After a week when our focus was on knockout cup competitions it is back to League action this afternoon with a tough game against Charlton Athletic. There was no I-follow to view last Saturday when the Premier League’s bottom club Sheffield United came calling in the F.A. Cup 3rd round and if, like me, you don’t have BT Sport then you had to rely on good old Radio Bristol and the highlights in the evening. It certainly sounded like a really good game and it was clear that Rovers put up a great show and it seems that we were unlucky to go out to the odd goal in five – three of them inside just a couple of exciting minutes. There is no doubt in my mind that Paul Tisdale is putting his mark politely but firmly on his squad and let’s hope that the obvious improvement continues this afternoon. It’s just such a pity that we fans can’t be here to see it!

Just as an unexpected chance to have at least a few spectators back in the stadium for the first time in nine months as a result of Bristol being reduced into ‘Tier 2’ that chance was quickly dashed by another national lockdown and silence once more prevails around BS7 on matchdays! Still, a couple of jabs in the arm are just around the corner and these will hopefully allow life to return to some semblance of ‘normal’ for those of us lucky enough to have survived this terrible virus. Not everyone by any means have been that lucky and my sympathies go out to all those ‘Gasheads’ who have suffered from Covid 19 in the various forms that it seems able to take. I must make mention here of my near lifelong mate Bob Isaacs, now a season ticket holder on the Blackthorn Terrace but who I first met when we became colleagues on the ‘Pirates’ committee under the Chairmanship of the sadly departed Gordon Bennett way back in the 1960’s. Bob was a terrace fan at Eastville before and has remained so ever since at Twerton and here. When I was prevented from travelling away with Rovers due to my work, he and I used to spend many happy Saturday afternoons on the local non-league circuit. A weekly pint with Bob and our other ‘Rovers mates’ has been a constant feature of life ever since we were ‘best men’ at each other’s weddings and it was a big shock when the rest of us learned that he had suffered severely at the hands of the virus but thankfully has survived although he remains in Southmead Hospital where he has been for a couple of months – all that time without family or visitors and not knowing what has hit him! It has of course been far worse for many others and I can only hope that Covid takes no more of the Rovers ‘family’ as I want us all to meet up again here soon. So, please follow the rules and keep safe – it’s only a question of time!

Jim Chappell.