Bristol Rovers vs Ipswich Town Preview & Matchday Thread
Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 10:09 pm
Bristol Rovers FC v Ipswich Town
Saturday 19th September 2020 – 15:00
Pre-Match Thoughts - Mike
Far From Disgraced
Town's interest in this season's Carabao Cup ended with a Second Round defeat at home to Premier League Fulham on Wednesday evening, thoughts before the game were that we could get a bit of a doing over against a team Two divisions higher than ourselves and possible embarrassment loomed large, seeing the line up prior to kick off did little to change those concerns as Paul Lambert elected to make wholesale changes to his starting line up for a game which in truth probably doesn't rank to highly on our list of priorities, in came the likes of Dobra, Kenlock, Donacien, Huws, Cornell, Hawkins and Norwood for some much needed game time.
To be fair to Town they acquitted themselves pretty well without ever really looking like getting a result from the game, Fulham had the lions share of possession and most of the attempts on goal which given the vast difference between the two squads was hardly surprising but Town did have some decent play too, our passing when in possession was by and large good, our work rate and closing down was very impressive too, the makeshift back line had One or Two dodgy moments but by and large did ok, Dozzell, Wilson, Cornell and Edwards can be pleased with their efforts against superior players. It was one of those stars that was the difference between the Two sides as Mitrovic timed his run to perfection before planting a header firmly passed the helpless Cornell in Town's goal.
The game did give players the chance to get some game time and Oli Hawkins & James Norwood in particular will benefit from it, it was also surprising to see Flynn Downes back in a Town shirt as he came on as a second half substitute, I must confess I didn't see it coming and who knows just what the situation is now between the club and player, it would be great to see Flynn settle down and remain a tractor Boy for this season at least but time will tell.
The Toto of Old
I know not everyone rates or wants to see Toto Nsiala in the Town line up but I have to say I for One am really pleased with his form this season, through Pre-season and into the opening games of the season he has looked a much more solid defender with no rash challenges or silly errors so far, in fact I would suggest his performances have outshone those of Luke Woolfenden so far, Paul Lambert certainly seems very pleased with what Toto has served up so far, in fact he was rewarded with the Captain's armband Wednesday evening so well done to him.
I have always maintained it is totally counter productive to have your own fans berating and moaning at you every time you get the ball or every time you make an error and while Nsiala definitely did lose his way last season he has made it clear things were getting to him by hearing the constant jibes from the fans, it certainly doesn't help and is certainly not the first time our wonderful, understanding fans have done it, as he said in his interview after the game he would like nothing more than to ram their words down their throats, good on you son and well done for coming back a different player this time around, long may it continue.
Back To The Main Event...............
This Saturday see's us return to the Bread & Butter of League action and of course our top priority this campaign, following on our good start against Wigan Athletic we have a trip to Bristol Rovers for our opening away League game of the season, by a quirk of fate we again come up against a Bristol Rovers side that we met only Two weeks ago in the First Round of the Carabao Cup and a repeat of that day will do very nicely indeed. There was no doubt we ran out very deserved and comfortable winners on the day and the Three Nil scoreline was not flattering in the slightest.
I am not sure if Rovers have strengthened up in the last Fortnight but they looked weak in the striking department, they did however open their League campaign with a creditable draw at highly fancied Sunderland so clearly they can be tough to beat on any given day. I think with the likes of Bishop, Sears, Chambers, Ward, Edwards etc all returning to the line up Town could well edge this one too, if we can keep it tight at the back they didn't look to have a lot to break us down and I fancy the way we are playing we will create chances, taking at least One could well be enough to nick the points here. COYB'S.
The Opposition – Bristol Rovers FC
In September 1883, in a meeting organised by school teacher Bill Somerton at the Eastville Restaurant on Stapleton Road in Bristol, the foundation was laid for the team that would go on to be known as Bristol Rovers. The area was at the time a rugby stronghold, and this led the fledgling club to be named after local rugby side The Arabs – their all-black kits leading to the football club being known as Black Arabs F.C. A gold sash was later added to the black shirts, and the black and gold colour scheme went on to become a recurrent theme in the team's away kits in the 21st century.
The Black Arabs played their home games on Purdown in Bristol, but found fixtures hard to come by in their early days due to a dearth of association football teams in the Bristol area. During that first season the team came to be known by the nickname The Purdown Poachers, after the location of their home pitch, and despite the fact they only played there for a single season the moniker stuck for some time.
In November 1884 the name of the club was changed to Eastville Rovers, giving them an identity in their own right, rather than being named after a rugby club. The change in name to one based on a geographical location came about in an effort to broaden the appeal of the club and to draw players from a wider area.
It wasn't until 14 January 1888 that Eastville Rovers took part in a formal competition for the first time.
The following season, on 6 April 1889, Rovers won their first ever trophy by beating Warmley in the final of the second running of the Gloucestershire Cup.
Eastville Rovers continued to play mainly friendly matches for the next few years, as well as taking part in the Gloucestershire Cup each year. In 1890, Rovers again reached the final of this competition, losing 7–2 to Clifton Association in a game that was refereed by noted cricketer W. G. Grace.
Rovers moved to their fourth home in 1891, having negotiated a fee of £8 a year to allow them to play at the Schoolmasters Cricket Ground, Horfield.
1892 was a major landmark in the history of the club, with Eastville Rovers joining an organised league for the first time. Rovers became a founding member of the Bristol & District League (later to become the Western Football League.
The 1893–94 season was a poor one, with Rovers finishing 11th out of 12 teams, with only Mangotsfield F.C. below them in the league. Things improved in 1894–95 however with a 6th-place finish. This season saw Rovers move to their fifth home, locating themselves at a ground referred to sometimes as Rudgeway and at other times as Ridgeway in the Fishponds area of the city. On 22 September 1894 the first meeting of the two teams that went on to become Bristol Rovers and Bristol City took place. Bristol South End beat Eastville Rovers 2–1 at St. John's Lane in Bedminster.
5 October 1895 saw the first appearance in the FA Cup. During the 1896–97 season, Rovers purchased the Eastville ground from Bristol Harlequins rugby club on 26 March 1897 and on 3 April played their first game there against Aston Villa. This would remain their home for almost 100 years.
During the last few years of the 19th century, Eastville Rovers had gradually become known as Bristol Eastville Rovers, and on 7 February 1899 the club officially changed its name to Bristol Rovers.
On 17 November 1900 Rovers faced Weymouth in an FA Cup qualifying match. With the score 5–1 at half time, Rovers went on to score ten goals in the second half, recording a 15–1 victory, a club record for the biggest win in a competitive first team match that still stands today.
During the 1902–03 season Rovers won the Gloucestershire Cup for the second time after beating Bristol City 4–2 in the second replay.
Only six league seasons were played during this decade due to World War I. 1909–10 marked the beginning of a disappointing run of league performances, with the team never finishing better than 13th in the Southern League in the six seasons before the war Although one season of league football was played after the outbreak of war, the 1914–15 would be the last season of competitive football played by Rovers until 1919.
On 18 May 1920 a meeting was held between representatives of the Southern League and The Football League and it was decided to move all of the Southern League teams into the new third division of the Football League, which up to this point had consisted of two divisions.
Attendances were high during this period. On several occasions during this decade, matches between the two Bristol clubs attracted crowds of 30,000 spectators.
Another noteworthy player to appear for Rovers in this decade was Ronnie Dix (born 5 September 1912). He scored his first goal at an age of 15 Years, 180 days, making him the youngest goalscorer in Football League history, a record that still stands today. He remained the only 15-year-old to play for Rovers for almost 77 years, when Scott Sinclair made his debut aged 15 years, 275 days in December 2004.
Bristol Rovers' manager David McLean resigned on 17 September 1930. His replacement, Captain Albert Prince-Cox brought many changes to the club. One of his first actions as manager was to take the club on a mid-season tour of The Netherlands, and on 16 November 1930 Rovers beat the Dutch national team 3–2, just 24 hours after beating Coventry City 1–0 in the league.
One of the innovations introduced by Albert Prince-Cox was the blue and white quartered shirts, which are still worn today. These were first used during the 1931–32 season, Prince-Cox believed that they made the players look larger and more intimidating.
The sequence of events that eventually resulted in Bristol Rovers leaving the city and playing their home games in Bath during the 1980s began in 1932, when Rovers agreed a lease of Eastville Stadium to the Bristol Greyhound Racing Association that included a clause stating that if Rovers were to sell the stadium then the greyhound association would have first refusal, and that the price would not exceed £13,000. In 1934 the lease was amended to allow the Bristol Greyhound Racing Association to buy the stadium whenever they wished to purchase it, providing that they gave two months notice in writing to the football club. The purchase price was guaranteed to be not less than £8,000 and not more than £13,000. In 1939, Rovers wrote to the greyhound company informing them that they were prepared to sell the stadium, the greyhound company replying with an offer of £20,000 for the freehold.
On 13 April 1935, Rovers played Watford in the final of the Division 3 (South) Cup at The Old Den. The match was played at a neutral venue because both clubs had refused to take part in a coin toss to decide home advantage. Rovers won the match 3–2, winning their only national trophy in the period between World War I and World War II.
During a match with Luton Town on 13 April 1936, Rovers suffered the biggest defeat in their history, losing 12–0. 10 of the goals were scored by Joe Payne, which is still the league record for the most goals scored by a single player in a match. Rovers finished bottom of the league in the 1938–39 season, and were forced to apply for re-election to the league when competitive football resumed after the war.
Official league football resumed after World War II for the 1946–47 season. During the war Rovers had played mainly friendly games, and also took part in the unofficial Division 3 South (South) competition in 1945–46. The Bristol Rovers Supporters Club was set up in 1947 to provide financial support to the football club. The first chairman was former Gloucestershire cricketer Hampden Alpass.
The 1950s was the most successful decade in the history of Bristol Rovers. The club reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup twice, achieved their highest ever placing in the football pyramid, won a divisional title.
During the second world war, the Bristol Greyhound Racing Association had invested money into Bristol Rovers, and as a result the Greyhound Association had taken control of the football club's accounts and board of directors. In 1950, an FA commission, after examining the club's books, fined Bristol Rovers £250 and ordered the greyhound company to relinquish its controlling interest in the football club and banned club secretary Charles Ferrari from football club management.
In the 1950–51 season Bristol Rovers reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time. This season also saw the adoption of Goodnight Irene as a favorite song of Bristol Rovers fans. The song was sung at the Rovers fans by supporters of Plymouth Argyle before a match at Eastville, because a version of it was in the charts at the time, and again to taunt the Rovers fans after Argyle had taken the lead. Rovers went on to win the game 3–1 and replied to the Plymouth taunts by singing Goodnight Argyle. The song remained popular with the Rovers fans, and over the years became the anthem of the supporters.
The first league title to be won by Bristol Rovers since the 1904–05 Southern League championship was the 1952–53 Division 3 (South) title. This was the first time Rovers had won promotion since joining the Football League in 1920.
The highest ever league placing by Rovers was achieved in both the 1955–56 and 1958–59 seasons, when the team finished in sixth place in the second tier of league football. In 1955–56, Rovers only missed out on promotion to the top flight by four points.
For the 1962–63 season, Rovers abandoned their now familiar blue and white quarters in favour of blue pinstripes. Also in this season, the club signed goalkeeper Esmond Million from Middlesbrough for £5,000. In April 1963, The People newspaper ran a story alleging that Million had accepted a bribe to lose the match against Bradford (Park Avenue) on 20 April. During the game he had allowed a backpass to slip past him and allowed a cross to go, enabling Bradford to score twice. Unfortunately for Million, Rovers also scored twice so the game ended 2–2 and Million did not receive the money he had been offered to lose the game. Million and his accomplice, Keith Williams, were fined £50 each by Doncaster Magistrates' Court, and banned from football for life by The FA.
The furthest Bristol Rovers have ever progressed in the league cup is the quarter-finals. This was achieved twice in consecutive seasons – 1970–71 and 1971–72.
In July 1972, Rovers appointed Don Megson as their new manager. His first task as manager was to guide the team through the Watney Cup, where the team beat Sheffield United in the final in a match that was drawn 0–0 at full time. A penalty shoot-out was held to decide the winners, and Rovers won 7–6, meaning that Megson had won a trophy after only three matches as manager.
For the 1973–74 season, Rovers had switched back to their blue and white quartered shirts, which they have worn ever since. This coincided with a promotion-winning season, with second place in division 3 earning them a second spell in the second division. Rovers remained in the Second Division for the remainder of the decade.
The 1980–81 season was probably the worst in the club's history. Rovers won just five league games during the season, and only four home wins in all competitions. The team was relegated at the end of the season, finishing in last place, seven points below the other relegated team, Bristol City. The club had also failed to agree an extension to the lease on their stadium, which had had its capacity reduced from 30,000 to 12,500 due to new safety laws, causing fears that they would have to find a new home. On 17 August 1980, a fire started in the South Grandstand in Eastville Stadium, destroying the administrative offices and changing rooms. As a result, Rovers were forced to play five games at Ashton Gate, three in the league and two in the League Cup. This location was not popular with the fans however, who considered this to be enemy territory, and all five games were poorly attended.
During the 1981–82 season, with the lease on Eastville coming to an end, Rovers were offered deals to groundshare by both Bristol City and Bath City, however a five-year extension to their existing lease was agreed and Rovers would remain at Eastville until 1986. Before the lease was agreed, the Rovers chairman, Martin Flook, had made an offer of £450,000 to buy Ashton Gate Stadium from Bristol City, who were on the verge of bankruptcy at the time. However, when City reformed as Bristol City (1982) plc, this bid was rejected.
The last game to be played at Eastville was on 26 April 1986, when Rovers drew 1–1 with Chesterfield in front of just 3,576 spectators. The following season Rovers moved to Bath City's Twerton Park ground, where they would remain for ten years.
At the start of the 1987–88 season, former Rovers player Gerry Francis was appointed as manager. He immediately went about building the team that would go on to win the Third Division title within three seasons.
Success in the league was achieved by Gerry Francis in his third season as Bristol Rovers manager. The team won the 1989–90 third division championship, clinching promotion on 2 May 1990 with a 3–0 victory over local rivals Bristol City, who finished second and were also promoted.
The following season Rovers suffered a second fire at their ground. Ten years after the fire at Eastville, the main stand at Twerton Park was damaged on 16 September 1990 in what was later found to be an arson attack. Seven Bristol City fans were later tried and convicted of the crime.
The first two seasons back in the Second Division saw Rovers finish a credible 13th place, their highest in the league since the 1950s. In the 1990–91 season the side were outsiders for play-off place before petering out in mid-table. Gerry Francis left for QPR and was succeeded by Martin Dobson, who left following a dismal start to 1991–92. Dennis Rofe brought a turnaround in form to finish mid-table.
Rovers' third season in the second tier of the league resulted in relegation. Dennis Rofe was sacked following another awful start, and veteran manager Malcolm Allison was appointed in an effort to turn things round, without much success. John Ward in turn replaced Allison near the end of the season, but little improvement followed. At the end of the 1992–93 season, Rovers were bottom of the division, now known as Division One due to the creation of the FA Premier League.
A second appearance at Wembley was earned at the end of the 1994–95 season, in the Second Division play-off final. Rovers lost by the same scoreline as their only other game to be played there – 2–1. This time the opponents were Huddersfield Town, and the attendance of 59,175 is the second highest ever at a Bristol Rovers game. Also during this season, Rovers faced their landlords, Bath City, in the first round of the FA Cup. Rovers won the game 5–0, and unusually for a game involving a league team, there was no fan segregation. The following season Rovers failed to make a serious challenge for the play-offs, resulting in the sacking of John Ward and his replacement by former player Ian Holloway.
Rovers' return to Bristol was at the beginning of the 1996–97 season. Bristol Rugby Club were experiencing financial difficulties, and offered Rovers the opportunity to buy half of the Memorial Ground (now called The Memorial Stadium) for £2.3 million. The stadium was not ready for league football however, and the first game of the season was played at Twerton Park. On 17 April 1998, Bristol Rugby Club were placed in receivership, invoking a clause in the tenancy agreement allowing Rovers to buy the other half of the Memorial Ground for £100,000. Rovers now owned their own stadium for the first time since 1939.
Until the end of the 2000–01 season, Bristol Rovers had been the only team in the Football League never to have played in the first or the fourth levels of the league. This record ended when the team were relegated to Division 3 for the 2001–02 season. Holloway resigned at the halfway point of the season, and Garry Thompson took over for the rest of the campaign, but was unable to prevent relegation. Gerry Francis returned to the club and oversaw a good start that saw them top the division at the end of August; results soon faded however, and it became clear that Rovers were not going to get out of the division at the first attempt. Francis resigned due to personal issues in December with the side in 20th place, leading to Garry Thompson being reinstated as manager. Despite masterminding a cup upset against Premier League opponents Derby County, Rovers' League form remained poor, and the club hit its lowest ebb, finishing second bottom of the whole League and only surviving due to a truly awful season by bottom-placed Halifax Town.
With the League introducing two relegation places from Division Three the next season it was obvious that Rovers would have to improve quickly, and Thompson was duly sacked and replaced by former player Ray Graydon. While Graydon had experienced promotion success twice with Walsall, he failed to significantly improve Rovers' form, and the next two seasons were also spent fighting relegation to the Conference. Soon, Graydon was gone, and Ian Atkins took the hotseat. A slight improvement resulted, resulting in Rovers hovering in mid-table; this was far from what the board and fans wanted however, and after just over a season in charge Atkins was dismissed, and in his place the club appointed Paul Trollope as player-manager, aided by director of football Lennie Lawrence. Trollope's first season in full charge (2005–06) saw the club briefly contend for the play-offs, but eventually resulted in another mid-table (12th place) finish.
Improvements were needed and they came during the 2006–07 season, when Rovers reached the final of the Football League Trophy for the second time in the club's history. The team were beaten 3–2 by Doncaster Rovers after extra time.
The team also managed to qualify for the playoffs, finishing 6th in the final table (the last play-off spot awarded to a team) where they played 3rd placed and tie favourites Lincoln City. Rovers qualified for the final at the new Wembley Stadium after a 7–4 aggregate win over Lincoln. In the final at Wembley Stadium they faced Shrewsbury Town. Bristol Rovers won by three goals to one in what was a thrilling match. The game was marked though, by the home match atmosphere created by the huge Rovers' support and their almost endless singing of their signature song "Goodnight Irene". Rovers also became only the second team, behind Chelsea to have played at both Millennium Stadium and Wembley Stadium in the same season.
2007–08 saw Rovers survive in League One as they finished 16th, with the prospect of relegation never really finding its way around the club, however, top 6 was always a bit ambitious and it proved to be a transitional season for the club, just to find their feet amongst the division.
A fine start to the 2009–10 season pushed Rovers into 3rd place in the table at the start of October. Rovers maintained a very consistent level of performance throughout the remainder of the season, never falling out of the top 10 positions.
Rovers' started the 2010–11 season poorly, and they were in the relegation zone from the first weeks of the campaign. Paul Trollope resigned near the end of 2010, and a few weeks later was replaced by Dave Penney. Under the new manager Rovers proceeded to lose 9 of the next 13 games, and Penney's tenure as manager was brought to an end after barely two months, with the club bottom of the table and looking completely doomed. Stuart Campbell took over as caretaker manager for the rest of the season, and despite steering the side to a creditable 16 points from 12 games, Campbell was unable to prevent relegation, the club's horrid mid-season run ultimately proving too much to recover from.
While Campbell was favourite to be installed as full-time manager, the board instead chose to appoint Paul Buckle, manager of that season's losing League Two play-off finalists, Torquay United. Buckle failed to repeat the success he had brought to Torquay, and only exacerbated the situation when he fell out with fan favourite Campbell, leading to his dismissal in January 2012 with the club in the lower reaches of League Two. He was replaced by Mark McGhee, who improved the club's fortunes and steered them to safety and a 13th-place finish.
McGhee heavily invested in the squad in the post-season, and Rovers were considered among the favourites for promotion to League One. However, the club made a dire start, and were near the bottom of the table from the earliest weeks of the season. By December 2012 it was clear that Rovers were in perhaps the biggest danger of dropping out of the Football League they had ever been, which resulted in McGhee being sacked and former manager John Ward returning to the club. The club's form greatly improved in the weeks that followed, and another safe finish was achieved, this time 14th.
2013–14 looked to be repeating the pattern of the previous two seasons, with mediocre initial form followed by a climb into mid-table by early spring. However, a terrible run of form then set in, resulting in Ward being "moved upstairs" to the role director of football (a role he was ultimately sacked from days after the season ended) and replaced by his assistant Darrell Clarke. A win in a vital six-pointer against Wycombe Wanderers in the penultimate match appeared to have secured Rovers's League status and condemned Wycombe to relegation. Rovers only required a draw in their final league match, at home to Mansfield, but were defeated 1 – 0 while both Wycombe and Northampton Town won their own final matches. It meant that Rovers' 94 year consecutive stay in the Football League was over, finishing behind Wycombe only on goal difference.
Despite overseeing the club's relegation into the Conference Premier, Clarke remained in charge. An indifferent start to the season, with Rovers picking up just one point from their first three games and third defeat in seven in their away fixture with part-timers Braintree Town, saw calls for the manager to be sacked. What followed was an incredible run of just two defeats in 39 league games as Rovers came agonisingly close to making an immediate return to the Football League, finishing as runners-up to Barnet. They were promoted back to League Two after winning the Playoff Final against Grimsby Town on Penalties.
Rovers achieved promotion in their first season back in League Two when they finished 3rd in the 2015-16 season. They retained their status in League 1 the following season finishing in a respectable 10th position, and next season in 13th.
In February 2016 it was announced that a 92% stake in the club had been bought by the Jordanian al-Qadi family and that Wael al-Qadi, a member of the Jordan Football Association, would become the president. The club is now owned by Dwane Sports Ltd with 92.6% of the shares with Bristol Rovers Supporters Club owning the remaining 7.4%.
Last season Rovers finished in 14th place in League 1
The Manager – Ben Garner
Bristol Rovers Last Match
12 Sep Sunderland 1 - 1 Bristol Rovers
Ipswich Last Match
13 Sep Ipswich Town 2 - 0 Wigan Athletic
Marko’s Caption Contest – THE DON CUP
Don Cup first week was a bit quiet. Hopefully it bursts into life this week.
Bristol Rovers Caption pic:
Match Referee – Craig Hicks
BRISTOL ROVERS 0 IPSWICH TOWN 1