Manager gives his opinions on the season ahead
John Ward says he is pleased with the start Rovers have been handed to the 2013/14 season.
He told bristolrovers.co.uk: “Everyone looks at the start of the season, the Christmas period and the end of the season when the fixtures come out, and I am no different.
“I think we have been handed a great start, with three good games giving the fans something to look forward to. Starting away to Exeter is a big game, and we should take a lot of fans with us.
“Then we have a terrific cup tie at home, followed by Scunthorpe at home at the end of a busy, exciting week.
“These games are good for the players, and will give the supporters a chance to really get behind the team.”
And the clash with Newport in the first month will also be an exciting one, although the manager will be wary of the newly promoted side.
He said: “I am usually worried about facing teams who have just been promoted, as they are often on a high and carry their momentum through to the new season.
“But the game against Newport will be an exciting one for both sides and we will probably sell out our allocation.”
In terms of the Christmas period, Rovers have been given a couple of interesting fixtures against local sides.
John said: “I would have liked to have been at home on Boxing Day, but Torquay away will be a good trip with a great following – you only have to look at how many we took there at the end of last season.
“Cheltenham at home on New Year’s Day is a good local derby fixture and should attract a good crowd.”
And the end of the season should give Rovers the chance to finish strongly.
“I am pleased that we have two of the last three games at home, because if we need to pick up points and need that extra support we will get it at the Memorial Stadium, so that is a good situation to be in to help us finish strongly.”
The manager knows how important it is to start the season well.
He said: “It is very important that we get off to a good start, as we cannot get those games back.
“Sometimes people push hard at the end of the season, when they haven’t pushed hard at the start – but points mean the same whether you pick them up in August or April.
“It is important to hit the ground running, and that is what we want to do – starting with pre season.
“We have some good pre season fixtures, especially Derby and Reading at home. The first four or five games of the season fit in with that quite nicely.”
And with the fixtures now announced, the build up to the new season will begin in earnest.
John said: “There are lots of ‘what ifs’ now and everyone is excited about the season ahead – I am no different to the supporters.
“When the fixtures come out it all becomes real and everyone starts talking about the new season and planning their away days. It is an exciting time for everyone connected with football.”
And in terms of aims for next season, all John will say is that the target is to improve on last year.
He said: “I will leave talk of targets and aims for other people, but all I will say is that we will try and improve on last season.
“It was a super finish, but we ended up nine points of the play offs and nine points off relegation, so the aim will be to do better.”