Saturday, 16 September 2017

The New Lawn

Forest Green Rovers 2-2 Barnet

5th August 2017

One of the challenges of “Doing the 92” is that the goalposts, quite literally, keep getting moved.  I enjoyed quite a fruitful harvest during season 2016/17, visiting 13 new grounds.  Which left me with (I think) just 23 to go.  But then, of course, I lost Orient and Hartlepool from my tally, with Lincoln City and Forest Green Rovers being added to my outstanding list.

Not that I minded too much really.  Lincoln City have such a long league history, and Forest Green Rovers are such a quirky little club, that dropping into either as non-league clubs would have been on my To Do list anyway.

Forest Green Rovers are based in the Gloucestershire village of Nailsworth;, the community's population of less than 8,000 meaning it is by some way the smallest ever community to have hosted a Football League club.  Although Forest Green itself is actually an area within Nailsworth – a fact, one could argue, shrinks the "home" population even further.

The club's other claim to fame is as the self-proclaimed Greenest Football Club in the World.  This boast stemming from an “entirely organic pitch”, a stand roof covered in solar panels, and a vegetarian refreshments hut amongst other environmentally friendly aspect.  Whether the club name itself gave the owner the idea for this concept, or if the moniker is serendipitous, I have no idea.

What I do know is this was the first time I had heard away fans chanting “Where's your Burger Van?”

Changing Rooms entrance?

The New Lawn - Forest Green Rovers FC

Panorama of The New Lawn, Forest Green Rovers FC

The New Lawn South Stand - which, I believe, the club transported from their previous ground. 

The exterior to the Main Stand at The New Lawn.

Forest Green Rovers v Barnet - August 2017

Panorama of The New Lawn looking north.

Given the momentous nature of the occasion (first ever Football League match for the club, and all that), it was perhaps not surprising the home defence looked a decidedly nervous bunch early on.  Clearly asked by manager Mark Cooper to play the ball from the back, they on more than one occasion got themselves into a bit of a fankle.  This state of affairs was hardly helped by the fact that on the few occasions home 'keeper Bradley Collins did kick from hand he invariably found touch.

Jamal Campbell-Ryce in the visiting midfield really caught the eye – he playing some sort of quarter-back role; being presented with the ball at every opportunity by his colleagues.  He particularly appeared to favour probing the Rovers' left flank where full-back Scott Laird found himself unnumbered on more than one occasion.  Fortunately for the home lot, the visitors' crossing was generally poor.

The half looked to be ending scoreless, when Forest Green went ahead with more than a touch of good fortune.  Visiting defender Charlie Clough received a smack on the head, and had to go off for repairs.  Whilst he was being stitched-up Christian DIODGE, shorn of his marker, headed Rovers into the lead from a corner kick.  The same player then flummoxed a clearly still groggy Clough, a few moments after the latter's return, to double the home side's lead.

Barnet boss brought on Michael Nelson and David Tutonda at the break, and was rewarded by seeing his side back level by just after the hour mark through Jean-Louis AKPA AKPRO and my man CAMPBELL-RICE.  A betting individual would probably have wagered on Barnet going on to win this one, but the home lot stiffened their resolve and in truth, long before time-up, both sets of players had looked happy to end the opening day of the season unbeaten.

Forest Green Rovers take to the stage for the club's first ever Football League match

Forest Green Rovers v Barnet - August 2017

Barnet's Jamal Campbell-Ryce gets the new league season underway

Christian Diodge (far right in green) scores Forest Green Rovers first ever goal in the Football League

Being a former basketball internationalist one would expect Diodge to be useful at set-pieces.....
but the fact his marker Charlie Clough was off the field being stitched-up undoubtedly
made the goalscorers's task more than a little easier.

Polite applause for the goalscorer.

Barnet's Jamaican Internationalist Jamal Campbell-Ryce
- my Man of the Match, for what that is worth.

Harry Taylor (Barnet) & Charlie Cooper (Forest Green)

The wounded soldier Charlie Clough trots off at half-time.
He did not return.

The New Lawn Nymphsfield Road (or South) Stand.

The Forest Green Rovers strip features this rather cool Sea Shepherd logo.
Sea Shepherd are a sort Greenpeace's rather more aggressive little brother, and well deserving of all of our support.

Greening the club and stadium is one thing.
Clearly getting the supporters to Go Green is perhaps a bigger challenge.

Forest Green Rovers v Barnet - August 2017

Forest Green Rovers v Barnet - August 2017

Forest Green Rovers v Barnet - August 2017

Forest Green Rovers v Barnet - August 2017

Some media jobs are less glamorous than others.

Forest Green Rovers v Barnet - August 2017

I am not quite sure about the legality of this challenge being made by Dale Bennett upon Barnet's Elliott Johnson 

Time-up.  Honours (deservedly) shared.

A few words on the green side to the club.  I believe this philosophy extends to the refreshment outlets where the traditional dead cow and chicken delights have been replaced by vegan offerings.  These may well taste wonderful – they certainly smelt enticing from where I stood – but all I saw around me were folks tucking into chips.  

And I also did wonder about the carbon footprint of all those cars crawling along Nymphsfield Road - a mere single track lane with passing points – attempting to get back onto the M5.

This is Nymphsfield Road, and the main route to Nailsworth from the west.
I would advise folks coming from that direction to leave the M5 at Junction 13,
and attack the village from the north via Stroud.  

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