Gloucester City’s 2-1 win away at AFC Guiseley over the weekend took them 7 points clear at the top of the National League North, in what for many Tigers fans could only be described as a dream start.
James’s Rowe’s side have gone unbeaten through the first 9 games of the season, scoring more goals than any other team in the top 6 divisions of English football.
Simon Clark, co-host of the @otherbundesliga like many loyal fans of the Tigers has seen the teams more frequent lows than occasional highs over the past couple of decades. Least to say, the Gloucestershire native is loving every minute of it.
“I’ve been enjoying it very much! It began with an extremely rocky start though as we were knocked out of the FA Cup by lowly Christchurch – but ever since then it’s been a genuine dream start.”
“It’s the context of the last decade that really makes it incredibly sweet. Being homeless and in-exile from 2007 had almost calloused the supporters to expect a relegation battle, but the return home has changed something. Even without fans in the stadium, just playing in Gloucester has changed the club for the better and I’m enjoying it!”
The club’s unblemished start to the season caught even the most admirable City fans and pundits who had the newly vamped side pushing for a play-off space at most off guard. Like most Simon was one who didn’t have aspirationlly high expectations for the team.
“They were middling to be honest. I was excited by our new transfers and obviously the return home, but we’ve had many false dawns in the past as Gloucester City fans so my personal expectations were quite low. I expected us to finish mid-table, but never to be the free-scoring fun team we are now.”
The main plaudits for the side’s impressive start will undoubtably go to the strike-force of Matt McClure and Akwasi Asante. The on fire forward pairing have combined for 18 goals in 9 games to date and and are on pace to shatter any National League North records.
“They are unbelievable. We haven’t had firepower up front like them since Jimmy Cox and Andy Hoskins back in 2004. You can believe going into any game we play with those two players in the squad!”
Asante and Matt McClure and Matt McClure are just two of City’s many signings and undoubtably crowd favourites. The co-host of @otherbundesliga however has a different favourite.
“I can’t really choose here. I love Alex Whittle because he brings a lot of experience to our defence, both McClure and Asante have proved invaluable too. I genuinely can’t choose – but for his goals, probably Asante!”
The award for most under the radar signing at Meadow Park however may go to manger James Rowe, recruited in November 2019 Rowe had no previous managerial experience and endured a rough start to his tenure. Like many however Rowe too has surpassed expectations.
“Yes, a lot. I think to a lot of the fans, including myself, he was an odd choice to be manager due to his lack of experience. But these are the things where you love to be proven wrong. He was rather ruthless in the changing of the squad and kicked out many fan favourites and local boys, simultaneously bringing in players with no links to the area. At our level it’s almost a comfort thing to have at least a few local players in the squad and in particular at a time when we were “coming home”. However – just look at the results. Did I expect such a turnaround so fast? Nope, but I’m happy to be proven wrong.”
“They’ve already surpassed all my expectations frankly. If we can get into the play-offs it’d be miraculous, but I’d be ecstatic with a top half finish. Further down the line? A title push in front of a packed Meadow Park is the dream and I think we are closer to that then ever. If I’m really dreaming – to be in the same league as Cheltenham Town and beat them in the league is all I care about really!”
City face promotion chasing Gateshead away at the Gateshead international stadium looking to stretch their run to 9 games unbeaten.