Darryl Eales' notes in the Bristol Rovers programme
Executive chairman Darryl Eales wrote the following notes, which appeared in the Bristol Rovers match programme on Sunday 17th January.
Welcome to everyone to another big Sunday game.
I would specially like to welcome Nick Higgs, officials, players and fans from Bristol Rovers. They are enjoying an excellent first season back in the Football League and have that all important momentum following their promotion last year. I am sure they will be in the promotion mix come the end of the season.
This game brings back happy memories. I used to go to Eastville many years ago with my Grandad and I am especially delighted for their fans, who have shown admirable loyalty and belief. They have also sold out their away allocation, which should make for a superb atmosphere today.
It would be remiss of me not to reflect briefly on last Sunday's events. It was one of the best days of my footballing life, with the two stand outs for me being:
* the quality of our performance, where we matched a Premier League side over the full 90 minutes – a massive endorsement of Michael's footballing philosophy – and we richly deserved out victory
* the atmosphere created by a full house at the stadium was simply amazing and reinforces the huge potential if we get it right on the pitch.
I have said it time and again: our fans are our 12th man and play a crucial part in helping the team and the response when we went a goal down against Swansea was incredible.
I understand that the demands of our current run of games is placing a heavy burden on the 'pockets' of fans and all of us truly appreciate this magnificent support.
As with most things in life though, one is always seeking more!
Having seen a full house, I would love it to be repeated regularly and, more generally, it would be brilliant if we can persuade the extra 4,000 or so from last Sunday to become regulars and play their part in maintaining our momentum in the second half of the season.
As I write, I have to say, tickets sales for today's game are relatively disappointing. Without doubt, there is much more we can do to promote and market the club, especially to our wider fan base and across Oxfordshire. We need to raise our game internally and do this urgently.
Alongside this, I would also ask that all fans seek to encourage all those that came against Swansea to keep coming and spread the word to friends and family.
We have another huge game in a couple of weeks, after next week’s trip to Pompey, at home in the 4th round and another full house is what the players and Michael fully deserve. Whether we play Newport or Blackburn, it will be a massive occasion and I am sure the players will respond accordingly.
A major benefit of an FA Cup run is the financial boost it provides, not just from the crowds but also the prize money and the TV revenue. Michael and I are in close communication and are fully aligned in wanting to strengthen the squad, with a focus on bringing in players of the right character and maintaining our fantastic team spirit, which also permeates the whole club.
A positive by-product of our success has been the highly complimentary media coverage of the club, our style of play and the way we go about our business.
However, while this exposure is very flattering and expands the reach of the club, it is essential we remain grounded, maintain focus and continue to strive for improvement in every area of the club.
Having said this, it is hard not to be excited about the next few weeks and then the run in towards the end of the season.
Away from football, I was delighted to support the launch of the R2R cycle ride at the last home game. We will team up with Cpl Paul Ingham and his hardy band as they ride from the scene of the Western Front all the way to the Kassam Stadium this summer. This is a great and worthwhile tribute to mark the centenary of the Somme, as well raising much-needed funds for Combat Stress and for our own community trust.
Several of us from the club will be joining the ride and we will also get kids from the local community to join us for an invaluable history tour as well as a fantastic cycle ride.
The buzz around the club is wonderful at the moment and we have so much to look forward to!
Enjoy the game today and let's keep the momentum - COYY!
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