincham is extremely painful for supporters used to such opposition as Leeds United, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday and Norwich City !
The Share Scheme continues with slightly diminishing numbers but still provides valuable regular, (monthly), payments in return for shares in the Football Club. Because of this we are always guaranteed two places on the Board of Directors for a couple of supporters who are prepared to give up their time and to travel many miles in their work for the Rovers. Ken and Brian have had to suffer much abuse along with the rest of the Board as fans have given full vent to their feelings over our relegation from the League but I can tell you that they have both always fought their corner on behalf of all supporters.
Nobody connected with Bristol Rovers wanted the current situation to develop but two supporters do not always have the power to change things for the better – no matter how hard they may try! This AGM will see Brian defending his Directorship against Rod Chapman who is the only person putting his name forward to challenge and the result of the secret ballot will be announced at the end of the meeting. I extend my very best wishes to whoever wins the right to put forward fan’s views in the Boardroom.