1) Why and when did you become a Gashead?
Got in to the Gas around 1993 through my uncle. At a young age I had never been particuarly keen on football, but after moving Primary Schools it was a case of play football or be left out! Within a week of having a kickabout during lunch I had fallen well and truly in love with the sport.
My father was a sh*thead and, despite going home and away to every game at a younger age, after he had my sister and I he lost interest somewhat and stopped attenting matches. As my love for the game grew, so did my desire to watch a live football match. It was at this point my uncle offered to take me to a Rovers game.
I’ve never forgiven him.
No, but in all seriousness, I fell in love with the club within a few weeks and could not be prouder to be a Gashead.
2) What is your best memory being a Rovers fan?
In my Gas supporting lifetype it has to be our famous win at Wembley against the Shrews.
I went there knowing we could win, but expecting us to balls it up. So when we went a goal down early on I couldn’t help but think ‘here we go again’. I had watched us lose in our previous playoff final to Huddersfield and feared the worst.
Turned out to be one of the best matches I’m likely to ever see in my lifetime and it helped that I had put £20 on the fulltime score being 3-1 Gas which paid for a few more drinks in the evening!
3) If you could bring back one Rovers player at his best, who would it be?
Rickie Lambert for me. I got to watch Barry Hayles, Jason Roberts, Ellington, Cureton et al during my time but for me Lambert was the best all-round player. Could score goals out of nothing and got a ridiculous amount of assists also. To add to that he was also a consummate professional and was an example to all on how to act and behave as a professional footballer.
4) How do you think John Ward did last season?
Unbelievably well. I was absolutely 100% certain we were down before McGhee was sacked – that was it in my mind. We were 100% down. To come in and turn things around so drastically, to the point were the playoffs were a real possibility was truly miraculous. Furthermore, he bought back the Rovers spirit and galvanised the fanbase; something that was absolutely crucial as we were in the middle of a very dark period.
5) Best and worst moments of last season?
Worst moments – Mark McGhee’s entire tenure throughout the season
Best – Mark McGhee being given his marching orders; a decision that potentially saved our football club. I genuinely believe that if head remained we’d now be a non-league side and who knows how long we could have survived down there financially.
6) Do you think Mark McGhee was given to much time, not enough time or was it timed just right?
Too much time. Some will say I was too quick to call for his head (around 8-9 games in to the season) but I stand by my remarks. IMO one of the worst managers in our history (yes arguably even worse than Graydon!). Virgo upfront. I rest my case.
7) Its been said only one more player will come in (John Joe O’Toole Maybe) do you think that’s enough?
Our back 5 look very good on paper and I think we are top three material there without question.
Up front we do have a few players capable of scoring, but do we have anyone capable of scoring a hatful? I’m not so sure. Richards blows hot and cold despite having obvious talent, Brunt I rate very hightly but hasn’t scored an away goal in the league as yet. Harrold did get 20 the season before his injury, but a lot of those were penalties and that is the only time in his career he’s scored 20 goals. Throw in the fact he’s returning from a serious injury and I think he’ll struggle to reach that tally again – 10-15 is definitely possible though. My biggest fear is the service they will get (or lack of); which leads me nicely on to my next point.
Our midfield is woeful. Broghammer has raw talent – there are glimpses of talent there but at this present time he drifts in and out of games all to often. Harrison has real quality and will no doubt go on to have a big future in the game but again, he lacks experience and he suffers in the same way to Broghammer with that in that he drifts in and out of games. I’ve never rated Gill but am willing to give him the beneift of the doubt. Claucas looks very good but is out for some time and will no doubt require time to get back to his best even when he is available for selection again. Clarkson looked useful last season before his injury, but I’m not sure central midfield really plays to his strengths. We do have youngsters about to make the step up (Clarke, Santos etc) but pinning our hopes on players so young and inexperienced is unlikely to lead to much success at this present time.
My biggest concern is that prior to JJOT joining on loan last season (and once he had returned to Colchester) we had no creativity and no bite in midfield. This ultimately led to us not creating many chances and therefore not scoring many goals, but also witnessing our defence get overrun time and time again against relatively modest opposition.
For me, midfield has not been addressed and I am very, very concerned we will struggle as our current midfield is pretty much non-existant. I expect us to get overrun and struggle to supply the strikers which will no doubt cause us to struggle.
8) Any players you would like to see leave Rovers?
The players I didn’t rate too highly have been moved on over the summer. As such, I don’t really want to see any players go at this current time. On the contrary, bringing some more in is key!
9) Favourite current Rovers player?
Tough question. I’d probably say Ryan Brunt/Tom Parkes/Steve Mildenhall due to their obvious quality. All three are very, very good players for this level.
10) Favourite player of all time?
In my Gas supporting time, Rickie Lambert.
11) What our your expectations for the coming season?
I really believe we should be looking at least pushing for playoffs. However, I believe that with the current squad, we will finish mid-table at best. If I had to put my neck out I’d say I’d expect us to finish 13th-14th. If the midfield is addressed however, then this could change drastically.
12) Your opinion on Nick Higgs and the board?
Delivering the stadium is the biggest step forward this club has made in a generation. That deserves a massive amount of credit. There were things lacking such as communication but these things have started to move in the right direction. The future of the club looks bright at present.
13) With the build of the UWE to start soon, what would you like to see added to the design?
Good question. To be honest, I’ll leave this to those who know what they’re doing. But a brick path leading to the stadium where you could buy a brick with your name inscribed on would be pretty cool. I think that’s already been suggested though to be fair!
I’d also be keen for a webcam to be set up to allow us to watch the build as it progesses. Again however, I think that has already be suggested/agreed!
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Vital Gas Interviews: RoverDrive
1) Why and when did you become a Gashead?