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One Team In Bristol-So Why Not?

By Bristol Boy

One team in Bristol? So, why not?


I’ll tell you why not...

I am a very proud Bristolian and so are the vast majority of those I have stood side by side with on the terraces of football stadia all over this country for the past forty-odd years.

So why will a huge sigh be heard all over the City as we return to this subject?

I first heard it mooted around oh, 40 years ago, so it’s taking a while to catch on! And, from what I can gather, it’s even less popular now than it was then!

What stops something so practical and so sensible in the eyes of many pragmatists working?

Tribalism?
Rivalry?
Hatred?
History?
The River?

There is no doubt in my mind that Bristol has underachieved as a footballing City to the point that eyes go up to heaven. Nobody will even argue when one mentions it and, let’s face it, as Bristolians we can argue for England.

That’s not the same as saying City are useless which City fans are allowed to say on occasions with gusto & vigour while others may need to duck or run on the mere utterance of those words.

The reasons we’ve underachieved are many but, in brief, I’ll put it down to three things. Underinvestment, poor leadership and bad management. Don’t get me wrong we’ve had good managers, money’s been spent, wisely on occasions and good Chairman…just rarely at the same time! Rovers fans would probably point to the same factors.

There is a business method used by many top businesses over the years that tells you to buy the competition. It works mostly, but then when some very smart people decided that combining two poor things would equal one good thing, it was a bridge to far.

What you in fact finish up with is one large abysmal thing as opposed to two smaller abysmal things. So, back to the football scenario and a merger of the two clubs.

Any successful merger is a synergy; a meeting or fit of two things that compliment each other and without setting out to be controversial, what would Rovers bring to the party?

A fan base of about 4,500-5,500 who wouldn’t cross the City and around 1,000 have found Horfield beyond them some weeks.

Even with the new stadium, an 18,000 Capacity Ground.

They don’t have rich backers and their financial problems over recent years of massive underachievement that nearly saw them playing conference football, are well documented. Two cup finals this season must have seemed like manner from Heaven to the Dunfords.

League One Football? The Bristol public have no desire to regularly attend that as nine seasons in that Division has, at best seen a better supported clubs gates stagnate at best.

If one combined the two squads, do they have a player that would get in the first XI? I suppose Walker up front with 23 goals would have a case, but I don’t know if he’d do it for a poor side at a higher level and my understanding is that both he and star defender Elliot will soon be off to pastures new. If I had a choice of Walker or Brooker with both fit and on form, I know which one I’d pick.

The fact that they beat us over two legs said more about our tactical errors and underperformance than Rovers ability and I still say neither team deserved to score, never mind win!

However, no amount of part timers on a one day Beano to the Big City will ever justify the formation of a single team or make up for the supporters who turn up week in, week out, home & away. I’m talking about those who have, on occasions, attached themselves to both clubs (probably a lot of the same people).

People will come onto the fact that even a combination of the average crowd that watched both clubs would give a home attendance of about 18,000. That’s fine if they all watched one team and the only way that would happen is if BOTH teams folded and a new team made it’s way up the football pyramid with all the hassle that entailed, although MK Dons are giving it a go. Off the field they look good. On it, they’re in the Fourth Division with no manager, albeit with a brand spanking 30,000 Stadium, that’ll be 20% full most weeks.

So, in brief, it ain’t gonna happen, the vast majority of fans from both clubs don’t want it to and City don’t need it to happen to give Bristol a Premiership Club that will be supported by over 20,000 people week in, week out, as it was thirty odd years ago.

The stadium, depending on success, will hold 29,000 by 2010, at a guess.

Without wishing to sound like a happy-clappy eternal optimist of ridiculous proportions, Premiership football could happen in 2008. Just close your eyes and dwell on that fact if you’re in anyway disappointed by Rovers promotion.

At that point, everything that those who don’t understand local rivalry, our history & culture-pundits and “football people” alike, will see what the fans already know. It’s not about starting again.

Every time a new manager turns up the first mistake they make is telling us we’re a massive club/sleeping giant* (*delete as applicable). Some piously preach loyalty (then leave next season for Hearts/Pompey* (*delete as applicable).

They tell us that we’ve underachieved for a “town” (I love that bit) with “massive potential” and they’ll probably call us “Bristol” as well!!

Whilst those “football people” may understand some aspects of our game more than fans, it is an immutable fact that fans do understand what I’m writing about more than they ever will. They, along with most Chairman & Managers, have never “gone to football” as we have.

Our club has taken a journey that has involved our families, friends and those we love going on a roller coaster ride of emotion with more downs than ups it has to be said. Some of those people are no longer with us and I don’t mean that they’ve left for another £500pw at Derby.

Talk of one team insults our tradition, our culture and our club. Neither do we want to share a ground because ours has our emotional investment in it and even in this day and age, isn’t that worth something?

The views expressed in this 'Soapbox' section are those of the author of each article and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bristol City Supporters Trust

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