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Feature

New To League Two: Bristol Rovers

4 June 2021

A photograph of Bristol Rovers' Memorial Stadium Kieran McManus/BPI/Shutterstock
The Memorial Stadium is home to Bristol Rovers

We continue a new feature for the summer months in which we throw the spotlight on new teams joining us in League Two for 2021/22 – next up, we’re off to Bristol…

How did they get here?
Bristol Rovers’ five-year stay in the third tier came to an end last season when then finished bottom of the pile in League One with just 38 points.

Despite a reasonably promising start to 2020/21, Rovers’ form completely deserted them at the turn of the year and they were relegated on the back of just four wins in their last 29 league outings.

The appointment of Joey Barton has brought about a fresh wave of optimism among Rovers fans who will keen to see him reinstall a winning mentality in time for their assault on League Two.

Last time The Gas competed at this level they had just been promoted from the National League and, on the crest of a wave, they went straight through the division to reach League One.

Supporters will be hoping for a similar experience this time around.

Who’s in charge?
Joey Barton was appointed as the new Manager of Bristol Rovers in February, arriving at The Memorial Stadium to succeed Paul Tisdale in the hotseat.

The 38-year-old agreed a three-year deal with the club as he secured a quick return to management following his departure from Fleetwood Town in January where he had spent almost three years as boss.

A no-nonsense midfielder during his playing days, Barton came through the ranks to star for Manchester City before making a big money move to Newcastle United in 2007.

The feisty competitor went on to play for Queens Park Rangers, Burnley, Glasgow Rangers and Burnley whilst he also enjoyed a season abroad with Marseille in 2012/13.

He made his break into management with Fleetwood in the summer of 2018 and guided The Cod Army into the League One play-offs during the 2019/20 campaign.

Where do they play?
The Memorial Stadium has been home to Bristol Rovers since 1996, with the club having played its games at Eastville Stadium for the previous 89 years.

It was opened in 1921, boasts a capacity of just over 12,000 and was also previously home to rugby team Bristol Bears before they moved to Ashton Gate in 2014.

When did we last meet?
The sides have met just eight times in competitive action over the years, with the last occasion coming in the FA Cup at The Memorial Stadium back in December 2016.

That afternoon proved a memorable one for Bluebirds fans as they saw their team come from behind to win 2-1 in Bristol thanks to a double from Byron Harrison.

What do the locals think?
Sam Frost (Bristol Post):

The club overhauled their squad 12 months ago and the rebuild failed. They did not recruit effectively in key positions, particularly up front, and they finished the season with just 40 goals in 46 games. Three managers tried and failed to succeed with this squad, all suffering from the same recurring flaws. An immediate return is certainly the target, but Joey Barton has the tough task of rebuilding a squad with several flaws and eradicating a losing culture. It won't be easy.


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