Why I Believe in Bristol
Belief is one of the most powerful emotions a person can have! Belief in yourself particularly is vital if you are to succeed at anything worthwhile.
All this FIFA nonsense made me think about football and more importantly Bristol more regarding that subject. I wonder why some teams get to the top and others don’t. In my opinion it’s mainly a matter of belief! Money matters of course but with belief that can be found.
Do the football fans of Bristol City & Bristol Rovers really ‘believe’ that their club could ever win the Premiership, or at least compete at the highest level and if not, why not?
Bristol is the is England’s sixth- and the United Kingdom’s eighth-most-populous city with a population nearly twice that of places like Swansea and Nottingham and is considerably bigger than Cardiff too, and yet Nottingham Forest for instance have won many more honours,including The Champions League when it was known as The European Cup. Cardiff were recently in The Premiership, and Swansea came eighth this season. All of them attract better crowds than either Bristol club simply because they have been more generally consistent.
It wasn’t always that way but over the last 40 years there have been a lot of false dawns for Bristol football.
In days gone by people could be heard saying “Bristol isn’t a football city, it’s a rugby city” but surely that’s rubbish. Bristol City FC attract average gates in excess of twice that of its famous rugby team despite playing in league one, which is division three in old money! They have just been promoted to The Championship as champions of League One this past season so crowds will improve significantly next year, especially with a magnificently rebuilt Ashton Gate Stadium seating in excess of 27,000.
Rovers have also made it back into the football league having been promoted from the Conference League in 2015. I hope the club invest in players and then go up another division at the end of next season. I want to see both Bristol teams playing in the top flight one day.
My dad was a Rovers diehard and would never step foot in Ashton Gate! He was devastated when I started following City in the 60s, primarily because I had a cousin who played for them. To appease my dad I used to watch Rovers too but must admit my first love was always Manchester United because I had uncles, aunts, and yet more cousins from my mothers side, who all lived in and around Manchester and were fanatical about the club.
Before anyone gives me a hard time about following a ‘big team’! United were in the second division for much of my childhood and regularly got thumped. They still got crowds approaching 50,000 though!
In later years I got to know Georgie Best so my allegiance to them carried on and I became a season ticket holder at Old Trafford. Actually I didn’t know George until he was playing for Fulham but he still loved United and talked about the club a lot.
In my opinion, and with almost 2 million people within 30 minutes of Bristol City Centre, it is entirely possible for Bristol to not only have both clubs in the premiership but certainly challenge for FA Cups and maybe Premiership titles too!
Crowds of 40,000 are within reach of either club. I’m certain that if Manchester United, Manchester City or Arsenal were in town there would be no room at Aston Gate! Or at Rovers new stadium when they eventually move too.
I’m not sure a 27,000 all seater stadium reflects a true belief that Bristol City can attain top flight status because in truth it would need to be much bigger than that but it’s a brilliant start all the same. Steve Lansdown has been a committed owner and has managed the club brilliantly. Bristol as a city should thank him for that.
As he also owns Bristol Rugby it won’t be long before we have top flight Rugby back in the City you can rest assured of that.
It is now said that just being in The Football Premier League is worth £150 million per annum to the GDP of any city with a premiership club due to increased hotel and restaurant bookings, visits to pubs, public transport revenue and general retail shopping by visiting fans. With devolution coming we should all get behind all our clubs to ensure that one day we might become a true sporting city.
I’m absolutely certain people will challenge me on my assumption that Bristol can become a major sporting city but with a committed billionaire owner in Steve Lansdown, a good manager, and the infrastructure, anything is possible. If Wigan and Swansea can do it Bristol City or Bristol Rovers FC can too! But the fans must believe and visualise that it really can be done and get behind the team with that belief held firmly at the forefront of their minds.Impossible! Why? It will need a huge investment but Bristol City is a sleeping giant whose day will surely come.
It might take Rovers a bit longer but 2035 is only twenty years away! To get it you have to really want it though.
We have a premiership standard european city in Bristol we need two premiership football clubs and a premiership rugby club to match that burgeoning international status so let’s start believing it can be achieved.
Incidentally I will be buying season tickets for all our clubs next season including Bath Rugby who so narrowly missed out on the Rugby Premiership title this year – unfortunately I have no idea how many games I will actually get to due to overseas travel but I will try when I’m in Bristol/Bath
Good luck to all our clubs in 2015/16.