Ellis, I am writing to you to congratulate you on your performance against Blackpool. I watch Rovers home and away and have done for some time, and I am fully aware that occasionally our supporters get on your back, and that sometimes the work you put in when you cross the white line and take to the field is not fully appreciated by sections of fans at the Mem.
Sometimes I cringe when idiots on the north terrace groan when you struggle to control an ‘out-ball’ pass which is pinged at you at 70mph by one of our centre backs when you have two opposition central defenders trying to shove you off the ball, tear the shirt off your back and in some cases drag their studs down your Achilles.
I also cringe when under intense pressure from opposing centre backs you use every sinew of muscle to control the ball only to lay it off to a team-mate who should have been supporting you – but wasn’t.
I am going to be honest, otherwise there is no point me writing this. Sometimes it doesn’t look if you are giving your all. Sometimes when I expect you to give and go, you don’t. Sometimes it looks like you jump too early to put a defender off, instead of jumping to win the ball, and sometimes I wonder if you know how good you could be.
Occasionally you do things which wouldn’t look out of place in the Premier League, but sometimes you look as if you don’t think lost causes are worth chasing. I want to say at this point I have been among your critics, not in an aggressive, pointless way, but in more of a frustrated, encouraging way, because I know what you can do. I am guessing but you probably feel you should play more frequently, you have a decent contract at the club which shows they have faith in you, but you regularly end up on the bench. In previous seasons, you were in danger of becoming one of the lads who the media dub an ‘impact sub’. That’s like being told you are f*****g brilliant at your job – between the hours of 3.15 and 5pm.
Watching Rovers as I do, I feel for you because it seems to me we play a different way most of the time when you are in the starting eleven. You have the ball fired at you, often like an Exocet missile which you are expected to control, often against two or sometimes three centre backs, while when Tom Nichols and Rory start up front the ball is played to them at their feet allowing them to control it, turn and put the opposing team on the back-foot, or is popped into the channels for them to run onto. Having said I was once a critic, performances such as the one you put in against Blackpool convince me you are a vital part of what the club is trying to achieve. You should know people around me were united in the opinion you ‘deserved’ the goal you scored. I heard fans saying you were’ brilliant in both boxes’. Another said you ‘ran your bollocks off’, there was collective applause when you held the ball up, brought others into the game and took the pressure of our defence.
The north bank rose as one when you collected that pass and burst into the box to smash that shot into the back of the net. Fans around me lauded the fact you knew what you wanted to do once the ball fell at your feet. One bloke stood near me said: ‘’He only had one thing on his mind ….’’ and he was right. And the way you danced past the defender and buried that shot was spectacular. Personally I was over the moon. I celebrated your goal louder and more emphatically than Billy’s equaliser and Ryan’s header. I could see how much it meant and I could see how you managed to summon that last smidgeon of strength to finish it off when you looked dead on your feet – or was that just because you had tiny shinpads and your socks rolled down? I am joking, I loved watching you smash that ball into the net. I am delighted you are getting a run in the side and I have faith in you. I didn’t – but I do now. Not on one performance but because I have always known you could play like you did today for 90 minutes – if and when you got 90 minutes. You were f*****g awesome today. I don’t know who got MOTM today, and I’m not particularly interested – unless it was you. I guess overall I just want to say, like Tupac said: ‘You are appreciated’.
Feature Image Credit: Bristol Rovers FC