Friday, 29 August 2014

What No Bovril?

Standing on a football terrace while munching on a falafel wrap was a new experience for me.

Not an unpleasant one, but I'm not entirely sure it will ever catch on. It's my first visit to Forest Green Rovers'  out of town stadium, the New Lawn, in Nailsworth, and I have to say I'm intrigued by this football experiment.

The ground is a pretty soul-less creation, a la Deva/Exacta. There's a decent bar beneath the main stand but the place is probably best known for its non-meat policy. Still, it could be a lot worse as the owner who has implemented the burger ban is actually vegan. In any case it doesn't go down well with the Blues around me, who seem to think that an exception should be made for Bovril.

FGR's chief executive, multi millionaire former New Age traveller Dale Vince, is also the owner of green energy company, Ecotricity. There's evidence of this all round the ground and not just in the advertising hoardings. At the main entrance are charging points for electric cars - they are all empty but the car park is bursting with gas guzzlers.

I'm not sure whether to wish Vince well or not. The attendance for the visit of the Blues is just over 1,000. Given that it's the first home game of the season, FGR are among the title-favourites and there are more than 300 Chester fans on a Tuesday night it's piss poor really.

The FGR line up includes Jon Parkin and Lee Hughes, with Luke Rodgers on the bench. That lot don't come cheap and Rovers have also picked up a couple of Salisbury's best players. It's rugby union heartland and I just don't see the fan base expanding. Much like the charging points, football hasn't caught on in this corner of the Cotswolds.

Unlike Vince's energy, it's not sustainable but if he's happy to plough in the cash then I suppose why not? It does, however, demonstrate what our fans' owned club is up against but I don't think some supporters have grasped that stark reality. At the moment we can't compete with a club with less than half our gates.

As for the match, the Blues don't turn up in the first half but rally and we are perhaps unlucky not to grab a point. It's my first of three successive away games and there's a pattern emerging. Can I suggest that Steve Burr hands out a bollocking on the coach on the way down rather than waiting until half time?

A win, a draw and a defeat is not a bad return from three away days at FGR, Braintree (where we were tonked last season) and Kidderminster, but I just feel sorry for the poor buggers who have to watch us at home.

The away support so far has been magnificent and I can't help feeling that if we could transfer some of that positivity to the Exacta there would be an improvement on the pitch. Even when we were two down after a shambolic ten minutes at Kiddie the singing hardly wavered and hats off to the lads who get it going. It's obvious that the players appreciate it.

At Aggborough there is top-drawer traditional footie grub...cottage pies the size of house bricks, chicken chow-mein and warming home-made soup. The alley to the away end is strewn with burger wrappers and KFC boxes, which is strangely comforting.

Adrian Lee