By Nathan Bees
This is by far and away the easiest blog I’ve ever written and I think it’s going to be my favourite as well.
I know that because justice has prevailed thanks to Mr Justice Hickinbottom, who has thrown out the Judicial Review brought by TRASHorfield against Sainsbury’s developing the Memorial Stadium. That means it’s official: Bristol Rovers can get on with building the UWE Stadium.
How good does it feel to know that after all the heartache we’ve experienced supporting this proud football club over the years?
Yesterday really was the most surreal day. I woke up and drove to Uni like normal but did so with huge anticipation. I had time to scan through Twitter before going in for my first lecture and my timeline was crammed with tweets from Rovers fans (most of whom read this) who had woken up with the same nervous feeling in their stomachs.
Everyone was well aware of how important the decision was for the football club. It was impossible to overstate the situation because moving to a new stadium is the only way we can enjoy any significant progression in the future. The verdict of the judge was make or break for us.
I kept on top of the mood on Twitter throughout the morning and as soon as I had finished Uni at 1.20pm-ish I jumped straight into my car and drove home.
I can usually get from Bower Ashton to my house in about 25 minutes so I calculated that I would be in position at home with quarter of an hour to spare. Unfortunately I got stuck behind two lorries moving at a snail’s pace and hit every single red light between Ashton and Hanham.
I did wonder whether I’d have to pull over somewhere at 2pm and just refresh Twitter on my phone but thankfully that wasn’t necessary!
Once again my timeline was full of Rovers supporters who were prepared to admit that they were feeling sick and just wanted to hear the verdict to put them out their misery.
As the seconds finally trickled past two o’clock I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see the tweet that either made our dreams come true or drove us to despair. I didn’t know what to think but I feared that perhaps it was all too good to be true.
Still, my eyes were glued to my laptop in the hope that things were going to go our way. I thought my home page had broken at one point because no new tweets were coming through but I realised that this was the moment of truth.
The decision must have been being relayed in Court at that very second. I hit the refresh button repeatedly and finally I saw a tweet from BBC Bristol’s Alistair Durden appear at the top of my timeline.
I frantically read the words ‘BREAKING: Judicial Review dismissed’ and instantly jumped to my feet and danced around the living room. We’d done it! Rovers had won!
Cue an explosion of celebratory tweets from people reacting to the decision. It was beautiful to watch the tweets flooding through in their dozens every few seconds. It felt like a special moment and we were all part of it. To mark the occasion Gasheads even got ‘#UTG’ trending in the UK so all of Britain could see what the fuss was about.
Photos from the club Twitter account came through of the jubilant Gas party at court and then Rovers personnel began giving their views, attracting delighted responses from everyone wanting to share the moment.
It felt like the night Bristol City Council originally gave Sainsbury’s planning permission to build on the Mem - only better.
Yesterday was officially International Day of Happiness and I paid no attention to it beforehand but afterwards I realised it was a sign. It felt good to be able to do the day justice with a genuine smile on my face!
There were no negative comments posted until a few hours later when supporters of other clubs said ‘It looks rubbish’ and ‘You’ll go the same way as Darlington’. I couldn’t take either seriously.
The designs for the stadium look terrific and the vast majority of tweets from non-Rovers fans were overwhelmingly positive so I deduced that these were from jealous football fans who are disillusioned with their own clubs.
And why wouldn’t they be jealous? Nick Higgs has already confirmed that when built the stadium will provide us with additional revenue streams 7 days a week and we will be debt free, meaning any money made can remain in the club’s coffers.
The UWE Stadium plans, from top to bottom, are first rate and something that we can be very proud of. Nick Higgs is hopeful contracts will be signed off in the next few weeks and building work can begin in the summer, ready for us to move in at the start of the 2015-2016 season.
With all that it’s easy to forget that we have a huge game this evening against Phil Brown’s Southend United. The Shrimpers have fallen out of the play-offs this week after a period of poor form and they will be looking to return to winning ways and rain on our parade.
Going into the game on the back of a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Hartlepool United isn’t exactly ideal but our home form has been good and there’s no reason why the team can’t carry on the current feel-good factor.
I’m hoping that yesterday’s result will attract a few more Gasheads through the turnstiles to help create a cracking atmosphere and join in the celebrations.
Off the field business is sorted for the time being, it’s now our responsibility to get behind the boys on the pitch and roar them on to a huge 3 points. It would go a long way in easing any lingering fears of relegation.
Let’s make it a party, shall we?
Come on you blues!