I am, of course, biased towards Bristol Rovers’ matchday programme, ‘The Pirate’, since I have been providing copy on and off for some 17 years and I am absolutely thrilled that, once again, this fine organ has received the top accolade of being voted by Programme Monthly as the best in League One. This award is generally regarded to be one of the most prestigious awards and it does huge credit to our football club.

When the club was at its lowest ebb – that should be ebbs, plural, actually – ‘The Pirate’ kept on winning awards. Editor Keith Brookman never took his eye of the ball, never cutting corners or pages if he could help it, and whilst the club, on the pitch and off it, was a shambles, the programme went from strength to strength. Whilst Keith would be the first to acknowledge the efforts of his contributors, without his tireless efforts, his drive and professionalism, his ear for what the supporters are saying and what they want to read are the keys to his, and the programme’s, success. Today the credit is all his.

I am glad, too, that this aspect of Bristol Rovers is celebrated not just by the supporters, who are justly proud of their programme, but also by the new owners. One of the first congratulatory tweets came from club president Wael al-Qadi who said “Well done & congrats dear Keith” and so say all of us. I have said to anyone who would listen (and plenty who probably didn’t want to) that Wael “gets” what Bristol Rovers is all about, something he has demonstrated consistency since he bought the club. All I ever wanted from Bristol Rovers was for them to be run properly and sustainably, with its traditions respected and its supporters being able to feel part of the club. To spend time from his busy schedule to congratulate Keith Brookman on his, and the club’s success, merely confirms all these things.

In the not very olden days, I never believed the efforts of the likes of Keith were properly respected by those at the top of the club, but then I don’t believe they respected pretty well anyone else, either. The past has passed now and under Wael al-Qadi’s quiet evolutionary process we can all look forward to a brighter day.

Well done, Bristol Rovers; champions of League One. Now that sounds good, does it? If the programme can do it, why not the team?

(All views mine and mine alone.)