Wednesday, May 30, 2007


WEMBERLEY, Wemberley... we're the famous Bristol Rovers and we won at Wemberley...
Well, it may have taken me 40 years of hurt and two previous visits to be able to appreciate the full enormity of this achievement but Saturday was one of the greatest sporting days of my life. Fantashtic! as Roberts would say.
Myself and 40,000 Gasheads travelled up to the gleaming new edifice buried away in the bowels of London and wallowed in a 3-1 victory over Shrewsbury. Wren came up with me the previous night and we stayed at a Premier Travel Inn just a few hundred yards from the ground. It was the perfect base, right next to Wembley Park tube station, from which to watch the crowds gather the next day.
Wren very kindly entered into the occasion by wearing my blue and white Gashead top while I wore our away kit of blue and black. Baseball caps on and a light drizzle in the air we had a walk around to soak up the atmosphere of the occasion, get some money and enjoy a hearty brekky (Wren normally has two, but was on rations for this one). We then returned to the tube to meet my school buddy Haydn, his wife Sian, son Liam and his mum's other half Ron. Having earlier spied a temporary bar being set up outside our hotel, we spent a pleasant hour and a half soaking up the atmosphere of the occasion as thousands of blue and white decorated fans from the west country joined those from Salop on winding their way down Wembley way.
We eventually made our way to the new stadium and were delighted to have seats just off the halfway line as the Rovers fans welcomed their players onto the pitch to the strains of their familiar (some may say too familiar) song Goodnight Irene.
The new ground is excellent, the views from nearly everywhere perfect and the legroom great. It's a shame the atmosphere fell dead when the Gas managed to repeat their Millennium Stadium feat of a couple of months earlier and fall behind within three minutes. Here we go again!
But Richard Walker, striker par excellence, pulled us back into the game with two first half strikes and though we were too nervous to sing in the second half I did manage to lose my voice chastising the referee. With two minutes of injury time remaining the Shrews threw their goalkeeper up for a corner. Rovers managed to scramble it away and we then screamed our backing for little Sammy Igoe as he legs carried him from his own half with about four Shrewsbury defenders in hot pursuit.
It was like something out of the Benny Hill show and we could almost hear that famous music "didladeedeedee, didladeedeedee, didla dee da da da da da dee" as his lead began to evaporate. But cunningly, when he looked like heading for the corner, he turned back and slotted the ball slowly but perfectly into the unguarded net. What a moment to savour!
Most of us looked around not knowing what to do... unfamiliar with the procedure associated with actually WINNING one of these damn things. It now means the Gas have another trophy to put in the cabinet that still probably guards the Watney Cup of 1972.

It was piddling down afterwards and took us over an hour to get out of London, despite waiting on and having a very enjoyable Nepalese curry. During our meal we were interrupted by a guy in a Gashead shirt who came over and starting lambasting us with "Wasn't that brilliant, fantastic. That will show those arrogant Sh**heads. I love the Gas, I do, I really do. Actually this is my team (shows us Villa badge under his lapel), but I do love the Gas."
Wren, cottoning on to the implication of his supporting Aston Villa, asked: "So you're from Birmingham, are you?"
"No, love, Weston-super-Mare."

That night we got home and watched the highlights on Sky Sports. Sadly they restricted them to just half an hour. Jolly bad show seeing they have sod all else to show in the summer. Ah, well.

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