By Nathan Bees
We all love a good away day, don’t we? I certainly do and it only dawned on me recently that we have just 4 left before the end of the season.
We travel to Dagenham, Bradford, Southend and Torquay within the next month and whilst they will all undoubtedly be good days out, it’s worrying to think that it will all be over before we know it!
Thankfully we still have a few home games to enjoy in between our day trips to London, Yorkshire, Essex and the English Riviera so there are still plenty of opportunities for us to get our Rovers fix for this campaign.
Whilst we all love our home comforts, it’s always exciting to head to a different environment in a different part of the country to watch us play. You never quite know what to expect, even if you’ve been before, and it all just adds to the enjoyment of the day.
I’ve been fortunate enough (or unfortunate, depending on how we played!) to have visited the remaining 4 away grounds before and I’m quite looking forward to returning to them all.
That’s mainly because we’re playing well at the moment and are more than capable of beating them, but it’s also down to the context of each game as well. Dagenham on Easter Monday should be a good day out and will, hopefully, see a good Gas following travel east.
The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Stadium (bit of a mouthful that, isn’t it?) has also been named as the place to dress up as zoo animals so if you see a stray elephant or gorilla in the away end on the highlights, you know why!
8 days later and it’s Bradford, which is one hell of a trek to make on a Tuesday night. I know a lot of people are put off travelling to away games during the week, but I quite like the sense of adventure that it provides.
What’s more, Valley Parade is a fantastic stadium and well worth a visit if you’ve never made the trip up before. Of all the stadiums I’ve been to with Rovers, and there’s quite a few, Bradford is one of the best.
I’m sure the players enjoy playing in that sort of environment too - it’s a long way off Accrington’s Crown Ground and a fair way off the Mem as well!
Then, 72 hours afterwards, we travel to Southend. As we know from the match at home to Barnet a couple of months ago, Friday night games are very enjoyable and could prompt a larger crowd than normal at Roots Hall.
That in itself makes it a much different proposition to what it would have been on a Saturday afternoon. Factor in that it will also be one of Phil Brown’s first home games in charge and the fixture carries a little more interest than normal.
If that wasn’t enough to tempt you, surely the fact it is in Essex makes the thought more attractive? Or should that be reem? I’m not sure.
Our final trip is one that carries a huge amount of interest and has already sold out for Rovers fans. Every supporter in League Two prays that their final game of the season will be away to Torquay as it generally ensures a sunny weekend at the seaside.
We were fortunate enough to be in that position this year but with the freezing weather we’re experiencing currently, it may not be a ‘sunny’ weekend!
Still, well over 1000 Gasheads will descend on Plainmoor at the end of April, hoping to sign off with a win ahead of the long summer break. For the Gulls, however, it may not be quite the same end of season party.
In fact, the game could harbour huge significance for them in the relegation dog-fight. With the way it is shaping up right now, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Alan Knill’s men need to beat us in order to stay up. Imagine the tension should that be the case.
Our games with Torquay are generally pretty meaty affairs but if they needed to win in order to retain their league status it could become massive.
Personally I don’t foresee it being the case as the yellows have picked up some form recently but it would certainly ensure a more entertaining game if there was something riding on it. It’s certainly worth keeping an eye on.
I don’t know about you but that’s whet my appetite. We’ve been starved of Rovers action for a fortnight so be sure that you’ve got your ticket for tomorrow’s clash with York City at the Mem.
They are another side in the relegation battle so it should be a cracking game. Thanks to John Ward and the players we can now enjoy each match without the added stress of relegation paranoia - let’s make the most of it.
Up the Gas!