Okay, where do I begin. Two years ago we were playing Braintree away on a Tuesday night and now we are playing Bolton. My point is that over the last two years, Ten thousand Gas heads have been on an unbelievable journey. Of course there have been highs and lows but it has been an unforgettable two years. From a 92nd minute goal to send us up, Gas heads have really seen it all!
Let’s put this into context for you. Bristol Rovers had been playing in the football league for 94 years before one disappointing campaign which sent them down to the non-league. Our last home game in the football league was against Mansfield, Rovers fought so hard that game but sadly it didn’t go our way. All we needed was a draw and we would have stayed up. Colin Daniel gave the stags the lead after 36 minutes into the game. The gas showed a better second half where the hit the woodwork three times but it never went in for them. It just wasn’t their day! As you would expect in the modern day, a few of Rovers key players left like, John J O’ Toole and Matt Harrold. Who when they were at rovers played a vital part in their respective positions. This was a massive bump in Rovers hopes of heading straight back up. But looking back at it, it defiantly didn’t affect the gas! Coming from league 2 Bristol Rovers looked to have the best chance of going back up. They played a good standard of football the season before relegation which surely meant they would breeze to champions, but it you thought that you were wrong! It didn’t go that great for the Gas. In their first 3 games they accumulated 1 point. It wasn’t looking great for Bristol Rovers. It seemed as if it might be a boring season for the fans. After those initial games we started playing some good football, Picking up some very valuable points and goals! It was a wakeup call for rovers! As I before mentioned, going into the non-league Rovers were favourites to automatically go up. The after those first three games, we only lost three other games which is truly incredible!
Once again, the season didn’t finish how it was predicted to finish. It finished with Barnet clinching promotion by 1 point. So that meant the gas would settle for a playoff place. In the play offs we got drawn up against Forest Green Rovers, Which made many people very happy. In those two games we won, 1-0 away from home and 2-0 at home in front of a sold out crowd which booked a Wembley ticket!
Bristol rovers are known for their passionate supporting; it certainly showed at Wembley compared to the oppositions following. Bristol rovers took around 43 thousand fans!
Once again they didn’t have the greatest of starts! Grimsby striker Lenell John-Lewis netting in the second minute (On his Birthday). Then 27 minutes later, Ellis Harrison latched onto a poorly cleared ball from a corner and volleyed home from 5 yards out to level things. Then for the rest of the game it was fairly even. Not many chances created for either side until Matty Taylor latched onto a through ball and seemed to be brought down by a Grimsby player but the ref was having none of it. Once Matty Taylor got back up he got booked for simulation. After 90 minutes it was all square. Both teams settled for extra time. That couldn’t break the deadlock surprisingly. Both teams looking understandably tired Therefore didn’t go as attacking as they could have gone. Which meant both teams wanted penalties, and penalties it was. Both managers had the last words to the players before they stepped onto the halfway line of Wembley. The deadlock was even until Grimsby’s John Paul-Pitman stepped up to take a penalty. All he had to do was hit the target and he didn’t! The penalty sailed over the bar, Bristol Rovers fans going mental after that appealing miss whereas the Grimsby fans were left silent. It was then the deciding penalty. Fan favorite, Lee Mansell stepped up to the task of guiding Rovers to promotion. He did so calmly! Bristol rovers won the Penalty shootout 5-3 in the end. Very much disappointment for Grimsby but happiness for Bristol Rovers. Going back into the football league at the first time of asking!