Who would have thought that 365 days after the official re-launch of Bristol Rovers Women’s, that we would all find ourselves in the current situation that’s affecting the World. The Covid-19 Pandemic has forced us all to make significant changes to our daily lives and of course it has impacted on the game that we all love.

We can’t continue without thanking the incredible workers at the NHS and what all of the key workers are doing on a daily basis to help the country function. Some of the girls in our squads are an integral part of this work force and we are really proud of what they are all doing at this unprecedented time. Of course, we hope that they stay safe and our thoughts are with everyone who is affected by the Coronavirus.

It may seem a little inappropriate to chat about football during times like these, but it was Carlo Ancelotti who once said, “Football is the most important of the less important things in the World”, and he’s right. I didn’t realise how much I’d miss it and I know that the girls are itching to get that blue & white shirt on and cross over the white line again.

So, before we look back on our inaugural season, let’s give you an update on where things stand for the ‘Gas Girls’. On Thursday 26th March, to my surprise, we were notified that our season was instantly cancelled, and the League would be declared null & void. I think I had to read the email 3 times just to make sure that what I was reading, was correct. Then I had the arduous task of notifying the girls in both squads. Naturally we were all gutted, disappointed and frustrated, however I was pleased to see an intent and an eagerness to pick up where we left off and work harder than ever to improve for next season. This was exactly the response I wanted to see. As it stands, we will be in the Gloucestershire County Women’s League next season, but the League committee are keen on completing the Gordon Perrett League Cup before the start of next season (If
it is safe to do so). We are currently scheduled to play Pucklechurch away in the semi-final with the hope of meeting Cheltenham in the Final. I fully commend the League committee for their efforts to keep this competition going, especially when there are only two fixtures to complete. Let’s hope that the situation improves for us to battle for silverware at the
earliest opportunity.

One year on and despite the scenario we currently face, I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve all achieved. The girls are brilliant to work with and they’ve really bought into the culture and ethos that we set out from day one with an emphasis on fun and professionalism.On the pitch? Well, the results speak for themselves.

Whether it was the nerves at our very first friendly away at my old patch in Merthyr, our first competitive match away to Abbeymead, our first home game at Lockleaze and the incredible 7-0 victory against Forest Green Rovers, watching our Development Team players step up during the season and watching us continuingly improve, it has been an absolute blast.

We have experienced a few precarious periods during matches, but I have to say we have been a joy to watch throughout the
season and I’m sure the fans would agree. We’re still learning however, and I look back on this first season with a great sense of pride and thank all of the girls and the amazing staff that I work with for their efforts. It’s a shame that you won’t be fully rewarded for your hard work.

I also have to thank our fantastic sponsors, partners and friends who have all bought into what the ‘Gas Girls’ are all about. We’re in contact with Bristol Rovers Supporters Club on a very regular basis and I’m delighted to say that they’re thoroughly behind us. Brunel Group have given us the opportunity to fund some of our free football sessions for young girls in the area, a true community partnership. We have a superb relationship with Lockleaze Sports Centre, Bob from Ahimsha Yoga attends virtually all of our games to cheer on the girls and will be hosting more yoga sessions for us next season. Crossed Swords 1883 are also regular attendees and are helping us with a project behind the scenes (Did someone say ‘Gas Girls’ merchandise?).

Bristol 24/7 are also helping us to spread our message while Anytime Fitness have supplied the girls with warm-up tops. Without these contributions, we simply won’t be able to function as we aspire to be. We cannot thank you enough.

What now? Well, with no football on the horizon (as of yet) it’s given us an opportunity to plan ahead for next season and beyond. Our staffing structure has increased considerably since our last match, with the view of efficiently assisting our players in different aspects of the game and taking us to the next step.

Paul Mason, a qualified personal trainer joins us as ‘Fitness Coach’ and has already developed an out of season fitness
programme for the whole squad. Javier Gorodi has come on board as club analyst and looking at the work he’s producing, it’s going to make a huge difference in our development programmes. Lottie Weeks will be working alongside First-Team Manager, Nathan Hallett-Young as his Assistant while the two of them study for their UEFA B license. There could also
be a couple of more roles being filled in the coming weeks which will help us to work on other elements of the club behind the scenes. Without the passion and the effort put in by the whole team, we simply would not be able to progress in the way that we see fit.

Another big shout out goes to our club photographers, Rich Buchanan and Tom Meadowcroft, who have offered their time and
their skills to take the great photos that we see online and in this programme. I know how uch time this can take so their efforts do not go unnoticed. As for myself, I now have the opportunity to focus more on our media & marketing activity, working closer with fans, developing a youth system, helping the coaching staff with recruitment decisions and growing the club as a whole.

There are so many things that excite me about this Club. Its potential is evident. What’s been my highlight? There are so many but to receive a message from some very happy parents, telling me that their daughter absolutely loved meeting our players and that they now have positive role models to look up to, is what makes this all worthwhile. Let’s hope that we’re able to do it all again very soon.

Stay safe everyone! UTGG!

Matthew Davies (Mavis)
Co-Founder, Secretary, Media Manager

(reproduced with the kind permission of Bristol Rovers Womens’ FC)