Ten things about Forest Green Rovers on Saturday!

  1. When my alarm went off at 6.45a.m. on Saturday morning, I have to admit that I did think about turning over and pretending that I had never heard the alarm at all. This had absolutely nothing to do with joining my fellow compatriots on the legendary Moose Tours; having relaxed and comfortable journeys to and from Gloucestershire or even a most pleasant several hours in a local hostelry in the quaint attractive market town of Cirencester in the Cotswolds. It most definitely had something to do with going to play Forest Green Rovers!
  2. Forest Green Rovers (aka FGR) are the plaything of Dale Vince, the former new age traveller and now rather wealthy green energy industrialist, where in 2015 they achieved the status of becoming the world’s first all vegan football club. They are situated in Nailsworth which is around three miles outside Stroud, and over the years have had some hefty funding from the aforementioned Mr Vince. Why is it then that I have such a ‘thing’ about FGR and not in a good way? Well they are not a particularly friendly club; do not allow away fans into their bar, and have now placed away fans who want to stand in a predominantly open terrace down the side of the pitch, even charging two quid extra for people to occupy a small ‘covered’ terrace that is crass to say the least. Oh and I forgot to mention that the use of soya milk makes your half-time brew taste disgusting, and that overbearing and irritating PA of theirs who sounds like a pre-pubescent teenager on speed! Indeed the place is so completely soulless, it could be argued that that there is more atmosphere on the sea of tranquility where Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in 1969! Just to finish it off, we always seem to lose there; the notable exceptions being the amazing penalty shoot-out victory way back in 2001, and Paul Lewis’ last gasp winner in a 3-2 victory in 2012.
  3. Anyway to the game. With the exception of Miles Welch-Hayes replacing the luckless James Pearson (arguably Macc’s best player in recent weeks) the game kicked off in front of a crowd of 2,386 which also included 170 Silkmen (including yours truly) who had arrived at the New Lawn in the hope that we could attain a point or even three (however unlikely that was at the start of the game) to ensure that we kept some distance from the bottom two of Notts County and Yeovil Town.
  4. The first half proved about as atmospheric as the New Lawn itself, with chances at a premium, and with both sets of spectators struggling to keep their eyes open in a very dull and uninspiring first forty five minutes where all yours truly can remember is Harry Smith heading over the FGR bar following a decent cross from the ever popular Elliott Durrell, and FGR’s Joseph Mills firing a free kick wide of Kieran O’Hara’s upright in added on time at the end of the half.
  5. As yours truly attempted to drink his utterly disgusting coffee (I really cannot believe you like soya milk Nicole Smart!!), discussion was held with the eternally amiable and balanced gentlemen that are Richard Swallow and Jon Smart. We all agreed that a point (and even better three points) was most definitely achievable against a FGR side that looked ordinary at best and we even concluded that we had probably shaded that very forgettable first half period.
  6. The onset of the second half saw both sets of supporters much more engaged with the game as Reece Cole and Michael Rose (who was having an infinitely better game than on Tuesday against Exeter City) saw decent efforts towards the FGR goal albeit non too troubling for FGR ‘keeper Ward before Doidge had an effort which was high, wide, and most definitely not very handsome! Yours truly however, could not but fail to notice that young Zak Jules, yours truly Man of the Match was making some eye catching runs forward in a style reminiscent of ‘Der Kaiser’ Franz Beckenbauer, and if he can go onto be anything like the player he was, the Silkmen would be sure to get a very hefty sum of money in the future; hence my call to sign the youngster up on a two year deal NOW!!
  7. The bright start to the second half then appeared to be petering out into the sort of nothingness witnessed in the drab first half when the hapless referee Craig Hicks bafflingly awarded a free kick to FGR for a completely innocuous challenge that was nothing like as obvious as to one which should have resulted in a Silkmen free kick just seconds earlier. The Silkmen defence appeared static as a harmless looking ball into the box somehow managed to get a flick on from Doidge before nestling in the net and we were a goal down. It was a goal that FGR hardly deserved, but once again we had been outdone from a dead ball situation, and despite the introduction of club legend Danny Whitaker for the unfortunate Rose (who was easily one of our better players on the day) and Scott Wilson for Reece Cole; the Silkmen team did little to encourage their faithful followers that we could retrieve the situation. Indeed, another fairly needless foul led to another FGR dead ball in a decent position, and Mills simply guided the ball into the Silkmen net with a far from explosive effort that gave the FGR team a scoreline which was harsh on the Silkmen to say the least. The FGR Man of the Match CRAIG HICKS then inexplicably failed to give the Silkmen a penalty when Nathan Cameron appeared to be unceremoniously manhandled to the floor in the dying embers of the game which would have at least helped with our goal difference which could become a crucial factor come 17.00 hours on the 4th of May 2019!
  8. As the final whistle blew, many of the Silkmen faithful anxiously checked their phones to find out the latest about Notts County and Yeovil Town and there were audible sighs of relief that they had also succumbed to defeat. So here we are as this hugely enigmatic first season back in the fourth tier of English football hurtles towards it’s zenith. There are now just four games to go with the Silkmen just two points ahead of the two teams in the relegation positions below them, and the season seemingly destined to be decided on the last game of the season, although I sincerely hope that this is not the case! Having read the always hugely entertaining but incredibly insightful words of Jenny Kelly, I could not agree more about how utterly sh%*e we are at defending dead ball situations. This is utterly astounding when considering that our manager is universally acknowledged as one of the greatest central defenders in the history of English football, and if we do not rectify this obvious flaw within our defensive make up in the next four games; we seriously risk returning to the ignominy of non-league football as a consequence of something which should have been one of our major strengths!
  9. There is saying that goes ‘out of the mouths of babes oft times comes gems.’ Never was this was so beautifully illustrated as when a rather morose PB was in discussion with young Matt Nelson on the Moose Tours coach during the journey home from Nailsworth. Matt quite rightly pointed out that the Silkmen’s lethargic display could be accounted for in some respects as a consequence of their emotionally draining endeavours against the Grecians of Exeter City as opposed to FGR who had enjoyed a seven day break between games.
  10. The Easter break fixtures away at Northampton Town on Good Friday and then home to Newport County represent two of the most important fixtures we have had in many a long year. If we can manage to get at least four points from these games we then have a magnificent chance of retaining our English Football League (EFL) status and effectively have achieved two miracles in two seasons when considering the position we were in when Mark Yates was rightly relieved of his duties in October 2018. A vociferous and supportive approach from the Silkmen faithful is imperative for the 90+ minutes of both games and if we are safe come Saturday 4th May 2019 what a party there will be starting with Silkmen legend Danny Whitaker’s testimonial on the 5th May 2019. I am Silkmen till I die! 

Featured Image courtesy of Chelsie Wilson.

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