As teams and fans start to settle back into their pre-match routines and football season Saturdays, we delve into more League One news and intrigues, writes Samuel Rowson.
A popular Pompey fan to return after stadium ban, safe standing trialled at a League One game, and a diamond boost for fans of Forest Green, but we start with another team who might still be on the beach after two uninspiring performances in Burton Albion.
Burton- feeling battered. Bristol Rovers- cooking on Gas.
This weekend saw only the 12th ever meeting between Burton Albion and Bristol Rovers, prior to this game Albion had won 5 of the 11 previous meetings. After the full time whistle however, the Brewers were feeling battered and bruised after a 4-0 hammering from the Gas. The score line was not helped by Burton defender Conor Shaughnessy’s 1st-minute red card. This decision was most definitely the turning point and certainly did Albion no favours in getting anything out of the game. The challenge by the 26-year-old Irish defender seemed very soft at best at first glance, but with him being the last man and stopping a potential goal scoring opportunity the referee saw enough to brandish Conor his 3rd senior red card. The subsequent free kick that followed ended up in the back of the net, which set the tone for the rest of the game. Surprisingly Burton have conceded all 7 goals this season within the first 45 of both games, only managing 2 shots on target across 180 minutes of League One action. In all this is a very troubling start for a heavily tipped relegation favourites. The local press have also had their say with the following headline for Saturday’s defeat with ‘Humiliating home start for woeful Albion’. Plus the gruelling start to League 1 doesn’t get any easier with tough games away at Accrington, and a home game against Ipswich it could easily be 0 points from a possible 12 for the struggling league 1 outfit by August 16th.
Forest Green x Diamond Drop
Regular readers of The Stacey West will note that last week I mentioned how Cambridge United had introduced an exciting incentive to purchase their matchday programme with the addition of collecting Cambridge-based stickers. Now another team in our League has decided to make another bold move, but this time with the attempt of luring in more supporters to potentially boost their attendances. The Gloucestershire outfit Forest Green Rovers, our opponents for this coming Saturday have started a home game incentive in which each supporter who comes through the turnstile has a chance of winning a ‘Skydiamond’.
For those who don’t know what a sky diamond is, it is this (as taken from fgr.co.uk): A diamond created from excess carbon in our atmosphere. Making it the only Carbon negative gem stone.
Now with each diamond on offer each game at between 0.5 and 1 carats and with an estimated value at £2000 its an opportunity not to be sniffed at. However it is yet unclear if an away fan can walk away with this unbelievable half time prize or if its exclusively for the limited home support. Skydiamond is another company owned by Dale Vince and with this move he is tying his assets closer and closer together. But with the added statement on the club website where he likened his supporters to the poor in a Robin Hood analogy:
“I’m keen to get these amazing stones into the hands of people, especially people who may never have had diamonds on their mind, who may never expect to have one – it’s a kinda Robin Hood thing, without robbing anyone.” (frg.co.uk)
Maybe this will do the opposite and make people think twice before going. However, if this doesn’t raise the home attendances, nothing will.
Safe standing trail has its issues
Fans of Peterborough United got to experience safe standing for the first time at London Road on Saturday as they hosted and beat Morecambe 3-0 in a polished performance. They became one of the latest teams within the EFL to implement a safe standing area, as the whole of the London Road End, formerly a terraced stand, was converted over the summer into a safe standing area. This was done because if Peterborough are promoted this season they would be forced to change the historic terraced stand into an all seater. And by implementing the safe standing they have kept the historic terrace while adding the seats required should they get promoted. However despite the constant positivity surrounding the subject of safe standing Posh fans had some issues with their new addition.
Idea great, execution awful! The widths of the rows vary so much. Some you can’t physically sit down and are terrible to try and get past and others are okay. Long bolts sticking up is a health and safety nightmare. Kids/shorter people can’t see. @14obrien141 Peterborough Telegraph
Can’t believe they placed it on the original steps. Thought it had been redone to fit the seats accordingly. How did it receive a safety certificate? It’s ridiculous. @Smith19889Adam Peterborough Telegraph
Some did have praise but it was mainly criticism from the fans. It has been widely reported that this project was rushed in order to get it finished on time for the first home game of the season. And because of this fans believe certain aspects were overlooked as mentioned by the two fans above. Hopefully these notes are taken on board and the issues are rectified as soon as possible. This could also be a note for other clubs to take heed and not rush a project such as this if taken on in the future. As I believe the main problem could be down to the uneven levels of the old terraced stand. Similar issues that are had by supporters when sitting in The Stacey West Stand as that was converted from a terrace to an all seater stand back in the 90s. And with that there are two levels for one set of seats making it potentially ankle-breaking to celebrate or to get past fellow fans to get a half time pie.
Mr Portsmouth feeling Blue after Moon backfires
Finally finishing on a rather bizarre note, of the 500 Imps who made the 428-mile round trip on Saturday, some of you might have noticed a slightly quieter Fratton Park and Pompey support. That’s because of the 18,000+ crowd that watched the Imps draw 0-0 on the south coast, one man was noticeably missing. That man is Mr John Westwood. He is the man who constantly rings his Pompey bell when at home or away and dresses in an over-exuberant manner. John is also famous for having ‘Portsmouth FC’ in his name, but unfortunately his name sake banned him from attending three home games due to an incident which occurred in a pre-season friendly against Coventry City. In which (as reported by Portsmouth.co.uk) “under ‘extreme provocation’ Mr Westwood made lewd gestures towards the away end”.
In a video which was posted online shortly after the game it shows Mr Westwood mooning the opposition fans. This led to complaints and then to him receiving a three match ban in the process for inappropriate behaviour. This event has caused a mixture of emotions from both sides of the Pompey fanbase with some fans calling for a lifetime ban while others see it as a jovial act which was misinterpreted and state that more serious incidents are simply brushed aside. Despite the debate between the fan base he has served his ban and will be back on the Portsmouth terraces a week on Tuesday when they host Cambridge United. Interestingly, my first memory of seeing him was when we played Portsmouth in the curtailed 2019/20 season and I remember him walking down the bottom of the Stacey West and instantly getting the attention of the 617 Sq. He is outspoken at times but he is a die hard Pompey fan, to some a focal point for what it means to be a supporter and he gives his all when watching. He also had the last laugh that night in 2020 as his team went away with all three points and a 2-0 victory.