On a number of occasions this season I have, via this site, suggested that the Rovers season of recent years which offers a most distinct parallel to the current campaign is the inaugural Conference season of 1998-99. Admittedly the starting points were very different in terms of how the club found itself in those respective divisions but the outlook was very similar. The club in unchartered territory with its sole aim for the season simply to be in the same division the following season.
Both 1998-99 and 2008-09 started with positivity before frustrating runs which saw Rovers in the mire of relegation at Christmas. But as with the current season under Sean O’Driscoll, back in 1999 the Snodin brother engineered a similarly revitalising New Year run of form and the club held onto its divisional status.
Having been scheduled to face Wolves on the final day this season Rovers will find themselves something of a bystander to celebrations and silverware, but in 1999 it was thankfully and gloriously all about the Rovers. May Day Bank Holiday and the second leg of the Bob Lord Trophy, the Conference League Cup, brought an unexpected 7,500 fans to Belle Vue, and if you take into account those who gained entry through other means there is a chance the actual attendance was nearer 8,000… ten times that which had witnessed some league fixtures the season before.
On a barmy May night Rovers played up to the occasion and expectation and swept aside a somewhat bewildered Farnborough side thanks in part to two goals from Ian Duerden. The celebrations that night were not of winning the trophy itself, but of winning anything, of having something to show for an impressive season that signalled the club’s regeneration. To a new generation of Rovers fans the club were now winners and capturing this trophy gave those connected with the club something physical to show to those on the outside that the club was moving back in the right direction.
So thanks to ‘philskyross’ for uploading this video onto Youtube and allowing us to watch and remember, and also spot ourselves in the pitch invasion (tenth one on from the Pop Side, wearing a green shirt, running down the halfway line…. thats me that is). The packed Pop Side , the fireworks, Colin ‘psycho’ Sutherland… was it really just ten years ago?