17.04.23 Americans Visit

Those present at The Memorial Stadium on Saturday for the 1-1 draw with promotion-chasing Derby County may have seen some Bristol Rovers supporters taking penalties at half-time. What you might not know is the journey that they took to be there...

Father and son, Rick and Ricky Golden, fulfilled a lifetime's ambition at the weekend by travelling more than 3,650 miles from Stafford, Virginia, to watch their first-ever Gas game in person. As a surprise, the duo were invited into owner Wael Al Qadi's hospitality box at The Mem.


Their journey began on a Red Eye from Washington to Heathrow for a seven-hour flight, plus the usual delay, then a train from Paddington to Bristol, via an Uber to The Wellington pub and a walk to the stadium!

Ricky, 25, is a huge Gashead who usually keeps up with his favourite team on iFollow, said: "Watching on a video stream from the USA does not do it justice, the passion of the supporters is incredible and the day exceeded our expectations in every way.

"I don’t know if I can express how amazing this was as an experience. I became a fan of Rovers at age nine and have followed them ever since. This club's staff and supporters are some of the kindest and most passionate people I have ever met. If I could do this again, I would in a heartbeat."
54-year-old Rick said: "Ricky told me he got chills when 'The Gas Go Marching In' rocked the stadium. We also liked 'Good Night, Irene' because it is unique to Rovers.
"One of the attractions of the team is the style of play. We like the fact that the team tries to keep the ball and build out of the back. It is much better than the 'route one' played by some other teams. I know it might give some fans heartburn, but I really like the aggressiveness of James Belshaw roaming out of the box to play with his feet. He must have learned that during his time at Duke!" (Rovers' goalkeeper Belshaw moved to the United States to play college soccer at Duke University, making 78 appearances for the Blue Devils between 2009 and 2012.)
Rick added: "The PK shoot-out at half-time was surreal. I know not everyone pays attention to half-time events, as they are getting beer or snacks, but the supporters seemed to enjoy it and that added to the pressure of taking a penalty right in front of the Thatchers End. No one wants to look like a fool!
"I was always going hard to the lower left corner, I had no idea that Ricky was going to go all out and dive to push it around the post. He is going to have that on me for the rest of his life! There was no way that I was going to dive, so I channelled Bruce Grobbelaar and tried to put him off. It didn’t work; Ricky calmly slotted it far enough out of my reach, just like he did when he played. He was the PK taker for his club and school teams because he never got rattled."
"After the game, watched the Grand National on the big screen, then went down Gloucester Road to eat - I can definitely see us coming back to see another match, hang out and explore all that Bristol has to offer. UTG!"
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