Football: Davidson wants to put City's name up in lights

FAN'S EYE VIEW NO 248 bristol city BY DAVE MASSEY

BRISTOL is the largest English city not to have a Premiership club, yet the footballing fortunes of its two teams are on the up. Today's local derby pits the Reds (City) against the Gas (Rovers) with both sides being the top scorers in the Second Division.

City's improved fortunes are linked to the ascendancy to the chairmanship of Scott Davidson, which has finalised a close link between "star" supporters and local showbiz. Celebrity fans range from the sublime (3D and Grant from Massive Attack) to the "ridiculous" (Tony "Baldrick" Robinson) and Channel 5's Jonathan Pearce.

Davidson was previously a session musician with Eighties popsters Bros and the Pet Shop Boys, before setting up a profitable Loot-style trade paper and selling up two years ago for a tasty sum. This enabled him to fulfil a lifelong dream of close involvement with City, and his fierce ambition and desire for a "culture of success" shines through the club that has always been regarded as a "sleeping giant".

He has had a crash course in hands-on chairmanship in the last two years - negotiating a buy-out of the rump of the old Board; dealing with the aftermath of the crowd invasion in the Sky televised Bristol derby match in December 1996; the "easing out" of the previous manager, Joe Jordan; and preparation for a successful promotion campaign in a Centenary 97- 98 season.

Jordan's replacement, John Ward, has continued a tradition in recent years of former Rovers managers making an impact at Ashton Gate. The former Leeds and England full-back, Terry Cooper, took City out of the old Fourth Division and to a successful Wembley appearance in the Freight Rover Trophy final in 1986.

This season, after a shaky start, Ward has put together a winning and entertaining blend of youth and experience. There has been a heartening influx of local lads into the team - the pint-sized bundle of determination, Tom Doherty, the classy centre-back, Louis Carey, and mercurial midfielder, Matt Hewlett - who have made a major impact.

These and other youngsters waiting in the wings have reflected the board's emphasis on youth, and the appointment last season of David Burnside, the former FA youth director, set out that commitment. From this promising beginning it looks as if City will be the only club in the South-west to have "Academy" status.

City also have a creative Caribbean connection in top scorer and Bermudan, Shaun Goater, and the mazy dribbling skills of Barbadian, Gregory Goodridge (via Torquay and QPR). These two players have been the best crowd-pleasers for several years since the dazzling and much loved Pole, "Jackie" Dziekanowski, and the lightning pace and predatory goal poaching of Andy Cole combined sweetly up front.

We also have the most appropriately named physio in football, Buster Footman. This man is a legend, from his ever-ready good humour, to his unbelievable ability to survive sub-zero temperatures wearing a short- sleeved T-shirt. His exploits have been so keenly watched that he has been granted his own column in the match day programme.

The Robins' top position and near certain promotion gives the club a great chance to build for the future. It is a far cry from the sad statistics of three consecutive relegations in the early Eighties, which brought City close to bankruptcy and put it in the limelight only for negative reasons. This time around it looks as if Davidson and his colleagues are hitting the right notes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
football

Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style
tech

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Cover Supervisor for school in Leeds

£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Randstad Education are looking fo...

BTEC / A Level Business StudiesTeacher (Full time)

£100 - £160 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: BTEC and...

Maths Intervention / Learning Mentor

£60 - £80 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: We are loo...

KS2 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day + Flexible with benefits: Randstad Education Group: Key St...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why