Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Season's Out

Due to coursework deadlines and requiring hospital surgery over the weekend I've not had much of a chance to update my blog. My operation also put pay to my proud record of not missing a Rovers home game for a good 7 years, as my appointment time was mid Saturday morning. I awoke from my general anaesthetic and practically got ready to head off to the game as it was only half 12, but I was dissuaded by the nurses who claimed it was a very bad idea.

I shouldn't have listened! I missed a top 5-1 victory to round off our topsy-turvy season at the Mem. We've endured a few howlers at home this season, but since Mark McGhee has been in charge we've been unbeaten on our own patch and have now scored 12 goals in our last two games there. If we can maintain that going in to next season it'll stand us in great stead. I was more gutted about missing the game as I didn't expect to be going to Dagenham, so my season appeared over. Fortunately circumstances have changed and I'm now looking forward to heading to London on Saturday to say goodbye to another football season. It'll also be a final appearance for a few of our players as their loan deals and contracts come to an end during the close-season. I'd like to applaud the players for their effort since January as I feel we've come a long way and are beginning to bring a respectability back to our beloved club. If I'm lucky I may even been able to nab a shirt!

Muzzy in new home shirt
I'd like to express my thanks to Kirsty Pugh and the rest of the club, as they worked in tandem with my mum to try and cheer me up during my recovery from surgery. I hadn't realised it at the time, but my mum tweeted Kirsty over the weekend explaining that she wanted to lift my spirits as I was missing my first home game in years. Kirsty said she'd sort something out for me and at lunchtime today I had a club pennant delivered to my house full of signatures. McGhee, Muzzy Carayol, Eliot Richards, Aaron Downes and Lee Brown are among the people who signed it. It's safe to say it put a smile on my face and I'd like to say thank you for the gesture. I'm one very pleased Gashead right now.

Matt Gill in away shirt
Another positive in the aftermath of my hospital visit is that my auntie has said she'll buy me the new Rovers home shirt as a treat when it comes out (with images released last week of what they look like!). I love the look of the retro style that the club have plumped for with it and I'm pleased I'll have my Mem Stad attire sorted for 2012-13! My dad has also said he'll have to get me the away shirt as a present from him and my mum, which I'm pleased to hear. He may have said it jokingly just to make me feel better at the time, but he's raised my hopes and can't go back on a promise. I know he reads this so if this acts as a sort of guilt-trip, then so be it! I understand the all black colour scheme on the away kit hasn't gone down too well with some fans but I quite like it. It's not a standout kit that will be remembered in 10 years time but it looks smart enough and certainly suits the logo of new sponsors CR Windows.

My signed Rovers pennant
Hopefully one of the players who will be sporting the strip next season is Muzzy Carayol who put in another scintillating performance on Saturday judging by the highlights I've seen. McGhee confirmed post-match that we're in talks with the Gambian winger about extending his contract and hopefully we'll make some progress with that in the near future as it would be terrific news for us if we could. The sooner we can tie him and Danny Woodards down to longer contracts the better. It's going to be a busy summer but we'll see a retained list announced soon after the conclusion of the season on Saturday so the wheels will be in motion soon enough. There's been the odd whisper of potential incomings but nothing of note just yet. I'm sure we'll get a few rumours over the next couple of weeks as the close-season dawns upon us.

Finally, the players have been partaking in a number of fitness tests at Bath University today ahead of a close-season programme that McGhee and Shaun North will devise for each member of the squad to follow until pre-season. MM is renowned for his tiring pre-season's and it appears he wants his charges to report back match fit even before they come back to the training ground after their summer break. I for one am pleased to see this happen as it shows just how seriously next season is being taken by all concerned. Hopefully the players abide by their individual programmes otherwise pre-season training will quite literally be impossible for them! But if next season we can outlast our opponents by being fitter than they are in the final 10 minutes it'll be well worth it.

I'm heading in to the final game of the season very excited about our summer prospects and with the genuine belief that we can achieve promotion come next May. It's a disappointment that there will be no Rovers action until later in the summer, but hopefully the calibre of signings will keep us excited over the coming months.

Let's end the season with 3 away points against Dagenham and a few goals for Matt Harrold to help see him eclipse the 20 goal mark.

Up the Gas!

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