UK

Bristol Rovers one step away

Admittedly, this is not the start to the season some Rovers fans were expecting, after playing poorly and being relegated on the final day of last season, many were expecting a triumphant return to the football league this season as either champions or by easily going through the end of season play-off’s.

Whilst this is a small minority their unrealistic expectations have led to an almost toxic atmosphere at the football club at the moment, something I was reminded of in the early stages of our latest home game against Wrexham on Tuesday night. Wrexham were unbeaten in their last 3 away games and started brightly against us, creating several chances and looking far more convincing in the opponent’s final third. At this point some of the fans started to voice their frustration with the team, with little encouragement coming from the Blackthorn end at this point.

From here thankfully things improved for Rovers as they edged their way into the game and took the lead with an Andy Monkhouse header from a corner in the 34th minute. Once we took the lead, Rovers fans showed themselves at their best as they began heartily singing and supporting the team from here until the final 10 minutes, when a edgy Rovers just managed to hold of a threatening Wrexham team. For the majority of the game Rovers fans showed themselves to be one of the loudest supports in the lower leagues, from League 1 downwards.

If Rovers fans could consistently match they hype surrounding their support, the team would have a hugely positive presence at every game cheering them on. Granted, recently this sounds like wishful thinking after early losses to part time teams such as Altrincham and Braintree. It’s not simply the losses but the poor manner in which we played those games, which have led a select view to voice their opinion that Darrell Clarke should be sacked. Whilst the games have not been great I personally can’t see any positives to sacking Darrell Clarke so early in the season, especially since he came into the worst possible situation before the final run-in last season.

Clarke has proved he can cut it at this level with Salisbury City, and deserves a full season at Rovers at the very least to prove his worth at the club during this transition period for Bristol Rovers. By far the biggest issue at the moment with Bristol Rovers seems to be emanating from the boardroom. The lack of investment in any other area apart from the new UWE stadium is worrying at the very least, with the recent news that Rovers are now suing Memorial stadium buyers Sainsbury’s shows all is not well with the stadium also.

It seems in my opinion that owner Nick Higgs has sacrificed financial investment to improve the results on the pitch, in favour of pouring money into this new stadium. Whilst the stadium is a brilliant idea and will secure a lot of money for the club in the future, the investment needed at the present moment seems to have affected the club. In calling for Higgs to invest more into the squad I’m not asking for him to sign Messi, Ronaldo or Bale I simply feel we need a slight investment to strengthen our already decent squad. Investment in players would also appease the fans and keep them on side for a time until the row with Sainsbury’s is resolved.

In conclusion, whilst I want the new stadium as much as anyone else, I will not be able to fully believe it until I see it with my own eyes. The potential is huge but so is the risk, something we can ill afford right now with our current position in the Vanarama Conference. It’s unlikely my hopes of squad investment in the near future will come to fruition, though I can still dream. Whatever happens with Bristol Rovers you’ll be able to find me on match day supporting the team from the Blackthorn end terraces, something that will hopefully drown out the doomongers amongst us who seemingly want Rovers and Darrell Clarke to go downhill. That would be a tragedy for Bristol’s finest sporting club, I admit I have no evidence on that and am writing from a totally biast standpoint yet everyone is entitled to their opinion.

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Mini Challenge MSVR Castle Combe 02/08/14

The first of the visiting MSVR championships to get onto the track was the Mini challenge series, for the first of their two races of the day. It promised to be an exciting race as a wet qualifying session determined the grid, yet by the time of their race the track was rapidly drying, leaving some last minute decisions on tyres and set up before the race.

Championship leader Chris Knox claimed pole from Luke Caudle, with ex-Legends racer Lawrence Davey and Neil Newstead completing row 2. At the start of this 20 minute race it was Knox and Caudle who made the best starts from the front row, as the rest diced for position behind them. It didn’t take long before Caudle was putting heavy pressure on Knox for the lead, although they were still managing to pull away from the field despite their battle.

Lap 4 saw Knox beginning to settle in and establish a gap to Caudle of several seconds, as behind these two Davey was now challenging the fast starting Henry Duprey for 3rd also. At this point of the race Knox was simply dominating as by lap 7 he held a 14 second gap to Duprey in 3rd and was in complete control of the race. A lap later and Davey finally breached a stubborn defence of 3rd from Duprey, as he dived inside him at Tower. Things didn’t get any easier for Duprey as the closest challenger to Knox in the championship, Neil Newstead, went inside him at Quarry on lap 10 for 4th.

From here Newstead was the man on the move as he quickly caught and was challenging Davey for 3rd, although his brave attempt at taking the place at Bobbies on lap 13 went badly wrong, as he completely misjudged it and fell back several seconds, ground he was unable to make up in the remaining time. After 16 laps it was Chris Knox who came through for a comfortable victory from a lonely Luke Caudle in 2nd. Lawrence Davey completed the podium with Neil Newstead, Hamish Brandon and Henry Duprey completing the top 6 in 4th, 5th and 6th respectively. In the lower Cooper class it was reigning class champion Shane Stoney who came through for the victory.

Later on in the afternoon the Mini challenge returned for it’s second and final race of the day. The top 8 finishing order in race 1 was reversed for the grid of race which meant it was Patrick Mortimer on pole from Keith Issatt alongside him, with Henry Duprey and Hamish Brandon on row 2. The men to watch out for were Luke Caudle and race 1 winner Chris Knox, who were both on row 4 for this race. The rolling start was pretty uneventful although it didn’t stay that way for long, as a multi car accident in the lower Cooper class brought out the Safety Car at the end of lap 1.

It was two cars who were out of the race that caused the Safety Car, although frustratingly the barriers had been damaged in the accident, necessitating a red flag and 10-20 minute delay to repair them. For the re-started race the duration was cut from 20 to 15 minutes as the timetable was now well behind schedule. This time there was no major accidents on lap 1, and things were soon changing at the front as Caudle passed Newstead for the lead at Folly on lap 2. Seconds later the battle amongst the leading quartet got ugly as contact at Quarry left Newstead in the barriers and out of the race early on.

The Safety Car made yet another appearance on lap 4, with a further 3 laps being completed before it came in at the end of lap 6. Immediately from the re-start the leading quartet made a break from the rest as they started battling for the lead of the race. Despite a valiant defence from Caudle eventually on lap 10 Knox and Duprey were able to force their way through at the Esses. From here the leading four circulated in a tandem on the final lap as Knox claimed his second victory of the day, moving him even further ahead in the championship battle. Duprey came home 2nd from Caudle in 3rd and Hamish Brandon in 4th, with Alan Taylor in 5th and Keith Issatt in 6th completing the significant placing’s. Much like Knox, Shane Stoney came through to take his 2nd Cooper class victory in the day as he cements his position at the top of his class standings.

After two good races from the Mini challenge, they now have two more meetings in their season although with only 4 races remaining it’s hard to look past Chris Knox and Shane Stoney as the class winners, based on their dominant showings here at Castle Combe.

Photo credits go to http://www.bam-promo.com/news/panda-racing/brandon-do-battle-and-fortify-points-position-castle-combe/ and
http://www.hornby.com/news/mini-challenge-tv-coverage-and-castle-combe-1st-august/

For more information on this championship please visit their official website here
http://www.minichallenge.co.uk/