Some statistics from the season by Stephen Byrne
In a frustrating season, Rovers could not complete a League double over any opponents, though unfashionable Fleetwood, Accrington, Rochdale and Dagenham all defeated the Pirates both home and away.
Indeed, the lowest home crowd was the 5,303 who witnessed the defeat against Fleetwood, twelve of the home League attendances being under 6,000, though a final day 10,594 brought the seasonal home League average up to 6,412.
John-Joe O’Toole was top scorer in League action, with thirteen of Rovers’ 43 League goals, Lee Brown supplying seven assists.
Of thirty players used, stalwart goalkeeper Mildenhall started every match, Parkes, Player of the Year Michael Smith, Brown and O’Toole missing just the occasional fixture.
O’Toole picked up eleven yellow cards and one red, having apparently committed 66 fouls in the League; he also had more shots on target than any other player, his twenty-four exceeding Clarkson’s tally by one.
Meanwhile, former Pirates Fraser Forster and Rickie Lambert won international recognition ahead of England’s 2014 World Cup Final campaign in Brazil.
Rovers faced nineteen former players as the season progressed, amongst them René Howe, who played for both Burton Albion and Newport County, scoring for the Ambers as Matt Lund did for Rochdale.
Oxford fielded three former Rovers players, the Pirates taking 862 supporters to boost a crowd of 6,374 in November for Rovers’ solitary away victory prior to the dramatic events on the penultimate Saturday at Wycombe, where there were 1,953 Gasheads amongst the crowd of 6,752.
There were 2,009 Gasheads amongst a 17,998 crowd for the relegation six-pointer at Fratton Park on Easter Saturday; amidst a crowd of 8,631 at Plymouth were 1,273 Rovers supporters.
Only 1,423 in all attended the defeat at Dagenham in September, when Matt Harrold missed a penalty, 1,514 were at Morecambe and 2,302 were at Burton; however, the 1,101 at Accrington was the lowest to watch a Rovers Football League encounter since 1933.
An impressive attendance of 8,158 experienced the Easter Monday collapse at home to promotion-chasing Rochdale; previously, 7,537 had watched the encouraging 2-0 victory over Portsmouth in December, the opposition featuring Johnny Ertl in their side, the only Austrian international to face Rovers in League football, whilst 7,288 witnessed the exciting 3-1 home victory over Newport the following month.
Once again, cup competitions brought minimal joy for Rovers. A predominantly Italian Watford side saw off Rovers with three well-taken goals in sixteen first-half minutes, their team containing players who had represented Italy, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Jamaica and Sweden at international level.
An enthralling draw saw Rovers travel to Ashton Gate in the opening round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy where, in front of a crowd of 17,888, containing an official figure of 2,429 Gasheads, the only cheer was McChrystal’s first goal for the club, a headed effort after half-time, as Bristol City emerged 2-1 victors.
Wes Fletcher scored a last-minute equaliser as York City drew 3-3 at The Mem in the FA Cup and then hit two goals in sixty seconds as Rovers, 3-0 up in fifty minutes, held on for a 3-2 victory in the first-round replay, Beardsley scoring for the Pirates in both fixtures.
York featured in their side Sander Puri, the second Estonian, after Derby County’s Mart Poom in January 2002, to oppose Rovers in a competitive fixture.
In the following round, the replay at Crawley was abandoned after seventy-four minutes in a deluge by referee Stuart Attwell; for a few hours Rovers held out hope of a potential fourth round tie at home to beleaguered reigning champions Manchester United, only for the Red Devils to be knocked out by Swansea.
Two goals in the final seven minutes of the re-arranged fixture at Crawley enabled Rovers to win their second-round replay and progress to a third-round tie at Birmingham City.
Supported by an official figure of 2,900 travelling Gasheads, Rovers conceded two very late goals to Chris Burke which embellished the Championship side’s ultimately comfortable 3-0 victory.