In Search of Gas

With your wonderful armchair traveller, Keith Brookman.

As the title suggests, this is an attempt to track down as many former Rovers players, who are still involved in the game, as possible.

Most will have played first team football for Rovers in the past, while others are still contracted to The Gas, but either out on loan or work experience.

What began as something to do on the opening day of the 2018/19 season, became a little bit of an obsession for former Rovers Head of Media Keith Brookman, as you will see from his weekly updates!

The latest instalment is given below, with the rest of the season archived in two month chunks (see the sub-pages under the ‘In Search of Gas’ heading).

Any omissions from a list of players with Rovers connections is not deliberate; it’s just that there are so many it’s difficult to keep track of them all!

LATEST INSTALMENT & LAST FOR 2018/19

Chapter 41 –  Week commencing 13th May 2019

The week began of a former Gas man losing his job. Brighton & Hove Albion assistant manager Paul Trollope left Brighton in the wake of the sacking of manager Chris Hughton.

The second leg of the League Two play off semi final ended 1-1 between Forest Green Rovers and Tranmere Rovers so it’s Tranmere who go through to the Wembley final where they will play Newport County. Disappointment, therefore, for former Rovers player Ian Weston who heads up the medical team at Forest Green.

On this day it was revealed that former Gas loanee Joe Martin had left Stevenage and joined Northampton Town in a two year deal effective from 1st July.

On Tuesday Swedish side Ostersunds FK followed up Saturday’s 1-1 draw against BK Hacken with a 4-0 defeat against Hammarby Charlie Colkett played in both matches.

In the second leg of the Championship play off final between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa the winner was decided in a penalty shootout. Villa won that 4-3 after the tie had ended all square at 2-2. They were indebted to goalkeeper Jed Steer for their win in the penalty kick lottery as he saved the first two penalties taken by Albion.

And he is the first tenuous Gas link to this match as he played against Rovers in the season just ended. One of his 19 games during a loan spell at the Valley was the league match against Rovers on 24th November 2018 which Charlton won 3-1 with the aforementioned Joe Martin scoring for the Gas.

Joe Martin - Photo Credit JMP
Joe Martin has joined the growing contingent of former Rovers players at Northampton Town, penning a two year deal with the Cobblers.
[Photo Credit – JMP]
The second tenuous Villa link is Tyrone Mings who came on trial to Rovers as a 15/16 year old but was released without being offered terms.

Wednesday evening saw the Championship semi final second leg between Leeds United and Derby County and it was County who came out on top, winning 4-2 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate. Goalkeeper Kelle Roos must have improved an awful lot since he was with us on loan just a few short years ago; he’s now in a play off final for Derby, who will face Aston Villa, and is just 90 (or 120) minutes away from reaching the Premiership. Football is, indeed, a funny old game!

Transfer news sees Chris Lines sign for Northampton Town, a deal that takes effect on 1st July. He becomes the fifth former Gas man at Sixfields and joins manager Keith Curle, Andy Williams, Jon-Joe O’Toole and Joe Martin.

Yeovil Town announced their retained list and it’s goodbye to Hewish for Alefe Santos, who leaves the Glovers after two years and 43 appearances in all competitions.

The play offs continued on Thursday evening with Portsmouth and Sunderland meeting in the second leg of their League One semi final at Fratton Park. Lee Brown took his place in the Pompey lineup, but although the sides played out a goalless draw it’s Sunderland who will go through to next weekend’s Wembley final courtesy of their 1-0 win in the first leg.

Lee Brown - Photo Credit Neil Brookman
Although he won a Checkatrade Trophy winners medal for Portsmouth this season, Lee Brown missed out on promotion to the Championship and we can expect to see him back at the Mem for Pompey again next season.
[Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]
Another former Gas player left his club on Friday as Middlesbrough and manager Tony Pulis parted company.

In France, Oumare Tounkara played the final six minutes of the Chateauroux game against Clermont Foot which ended 2-2.

The second leg of the League One play off semi final between Charlton Athletic and Doncaster Rovers ended with Charlton going through to meet Sunderland in the Wembley final following their 4-3 win on penalties. So, it’s another long trek to Doncaster for Gasheads next season.

On Saturday, in the Scottish Premiership, Peter Hartley was missing from the Motherwell squad that clinched seventh place with a 3-2 home win against Livingston.

In the League of Ireland First Division Cabinteely coach Paul Heffernan saw his side suffer a 5-0 home defeat at the hands of Drogheda United. In spite of such a heavy defeat, Cabinteely still top the league with 26 points from their 13 games.

In France, Sarre-Union FC manager Stephane Leoni saw his side lose 3-1 at Strasbourg Alsace, while in Germany Keenan Dunwald remained on the bench for Wuppertaler SV as they suffered a 4-2 home defeat at the hands of Koln II.

Sunday saw two former Rovers players in opposition in the FA Trophy Final at Wembley, watched by a crowd of 42,962. AFC Fylde were making their second trip to the National Stadium in eight days, having lost the National League play off final to Salford City the previous weekend. This time, though, they were winners, beating Leyton Orient 1-0.
Andy Bond was in the Fylde side and completed the 90 minutes, while Matt Harrold went on as a 68th minute substitute for Orient.

There were also two former Gas players in opposition in the Scottish Premiership. Scott Sinclair skippered Celtic to a 2-1 win against Hearts, for whom Michael Smith completed 56 minutes. The two sides meet again next Saturday in the Scottish FA Cup Final.

This chapter brings the curtain down on this season’s In Search of Gas, something that began out of boredom on the opening day of the 2018/19 campaign, but which became a bit of an obsession as the season progressed.

It’s been an interesting journey, charting the progress of players who have appeared in the blue and white quarters and those still with the club but out on loan, not to mention the former Gas men who are now managers or coaches and I hope it’s been a relatively interesting read.

Of course, the season isn’t over as next weekend sees the EFL play offs at Wembley where there is Rovers interest in the shape of David Pipe, who retires after Newport County’s game against Tranmere Rovers, and Kelle Roos who looks certain to be in goal for Derby County as they take on Aston Villa.

In addition, Scott Sinclair and Michael Smith are scheduled to face each other in the Scottish FA Cup Final as Celtic take on Heart of Midlothian.

Good luck to those four and to the former Gas players who now play in other countries and whose campaigns are not yet over.

Enjoy your summer!