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Club News

New To League Two: Bristol Rovers

1 June 2015

We continue our series of features looking at the teams joining us in League Two for the 2015/16 campaign.

Who’s in charge?
There’s a familiar face for Pools fans in the Bristol Rovers dugout, with former Victoria Park star Darrell Clarke in charge of The Gas since March of last year.

Clarke had initially been assistant to John Ward at The Memorial Stadium but stepped up to take the top job when Ward moved on to Director of Football.

The former Pools midfielder made 136 appearances and scored 22 goals during a six year stay at The Vic between 2001 and 2007 – playing his part in a mainly successful era for the Club.

In 2010 he was given his first opportunity in management when he succeeded former Pools team-mate Tommy Widdrington in the hot-seat at non-league Salisbury City.

He secured promotion via the play-offs for The Whites in 2012/13 before being given the chance to jump in to the Football League at Rovers in June 2013.

Where do they play?
The Memorial Stadium has been home to Bristol Rovers since 1996 and it has also been home to Bristol Rugby Club though they are now moving on to Ashton Gate next season.

It has a capacity of just under 12,000 and has been a mixed venue in terms of results for Pools over the years – their last two visits have ended in draws.

How did they get here?
Just over a year ago, Darrell Clarke was shedding tears on the pitch as Bristol Rovers fell out of the Football League on a dramatic final day of action.

However, there were tears of joy for the passionate boss at the end of this season as he guided the club to an instant return to League Two as they beat Grimsby Town on penalties in the Play-Off Final at Wembley.

They may have had to do it the hard way after finishing runners-up to Barnet despite amassing some 91 points – but when Lee Mansell’s winning spot-kick hit the net, twelve months of tension came pouring out amidst spine-tingling scenes of celebration.

It’s the first time in a decade that a team relegated to the Conference has secured a return to League football at the first time of asking.

When did we last meet?
Pools enjoyed a comfortable victory when the sides last met in March 2014 as goals from Marlon Harewood, Brad Walker, Simon Walton and Jonathan Franks secured a 4-0 triumph at The Vic.

That followed-up the 2-2 draw we achieved at The Memorial Stadium earlier in the season – when Luke James’ double was wiped out by a last-minute goal from John-Joe O’Toole.

When do we play them?
The fixture for the new League Two season will be released on Wednesday 17th June.

Ronnie’s Rating
“I don’t think it’s happened too often that a side has come back from the Conference at the first time of asking so it’s all credit to everyone at the Club for the achievement.

“People might be looking at Bristol Rovers and thinking, with the crowds they get, it should be easy to get promotion back to the league but look how long it took Luton Town.

“It’s brilliant work from Darrell Clarke and I am sure that he and Andy Monkhouse will be looking forward to the fixtures coming out so they can see when they’re coming back to  The Vic – I’m sure they’ll both get a great reception.”

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