A Gashead in (temporary) exile
I’ve spent a few periods of my life living outside Bristol and boy not being able to get on the terraces when the Gas are at home is a weird sensation.
Now I must confess that for some of these times I was kind of glad at being away from the Mem, namely seasons 11/12 and 12/13, when the atmosphere was often toxic and technically speaking; we were shite.
It can be demoralising and disheartening to turn up week in week out with someone like Buckle or McGhee in charge, so it was quite comforting to not even have the option of enduring that torment.
So how different it felt when a day after I arrived in Bangkok, I checked my phone to see that we had been bought out by Jordanian billionaire Al-Qadi. I was still feeling pretty spaced out from jet lag (aided by a couple of Thai lagers) so I couldn’t quite fathom the information I’d seen. Without a Gashead in sight, I’ve spent the last few weeks establishing a ‘Bristol Rovers Asian Fan Club’ and discussing the takeover news with many different nationalities. I’ve even been handing out Rovers stickers to help improve ‘the brand’ in Asia and have kitted out my motorbike with a few. I’m trying to sow the seeds early for when we become a global footballing force (tounge firmly in cheek).
To miss arguably the most monumental happening in Rovers history was pretty inconvenient to say the least, but to be fair what would I have done differently if I was in Bristol? Perhaps gone down the Mem with a tea towel on my head? (Please tell me no one did that).
Not being in Bristol for the off field gossip and discussions isn’t too bad really because you can get all of that in abundance on social media and the forums. And as a forum user, it gets a bit overkill at times.
For me the biggest thing I’m missing at the moment is match days, because after all that’s where the magic happens. When a goal update flashes up on Twitter, it’s just not the same as hearing the contact of the ball, seeing it ripple in the net and feeling that shared euphoria.
To try and replicate that atmosphere I’ve sung many a Rovers song whilst away, but it’s just not the same when you’re not backed up by 7,000 passionate Gasheads and fuelled by a pre match pasty and pint of Gem.
For me at least, this is a temporary exile and makes me even more thankful for having and supporting a local team, one that I can feel a connection with and be immensely proud of, no matter where in the world I am.