The Robins made their first appearance in the EFL in 1999, managed by Steve Cotterill. After a couple of seasons in League 2 they won another promotion through the play-offs to League 1. They only lasted one season in League 1 before being relegated. The club won another promotion to League 1, again via the play-offs, in 2006. This time they stayed in League 1 for 3 seasons, but they always struggled and, by 2015, they had been relegated twice and were back in the National League. It was a short stay – they won the National League in their first season back, finishing 12 points clear of FGR in second place.
The first few seasons back in League 2 saw Cheltenham finishing in the lower reaches of the division. Michael Duff was appointed manager in September 2018 and their fortunes started to improve. By 2019/20 they were in 4th place when the season was abandoned but, having qualified for the play-offs, they lost to Northampton Town in a memorable two-legged play-off semi-final – it finished 3-2 on aggregate (after winning the away leg 2-0, Cheltenham managed to lose the home leg 3-0). However, in 2021 they were promoted from League 2 as Champions. Last season they finished in a fairly comfortable 15th place but lost their manager Michael Duff to Barnsley in the summer.
Cheltenham have been known as The Robins since they adopted their red and white kit about 90 years ago. They used to number Gloucester City and Hereford Utd among their main rivalries. Nowadays, FGR is their main local rival. Cheltenham’s average gate this season is just over 3,000 – the gap in attendances between Rovers & Cheltenham continues to narrow!
It’s fair to say that the town of Cheltenham (regarded by some these days as an outpost of Nailsworth) is probably better known for its spies and its racehorses than it is for its football team.