1) Why and when did you become a Gashead?
I was born into it – used to go with my father and grandfather – and took to it like a duck to water. My first games were during the Bill Dodgin era, and I used to like the ‘Carl Gilbert` chant.
2) What is your best memory being a Rovers fan?
The Watney Cup win, over Tony Currie`s Sheffield United. I thought it was going to keep on being like that.
3) If you could bring back one Rovers player at his best, who would it be?
Over all the years, I don`t think you can top King Rickie for the ability to do something special during a match. He`s probably at his best right now, so if he could pop back in time for the new stadium I`d be very happy.
4) How do you think John Ward did last season?
Pretty well. He got results and, probably more importantly, restored faith and cohesion. We think we`re ‘building` again, and no longer staggering from crisis to crisis. He sorted the spine of the team issue, and I hope he can get JJOT back for next month. Next month is a big month for him I think.
5) Best and worst moments of last season?
Worst – probably losing at Wycombe in the re-arranged fixture. We felt like a team on its uppers by then.
Best – probably the 3-3 at Torquay near the end of the season, where we felt like a team with a bit of sparkle again.
6) Do you think Mark McGhee was given too much time, not enough time or was it timed just right?
His time at Rovers is still a puzzle to me. I thought he was very, very impressive in the media, and was likely to be in the dressing room too, and he had made a great start, but it has since become clear that there were things that were deeply wrong all over the place. It was all a bit ‘fur coat and no knickers`.
I don`t think the timing was the key thing, the key thing was the replacement, which seems to have turned out nice so far.
7) Its been said only one more player will come in (John Joe O’Toole Maybe) do you think that’s enough?
I`m not yet convinced that we have enough firepower up front. Like many people, I`m excited about the prospects for Young Ellis, but he is young and he`s not yet a finisher, so I`d like not to burden him with expectations.
Matty Harrold is a good player in my book, and it will be good to have him back, but he`s more of a hold-the-ball-up player than a finisher (and he needs to play the ref better) I think). Elliot and Clarkson will doubtless chip in a few, but I don`t see anyone who`s going to figure high in the top-scorers table – which is where someone needs to be if we`re going to be promoted I think.
8) Any players you would like to see leave Rovers?
I`ve got question marks over Gill and Kenneth, in particular, and I think the case for David Clarkson is unproven, but as long as they don`t undermine the dressing room I don`t think there`s any case for wanting to see them leave – though they are all doubtless expensive, I don`t sense that JW is inundated with better alternatives/has any wriggle room with contracts.
9) Favourite current Rovers player?
Though its still very early days for him, probably Ellis Harrison. I`m never quite sure what he`s going to do next, and seeing him develop at speed (figuratively and literally) is well worth a watch I think. Mildenhall is also valued, in a much more dull way, and I`ve a soft spot for the big ginger tryer that is Matty Harrold.
10) Favourite player of all time?
My AF handle is Dick Devon, thought up by the administrators as I`m torn between Dick Sheppard and Devon White. Dick`s save won us the Watney Cup, and he was an all-round good goalie, whereas Devon seems to me to sum up the awkward, and sometimes very effective, charm of the Rovers. I loved it when one of the papers described him as having ‘all the mobility of a wardrobe without wheels`, because we all knew what they meant, but it wasn`t true and he could finish. I think an honourable mention to Ollie too – for all sorts of things, as well as for being top boy in our parish.
11) What our your expectations for the coming season?
I`m a half-full sort of person, so play-offs at a minimum. Lord knows why. ‘Slow learner` maybe.
12) Your opinion on Nick Higgs and the board?
I don`t know. Quite sensible people have said some pretty mixed things to me about the rest of the board, but I have no personal knowledge, and football fans do talk (to quote another Rovers fan) a lot of twaddle at times.
I rather like Nick Higgs, mainly because he seems to say it how he`s sees it in the media. He gets hammered for it, but not by me. And he does seem to have delivered the stadium, which is what he was brought in for.
13) With the build of the UWE to start soon, what would you like to see added to the design?
I think the stadium is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to breath a fresh perspective into Rovers. I think people under-estimate the difference that surroundings can make, in lots of different ways. Having said that, this sort of thing is not really my strong suit.
I would like it to help Rovers become a more forward-thinking place (a bit like when they did that Feng Shui trip at the Mem, and everyone was shocked that Rovers should be so modern and experimental. And it all turned out to be a prank anyway, but that`s not the point.
I`d like a statue or two. Denis Dunford, Harrold Jarman, Geoff Bradford, a trio of Bradford, Meyer and Biggs, Stuart Taylor, something like that. And the Rovers Gorilla from that fundraising thing of 2-3 years ago. And good kids and disabled seats (which they might have already).
And a Tote End Clock. And some flower beds. I think its good to leave the past behind, but not to forget it.
Vital Gas Interviews: A More Piratey Game
1) Why and when did you become a Gashead?