Chairman Nick Higgs on ‘the best fans in the country’, how Goodnight Irene sends shivers down his spine – and why Ellis’s equaliser at Halifax was better than Gazza’s’
Q. What are your thoughts on the way Rovers fans have got behind the team this season?
NH: They have been phenomenal. The difference they have made to the team has been immense.
Despite the horrible trauma of last season, they have turned up in their droves to back Darrell and the boys.
I have nothing but admiration and respect for them. For me they are the best supporters in the country.
We would not be where we are now without them.
I love the way they belt out Goodnight Irene immediately after we concede a goal. That lifts the players, inspires them, and helps drive them on.
There aren’t many clubs whose fans who do that.
We have been by far and away the most well-supported club in the Vanarama Conference this season and our gate against Aldershot on Friday beat every crowd in League Two the following day, and was also bigger than attendances at four of the ten League One games as well.
In fact the only clubs that had bigger gates than us in League One were Sheffield United, Coventry City, Bradford City, Barnsley and MK Dons.
That shows you how incredible Rovers fans have been this season.
Most of the credit for that has to go to Darrell, who has done a fantastic job and of course the players, who have worn the shirts with pride and fought for every point.
The spirit in the camp this season has been there for everyone to see during games, from the first whistle to the last.
We have a group of players who work hard for each other and want to play for this club.
Q. Rovers fans have also packed away ends the length and breadth of the country. What would you say to those who have driven or boarded coaches to travel hundreds of miles to away games?
NH: The level of support we have had at away games has been unbelievable.
We have taken huge numbers of fans to away games, particularly Halifax, Gateshead, Forest Green, Aldershot and Woking.
Most clubs have been shocked by the sheer number of Gasheads who’ve turned up.
I know it’s a cliché but those who have made away games have been our 12th man, and it isn’t a coincidence that we’ve been so hard to beat away from home.
Hearing Goodnight Irene ring out at away ends of grounds hundreds of miles from the Mem is fantastic, and directors of other clubs regularly remark on our support and the noise they make.
I would also like to say we are frequently complimented on the behavior of our fans at games.
Q. Which home game have you most enjoyed this season?
NH: Friday night under the lights against Aldershot. They atmosphere was unbelievable and the team did us proud.
It was so important to get the win and to put extra pressure on Barnet, and we did what was required.
It was a great team performance and I have to say the volume at which Goodnight Irene rang out around the ground after our third goal was the loudest I have heard it in a long, long time.
It sent shivers down my spine. Rovers fans are always loud, but that was something else.
Q. Which away game have you most enjoyed this season?
NH: Halifax away was the highlight for me - because of the way we fought back after looking down and out.
That was an incredible comeback, on a difficult pitch against a decent team who will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.
The way the players went out there and clawed their way back into the game with two late goals was immense.
And they weren’t scrappy goals either, they were both quality finishes.
The way Ellis hooked the ball over the defender’s head and left him for dead, and volleyed it in reminded me of Gazza against Scotland at Euro 96.
Only for me, it was better than Gazza’s because it earned us what I am sure will end up being a vital point, when we were minutes away from a defeat.
Q. Do you ever bump into Rovers fans, if so what do they say to you?
NH: I get stopped here there and everywhere and everyone has been extremely positive.
I think people understand where we are trying to take the club and appreciate all the effort which is being put in by everyone, and I don’t just mean the board, I mean Darrell, the players, the backroom staff, everyone involved at the club.
I was filling up my car at a service station on the way back from the Dartford game and a fan came up to me, shook my hand and thanked us for all we are doing.
That sort of thing means a lot to me, and the same can be said for other members of the board too.
We have a goal, an ambition of where we want to be, and if everyone pulls in the same direction I am sure we will get there.
Q. Finally with six games to go, what message would you like to give to the supporters?
NH: I would say to them that the Vanarama Conference is going to go right down to the wire so we need you all there at every game to push Darrell and lads over the finishing line.
Matches at the Mem are cup finals for visiting teams, they always raise their game, so the greater the atmosphere and the louder the crowd, the more intimidating our stadium will be.