Updated: Dec 29, 2020
On the 7th March 2020, I was standing in the bitter cold away end of Roots Hall. I was blissfully unaware that it would be my last away game for the foreseeable future. My ignorance of the severity of Covid-19 was evident - as I thought it would blow over pretty quickly and I'd soon be back on the terraces before the end of the season.
"There are more important things going on in the world - such as Coronavirus". - Ben Garner
We all laughed at this post-match statement from Ben Garner at the time. Perhaps he had a point - yet I don't think the virus was the reason for our pitiful performance vs Southend. Tell you what - if you had told me I would be having a break from watching Rovers for 8 months+ after Alfie Kilgour spiralled the ball into his own net to put Southend 3-1 up - I'd have bitten your hand off for it.
Roots Hall is a great stadium. It has a real 'classic' football ground vibe. If you can get an atmosphere going under the roof of the away end - you can make some real noise. Unfortunately for us, the atmosphere lasted a total of 9 (nine) minutes. The buzz of a Jayden Mitchell-Lawson equaliser on 46' was cut short after Southend responded by going 2-1 up on 55'. Peak.
"Who's better - Paul Buckle or Ben Garner?" - G Haskins
When my friend G asked this question as we plodded out of Roots Hall - we knew we were in for a painful ride. Have we found someone who is quite possibly worse than Paul Buckle?! Well - losing 3-1 to a side who were scrapping to survive with a -46 goal difference hardly filled us with optimism. I'm not one for booing but I refuse to clap what I believe to be a spineless performance. My poor friend Daryl received an earful from me for clapping at the final whistle but I had later apologised once my mood was salvaged by him, G and Mike.
Surrounding yourself with good friends at the football is important - especially after enduring 90 minutes of dross. We stayed the weekend in an AirBnb, ate lots of pizza, drank a ton of beer, visited the Southend pier, lined our stomachs pre-match with a traditional English breakfast from a small cafe, rode the 'coasters, had a great night in Southend's Slug & Lettuce (which was probably riddled with Covid!) and ended up chucking money away in a casino. It was a great craic.
I miss watching Bristol Rovers live from the stands but sometimes the football is a minor part of an Away Day as a whole. I miss all of it - the journey of travelling to random places, meeting up with friends and finding THE pub where the Gasheads are. There are so many factors to watching the football that make it not just watching the football. I believe that football shapes me and my personality alongside keeping me occupied for 9 months out of the year. It may be a while yet but I know I won't feel 100% like myself until I am staggering through some old rattly turnstile again. Up the Gas.