Seven Years Since the Last Bristol Derby, Are We All Desperate for Another?

Stanley Hughes, host of the One Stream in Bristol podcast, has mixed feelings about the thoughts of a Bristol Derby returning.

Joe Bryan scoring for Bristol City against Rovers in 2013.

Try to remember that feeling when our two goals hit the back of the net in 2013. The pure euphoria and carnage that ensued in the stands. A packed Ashton Gate going absolutely barmy. One a strike from ridiculously far out, the other a top corner curler from a local lad.

That opener from Emmanuel-Thomas will be amongst many fans’ favourite City goal of all time. It could rival Korey Smith’s against Manchester United and David Noble’s at Selhurst Park. Why isn’t everyone chomping at the bit for more games against the Gas?

As a young person of 25, I didn’t experience the intensity of a Bristol Derby as much as older fans. I was five years old the last time the two clubs were in the same division. Since then we’ve only faced each other three times.

For older fans two games a season was the norm, each one as fierce as the other. From 1984 to 2000 there were only three seasons in which that wasn’t the case. You ask a City fan for their favourite games, moments or goals from this rivalry and they will have a vast selection to choose from. With the passion on the pitch came trouble off it, something we rarely see nowadays.

Bristol City take on Bristol Rovers in 2013.

Risky Rovers?

Are we just too afraid of losing to take the risk that comes with playing Rovers?

People talk about the Rovers games with such passion and fondness. I can’t get my head around the lack of interest in it happening more regularly! Perhaps it is the pressure that comes with the game. As excitement and passion increase, so do the nerves and the anxiety.

What if they beat us? How will we ever live it down? Think how long Manchester City fans have revelled in their 6-0 win against Manchester United, what if Rovers get to a level where that could happen to us?

I remember the 2007 loss to Rovers, Ricky Lambert’s name being screamed by several thousand Rovers fans. God it hurt. I remember walking home wanting the road to open up and swallow me whole. I couldn’t deal with that feeling twice a season, let’s be honest.

That was massive for them because we were, and still are, a much bigger team. It will likely remain that way for a long while. If we were to play them, we would be favourites by a long shot. A win would be expected, a defeat would be disastrous.

Neighbourly Concern

There is a part of me that wants them to do well

Now I am a not a closeted Bristol Rovers fan, I don’t particularly wish them well. I have a few friends who are Gasheads. They seem like sound individuals. I’ve gotta be honest and say I was disappointed when they got relegated, hear me out here…

Derbies always have the best atmospheres, every time I catch one on television I watch with jealousy. I wonder, why can’t I have a bit of that? I look at Liverpool and Everton fans with such envy. Two rivals with local lads in their team going at it twice a year. That could be us and Rovers although unless Rovers turn things around it won’t be happening anytime soon.

City fans have only been able to visit the Memorial Ground twice in the 21st Century. We mock it for its gazebos, its rag-tag layout but imagine being able to watch our team win there again. God we’d take the piss.

I enjoy reminding people to “Mind the Gap”, I get a kick out of Bristol City being the better team by a mile. I love that Ashton Gate gets plaudits up and down the country for its design. I love that we have youngsters representing England and Wales. The fact our academy is head and shoulders above the others in this region is brilliant.

The gap has never been wider. It’s been 7,615 days since it was even close. If Rovers got so good that the gap was barely anything, I would welcome the Bristol Derby back into our lives. I would take the risk of losing them to them for the chance of beating them each season. Would you?

*You can listen to Stanley’s thoughts on Bristol City every week on the popular One Stream in Bristol podcast.

Stanley Hughes is host of the popular ‘One Stream In Bristol’, the original Bristol City FC podcast. He writes about The Robins every week for MansionBet.
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