December 8, 2023

Richard Beale …..

In response to the Chris Elliott/ Philip Lloyd article regarding the ex Bristol Rovers and Liverpool footballer Nick Tanner, I am a Gashead, are there any more of you out here?

WHAT IS A GASHEAD?  – he/she is a supporter of Bristol Rovers FC

WHY ARE WE CALLED  GASHEADS? – Bristol Rovers used to play at Eastville Stadium, behind the ground was a gas factory with two gasometers and boy when the wind was in the right direction you were intoxicated by the smell of gas hence “gas head”

Am I unique out here in the TRNC?  The majority of expats seem to support the major Premier League clubs, the usual suspects Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United/City, Arsenal. Tottenham etc etc.

I haven’t come across too many who support the lower League Clubs, the grass roots of football. I know some people who do and they support Oxford, Doncaster, Barnsley and Morecambe, I’ll be interested in what other Clubs people support out here.

Most Turkish/Cypriots always seem to support Liverpool or Manchester United. I get asked a lot at local football matches which English team do I support?   When I reply “Bristol Rovers which is a small team in the lower leagues”, they look at me as if I were mad, give me the Cyprus shrug and say “who? never heard of them!

Eastville Stadium, Bristol Rovers “spiritual home” and the Gasworks behind the Stadium

I have been watching Bristol Rovers since 1960, I used to go on the “old football specials” buses that ran every Saturday to either the Rovers or Bristol City matches, at that time I was a supporter of both clubs. I always had a soft spot for the Rovers they always seemed to lose! but I loved their famous unique Blue and White quarter shirts and the Pirate mascot that used to walk round the ground.

As a young boy I collected autographs and the Rovers players seemed to be more friendly and obliging than their Bristol City counterparts. Alfie Biggs, Harold Jarman, Ray Mabbutt and Bobby Jones were household names at Bristol Rovers in the 60s and 70s. My favourite, being a goalkeeper like myself, was Bernard Hall small for a keeper but very brave, tragically his career was cut short by a head injury sustained in collision with Middlesbrough’s John O’Rourke in the late 60s.

Referring to NICK TANNER’S autobiography “FROM A FIELD TO ANFIELD” he mentions a particular gentleman in a raincoat and trilby hat with a rolled up newspaper who used to shout “shoot!, shoot!” it didn’t matter if the ball was in your own half “shoot, shoot!‘ he would shout, I remember the crowd were in fits of laughter!..

The famous blue and white quartered shirts and Pete the Pirate!

The 60s turned into the 70s and with a group of friends I remember going to most of the away matches by supporters’ coaches going far and wide, usually ending up in defeat at say a rainy Halifax or Rochdale.

I remember we used to stop on the way home to Bristol at Marlborough to get fish n chips and secure a copy of the local evening sports paper to pursue the football results – no mobile phones then.

Bristol Rovers used to rent Eastville Stadium but when the owners decided to sell in 1986 to IKEA and Tesco they were forced to leave their spiritual home and play their matches at Twerton Park in Bath.

Those were happy days and where I first came across Nick Tanner or “woosh” as was his nickname as he seemed to have a horseshoe in his football boots and they packed a powerful punch.

Under Bobby Gould and then Gerry Francis “Rag tag Rovers” as we were known were “skint”, they used to pass a bucket around the crowd to put any spare change in to help the club survive. They were great times in the 10 seasons we were at Bath, a unique atmosphere, that intimidated teams who were frightened to play against us. Gerry Francis put together a team of misfits Devon White, Gary Penrice, Ian Holloway, David “Boris” Mehew and Nick Tanner, they had what money couldn’t buy unlike our rich Bristol rivals, “team spirit, never say die attitude” which eventually got us promotion to League 2.

Like a lot of people we were surprised when Nick was signed by Liverpool in 1988 for £20, 000 that amount probably saved the Club from going bust. Nick made the most of his skills, he was always a good honest 100% player and after a couple of seasons in the Liverpool reserves he finally became a regular in the Liverpool team, before a back injury forced him to retire from football in 1994 at the age of 29..

NICK TANNER in Bristol Rovers and Liverpool colours.

I ramble on .. Rovers eventually returned to Bristol in 1996 to their current home the Memorial Stadium.

Work commitments on a Saturday or Sunday limited my visits but if I couldn’t watch Rovers then I would go to see Yate Town. This is probably why I love live football matches in the TRNC. I don’t get much enjoyment sitting in a bar watching football on the telly. The locals really do appreciate it, that you made the effort to watch a game, always offering you fruit nuts and shh! an occasional glass of Raki!

On moving to the TRNC 11 years ago obviously now the only time I can get to see the “gas” is when I go back to visit the UK as they are very rarely featured on the telly.

I have seen them this season, last September, when they drew 1-1 with Gillingham.

Supporting Bristol Rovers there has been probably more “downs than ups “, but when the rare “ups” come we certainly enjoy and savour them.

Loads of happy memories with Rovers, one of them going to Old Trafford to see them beat United 2-1 in the League Cup. (Best, Law, Charlton and all) is a particularly fond one. Winning the Watney Cup in the early 70s. Beating Brian Clough’s Brighton 8-2 away with “Smash and Grab”  Alan Warboys and Bruce Bannister running riot.

Of course one thing that tops all that is beating Bristol City, for a “gashead” it is the most important thing in the world. Bristol “derby” matches are just as fiercely contested as the Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow derbies.

One thing you are is “once a Gashead, always a Gashead” am I the only one here? If I am not please let me know! We can have a meeting in that telephone box!

If you are a Gashead or Liverpool supporter then the Nick Tanner Autobiography “FROM FIELD TO ANFIELD (ISBN 9781785313073 ) is a cracking read and is available from Amazon Bookstore.

1 thought on “Are there any other Gasheads in the TRNC?

  1. Good to see this article, as I’m also a Bristol Rovers fan, for 50 years now, and I live in Cyprus too.
    For the last 3 years I’ve been able to watch every Rovers League game by subscribing to iFollow.
    ABout GBP120 per season, or you can pay per gamemore details here:

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