Our fans are certainly not shy in branding about phrases and opinions in relation to all things Bristol Rovers.
Whether it be team selection, an individual’s performance or even the half time food selection, groups such as the Bristol Rovers Appreciation Page who boast over 10,000 members spark some heated debates. I am going to try to address some of these potential myths and unearth whether or not many of these are actually true.
‘Ellis Harrison is lazy’- Myth or reality?
Any Rover’s fan who has been to pretty much any game over the last few years is sure to have heard this phrase. For me the idea stems from Ellis’ jovial attitude and his calm demeanor. Looking back on his career it becomes apparent that when he does play he scores. His goal to game ratio levels out at around 1 in every 4 games when starting and I will make the same point that Doug Shields cites in his open letter. The fans that brandish him ‘lazy’ do this out of frustration. We as Rovers fans see so much potential in a player who let’s not forget is still only 23 that when he has an off day, it becomes an easy option to call him lazy. I for one have seen an energetic and hardworking Ellis Harrison this season and one could easily put forward a strong argument of him being our best performing striker so far. He is certainly a player who divides opinion and yes, at some moments in his early career he did appear uninterested or lackadaisical but personally I think I would be pretty disheartened when as a young player you are receiving a foul torrent of abuse from your so called ‘fans.’ His play style is certainly not as high octane as a Rory Gaffney but he is by no means strolling around the pitch. Ellis is a front man who for so long has shown glimpses of talent coupled with moments of mediocrity, but for me his desire has never been an issue. The lad wants to play football and more importantly he wants to score for the Rovers.
‘Lee Brown is past it’- Myth or reality?
This for me is a very tricky one to hear on the terraces and see on the forums. The man who is responsible for that day at home to Dagenham. The man who sent the Gas fans into pandemonium has now seemingly been disregarded by so many a Gashead. The way I see it is that a variety of factors have influenced this opinion. Number 1, Rovers have added strong defencive options into their ranks and this gives the impression that Brown is fading away. In some aspects this is true as personally I would play both Marc Bola and Joe Partington ahead of ‘Browner’ seeing as they can both offer equally as good attacking play whilst certainly showing better defensive qualities. Number 2, Brown isn’t playing in the lower leagues anymore. If you look at the seasons where he was deemed most influential and effective, we were in the Vanarama Conference and League 2. It might not be so much a case of Brown being past it, but more Brown not being up to it. After all, it is worth noting that last season was his first in League 1. This opinion, although I wish it was not true, is not wrong. It is also not entirely true. Lee Brown cannot be neglected, he still has something to offer. But ultimately he is not the player he once was, and sadly the alternatives means his starting position is under severe threat. I wish this was a myth.
‘All Stuart Sinclair does is run around’- Myth or reality?
Whenever I hear this one in the Thatcher’s End, it always makes me laugh. In my opinion this is the exact man we have been missing this season. If you look at our away performances this year and the amount of goals we have shipped, it is not hard to look at one man who has been absent that could address these issues. Now I am certainly not saying he is the answer, but he would certainly help. Our current formation sees us play a 4-3-3 and the problem I have with this, is that all 3 central midfielders offer not enough defensively. If we were to play Sinclair deep with Lines/Sercombe/Clarke ahead of him I feel we would be a much stronger outfit. The beauty of the hairy maestro is his energy. Those that state he simply runs around ignore the number of interceptions, blocks and tackles he makes in a game. In a league where counter attacking is often the cause of a number of goals, he is a vital member of the team who not only starts attacks but breaks up many also. On the surface to a fan he may appear to be a headless chicken running around and yes, his technical ability may not be excellent, but it is not poor. He can pick out a pass if he needs to. Every team needs a player like Sinclair and it is testament to him that he is now 1 game away from 100 performances. In an era where many players shy away from a header or a 50/50, a man like Sinclair does so much of the unnoticed dirty work that to label him, as many do, as simply running around all game, is unfair and inaccurate.
‘The food isn’t good enough’- Myth or reality?
Ah, the age old question: sausage roll, pasty or pie? This is the question that fans of teams all around the country (minus Forest Green) often find themselves asking when that half time whistle blows. For Rovers fans, it has been somewhat a controversial matter over the last few seasons. The deteriorating quality of the pie, the rising prices and the reduced choice have all created anger among the fan base but the final straw for many including me, was the removal of the sacred balti pie. How dare they! I for one am in agreement with the people crying out for a better menu selection. I am not asking for a gourmet selection such as that put on by Kidderminster who if any Gasheads travelled to their ground in the Conference, will remember options such as Shepherd’s pie, spaghetti bolognaise and Thai green curry! All we want is reasonably priced tasty food, with a good selection for all. I do acknowledge that a pie tasting event has been held at the Memorial Ground and I hope this goes some way to sorting out the grub down the Mem. For now this is not a myth.
Verdict: Reality (for now)