I do not intend to dwell for too long on the website comments of Bristol Rovers Supporters Club (BRSC) chair Jim Chappell, but neither am I going to ignore them completely. I no longer look at football forums of any kind so I don’t know how other fans have reacted, but I can’t believe people felt positive or even comfortable. Here, lifted directly from the BRSC website is Jim’s column:
I deliberately left any comment on the most fantastic end there has ever been to a Bristol Rovers’ season because it was taking a while for everything to sink in.
Up until 5pm on Saturday the 7th May 2016, (surely a new date to rival the historic 2nd of May 1990), there was the possibility of having to prepare one more Bristol Rovers Supporters Club column in what would have been the final ‘Pirate’ – a home leg play-off semi-final against AFC Wimbledon.
That another programme was not required was of course down to a slice of last-day luck with poor old Accrington Stanley failing to score for the one and only time at home in their last match against Stevenage.
Not that Rovers relied totally on what was happening at the Wham Stadium of course because Darrell’s boys had to do the business here with yet another home victory against already relegated Dagenham & Redbridge.
Thankfully, they did it with just a minute or so to spare.
I didn’t see any of the goals ‘live’ because we were working on the 50/50 Draw when the ‘Daggers’ took a shock lead only for Rovers to restore parity a few minutes later.
Then I had my head in my hands after yet another Matty Taylor shot hit the post with what I thought was the last kick of the season only to look up and see the ball hitting the back of the net from a then unknown player.
Such were the celebrations in the Dribuild Stand that nobody could tell me who had scored and frankly nobody cared much either but how fitting it was that ‘unsung hero’ Lee Brown was the man to strike the ‘golden goal’ that meant so much to every Rovers supporter.
As mayhem broke out on the pitch and in every part of the stadium I met up with former Chairman Nick Higgs who told me how proud he felt having signed all the players involved on the day and how he still considered it to be his team.
While this is true and justifiable, the real credit must go to Darrell Clarke and his staff who have taken a collection of players from non-League to a second consecutive promotion – a simply fantastic achievement.
All the more disappointing then to learn on the Monday after the match that there was to be no open-top bus tour or any other type of celebration and suddenly the whole thing became just a bit of an anti-climax.
I contacted Chairman Steve Hamer to query this and ask for it to be reconsidered but I was told that we hadn’t won anything yet and we would have a tour when Rovers win the League One title.
I see the point but every other Rovers promotion has been followed by a bus tour of the city and the last two were only via play-offs and not automatically achieved – the latter of course allowing an extra three weeks to arrange everything thus negating the point made in the original press release that the club was ‘preparing for life in League One’.
Considering the President’s often commented remarks that the fans are such a vital part of the club it seems strange that such an opportunity to involve everyone in a fully justified celebration has not been taken up.
Anyone who turned out last season to witness the bus tour through the streets of East Bristol and/or then came to the stadium will remember what a great day it was with normal roles reversed and the players being paraded up in the West Stand to receive their promotion medals in front of around 5,000 fans on the pitch below to watch the ‘ceremony’.
Players, management, backroom staff, volunteers and fans joined together in celebration – what this club has always been about. It strikes me that the players must be due promotion medals – so how will they now receive them, by post?
A great opportunity lost and the Club could have benefited from bar and food sales as last year. Disappointing for all those who were unable to party at the final whistle due to work or whatever. So, no official celebration and we move on.
I want to thank again Darrell, his staff and the players who gave everything right up to the last minute of the last match.
I can’t remember a more satisfying season ‘on the road’ in all my fifty-odd years supporting the Rovers and so very few matches were a disappointment – Portsmouth and, ironically, Accrington Stanley as always, stick in the mind but so many great wins and fine goals more than made up for those, tenfold.
At home, after another shaky start, the Memorial Stadium has become a fortress for Rovers and a winning start in League One will equal a home winning sequence stretching back for the best part of a century.
Let’s just hope that the management/player staff list remains as potent as it did last summer when really only one major more-or-less straight-swop of Billy Bodin for the departing Andy Monkhouse came about and the real ‘team’ ethic continued throughout the squad for a second successful campaign.
A previous post on the BRSC website named and thanked all our staff and volunteers and I just want to reiterate my thanks to all those who do so much to help out.
Most supporters and, I reckon, club management and staff have no idea just how many volunteers we have working at “The Mem” on a match-day and people like Ron Thorne, who starts preparing the programme trolleys et cetera about 10am and yet misses every kick-off, are invaluable to Rovers.
Similarly, several Committee members and others work on the 50/50 right up to half-time and on the programme sales and shop receipts up to the end of day. Unlike the drinkers on Gloucester Road there is no ‘presidential’ visit for them to celebrate promotion so they all deserve a bus tour at least.
Finally, a very big thank you to every remaining member of the BRSC Share Scheme for continuing to contribute into the scheme that initially helped preserve Rovers’ existence at the Memorial Stadium.
This has funded the purchase of a significant shareholding in the Football Club and that in turn retains two elected ordinary supporters on the Board when all the other shareholders had to sell out to the Al-Qadi family.
I want the scheme to continue in future; although I realise that the members have not received very much in return.
It will be good if we can purchase the full 600,000 shares we are entitled to under the agreement, (circa 470,000 = 5.75% purchased to date), because we never know what might happen to the club in the future.
I feel it remains necessary and probably essential for supporters to have some financial say in Bristol Rovers’ future.
My thinking is that we could continue funding the BRFC Youth Academy in line with our successful 50/50 Draw whilst the new owners concentrate on player acquisition and of course the infrastructure improvements such as the new stadium.
Much remains to be discussed with the Board and I hope that we can arrange a meeting with members of the Bristol Rovers Supporters Club Share Scheme before the next season begins so please stick with us.
Enjoy the summer and look forward to English Football League Division One.
Might yet see you in Spain in July.
We need to be careful not to build too much of a mountain of what is a minor molehill. Jim is a thoroughly decent man who has given his life for the betterment of Bristol Rovers Football Club. He has never seen BRSC as any kind of political vehicle, existing purely, without qualification and at all times to support the club. These are noble aims and, given that he remains chair today suggests he enjoys a good deal of support. Or it could be that no one else wants to do the job and that Jim has a sense of duty. The only problem is that for Jim, the world stopped turning in around 1972.
This is the first negative piece I have read about Bristol Rovers since Wael Al-Qadi took over and new chair Steve Hamer was installed and it is ironic, to say the least, that it comes from the senior figure of BRSC. The swipes at Messrs Al-Qadi and Hamer were as pathetic as they were unnecessary. Wael had promised to visit the Vic if Rovers were promoted and he fulfilled that promise. Is Jim saying that Wael should not have ventured down the Gloucester Road where many thousands of fans were celebrating a great day? If not, why not? My friends who were there it was one of the greatest times of their lives. Wael was in the Supporters Club bar too, on the chair.
It is the choice of volunteers to sell 50/50 tickets and programmes. None of them are forced to do so and all of them know they will miss parts of the game. This was something that happened in different times, when the club was misrun by Nick Higgs who, it seems, claims all the credit for promotion. This has come as quite a shock to those who thought it might have more to do with the players and our brilliant young manager Darrell Clarke. And as for an open top bus tour – really? I support Steve Hamer 100% on this one. If we win something – and yes, that includes a play off final – then celebrate, but third place with a bus tour? It’s no big deal, Jim.
Jim’s defence of the long discredited Share Scheme is laughable since he personally had nothing whatsoever to do with it for the first decade of its existence. In fact, although it was sold as BRSC’s share scheme, a sub-committee actually ran it and, indeed, some elements of BRSC were opposed to it. Now, with BRSC owning a smaller shareholding that it did when the scheme was launched, despite a donation to the club of over £1 million, Jim wants it to continue. Why? Jim doesn’t even understand the original aim of the scheme, to purchase a blocking vote on the board. It’s all over.
BRSC has a great past but I no longer know what it stands for in the here and now and what it will stand for in the future. So far as I can tell, it run a shop in Kingswood that doesn’t make any money, its members sell programmes and 50/50 tickets and, if you are a member you have the opportunity to drink overpriced beer in an elderly rugby clubhouse. All decent things to do, no doubt, but this is no longer Ragbag Rovers, operating out of a portakabin in the grounds of a chocolate factory.
The last thing we want, now the fan base is completely united and behind the new owners, is division and I don’t think the chairman’s scribblings represent more than an untidy squiggle in the club’s history.
They are the ramblings of someone who would rather things stayed as they were forever, with the club held together by sticking plaster, hoping that “something” would turn up and believing the answer to all its ills were luck and chemistry.
The half-time 50/50 draw and Martyn Radnedge’s toe-curling ‘Helpline’ tombola will still be there for the foreseeable future but as the club becomes more professional – and not before time – the club will become reliant on other forms of funding, courtesy of our new stadium and its accompanying income streams.
The future is bright, the future is exciting and, increasingly, the future is here. The club of plucky amateurs, of whom I was one, is becoming the past and we should all celebrate progress, not dream of a sepia-coloured world which largely represented struggle and failure.
I am not sure whether I want to be part of such a backward thinking organisation which seems to resent the kind of change that is so desperately needed. I know there have been calls for Jim Chappell to resign but that’s a matter for BRSC members, not me. Perhaps Jim meant well with his comments and the wrong words came out. We’ve all been guilty of that. To me, it just read like a self-pitying, self-important whinge.
As the man said, move along; nothing to see here. The man has had his say it wasn’t particularly edifying. Onwards and upwards, I say.