Forest Green Rovers F.C.

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Forest Green Rovers
Forest Green Rovers FC logo
Full name Forest Green Rovers Football Club
Nickname(s) Rovers
The Green
The Little Club On The Hill
Green Army
Founded 1889; 128 years ago (1889) (as 'Forest Green')
Ground The New Lawn
Ground Capacity 5,141 (2,000 seated)[1]
Chairman Dale Vince
Manager Mark Cooper
League National League
2015–16 National League, 2nd
Website Club home page

Forest Green Rovers Football Club is a professional football club based in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, England. Affiliated to the Gloucestershire County FA, they are currently members of the National League and play at the New Lawn.


District and county football[edit]

The club was established in 1889 by Reverend E.J.H. Peach, representing the Forest Green area of Nailsworth.[2] The name Rovers was adopted in 1893, and the following year the club were founder members of the Mid-Gloucestershire League.[2] Their first home league match on 6 October was a 1–1 draw with Brimscombe, and the club went on to finish the 1894–95 season in third place.[2] As Nailsworth had become an urban district in 1894, there was an effort to ensure the town was represented by a football team. As a result the club was renamed Nailsworth Association Football Club and many members of the original team were replaced by players from Nailsworth, although they continued to play at the original Lawn Ground in Forest Green.[2] However, the club withdrew from the league during the 1896–97 season.[2]

The club was re-established in 1898 under the Forest Green Rovers name, and absorbed Nailsworth Thursday shortly afterwards.[2] They joined both Division One of the Mid-Gloucestershire League and also the Dursley & District League for the 1899–1900 season.[2] The Mid-Gloucestershire League folded in 1901, with Forest Green left playing in the Dursley & District League.[2] In 1902–03 they joined the new Stroud & District League, also continuing in the Dursley & District League. In the Stroud & District League they finished as runners-up to Brimscombe, whilst in the Dursley & District League they finished joint top of the table with Stonehouse after being awarded the points from an unplayed match against Chalford.[2] As a result, a play-off match was held to decide the championship, with over 1,000 spectators watching Forest Green win 2–1 in extra time.[2] In 1906–07 they finished bottom of the Stroud & District League with zero points (although they had won one game, they had two points deducted for fielding an ineligible player).[2] They withdrew from the Dursley & District League in 1908.[2]

In 1911 Forest Green merged with Nailsworth to form Nailwsworth & Forest Green United, continuing to play at the Lawn Ground and in the Stroud & District League; the new club won the league, losing only one match all season.[2] They entered a team into the Dursley & District League in 1912–13, but withdrew from the Stroud & District League after only four matches.[2] After World War I the club rejoined the league and the 1919–20 season saw them finish joint top of the table with Chalford and Stonehouse. The league subsequently held a draw to decide the championship, with Forest Green drawn against Stonehouse in a semi-final, with the winner to play Chalford for the title. However, Stonehouse beat Forest green 3–2 in the semi-final match.[2] In 1920 the club also entered a team into the North Gloucestershire League and went on to win both leagues, as well as the Northern Junior Cup.[2] They repeated the double league championship the following season.[2] They were founder members of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League in 1922,[3] but left the league at the end of the 1922–23 season to return to the Stroud & District League.

Forest Green finished as runners-up in 1924–25 and 1925–26,[2] before rejoining the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League in 1926.[3] They went on to finish as runners-up in 1926–27 before leaving the league again to play in the new Stroud Premier League.[2] After finishing fourth in the league, the club returned to the Northern Senior League at the end of the season,[3] although they also kept a team in the Stroud Premier League. The club withdrew from the Stroud Premier League in 1930,[2] the league for a third time in 1934, rejoining the Stroud Premier League. They were Stroud Premier League champions for three successive seasons in 1934–35, 1935–36 and 1936–37,[2] before re-entering the Northern Senior League in 1937. They went on to win the league title in 1937–38.[3] After finishing as runners-up in 1948–49, they won successive league titles in 1949–50 and 1950–51.[4] Although the club finished as runners-up in 1952–53, they were relegated to Division Two at the end of the 1954–55 season. However, they were Division Two champions the following season, and were promoted back to Division One.[4] Forest Green were amongst the founders of the Gloucestershire County League in 1968, where they played until moving up to the Premier Division of the Hellenic League in 1975 under the management of Peter Goring.[5]

Regional football[edit]

The 1981–82 season saw the club win the Hellenic League championship and the FA Vase under manager Bob Mersell at Wembley, beating Rainworth Miners Welfare 3–0 in the final. The same season the club moved upwards into the Southern League where they finished third in their maiden season in the Midland Division.

In subsequent seasons the club failed to make an impact, and in 1989 the club changed its name to Stroud F.C. in an attempt to revitalise the football club. This move failed to improve the club's fortunes and the club struggled both on the pitch and with the club's finances.

The name was changed back to Forest Green Rovers for the 1992–93 season thanks to the introduction of new chairman and investor Trevor Horsley. The arrival of Horsley changed the fortunes of the club, and performances on the pitch improved significantly as did the development of The Lawn.

National football[edit]

The club appointed Frank Gregan as their new manager in 1994 and the club enjoyed two successive promotions in 1997 and 1998 through the Southern League into the Football Conference. In the club's first season in the Conference they finished 12th. A run to the final of the FA Trophy saw them lose 1–0 at Wembley Stadium to Kingstonian. The appearance in the Trophy final made Forest Green the first club in history to have appeared in both the FA Vase final and FA Trophy final. They went on to appear in the FA Cup First Round for the first time, defeating Guiseley 6–0 to set up a home tie with Torquay United, which they lost 3–0.

Frank Gregan left the club and former England international Nigel Spink was appointed manager and he led Rovers to another appearance in the FA Trophy final in 2001. However another 1–0 defeat, this time to Canvey Island at Villa Park meant Forest Green finished as runners up for a second time.

Rovers recorded their then best ever league finish of – 9th – in 2003 under Colin Addison, as well as an appearance on Match of the Day in the first round of the FA Cup where they drew 0–0 at The Lawn with Football League side Exeter City.

In 2002 the club put forward a planning application for a new ground 400 yards up the road from The Lawn that would come under Football League standards. Permission was granted for the ground to be built in 2005 and the club moved into The New Lawn in 2006. The first match at the new ground was a pre-season friendly against Swindon Town.

Then manager, Gary Owers, was then sacked by the club and he was replaced by Jim Harvey. Harvey led Forest Green to 14th in his first season with the club. He then led Rovers to a then highest league finish of 8th in the 2007–08 season. The club also reached the FA Cup 2nd round, where they lost 3–2 against League One outfit Swindon Town. In 2008–09 they reached the FA Cup 3rd round for the first time but lost 3–4 to Derby County on 3 January 2009 after leading 2–0. This game also saw Forest Green record their highest ever attendance with 4836 watching the match.

In March 2009, still under Harvey, Forest Green reached the Conference League Cup final having defeated Ebbsfleet United 1–0 at Stonebridge Road to set up a final clash at the New Lawn with AFC Telford United. However, despite having most of the chances, Rovers lost the game 0–3 on penalties after a goalless finish at full-time, in front of over 2,300 supporters and a Setanta Sports television audience.

Jim Harvey left the club at the start of the 2009–10 season and was replaced by Dave Hockaday. Forest Green reached the FA Cup 3rd round again the following season and were drawn away to Notts County in the third round. The tie was postponed due to freezing conditions meaning Forest Green would be in the fourth round draw for the first time in their history. The fourth round draw saw Forest Green draw Premier League side Wigan Athletic, although Forest Green then lost 2 -1 to Notts County on 19 January 2010 at Meadow Lane.

Rovers' 12-year stay in the Conference Premier appeared to end on 24 April 2010 when they lost 2–1 to Grays Athletic but on 10 June they were reprieved after Salisbury City were removed from the division for breaking financial rules. During the season Forest Green chairman, Trevor Horsley, revealed the club was in serious debt and he described the clubs position as a "crisis".

Green energy tycoon and Ecotricity owner Dale Vince launched a takeover of the club in August 2010 and Vince became the club's majority shareholder and then chairman a few months later. Forest Green made national headlines in February 2011 when Vince introduced a ban on all red meat being sold at the club, on health and ethical grounds.[6]

At the end of Vince's first season in charge of the club, Rovers secured another season of Conference football for the 2011–12 season, despite losing to Tamworth on the final day with the club staying up on goal difference. The following 2011–12 season saw large scale improvements on the pitch and Forest Green finished 10th securing a fifteenth consecutive season of Conference football. In May 2012 long term club secretary Colin Peake left the club and was followed the following month by co-vice chairman Trevor Horsley after he had been involved at the club for over 20 years.[7]

The 2012–13 campaign saw the club again record a 10th-place finish. Three months into the 2013–14 season saw Dave Hockaday's time at the club come to an end as he departed by mutual consent. Hockaday's former assistant, Gary Seward, was placed in temporary charge of the side but left after just one game and was replaced by the club's Head of Youth, Scott Bartlett, as caretaker. On 12 November 2013 it was announced that Adrian Pennock had been appointed as the new first team manager, assisted in the role by Dave Kevan. Scott Bartlett returned to his role as Head of Youth at the club. For a third consecutive year the club ended their 2013–14 season in 10th position ensuring they would compete in the Conference National for a seventeenth consecutive season.

On 1 November 2014, the club held what is believed to be the world's first vegan football match against Lincoln City.[8] The event received support from Paul McCartney and Stella McCartney.[9]

At the end of the 2014–15 season, the club qualified for the Conference National play-offs for the first time by finishing in a then record highest 5th league position. However a 3–0 aggregate semi-final defeat against Bristol Rovers denied the club a chance of making it to the play-off final.[10] A win against Southport at the start of the 2015–16 season saw the club become the first in the history of the National League to win their opening nine games.[11]

On 30 October 2015, Forest Green Rovers officially launched as an all vegan club.[12][13][14] In November 2015, a stoppage time goal from Elliott Frear was enough to knock Football League outfit AFC Wimbledon out of the FA Cup in the first round.

The club ended the 2015–16 season second in the National League in 2nd place in what was yet again another club record highest finish. However a poor run of results towards the end of the season, which saw the club lose out on the league title to Cheltenham Town, saw Adrian Pennock relieved of his duties and Head of Youth Scott Bartlett once again was installed as caretaker manager.

Bartlett guided Forest Green into the National League promotion final after a semi-final 2–1 aggregate win over Dover Athletic. On 15 May 2016, a 3–1 loss to Grimsby Town at Wembley Stadium in the play-off final denied the club a place in the Football League in a game watched by over 17,000 spectators.[15] Former player Mark Cooper was installed as the new manager on a permanent basis in the same month.[16]

Colours and crest[edit]

The previous club badge was very similar to the F.C. Barcelona badge. The flag of St. George appeared on both badges, showing his links to England as well as Catalonia. Rovers' home kit for many years was a black and white striped shirt with black shorts.

In May 2011, the club released a consultation for supporters inviting opinions on the club's decision to change its badge. The new badge was used from the beginning of the 2011–2012 season.

On 2 July 2012, it was announced that the club would change its home strip from its traditional black and white stripes to a lime green shirt with black shorts and socks. The decision to move away from the traditional black and white stripes proved controversial with many supporters. The away strip was also changed to an all-white kit with the dates '1899–2012' near the neckline of the kit to indicate the years when the club first played in an all-white kit and the decision to bring it back in 2012.[17]

In the summer of 2014 the home strip was changed to lime green and black stripes on the front, with a plain green back, green shorts and black and green striped socks. On 19 August 2014 the new away strip was announced, which would be a modern version of the traditional home strip of black and white striped shirt, black shorts and red socks.[18]


Main articles: The New Lawn and The Lawn Ground
The New Lawn

The club initially played at a ground 'at the top of the hill' in Forest Green known as the Lawn Ground. They moved to a ground in Nailsworth in 1924, but returned to the Lawn in 1927 after it was upgraded with a boundary wall and entrance gates.[2] At the start of the 2006–07 season the club moved to the New Lawn.

The Sustainability in Sport terrace is at the north end of the ground. This terrace is the location for away fans and had previously housed home supporters. A decision by the club at the end of the 2012–13 season saw the areas in which home and away fans were housed at the ground switched with home fans reverting to the EESI Stand at the opposite end of the ground which was converted from seating to a standing terrace.[19] The East Stand is the largest capacity stand at the ground and is a seated stand that contains seven boxes, the 'Green Man' public house, gym, dance studio and conference and leisure facilities. The western side of the ground is an open terrace available to home fans. Although the stadium can hold 5,147 fans, the highest league attendance recorded at the venue so far was 3,781 in a Conference Premier fixture against Bristol Rovers. However, the highest all-time attendance was 4,836 for an FA Cup third round tie at home to Championship side Derby County. The usual attendance is between 1,300–1,800 for National League fixtures.

In June 2011, the club began work on making the stadium environmentally friendly following the arrival of new owner and green energy entrepreneur Dale Vince. This included developing an entirely organic pitch.[20] In December 2011, 180 solar panels were installed on the roof of the EESI stand, helping the club generate 10% of the electricity needed to run the stadium.[21] In April 2012, Forest Green introduced the first robot lawn mower to be used by a British football club on to its playing surface. This followed a previous robot mower that had been in service at the club's former ground. The Etesia robot mower – known as a 'mow bot' – uses GPS technology to guide it round the pitch without the need for human intervention and gathers power from the solar panels at the stadium.[22] In December 2012, the club beat 200 other nominees to first prize in the Institute of Groundsmanship awards in the sustainability and environmental category for its organic pitch and the environmental aspects at The New Lawn.[23]

Current squad[edit]

As of 23 March 2017.

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
2 England DF Curtis Tilt (on loan from Wrexham)
3 England DF Manny Monthe
4 Ivory Coast MF Drissa Traoré
5 England DF Mark Ellis (on loan from Carlisle United)
6 England DF Dale Bennett
7 England MF Keanu Marsh-Brown
8 England MF Sam Wedgbury
9 Wales FW Christian Doidge
10 England MF Marcus Kelly
11 Germany FW Omar Bugiel
12 England MF Darren Carter
No. Position Player
14 England FW Kaiyne Woolery (on loan from Wigan Athletic)
15 England MF Liam Noble
16 England DF Ethan Pinnock
17 England DF Dan Wishart
19 England MF Rob Sinclair
20 England MF Charlie Cooper (on loan from Birmingham City)
23 England GK Sam Russell
26 France MF Fabien Robert
30 France GK Simon Lefebvre
31 Gibraltar MF Jake Gosling (on loan from Bristol Rovers)

Out on loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
18 England FW Shamir Mullings (on loan at Hampton & Richmond Borough until 25 March 2017)
21 England DF Aarran Racine (on loan at Torquay United F.C for the 2016–17 season)
22 England MF Louis McGrory (on loan at Gloucester City)
24 England MF Anthony Jeffrey (on loan at Boreham Wood for the 2016–17 season)
25 France MF Mohamed Chemlal (on loan at Weston-Super-Mare F.C for the 2016–17 season)
28 England DF Jon Moran (on loan at Halesowen Town)
29 England FW Olly Mehew (on loan at Dorchester Town)
39 Republic of Ireland FW Rhys Murphy (on loan at Crawley Town for the 2016–17 season)

Coaching staff[edit]

  • Mark Cooper (Manager)
  • Scott Lindsey (Assistant manager)
  • Scott Bartlett (Head of Youth)
  • Steve Hale (Goalkeeper coach)
  • Ian Weston (Head Physio)
  • Tom Huelin (Fitness coach)

Managerial history[edit]

Dates Name
1955–1956 England Bill Thomas
1957–1958 England Eddie Cowley
1958–1960 England Don Cowley
1966–1967 England Jimmy Sewell
1967–1968 England Alan Morris
1968–1979 England Peter Goring
1979–1980 England Tony Morris
1980–1982 England Bob Mursell
1982 England Roy Hillman
1983–1987 England Steve Millard
1987–1990 England John Evans
1990 England Jeff Evans
1990–1991 England Bobby Jones
1991–1992 England Tim Harris
1992 England Glen Thomas (Caretaker Manager)
1992–1994 England Pat Casey
1994–2000 England Frank Gregan
2000–2001 England Nigel Spink & Dave Norton
2001–2002 England Nigel Spink
2002–2003 England Colin Addison
2003–2004 England Tim Harris
2004–2005 England Alan Lewer
2005–2006 England Gary Owers
2006 England Paul Wanless (Caretaker Manager)
2006–2009 Northern Ireland Jim Harvey
2009 England David Brown (Caretaker Manager)
2009–2013 England Dave Hockaday
2013 England Gary Seward (Caretaker Manager)
2013 England Scott Bartlett (Caretaker Manager)
2013–2016 England Adrian Pennock
2016 England Scott Bartlett (Caretaker Manager)
2016 England Mark Cooper

Forest Green Rovers Ladies[edit]

Forest Green Rovers Ladies were formed at the start of the 2002–03 season. In their first season, having taken over from the original Chalford Ladies side, the team won the South West Women's Football League and the Pat Sowden Trophy. In the 2007–08 season they reached the fourth round of the FA Women's Cup but were knocked out by Liverpool. The following season they reached the fourth round again, this time being knocked out by Leeds Carnegie. In 2009 they won the Gloucestershire County Cup, beating Cheltenham Town Ladies in the final.

An agreement was struck ahead of the 2011–12 season for the Forest Green Ladies side to play home games at Wisloe Road, the home of nearby Slimbridge. This followed years spent playing at the club's first team stadium at the New Lawn and as part of the agreement Forest Green Rovers donated a set of dugouts to Slimbridge and visit for a pre-season friendly every summer. In April 2015, they won the FA Women's Premier League South West Division One title, earning promotion to the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division.


  • FA Vase
    • winners 1981–82
  • Southern League
    • Premier Division champions 1997–98
    • Southern Division champions 1996–97
  • Hellenic League
    • Champions 1981–82
  • Gloucestershire Northern Senior League
    • Champions 1937–38, 1949–50, 1950–51
    • Division Two champions 1955–56
  • North Gloucestershire League
    • Champions 1920–21, 1921–22
  • Stroud Premier League
    • Champions 1934–35, 1935–36, 1936–37
  • Stroud & District League
    • Champions 1911–12, 1920–21
  • Dursley & District League
    • Champions 1902–03
  • Northern Junior Cup
    • Winners 1920–21


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Mike Williams & Tony Williams (2016) Non-League Club Directory 2017, Tony Williams Publications, p453 ISBN 978-1869833695
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Tim Barnard (2014) Something to Shout About: The History of Forest Green Rovers FC, The History Press
  3. ^ a b c d Gloucestershire Northern Senior League 1919–1939 Non-League Matters
  4. ^ a b Gloucestershire Northern Senior League 1946–1968 Non-League Matters
  5. ^ a b c d Forest Green Rovers at the Football Club History Database
  6. ^ "Burgers banned at football club". BBC News. 10 February 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2011. 
  7. ^ "Forest Green Rovers vice-chairman Trevor Horsley resigns". BBC Sport. 6 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Vegan: The New Status Quo?". Huffington Post UK. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Paul and Stella McCartney back Forest Green's vegan ethos". Stroud News & Journal. 2 November 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "Bristol Rovers 2–0 Forest Green". BBC Sport. 3 May 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "FULL-TIME: National League leaders Forest Green make it a magnificent nine wins from nine (From Stroud News and Journal)". Stroud News and Journal. 15 September 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015. 
  12. ^ "Forest Green top of the league after becoming 'world's first' vegan football club". Mirror Online. 7 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "Football club goes vegan in 'world first'". BBC News. 31 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "Forest Green become world's first vegan football club". 3 November 2015. 
  15. ^ "Forest Green Rovers 1–3 Grimsby Town". BBC Sport. 15 May 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2016. 
  16. ^ "Mark Cooper: Forest Green Rovers name new manager". BBC Sport. 9 May 2016. 
  17. ^ "New Fixtures, New Players, New Kit". Football Conference. 2 July 2012. 
  18. ^ "Forest Green launch new away kit". 19 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "Chairman Vince in New Lawn switch". Stroud News & Journal. 6 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "Forest Green Rovers spread manure on pitch". BBC News. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  21. ^ "Forest Green Rovers football club installs solar panels". BBC News. 4 December 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  22. ^ "Robot lawn mower used by Forest Green Rovers football club". BBC News. 21 April 2012. 
  23. ^ "Forest Green Rovers FC wins award for 'organic' pitch". BBC News. 7 December 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  24. ^ Forest Green 8–0 Hyde BBC Sport, 10 August 2013
  25. ^ Are Forest Green set to smash transfer record to sign striker? Gloucestershire Live, 31 October 2016

External links[edit]