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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.