Forest Green Rovers a friendly club? Pull the other one.

Their story was the supposed fairy-tale to end all fairy-tales. The little village team battling against the odds to ascend to the Football League, built on the ideals of former New Age traveller turned eco-energy entrepreneur Dale Vince. The papers lapped it up, but last night showed that the truth is somewhat different.

I believe all clubs have a duty to travelling fans, that they should treat visitors with respect. Last night, Forest Green did no such thing. To force our 321 strong travelling crowd to stand in an unprotected open terrace whilst their covered areas barely had any fans in at all was simply disgusting. I don’t care what their policy is this season, there was no need for our fans to be treated worse than the animals Dale Vince refuses to eat. Leaving our fans in the pouring rain when other options were available was degrading and insulting to us as a club. What more do you expect though from the classless sour losers that he’s assembled in Nailsworth?

Certain standards should be met in the Football League, and Forest Green are not meeting them. I’m not going to pass comments on their choice of menu, that is (sadly) their choice and so be it. The ‘vegan’ jibes are cheap and easy, but they don’t really get to the root of the issues at Forest Green. Underneath that media-friendly facade that has sucked Colin Murray in so strongly is a nasty underbelly writhing with jealousy, ill-feeling and bitterness. Forest Green did not deserve to be promoted last season, and deep down they know they got lucky. They have a chip on their shoulder (cooked in organic vegetable oil) the size of their owner’s ego.

City fans last night, herded into an uncovered terrace.

The EFL have a department which acts as a point of contact for any supporters with a legitimate complaint, something I feel very strongly we had last night. This is a different structure to the one we left in 2011, the EFL claim to be about fan experience, looking after those hardy souls that turn out and support their club in all weathers. In 2017, when covered terracing is available and virtually empty, teams have a duty of care to their customers to provide that shelter, whether they’re home fans or travelling support. The manner in which we were treated last night was repugnant, and I’ve heard reports that stewards blamed us for ‘asking for too many complimentary tickets’. That is unconfirmed social media chatter, but it doesn’t sound beyond belief.

Letters of complaint from those attending the match should be addressed to “Supporters Services Department” EFL House 10-12 West Cliff Preston PR18HU. If you prefer to fire of a quick email,  address your complaint to enquiries@efl.com and ensure you put “for the attention of Supporter Services Department” to ensure they reply to you. The EFL will attempt to respond within 7 working days, according to their protocol.

The greater numbers of City supporters that do make their voice heard, the more likely the EFL are to act against Forest Green and ensure they don’t treat other Football League fans in the same way they treated us.

I’m not sure the EFL can do anything about the spitting incident unless it has been caught on camera, nor can they stop their players and management referring to us as long ball when that was their sole route to goal all evening. However, they can look at the treatment of football fans willing to travel an eight hour round trip to watch their team, only to be treated worse than dogs by the supposed gracious hosts.

I’d never wish relegation on a team if I could help it, I know the devastation and dismay it causes everyone connected with a club. Personally though, I think the sooner this unnatural experiment of Vince’s ends and they can go back to being the Forest Green Rovers of old, the happier everyone will be, especially those Ecotricity customers that keep experiencing price hikes whilst they spend increasingly outrageous sums of money propping up a poorly supported village team.





16 Comments

  1. Well said Gary – complaint sent, together with a couple of photos of our terrace and the sheltered end we stood in last year, where a few vegans stood

  2. I hear what you say. I was at FGR. (Favourites (for) Getting Relegated?) last night, and the experience was certainly unforgettable, for all the wrong reasons. But from the barren West stand, and stand we did, with no shelter at all, I could not see anywhere where we have been better off. I drove down to Gloucester early Tuesday morning, and took my son and grandson, who live there, to nailsworth, along with the other grandad. Pouring down and blowing an almost gale, we were all soaked before kick off. It doesn’t make the situation any better, but the only FGR fans out of the weather were those behind the goal on our right. The stand behind the goal to the left was occupied by a hundred or so home fans who were getting blasted straight in to their faces. The main stand, if you could call it that wasn’t faring much better. The people in boxes wisely stayed behind glass. I got past caring how wet I was, absolutely no shelter from the storm. Did well not to be abandoned, I thought. I am surprised that the place meets EFL requirements. I am not a standing fan, or indeed a fan of standing. It did all bring back memories of Sincil Bank in the seventies though. Had it not been pouring down and blowing a gale, it would’ve been just about ok. Would I go there again? Well, after last night, I can’t see us both in the same league next season, can you?

  3. I was at the game last night and have to say that, despite the fact it was cold and wet, I loved it. May not have felt the same if we lost but we didn’t and I can file it under ‘I-was-there’.

  4. I remember going to Doncaster away at their old ground and standing behind the goal on an uncovered terrace. Chucked it down all night and got soaked like those last night. Also like last night, we came away with a 1-0 win 🙂

  5. Cooper: Can’t stand him. Vince: repulsive. Spitting: vile. Leaving fans out in the rain when a solution (or at least a gesture) would be so apparently easy to offer: pathetic.
    I didn’t go last night but I went last year and my only disagreement with you Gary is for the fans and the people of Nailsworth. There may not be many of them and they be rather quiet but I found them to be genuinely nice people who seemed somewhat bemused by the situation.
    Very happy to keep hating FGR if we are talking about Vince and Cooper etc, but I actually feel sorry for the people/fans. Imagine if some powercrazed hippy took over the imps and did what he’s done – we would be distraught!

  6. Agree 100% Gary. If they act like a village team they want to get back and play in a village teams league. I
    always find managers who talk long ball about the their opponents often play it more than the team they are talking about.

  7. The stewards ,the result ,the dignity and class shown by LCFC standing with Harry Andersons dad (a very happy man ) were the positives.
    Everything else was dismal, thought FOR were a worse team than last year’s BOTTLERS they already know they got lucky at Wembley .
    I predicted they would struggle and eventually go down with Cooper at the helm. We shall see.
    Have a look at their forum pages 4 and 5 make for interesting reading.
    Oh for the green green grass of sincil bank

  8. Have other teams moved us in the past? Are FGR the exception in not moving us when it is raining? First and foremost I have absolute sympathy for any fan there getting soaked as I have done it many a time; that is a lower league fans lot unfortunately. I can’t help but feel that this is fueled by our dislike of FGR which is understandable given the way the manager is. It just feels like this is a chance to have a pop at them with moral outrage on our side. We don’t like that Dale Vince is funding the club, like Doncaster did, or Mansfield, or Northampton (now with Chinese backing), or Peterborough, or Newport, or Bournmouth etc etc because FGR have less fans than those clubs. What is starting to grate with me is the way vegan is being pejorative term. Like being a vegan is equal to Evans being corrupt or Suarez being a biter. Glad the article called it out at the start, but I don’t like that FGR are seen as some sort of evil club because they try and do things ethically. It is just a different way of doing things. So I don’t like that they are being targetted for not moving away fans into a home end. Same as lots of clubs wouldn’t do late on as if something did happen between fans the EFL would come down on them like a tonne of bricks. This anger is because the team are classless, the manager an ar5e, but sadly it seems mostly because they GRRRRRR don’t use animal based products.

    • I’ve deliberately stopped myself talking about the vegan angle recently. I appreciate although it’s different it isn’t a point that should be laboured on.

      However, teams have moved us in the past, from Crewe in 1987 through to Doncaster in the mid 1990s and even York City I’m informed. The individual stories of children being reprimanded for trying to get comfortable by stewards with umbrellas is disconcerting.

      Their premise, in my opinion, is wrong. Selling the sustainability angle as an ethos whilst losing £2.4m a year makes a mockery of good honest clubs such as Morecambe and Accrington battling on merit, not a megalomaniac’s personal fortune. The bitterness in defeat is sickening also, when do you ever hear that from us?

      Being vegan is disagreeable to those who feel it is forced on them but my last couple of posts gave deliberately steered away from criticising someone’s beliefs. I’ve concentrated on, what I believe, are indisputable facts that FGR are not a welcoming club.

      • Agree you have done that on the vegan here which I like.

        With the clubs moving, that is not many in a very long history of football. I don’t think it is unique not to move away fans, however I will concede that it is hardly part of being a friendly club. I went to Peterborough once with a suitcase and Barry Fry put it in the corridor of his office so I could go in the away end. And it was still there when I went after the game 🙂

        On the millionaire funding I just don’t find it so bad. Plenty of owners have pumped lots of cash into clubs over time. The difference in my eyes for FGR goes down two lines. Firstly it is a small club that has been elivated substantially above it’s status. It depends how you feel about that. Bournmouth have done it with a Russian billionaire but also a very good manager. Peterborough did it with McAthony but whether they are that much higher is debatable. Same goes for Fulham. Possibly Fleetwood and Newport, Eastleigh, there are plenty around. The second line is about how he has made his money. If you make it ethically you are held to higher standards than say the owner of a betting company that unlocked gamblers accounts when they asked to freeze them and that money is used to sink over 100m in 3 years to keep a team in the prem. However I do get that FGR are pushing the angle that they are a nice friendly club etc. To the home fans they certainly are and are the centre of the community. I don’t think that can be doubted and our only interaction has been as away fans. Again that is debatable as in 2015 there was that horrible photo of an away fan being stangled by the stewards. Yet the away club said “From talking to our supporters, one thing is very clear and that is that our supporters have always found Forest Green to be a warm and friendly stadium to visit”

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