Forest Green Rovers Football Club……. Doesn’t mean a lot to most of you I’m sure, but to the people of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire, they are the town’s football club. Nailsworth only has a population of 5,794 and falls within the district of Stroud. Nestled within the Cotwolds and sitting beside the River Frome, this small town now boasts a Football League club, yes a FOOTBALL LEAGUE CLUB… they will start next season in League Two for the first time in their 128 year history.
Formed in 1889 Rovers have spent most of their history playing in local Gloucestershire league’s. In 1978 they moved up into The Hellenic League, which they went on to win in 1982. They also won the FA Vase at Wembley in the season to achieve their greatest accolade up to that time.
Following promotion to The Southern League Midland Division, Rovers struggled somewhat as they strived to gain promotion to the Premier Division. During that period the club renamed themselves Stroud FC due to their close proximity. However, they soon reverted back to FGR. After being moved to the Southern Division they gained promotion to the Premier Division in the 1995/96 season. The story continued to be glorious as they went on to win the title in 1997/98 and thereby clinched promotion to the Conference (Now National League)
Now dining at Non League football’s top table. The club affectionately known as ‘The Little Club On The Hill’ were within touching distance of becoming a Football League club. The club kept themselves consistently in the Conference and enjoyed some magical days out as they twice reached the FA Trophy Final in 1999 and 2001. Unfortunately both ended in defeat, but the Greens also enjoyed some success in the FA Cup. In 2008/09 verses Swindon and 2009/10 against Derby, they reached the 3rd round. Despite losing at that stage both were great achievements for the club.
It hasn’t always been plain sailing for the club though as they came close to relegation on a couple of occasions only to be reprieved by other clubs off field problems. In 2010 then chairman Trevor Horsley announced they too were suffering financially and this led to green energy tycoon Dale Vince taking over the club. Vince made headlines by making the clubs New Lawn ground eco-friendly and also made the food on offer meat free with vegetarian options which are free-range. On the playing side 2014/15 saw The Greens reach the playoffs for the first time. Despite losing in the Semi Finals, FGR were back the following season and this time went one better by reaching the playoff final. Following a semi final defeat of Dover Athletic they faced former league club Grimsby Town at Wembley. Unfortunately it was a case of ‘so close, yet so far’ as the mariners ran out 3-1 winners.
Living The Dream
So… 2016/17 and here we go again. A fabulous season eventually saw Rovers finish 3rd and and into the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive season. The semi finals saw them defeat Dagenham & Redbridge 3-1 on aggregate and subsequently book a final date with Tranmere Rovers. The ’14th of May 2017′ is a date that will be etched in the memories of all Forest Green Rovers, staff, players and fans as they defeated the boys from The Wirral 3-1. Kaiyne Woolery’s double and one from Christian Doidge ended the clubs 19 years at National League level and propelled ‘The Little Club On The Hill’ to become the Football Leagues newest member.
Dreams really do come true and it’s fair to say Forest Green Rovers are living that dream. Well done to everybody involved and good luck in League 2 next season. May the dream continue.