Mind The Tweet – The media & the Gas

Mind The Tweet

by Martin Bull

Readers may just about remember the national press coverage of the May 2015 open top bus tour of north and east Bristol to celebrate Rovers’ return to the Football League at the first opportunity. To any local person it was a handsome spectacle, with hordes of Gasheads lining the streets from Warmley to Lawrence Hill, followed by a sprint to Horfield to top off the afternoon at a crowded Memorial Stadium.

It was therefore a complete surprise to later hear that the Daily Mirror had taken their eye off their own phone hacking problems and taken the trouble to pretend that a photo showing the players racing along an empty street on the way to the starting point of the tour was indicative of the “worst open top bus parade in history”. The Metro followed suit and most disappointingly the website of ‘The Independent’ tagged along like Billy No-mates, regurgitating the tired clichés that may be expected of a rotten red top, but not a quality broadsheet. When those London-centric journalists and obsequious twitterers sneered at a provincial football club and followed with indecent haste the mantra that bigger is always best, they forgot that small truly is beautiful.

This week’s all too easy sitting duck was an innocent Rovers tweet at 9.38am on St.Stephen’s Day morning – “Thanks to all those who helped with [sic] the pitch covers on. If anyone around [sic] in the next 30 minutes we would like some help removing them. Thanks.”.

Now, whilst the sentence construction may understandably be a bit squiffy after being written when most people were still in bed nursing a leaden stomach still full of turkey and port from the day before, the underlying message is hardly one deserving of an entire press article, available here.

Apparently it was tinpot, embarrassing and other choice hyperbole.

Everything in life has two viewpoints though, and so often the negative minded forget to even contemplate that a positive deduction could be arrived at instead.

I for one know personally of a season ticket holder who lives so close to the Mem he could have found the odd conference ball land in his garden a few seasons ago (‘AVE IT!). Football clubs used to be at the hub of their local community, and whilst many of the richer or relocated clubs may not be anymore, ours still is, and that is something to be celebrated, not derided.

But more importantly, and as the reader comments on the rogue story rightly pointed out, what exactly is so wrong about asking SUPPORTERS to help out if they wish to support? That is what supporter means isn’t it? Going out on a limb to doing something for the club you call ‘yours’, even though 87 times out of 92 it is legally owned by businessmen instead.

Being a supporter isn’t just for the easier trips to Reading and the Midlands, or the balmy summer days of short sleeves, al fresco pints and a Mr. Whippy for the sprogs. It also entails standing up for yourself amidst an onslaught of Premier League sycophancy, braving the snails crawl of the M5 and M6 to Carlisle on an Easter Monday, and enduring rain so hard it makes your nose bleed and leaves your trousers looking like you’ve relieved yourself in them (maybe you did… the perfect cover and an inexpensive way to keep warm).

The well timed tweet also illustrated the confidence our club has in not being frightened to ask for help, and to know that it will most probably get it. Years ago there may have been some cynicism at such a request, but not so now, with life in Roversville enjoying a healthy spirit both on and off the pitch

One City tweeter added a ‘Mind The Gap’ jibe. The irony was clearly lost on him because come 5pm Boxing Day that gap had closed another two places to 17 places, the lowest since October 2010, when Rovers were ninth in League One and City were rock bottom of the Championship. Considering that Rovers went on that season to snatch relegation from the jaws of mid-table shelter, and City impressively rescued themselves, I am certainly not one to crow at ONLY being 17 places behind our greatest foe. I would however suggest that when your own team are in freefall a little humility would surely be wise?

At this point I have to stop and remind myself of Friedrich Nietzsche’s aphorism in his influential 1886 book ‘Beyond Good and Evil’; “Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster”. As much as I dislike the snobby attitude of some City fans I don’t want to spend my time thinking about them, let alone becoming anything like one.

Neither of our clubs has that much football success to brag about anyway; our rivalry resembles two bald men fighting over a comb, whilst Wayne Rooney earns more than both squads combined and can afford to take individual hairs from one bit of his head and stick them on a different bit.

It’s a funny old world and it takes all sorts. If only some people could allow us to be ourselves, because we rather value it thank you.

Martin Bull became a Gashead in 1989 and immediately fell in love with Twerton Park, standing near G pillar. Three of his seven books have been about Bristol Rovers. ‘Away The Gas’ is packed full of over 50 years of ‘I was there’ away game moments, all written by fans, ‘Print That Season! – One man’s weekly meanderings throughout Bristol Rovers’ promotion campaign of 2014-15’ is the antidote to obedient season reviews, with none of the hindsight that most writers rely on, and ‘Double Darrell’ is similar, but chronicles the 2015-16 promotion, and is even better.

Full details of all are available at www.awaythegas.org.uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *