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Boston Red last won the day on March 5 2021

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  1. Goalkeeper - Right Back - LUKE AYLING. Sold for £200, 000. Left Back - JOE BRYAN. Sold for 6 million. Centre Back - ADAM WEBSTER. Sold for 21 million. Centre Back - LLOYD KELLY. Sold for 13 million. Centre Midfield - MARLON PACK. Sold for 4 million. Centre Midfield - KOREY SMITH. Sold for................no wait..................given away for free to Swansea by Mark Ashton. Right Midfield - JOSH BROWNHILL. Sold for 9 million. Left Midfield - NICOLAS ELIASSON. Sold for 2.2 million. Centre Forward - BOBBY REID. Sold for 10 million. Centre Forward - JONATHAN KODJIA. Sold for 15 million. SUBSTITUTE ADEN FLINT - Sold for 7 million. NUMBER OF THOSE PLAYERS THAT WENT ON TO PLAY IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE - Seven. TOTAL MONEY RECEIVED. - 87.4 million. TOTAL CHANCE OF PROMOTION NOW THAT YOU HAVE SOLD ALL YOUR BEST PLAYERS AND GIVEN THE MONEY TO JOHNSON AND ASHTON TO WASTE ON GUSTAV ENGVALL, MARLEY WATKINS, MILAN DJURIC, ADAM NAGY, JAY DASILVA, KASEY PALMER, AND NAKHI WELLS. - Zero.
  2. What I object to about Mr Lansdown's tenure is this. Bristol City used to be its own football club with its own ground and no debt. It is now just a sub-section of a Land-based, Multi-sport, Property-development, Profit-motivated, Speculative Franchise.
  3. In the last 30 years City usually only get five or six years in the second tier before the club gets relegated and has to re-set. We wasted four years under Johnson selling all our best players and wasting the money on bad signings, and now a South exit from the Championship is looking more likely than a North exit.
  4. Didn't we beat Forest away on penalties in the 2006/7 promotion season in the LDV cup? Jevons scored an overhead kick from the edge of the box in the fog, it finished 2-2, and we won on penalties. Then lost to the Gas in the semis but went up.
  5. No, SOD was not about to turn it round. You have to look at the context in which he was appointed. He had been moderately successful with Bournemouth and Doncaster, but had always wanted a big job. He had applied for the City job twice and been turned down. Then he got a job as assistant manager to Cotterill at Forest. Cotterill was sacked, and SOD got the Forest job. Perfect for him. A big job, and he already knows the players. His first league game for Forest, on the opening day of the 2012/3 season, was a 1-0 win at Ashton Gate against us. On Boxing Day 2012 Forest beat Leeds 4-2 away. They were 7th. Hours later, SOD was sacked. At that point, SOD effectively fell out of love with football, became disillusioned, and has done nothing in management since. Meanwhile, at BCFC, Lansdown had watched with horror as he splashed 40 million of his own cash up the wall to get promoted in the post 2008 play-off era. For a cautious financial investor, that must have been a nightmare. Even to this day, Lansdown talks about how he will just never do that again. Lansdown said in 2002 "I would never invest in a business without hope of a reward". He wants to make money out of BCFC, as well as watching them become successful. And he had allowed his head to rule his heart, to splash out on Peter Styvar, Evadner Sno, and Alvario Saborio, and all for nothing. If you are spending your life trying to make money, and you effectively gamble away 40 million, that is one serious cold glass of water in the face. So Lansdown started his nonsense about 5 pillars (can you name the 5 pillars?), and sustainability, and buying young and selling on. Essentially he was now trying to make money (or stem the losses) not by pushing for the Premier League but by becoming a selling club, like Crewe under Dario Gradi. BCFC had to appoint SOD because there was no-one else. And SOD spun Lansdown a yarn that Lansdown fell for. Lansdown has always been susceptible to corporate bu11sh1t. Why else did he trust Lee Johnson for four years? And give Mark Ashton the keys to the football club? Because he likes hearing his David Brent buzzwords repeated back to him. The yarn that a disillusioned SOD spun him was that endlessly being caught up in short term relegation/signing players/promotion issues is like a Buddhist trapped on the endless wheel of birth and rebirth, and that he was some sort of visionary who could elevate Bristol City to a higher plane, where we would get all the youth teams playing a certain way, like 1970s Ajax, and so whenever we needed a player we wouldn't have to risk Lansdown's money by signing him, but would just promote the next youngster. It seemed to fit with the 5 pillars. There was no-one else. So SOD got the job. Except he was still disillusioned. He must have wanted to be still in the Forest job at the top of the table, not in a relegation scrap. He had wanted the City job twice before, and not got it. Was his heart really in it? When he was appointed he said "The club have come round to my way of thinking". I suppose he meant that they agreed with him about developing youth, but it all seemed a bit like a guy saying yes to a girl who had binned him twice before for want of anything better. But City were in a relegation scrap. Initially signs were good. 17 points from the first 11 games. So in answer to the original question "Was the SOD bounce about to happen?" the answer is No. It had happened when he came in, and it was downhill all the way to the bottom of the third tier. Despite the early points bounce, City fans were getting concerned about what SOD was saying in interviews. Before the game at home to Forest, he was asked the obvious question "Are you more motivated to win since they sacked you?" He nearly lost it. "Why would I want to win one game more than another? If there was something I knew how to do specially to win this game, why would I not do it for all games?" Fair response, but the way he reacts with anger and hostility at the idea that he should be pushing for Bristol City to win games was alarming. His general demeanour in interviews was sullen, dour, and petulant. Typically, the interviewer would start with a standard question. SOD would sigh, look weary and pained, and then give a five minute monologue about how the assumptions behind the question were flawed and did not fit with his superior vision of how to be a football manager. His interviews were unlistenable. But there was one exception. After the Forest game, which in fairness to him he won, at the end of the interview the interviewer just threw in a last question "And how do you look back at your time at Forest?" SOD brightened, relaxed, smiled, and using a positive tone of voice for the first time said "LOVED IT!!!". Clearly he had not got over losing his job there in unfair circumstances. But the worst thing about his interviews was this perpetual claim of his that he never looked at the league table. He kept bringing it up, over and over again. It was like some proof of his superiority over everyone else in football. Now of course we all know that you have to concentrate on winning and then the league table looks after itself, and we all know you have to judge things over three or four games or so, but wait a minute. City were in the relegation zone. He had to get us out of it. Relegation is failure. One place out of it is success. How can you discount the league table completely? Maybe pay not too much attention to it in the first 8 games of the season, but this was March, we were in the relegation zone, and all our rivals were winning. Anyway, the whole thing is nonsense. The league table is in all the papers. It is on websites. It is next to fixture lists. It is on Sky Sports News and Final Score. Journalists bring it up before and after every match. You can't avoid knowing where you are in the league. It was a strange form of macho-boasting. And it wasn't true. SOD gave himself away because after one game he let slip that he knew where we were in the league as a result. Do you want a chef who refuses on principle to look at the food he cooks? An HGV driver who won't look at the road? A Financial Director who won't look at the accounts? After the 17 points from 11 games, City fell fast. 2 points out of 9 and down we went. Finished bottom. Maybe if we all don't look at the league table we can pretend it hasn't happened. But it wasn't just that. The only thing SOD brought to the table was that he made the players run behind the ball after we had lost possession. If you are losing games 4-3 that might be the right tactic, but usually you get out of the bottom three by throwing the kitchen sink at the opposition and having a right go. But we rarely seemed to attack. Lansdown was unimpressed. At the end of the season he said in an interview "We are still getting used to Sean." In other words, his obnoxious miserably sullen demeanour is not much fun to work with. The downward spiral continued in the next season. Traditionally City dominate the third tier. We have won its cup an equal record number of times (3), and been promoted from it an equal record number of times (8). From 2000-2008 in the third tier, we always finished in the top half. SOD had good backing in the summer, but after 18 games it was P18 W2 D9 L7 and we were 22nd/24, staring down at the fourth tier. Add in the end of last season and you have P27 W2 D11 L14. We were on a hideous downward spiral. All throughout SOD seemed to imply that he was above the common preoccupation with actually winning. That he was operating on a transcendent plane, changing the club's infrastructure and youth development until....one day............as if by magic......DA DA!!! we never have to sign a player again and just glide up the league table as if on a magic carpet. And how distasteful of journalists to ask him about such lowly matters like the fact we have not won in the league yet after 12 games, or can't defend. They don't understand football. He does. The final insult came when he was sacked. His only comment? "Football is a merry-go-round." He makes it sound as if Lansdown had just happened to pull out the RELEGATION Tarot Card that morning, as if it had nothing to do with his dreadful performances and dreadful results. Before arriving at City he had lost interest in being a football manager. And since leaving City he has never gone back into management (apart from 3 months at Walsall, when he was sacked) He was only a good manager at the best of times, but brought to City little other than miserable public statements, relegation, poor performances, and poor results. He had had his bounce at the start. There was not going to be another one.
  6. When Ashton Gate got redeveloped and the rugby came in, the pitch got considerably narrower. Also, Lee Johnson narrowed it further because he thought it would benefit our high press. The result is that we the attacking home team have less width, less space, and it plays into the hands of teams who want to frustrate us by initially not conceding. It also looks poor aesthetically to have 4 yards of pitch on the linesman's side of the line. Such a shame when Ashton Gate was traditionally a huge pitch with space for wingers and wide men like Alan Walsh, Dave Smith, Mark Gavin, Junior Bent, Darren Barnard, Jim Brennan, Mickey Bell, Greg Goodridge, Brian Tinnion. It was entertaining with those players out wide. Now we have less space it is not just poor results, it is very poor football to watch as well.
  7. Trouble is, we were awful against Blackburn, but it got masked by working hard, good away point, clean sheet, 4 points from 6 etc etc. Then you play badly again and the result matches the performance, and you see that really you aren't that good. It's not the manager. It's the players.
  8. The goal is Bentley's fault, but it isn't just Bentley's fault. Sessegnon could do better to stop the cross. And Vyner could easily jump and win the ball ahead of Smith. He just stands and watches. Doesn't matter if he heard a shout from Bentley. He is first line of defence and could easily win the ball ahead of everyone, and take Bentley and Smith out of the equation by getting there first. Instead he just stands there, doesn't move, doesn't jump, and just watches Smith run and win the header.
  9. CRASH OUT OF THE PLAY-0FFS 4 by Lee Johnson. CRASH OUT OF THE PLAY OFFS 1. 2016/7. In October 2016 City are 6th. Although Johnson still has two years to run on his contract, Lansdown extends it. This proves embarrassing for him, as City immediately lose 13 out of 16, including an unwanted club record 8 in a row. City just about avoid relegation, and finish one place higher than last season, 17th, but after spending 10 million on new players it is a disappointment of a season. CRASH OUT OF THE PLAY OFFS 2. 2017/8 On Boxing Day 2017 against Reading, City win 2-0 with a Paterson curler into the top corner and a goal from youngster Lloyd Kelly, making his home debut as a substitute. City are SECOND in the Championship. They then are 1-1 and 2-2 with the great Manchester City over two legs, and although they concede last minute goals in each leg to go out 5-3, it is a mightily impressive show against the best team in Europe. 6 Premier League managers ring Lee Johnson to ask advice on how to play Man City. The club say "We are a Premier League club in training." CRASH. Flint, Reid, and Bryan all say they want to leave the club and won't sign new contracts. City lose to Wolves and then 5-0 to Villa. City only win a pathetic FOUR league matches for the rest of the season and finish in a miserable ELEVENTH. CRASH OUT OF THE PLAY OFFS 3. 2018/9 City win 9 games out of 9 over December/January/February 2019. After a few defeats and draws they then beat Sheff Utd 3-2 away (Weimann hat-trick), Middlesbrough 1-0 away (Webster), and West Brom 3-2 at home (Brownhill, Weimann, Hunt). Team P GD Pts 1 Norwich 40 34 84 2 Leeds 41 26 79 3 Sheff Utd 40 30 77 4 West Brom 41 22 70 5 Bristol City 40 10 65 6 Aston Villa 40 17 63 7 Middlesbrough 41 7 61 8 Derby 40 5 60 9 Sheff Wed 41 -2 59 10 Nottm Forest 41 5 57 City are fifth with only six games to go. If they can beat Derby at home, effectively a shoot-out for 6th place, they only need 5 points from the other 5 games to finish in the play offs. But they lose to Derby at home, and only take 5 points from their last 6 games in total. They finish 8th. At this point a narrative sprung up that Johnson was improving City year on year, based on final league position; 18th/17th/11th/8th. This implies that City are not a play off team, but we are steadily improving year on year and are creeping up on the play offs slowly but surely. The truth is rather different. The truth is that Johnson had absolutely no difficulty whatsoever getting City into the play offs, it is just that we crashed out again. Now, we crashed out to a higher position than the season before, but so what? A miss is as good as a mile. CRASH OUT OF THE PLAY OFFS 4. 2019/20 In February 2020 City beat QPR away 1-0 (Fammy neck-busting diving header). It is their 5th win out of 6. They are 6th, with 50 points from 30 games. You know what is coming next. The next 11 games? Win 1 Draw 2 Lose 8. With only 5 games left of the season City have slumped to 12th, on 55 points. Not even the Lee Johnson party trick of pointing to an improved league position will work this time. Lansdown has had enough and fires Johnson. So I am pleased Lee Johnson is doing well at Sunderland. He gave his all at City. When asked whether he ever had a day off he paused and said "No." His wife elbowed him at 11.30 pm in bed for taking a work call. Dean Holden banned Lee Johnson from contacting him with new ideas between the hours of 10pm and 8am so that he (Dean Holden) could get some sleep. Can't fault the bloke's commitment. Hope he takes Sunderland up. But can he get them over the line and not crash out at the end? That remains to be seen.
  10. Tuesday 5th March 1991. Ashton Gate. Bristol City vs Bristol Rovers. K.O 7.45 pm Attendance. 22,227 Bristol City. Leaning; Llewllyn; Scott; May; Bryant; Aizlewood; Shelton; Newman; Taylor; Morgan; Donowa. Bristol Rovers. Parkin; Alexander; Twentyman; Clark; Mehew; Jones; Holloway; Reece; White; Saunders; Pounder. FULL MATCH. YOUTUBE The Bristol derby 1990-1991 HIGHLIGHTS. YOUTUBE Classic: Bristol City 1-0 Bristol Rovers (March 5th 1991) THE CONTEXT This game had been postponed earlier in the season and rescheduled for a night game in March. The Rovers fans filled the away end of Ashton Gate full of confidence. "Will You Ever Beat The Gas?" they sang. "Will You Ever Beat The Gas?" It was a fair question. City had not beaten Rovers in the league for half a decade. City's last win was a 2-0 victory in March 1986. Rovers had gone 10 league games unbeaten against City (5 wins 5 draws). City had never won a league game at Rovers' non-league home they borrowed from Bath City, Twerton Park. And at Ashton Gate things were little better. In 1986/7, City battered Rovers, who had an outfield player in goal, but could not score, and Rovers nipped up the Open End to win it in the last minute with a Gary Smart screamer. In 1987/8 City were 3-2 up, but Ian Holloway equalised. In 1988/9, on the New Year's Day fixture, another screamer from Gary Penrice won it for Rovers 1-0. In 1989/90, despite having ten men for half the match after Ian Alexander was sent off, Rovers played out an effortless 0-0 draw. The full sequence is this. 1. April 86 Rovers 1 City 1 2. Jan 87 City 0 Rovers 1 3. Apr 87 Rovers 0 City 0 4. Sep 87 City 3 Rovers 3 5. April 88 Rovers 1 City 0 6. Jan 89 City 0 Rovers 1 7. March 89 Rovers 1 City 1 8. Sep 89 City 0 Rovers 0 9. May 1990 Rovers 3 City 0 10. Jan 1991 Rovers 3 City 2 But this was getting serious. This was game 11. City held the record for an unbeaten sequence in the Bristol derby. It was 11 games. This was Rovers' chance to equal that record. They only needed a draw, and had kept three clean sheets on their last four league visits to Ashton Gate. And then next season, with game 12 probably at the dreaded Twerton Park, they would surely break the record and have gloating rights forever. City had one last chance. They HAD to win game 11 and protect their own record. City's form was good. They were on a run of 5 wins out of 7, which would take them to fifth. With four teams going up from the second tier in 1990/91, and 7th getting you a play-off spot, City had a real chance of going up. They were competing with Joe Royle's Oldham, who had reached the League Cup Final and FA Cup semi-finals the previous year. They were competing with Ron Atkinson's Sheffield Wednesday, who had David Hirst and Trevor Francis up front, and who beat Man Utd to win the League Cup final as a second tier side in 1991, as well as promotion. Meanwhile ragbag Rovers were in lower mid-table, doing nothing. City needed to win for their play-off push. City needed to win to save their 11 game record. But City could not win a league game against Rovers, who had the hoodoo over them. What would happen? Then the Rovers fans sang another song. It was like a knife to the heart of the City fans. "Championes, Championes, Ole Ole Ole!!!" It referred back to the previous season. In 1989/90, City and Rovers occupied the top two places of the Third Division all season. City were managed by ex-Scotland international Joe Jordan, while Rovers, without a ground and without two pennies to rub together, were managed by ex-England international Gerry Francis. Both would go on to better things. City had been top all season. At times the lead over Rovers in second was 7 points. While City were bashing teams 5-0 and 6-1 with Bob Taylor hat-tricks flying in from 35 yards on the volley, Rovers were scraping 1-0 wins everywhere, with Gerry Francis making pious noises about getting enough points to avoid relegation. Taylor hit 27 league goals in a season he did not finish. No Rovers player managed 20. City won national fame by being first up on Match Of The Day in the FA Cup 4th round, when they effortlessly thrashed top division Chelsea 3-1 (Turner 2 Gavin). Rovers meanwhile went to Wembley in the LDV. It was a golden age of Bristol football. But everyone assumed City would finish first and Rovers second. With three games to go, City were first, four points clear. Bristol City P43 Pts 88 Bristol Rovers P43 Pts 84 City went away to Bolton, lost 1-0, and lost star striker Bob Taylor to injury. Now the gap was one point. Game 45 was Rovers vs City at Twerton Park. On a balmy May night Rovers thrashed City 3-0 to jump two points ahead of them. City tried to claw back the title with a 4-0 win against Walsall on the last day of the season, but Rovers won away 3-0 at Blackpool to steal the title off us. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989–90_Football_League#Third_Division They named a fanzine after the 3-0 defeat of City, The Second Of May. It remains the footballing highlight for an entire generation of Rovers fans. Meanwhile, an entire generation of City fans had grown up never having seen City beat Rovers in the league. And when you add in the fact that in the 5 years before that City had been relegated from Division 1 to Division 4 in three seasons and had nearly gone out of business, Rovers had had gloating rights over City for an entire decade. The trouble was, that Rovers team was actually a very good team. You had to respect them. They were managed by Francis, who went on to manage QPR, Spurs, and nearly got the England job. In goal was Nigel Martyn, scouted in Cornwall by the Rovers tea-lady, who was Britain's first million pound goalkeeper, and played for Palace, Leeds, Everton, and England. Centre-half Steve Yates played over 100 games in the Premier League for QPR. Midfielder Ian Holloway played in the Premier League. Dennis Bailey went on to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford. Carl Saunders went on to score a worldy at Anfield in front of the Kop. Monster centre-forward Devon White, a sort of lower-league John Fashanu, managed 7 Premier League goals in 19 games for QPR. Gary Penrice moved to Watford, Villa for a million, and QPR, where he scored 20 top-flight goals. When he left Rovers, City fanzine The Bountyhunter wrote him a farewell poem. ODE TO PENRICE. A constant thorn in City's side, Each derby day you've mastered. But now you're off, you're on your way, Cheerio you scrawny b#####d. As well as being good, that Rovers team killed us City fans by being lucky. Again and again the season before in the race for the Third Division title they had been 1-0 down with a minute to go, before scoring two goals in the last minute to win. They stole the title off us from nowhere. We could not beat them. And they were not a lovable side, either. They were a dirty, ugly, horrible side. They played on a tiny cow-field at non-league Bath, wellied the ball up to 6 foot 4 Devon White, and fed off the scraps. Devon White himself specialised in fracturing the cheek socket of opposing centre halves using the point of his right elbow. Most professional footballers are not sent off three times in their entire career. Ian Alexander was sent off three times at Ashton Gate alone. In 1989, Alexander's two tackles on Dave Smith in one half at Ashton Gate nearly ended his career twice. Nowadays it would be two straight reds. Probably three. Then it was one yellow. YOUTUBE Bristol City v Bristol Rovers, Ashton Gate, Sep 1989 They were also not a nice side to look at. A horrible outbreak of moustaches had swept through that Rovers team like cholera. Not nice moustaches. Bit fat chunky upper-lip square black slugs. Ian Alexander and Gary Penrice were suspected of being the ringleaders. Even decent sober men, like Nigel Martyn and Geoff Twentyman, who have been clean shaven for decades since, succumbed to the craze. So to sum up, that Rovers side were good, lucky, dirty, horrible, always beat City, had the hoodoo over us, had stolen the title off us, never lost at Ashton Gate, and had now rocked up on a March evening at Ashton Gate to steal our eleven game derby record from us. This was it. City had to win. But not one City fan felt fully confident. At the back of our minds was a dreadful feeling that the curse would strike again. THE MINUTE'S SILENCE Before the match started, the players lined up on the half way line for a minute's silence to mark the passing of City Chairman Des Williams. The referee blew his whistle and the minute started. After a few seconds some Rovers fans in the Away End started singing "Ole the Gas, Ole!!!" The City fans booed and shouted for them to be quiet. But the City fans then realised that they themselves were breaking the minute's silence, and hard though it was, they had to stay quiet and could not react. So silence descended, but it was an uneasy, tense silence. It was not what it was supposed to be, a peaceful time to honour and respect the deceased. There was anger and tension under the surface after what the Rovers fans had done. The minute continued. After about forty seconds, a few people in the Rovers end starting shouting out a few things. The City fans were livid, but could not do anything. The final twenty seconds of the minute felt like an eternity. The City fans were seething with anger, and they were frightened that the Rovers fans would interrupt for a third time. The minute's silence had been completely ruined. Des Williams' family had been invited to the game and were standing by the side of the pitch. They were deeply upset, and had to hug and console each other during that minute. The seconds ticked on. It was supposed to be a peaceful testimony to humanity. It was agony. Eventually, after a hundred years, the referee blew the whistle to end the minute. Immediately every single City fan in the stadium wheeled round to the Away End and bellowed out with furious indignation at full volume "YOU'RE JUST A BUNCH OF ****#ERS." THE MATCH The match kicked off. The crowd were still furious, and channelled their wrath by roaring City forward. City were at home, were a good team who scored lots of goals, were going for promotion, and it was natural for them to attack. Rovers meanwhile, had a defence coached by an ex-England defender, and were not going to give way. It was attack versus defence. Could City break through? Bob Taylor fluffed a chance in the box. Nicky Morgan had a tap in at the far post, but was hustled out of it, and hit the woodwork. At half time it was 0-0. The second half kicked off. Rovers were attacking the East End. City were attacking the Open End. During the summer City had signed right winger, Louie Donowa, for £50,000 from Ipswich, as a replacement for Mark Gavin, who had gone to Watford. They had also taken a £30,000 punt on a speedy maverick midget from Huddersfield called Junior Bent. aged 20. Donowa was the senior pro, but Bent, after scoring the winner away to Swindon where he ran half the length of the pitch, was keeping Donowa out of the side. And with new midfielder Andy May also filling in on the right of midfield, there was no room for Donowa. He had hardly had a chance. For this game though, left winger Dave Smith was injured, so Donowa got his chance on the left wing. He was desperate to win his place in the side, and was running around here, there, and everywhere trying to make an impression. City continued to dominate. Nicky Morgan, who was outstanding that season, hooked a volley towards the Rovers goal. In goal for Rovers was Brian Parkin, Nigel Martyn's replacement. He looked like a plastic Action-Man, and his game was completely ruined when the back-pass rule came in, but he was a good shot-stopper. But there was no stopping that one. He turned his back on Morgan and stood and watched as the ball dropped into the top right-hand corner, in front of the Rovers fans. Except it didn't. It hit the post, and bounced away to safety. Rovers continued to hold out. Meanwhile Donowa was not giving up. On his weaker left foot, he sent over a cross from the left wing. Flying in at the far post, Morgan sent a bullet header towards the top left corner. Again Parkin did not move. The ball flew past him, but skimmed the top of the crossbar and flew into the Open End, like a giant game of Ashton Gate pinball. Morgan had now hit the woodwork three times. City could not score. Time was running out. Then disaster struck. On 74 minutes, the ball went back to City centre-half Mark Aizlewood, 30 yards out. He swivelled, and with the instep of his left foot just touched the ball back to the goalkeeper Andy Leaning on the volley. Effortless. Calm. Nonchalant. Imperious. Like Franco Baresi. Except there was a problem. Mark Aizlewood was not Franco Baresi. He was a psychopathic Welsh centre-half from Leeds who was always getting sent off for stamping on people's heads. The ball travelled all of one yard. Lurking behind Aizlewood was the monster from Twerton. Devon White bounded forward, picked up the ball, and advanced into the box one-on-one with the keeper for the clearest chance of the game. Andy Leaning came out. White went round him, jumped over him, and was caught on his back ankle. He went stumbling and falling to the ground, all arms and legs, like the Eiffel Tower falling down, or like a giraffe running at high speed across the Serengeti Plains of Africa who is tap-tackled on the ankle by a mischievous baby rhino. The referee said penalty. The East End were furious. It was under their nose, and they were convinced that he had dived. "BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" said the East End. "CHEAT.CHEAT.CHEAT.CHEAT.CHEAT" But the rest of us weren't arguing. Instead we were sitting in silence, with that sick feeling in our stomachs. We knew what was going to happen now, and had to watch it play out in front of our eyes. Rovers would tuck away the penalty. Then they would defend for a 1-0 win. Six points out of six against City for the season. They would equal our 11 game unbeaten run. Next season at Twerton they would make it 12. Meanwhile, back we would go to our offices, our schools, our businesses, our workplaces and our families. There the Rovers fans would be waiting for us. More gloating rights. No answer. No prospect of ever beating Rovers. We could not beat them at Twerton. And if we could not beat them at Ashton Gate when we were the better side, were higher in the league, had dominated the game, and had had all the chances, when could we beat them? Will we ever beat the Gas? And to give the game away like that with a catastrophic error leading to a penalty............................The curse had struck again. We were doomed forever. Ian Holloway put the ball on the spot, ran up, and hit it right footed bottom right. But it was a poor penalty. All Leaning had to do was go the right way and he would save it. Leaning went the right way. Leaning saved it. Ashton Gate roared with joy, relief, and noise. The East End exploded into a riotous bomb of joyous arms and legs flying everywhere. City were still alive. Leaning wellied the ball downfield, and the game continued. Now Ian Holloway is not a popular chap among City fans. Fair enough. But after the game he came out and stated publicly how ashamed he was to be a Rovers player when the Rovers fans were breaking the minute's silence. He did not have to do that. He was speaking out for City against Rovers, against his own fans, because he felt that that was right. Good for him. He deserves respect for that. He has two deaf daughters, and knows that there are more important things than football. Could it be that he was not in the right frame of mind for that penalty? I am not saying he missed deliberately. But to put away a pressure penalty like that you need nerves of steel and fierce concentration, like in a tournament shoot-out. If at the back of his mind there were feelings of disgust towards his own club and he was not in the mood for football, perhaps that explains his casual, badly-struck penalty. The ball continued to ping around in midfield. But the East End was not watching. It was still an exploding mass of celebrating humanity. It had been their penalty. Under their noses. They thought White had dived. They had seen Holloway miss right in front of them. A minute passed. Two minutes passed. Still the East End celebrated. Complete strangers, who by day were stockbrokers and accountants, clutched each other's arms and leapt wildly for joy, roaring and jumping endlessly. The game carried on. Even the rest of the City fans had stopped celebrating the penalty and were watching the match. But the East End celebrated wildly, on and on and on. The static terrace had become a bouncing, jumping, living organism. Could it have been that they sensed something great was going to happen later that night? THE END OF THE MATCH But Rovers still held all the cards. There were 16 minutes left. 0-0 would do them fine. They were away from home. A draw gave them 11 unbeaten league derby games, an outstanding feat that equalled City's record and gave them a chance to enter the history books the next season by setting a new record. Earlier that season Rovers had beaten City 3-2 at Twerton. Rovers went 2-0 up, City pulled it back to 2-2, then Rovers got the winner. So it would be 4 points out of 6 for Rovers against City that season. Despite the missed penalty, they would still have full gloating rights. City desperately tried to find the winner, but the Rovers defence was solid. Manager Jimmy Lumsden sent on "The Chief" Wayne Allison to try and win something in the air. But it was a forlorn hope. City were out of ideas. Will we ever beat the Gas? With three minutes to go Bryant launched a long ball down-field. Allison finally won us a header 30 yards out, but it just ran through to the Rovers defence. But Louie Donowa had not given up. Scampering off the left wing with enthusiasm, he nipped in front of the Rovers back four and picked up the ball. The Rovers defence were still goal-side, so he pushed the ball onto his favourite right foot and shot, low, from right to left. It was a feeble shot, and Parkin saved it. The crowd roared "OOOOOOOOOOOH" with disappointment. But the shot was so bad it was good. It bounced before it reached the keeper, and Parkin, instead of collecting it cleanly or pushing it in front of him, allowed the ball to skid off his body and loop slowly behind him towards the empty net. Donowa was onto it like a flash. He was already on the move, and had no difficulty outpacing the static Rovers defence. (Yes, that means YOU, Geoff Twentyman.) He dodged the keeper lying on the ground, and got himself into position to force the ball over the line. The Rovers fans, all 3000 of them packed together in the Away End, were so close to the action that they could have spat over the head of Donowa, but they were all chained up and there was nothing they could do. Ashton Gate seemed to fall silent, and time stood still. In a moment of almost religious ecstasy, Donowa went down on his knees. The ball was now dropping out of the night sky like a balloon slowly sailing to the ground in some forgotten corner of a children's birthday party. It kissed the top of Donowa's head. Springing off the ground like Superman taking off, Donowa hurled himself at the ball like a seventeen-year-old diving into bed with a supermodel. He flew over the line, both feet off the ground, pushing the ball with his head into the back of the net. The referee pointed to the centre-spot. GOAL -Bristol City 1 (Donowa 87) Bristol Rovers 0 The City fans roared. The Rovers fans stood motionless. The City players piled into the net to celebrate. And Donowa sat in the goalmouth smiling and exhausted, like a child sitting in the sandpit. After this game Louie Donowa did nothing else for Bristol City. He was sold to Birmingham the following summer. But he will always be a Bristol City legend. Don't you attempt to buy your own drinks in the red half of Bristol, Mr Donowa. We'll take care of that. Lifetime offer. DEVON WHITE IS NOT FINISHED YET. But the game was not won yet. Rovers kicked off, and poured forward in search of an equaliser. They had three minutes plus injury-time. Their tactic was the one they always used. Whack the ball up to 6ft 4 Devon White, win the header, and then feed off the scraps. City dropped everyone back, and started to defend with their lives. But the City fans were not watching the game. You cannot miss an opportunity like this. They were turned towards the Away End, and were singing "ONE-NIL, ONE-NIL, ONE-NIL!!!! ONE-NIL ONE-NIL ONE NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIL ONE-NIL, ONE-NIL ONE-NIL ONE NIL!!!!!" The aerial onslaught on City's box continued. City dragged back six-footers Rob Newman, Dave Rennie, and Wayne Allison to help out centre-backs Mark Aizlewood and Matt Bryant. Martin Scott got another huge cheer from the City fans when he cleared the ball out of the penalty area onto the top of the Grandstand. To be honest, it would probably have cleared the Lansdown. But now there was a problem. Rovers had a throw-in, level with the penalty area. Their Welsh defender Vaughan Jones was a long-throw specialist. And lurking in the six-yard box was Devon White. He seemed to have grown since the last time we had seen him, and was now about 9 foot 3. It was simple, wasn't it? Jones would throw the ball onto Big Dev's head. And he would head it in. Six City defenders were surrounding him, but it didn't matter. He could win a header against all of them without jumping. And possibly fracture the cheek-socket of one or two of them with his elbow after scoring the equaliser. Referees never used to mind about that. Ashton Gate fell silent again. They knew that Devon White always scored against City. Vaughan Jones ran up and launched a flat-trajectory nuclear-scud missile into the heart of the penalty area. Somehow City got it clear. Then the final whistle went. Full Time Bristol City 1 (Donowa 87) Bristol Rovers 0 We all celebrated. Were we celebrating because it was a thrilling last-minute victory in a night match against the Old Enemy? Yes, but that wasn't it. Were we celebrating because it was natural justice for Rovers to lose after they had ruined the minute's silence? Yes, but that wasn't it. Were we celebrating because with seconds to go, from nowhere we had saved our own 11 match derby sequence, and kept Rovers out of the record books? Yes, but that wasn't it. Were we celebrating because we could now go back to our schools and offices with full gloating rights? Yes, but that wasn't it. Were we celebrating because we had now beaten Rovers in the league for the first time for five years and ten matches, a victory all the sweeter because we had waited and suffered for it for so long? Yes, but that wasn't it. Were we celebrating because this was 5 wins out of 7, a run that would take us to 5th with a real chance of promotion? Yes, but that wasn't it. We were celebrating because our luck had changed against Bristol Rovers. They had been the ones to miss a penalty, and they had been the ones to gift us a cheap last-minute goal in the nick of time to save our record. It looked like Aizlewood had blown the match. Then it turned, and Holloway and Parkin blew the match. The hoodoo had been broken. The curse was over. And that curse has never come back to this day. In the thirty seasons since that game, Bristol City have finished higher in the league than Bristol Rovers twenty-seven times. The City fans started to file out of the top of the Dolman. At the start of the evening, the Bristol Rovers fans had asked them a question. "Will You Ever Beat The Gas? Will You Ever Beat The Gas?" They say you should never answer a question with a question. But the Bristol City fans did it anyway. They saw the 3000 Rovers fans standing on the terrace, locked up, and completely still. So they sang back "Will We Ever Beat The Gas? Will We Ever Beat The Gas?" They gazed down through the Bristol night sky, waiting for an answer. Those Bristol Rovers fans had not been able to keep silent during a minute's memorial to mark the passing of a dead man ninety minutes earlier. They were all silent now.
  11. Lee Johnson and Mark Ashton assembled a very large lop-sided squad. One of Holden's jobs as assistant was to keep the players out of the team happy. No doubt he was always saying things to them like "You are good enough. Just wait your chance and you will take it." So of course his natural instinct when he became manager was to play them. Unfortunately, it seems that Lee Johnson's instincts were right, and that the likes of Semenyo, Moore, Vyner, and Bakinson were not first-team players for a reason. They have done OK, but nothing to suggest that it was an error to have them out of the team under Lee Johnson. But Holden has a massive flaw. He does not understand what a midfield player is. In his first game against Hull as caretaker manager, he played 5-3-2. But two of the midfielders were Weimann and Paterson. Sorry, but they are not midfielders. They are forwards, who can play on the wing. Not central midfielders. That is not 5-3-2, it is 5-1-4. There is only one player with his back to his own defenders facing the opposition and trying to get the ball off them. The job of a central midfielder is to win the ball. Brian Clough once said to his mate Geoffrey Boycott "You have to win the battle in midfield." Clough also said to an 18 year old Irishman before every match "Your job is to win the ball and pass it to another player in a red shirt. I need you to get the ball off the opposition, pass, and move. Can you do that?" The kid made a career of it. He won a shed load of medals at Man Utd under Alex Ferguson doing only that, but he always said Clough was a better manager than Ferguson. His name? Roy Keane. Clough also said to a central midfielder once "If you stop their best player from playing, then we are in business, because you can't play." If Weimann and Paterson are good enough to win the ball off the opposition AND then play, they are in the Gerrard/Scholes/Lampard/Zidane bracket. Paterson can hardly run at times without being out of breath. He can kill you in the last third with the ball at his feet, but whoever thought he could dominate the crunching tackles of midfield? This blind spot continued throughout Dean Holden's period as caretaker manager. The height of it came away at Swansea. By the end City were playing 3-0-7. The three defenders were Vyner, Kalas, and Pereira. No midfield. And the seven attackers were Eliasson, Palmer, Paterson, Diedhiou, Weimann, Afobe, and Watkins. City lost 1-0. Who is going to give the ball to all these forwards? Brian Clough gave everyone a specific job in the team. It was the central midfielder's job to "win the ball and give it to someone who could play." It was the winger's job to create. If you did not do your job, you were out. Once away in Sweden Archie Gemmill in a training match kept over-hitting his passes to winger John Robertson. Clough stopped the training session. "Mr Gemmill." "Yes boss." "I bought you to give the ball to Mr Robertson." "Yes boss." "As you'll have noticed, Mr Robertson is a rather corpulent young gentleman with short legs that do not move as fast as some others in the club." "Yes boss." "His pace is deceptive. He is slower than he looks." "Yes boss." "So your job is to pass the ball to Mr Robertson's feet." "Yes boss." "You're sure you can still do that, aren't you?" "Yes boss." "Good, because if you can't we can easily leave you here and find somebody else who can give Mr Robertson the ball where he wants it." "Yes boss." Then Clough dropped Gemmill and sold him. Because Holden never valued ball-winners in the centre of midfield, he allowed Korey Smith and Joe Morell to leave. How we could do with them now. Holden was playing 5-1-4 in disguise as 5-3-2. Occasionally it worked. Away at Cardiff our forwards blitzed them for an early goal for Chris Martin, and we hung on for 89 minutes for a 1-0 win. But it led to injuries for people like Bakinson, who were being flogged in midfield. And we have never had a grip of a match, dominated a match. We have looked like what we are, a random eleven running around trying to figure out where everyone should be. Admittedly Holden was unlucky. He lost to injury SEVEN left sided players. (Baker. Mawson. Rowe. Dasilva. O'Dowda. Pring. Nurse.) He was basically stuck with LJ's second eleven that then got ravaged by injuries. But if you don't understand what the job of a central midfielder is, you are not going to be a very good manager.
  12. https://talksport.com/football/643072/nigel-pearson-wolves-watford-stuart-pearce/ Stuart Pearce revealed an incredible story about the time Nigel Pearson was nearly killed by a pack of wolves while on holiday. Pearce told the tale while on commentary for talkSPORT as Pearson’s Watford were beaten 2-0 by Liverpool at Anfield. He said: “Every summer he used to go away on his own on a walking holiday. One year he went to Transylvania. Got the train and went out to Transylvania and was warned if he goes walking in the mountains there are wolves and bears that type of thing. “He got surrounded by a pack of wolves, this is a true story, backed himself up to a hedge to stop them getting behind him and gouged one of their eyes out and broke another’s jaw and managed to get away. “He said if they managed to get behind him they would have killed him.”
  13. There was a game last season where Dan Bentley was towards the right back position. He passed to our right back, City went forward and lost the ball, and the opposition striker shot into an empty goal from about 25 yards out, quite high and a nice height for the keeper. Bentley was scrambling back into the area and literally took off. He flew through the air and made the save. It was at the Atyeo end. Can anyone remember who it was against? Anyway, the reason I mention it is because that save, coupled with those two Forest saves out of the top left hand corner, have convinced me that Dan Bentley can actually fly.
  14. Please....................................not again....................................
  15. Fatty Tomlin has headed in from a Marlon Pack corner. Eddie Nketiah has just come on for Arsenal. Matt Smith has just scored. Hakeeb Adelukun started for Rotherham, who are 2-0 up at home to Rovers.
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