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Scouting Report: Bristol Rovers

28 May 2013

In the second in our summer series, we do our homework on another of the teams we will face in League Two next term.

After already turning the focus on Accrington Stanley, today we put Bristol Rovers under the microscope.

Who’s in charge?
John Ward was a popular choice when he returned to the Bristol Rovers hotseat in December to succeed the outgoing Mark McGhee.

The Pirates were second bottom of League Two when he took over but he quickly set about guiding them away from danger after signing a deal until the end of the campaign.

A vastly-experienced boss began his managerial career with York City in 1991 after acting as assistant manager to Graham Taylor at Watford and Aston Villa.

Since then he has had spells with both Bristol Rovers and Bristol City, as well as Cheltenham Town, Carlisle Untied and Colchester United before starting his second stint with Rovers last year.

Where do they play?
The Memorial Stadium is home to Bristol Rovers and has been since they moved in as tenants of Bristol Rugby Club in 1996. It has a capacity of just over 12,000.

In June 2011, Rovers announced their plans to relocate to the UWE Stadium; planning permission was granted in July 2012 and work is set to start this summer with completion scheduled for the start of 2015/16.

Where did they finish last term?
Bristol Rovers ended last season sitting 14th in League Two, their mid-table location underlined by the fact they were nine points off the play-offs and nine points off the relegation zone.

What’s their story?
The club was originally formed as The Black Arabs in 1883 before changing their name to Bristol Rovers in 1899 and gaining admittance to the Football League in 1920.

Since then they have never dropped out of the league though you have to look back to the 1950s for their highest-ever finish when they twice secured sixth spot in what is now known as the Championship.

They were promoted to League One via the play-offs in the same season Pools finished runners-up in the division but fell back in to League Two in 2010/11.

When did we last meet?
Last time Pools shared a division with Bristol Rovers both games ended all-square, a 2-2 draw at The Vic in October 2010 and a 0-0 draw in the return fixture at The Memorial Stadium in January 2011.

The league record between the sides has a real symmetry about it with both teams celebrating six wins and the fixture ending in a draw six times too.

What are the connections?
The first quirky thing to notice about our games with Rovers is that, although we have scored 19 times against them over the years, nobody has scored more than once. From Gordon Lithgo in the League Cup in 1961 right through to Joe Gamble and Tony Sweeney at The Vic nearly 50 years later, our 19 joint top scorers have one each. One of them, Darryl Duffy, did have the distinction of also scoring in the fixture (twice) for Rovers.

Ritchie Humphreys has the most appearances against Rovers with 12, comfortably ahead of Sweeney and Gary Liddle who have 9 appearances each.

A number of players have served both sides over the years. Bristolian goalkeeper Tim Carter began his career in his home city before playing 18 times for Pools in 1993. Cardiff City ended Robbie Turner's loan spell at Pools in 1986 when they sold the player to Bristol Rovers, while Bob Newton finished his career six months later with eight goalless games for the Pirates. 

More recently, Jon Bass, Anthony Williams, Chris Llewellyn, Ali Gibb and Danny Coles also spent time at both clubs, as of course did the aforementioned Duffy.

When do we play them?
Fixtures for the 2013/14 season are to be released on the morning of Wednesday 19th June.

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