Hopes raised, hopes dashed – a day out in Accrington, Lancashire.

Leaving home in Nailsworth at 8.30 am and returning at 9 pm after travelling 360 miles to watch FGR play in League One, may not be everyone’s idea of a Saturday activity. Sixty-five fellow FGR supporters shared the coach trip and joined a further 80 plus FGR fans in the away seats and on the away terracing.

Nailsworth has an affinity with Accrington that few may be aware of. They are both hill and chapel towns with the town centre at the bottom of the valleys. They were both woollen towns based on local sheep rearing and a dependable water supply. The older buildings are all in local stone. Cotton spinning and associated engineering replaced the wool industry in the 19th century and Accrington took off, from 3000 population in 1801 to 45,000 in 1911. Its population today is 35,000, as compared to Nailsworth with 6000. Yet surprisingly it is the only football club in League One with smaller matchday crowds than FGR. This may well be due to the close proximity of Burnley and Blackburn being  a few miles east and west, and Preston being only a few miles further west.

They have done well to stay in League One, with their limited resources and are a friendly club, happy to share their grateful thanks to FGR for providing free food to the 34 fans who travelled for the cancelled game at The New Lawn earlier this season.

The surprise, on entering the ground, is to be offered unique matchday badges. The ASSC have them made for each home game and sell them for £3 each to home and away fans.

The FGR fans were supplemented by members of the unofficial Big Dunc fan club from Crosby, near Liverpool and lifelong Everton fans who came to support him, including John Parrott, the snooker celebrity.

Snooker legend and Evertonian, John Parrott, was at the game.

FGR fans at Accrington.

The warm-up.

The travelling coaches.

The first 43 minutes was the best (almost) half of the seven games under Duncan Ferguson’s leadership to date. The one goal lead could have been three. Excellent attacking play created real chances, which Accrington did well to keep out.

The soft dismissal of Casey and the very soft goal given away at the following corner, turned the game on its head. The second half was all about holding on for a draw and then keeping the score to only 2-1.  We had no shots on or off target and very little possession in their half.

As an FGR supporter, however, there is no shortage of hope, so bring on Bristol Rovers, for our first double of the season.