The New Lawn

Forest Green Rovers (Saturday, September 1)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

Forest Green Rovers 3 Hyde United 1

A tidying up exercise this afternoon: I visited Forest Green Rovers at The Lawn, their old ground and am now ticking them off at The New Lawn.

The ground is in Nailsworth and Jane SatNav leads me down some narrow lanes to reach it. Parked cars make it difficult to access the ground and I soon find out the reason: it costs three pounds to park in the club’s huge (half-empty) car park.

FGR are the surprise package of the Blue Square Bet this season, currently lying third in the league table. This is mainly down to the money and efforts of chairman Dale Vince, who rescued the club from extinction a few years back.

Vince made his millions from windfarms, those eyesores bespoiling hillsides across the globe handily placed to slice and dice any unsuspecting birds of prey on migration.

Vince has famously ‘greened’ FGR, forbidding meat to be sold in the ground. Curiously, I am able to purchase some tasty fish and chips from The Green Man, FGR’s own pub. Fish are probably the most mistreated animals in the world and also very much under threat by over-fishing.

After a quick glance in the uninspiring club shop, I pay 14 pounds at the gate and another three for the programme (there is no indication whether this is printed on recycled paper or produced with environmentally-friendly inks).

At first glance, the stadium has all the personality and imagination of an average episode of Heartbeat. It does not seem to exude the atmosphere of a hotbed of football. Even the drummers seem half-hearted and the crowd respond accordingly: with silence.

There is a huge banner behind one goal proclaiming, ‘you can change our badge, you can change our colours but you cannot change our history’s.

The reasoning behind one of these statements becomes obvious when the home players appear wearing fluorescent green shirts rather than the traditional black and white stripes.

FGR take all three points, though plucky Hyde deserve a draw. Now to negotiate that single track road with passing places.

Oooh, crikey, look at the size of that tractor coming towards me…

sad.hopper@ntlworld.com

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