Noah Dougherty
Friday 16 August 2019

We’re back in New Lawn action tomorrow and that means another chance to grab a copy of the ‘We Are FGR’ matchday programme.

Priced at just £3, the programme offers the chance to pose questions to CEO Henry Staelens, a new-look big interview and find out who the FGR players would pick in their dream seven-a-side teams based on players they have played with or against.

Here is a look inside the first edition for our match with Grimsby Town:

Big interview: Joseph Mills 

Joseph Mills penalty against Walsall away

One year at Forest Green Rovers, how do you reflect on that time?

A lot of positives. The main objective wasn’t achieved last season but, as a squad and individually, we learnt a lot from last season.

My first season playing in this league and it was as tough as I expected it to be.

As a team we played well and I think we grew into the season and there were a lot of positives, but a lot to learn from it.

Returning back from Australia, did it take you long to settle back into English football?

I didn’t think it was too hard to adjust.  I have played the majority of my career in England, so I know what to expect.

Coming back to the winter months were probably the biggest difference to Australia but that is England.

All-in-all, the adjustment I found easier than possibly it could have been.

How tough was that play-off campaign against Tranmere and to digest afterwards?

It was massive. I think my wife could tell you, the first two weeks after that I was miserable. I couldn’t watch the play-off final and I hadn’t booked any time away up until the play-off final because I was expecting and hoping to be involved in it.

It was really tough and hard to take but then after a period of time, you’ve got to reflect, look at the positives and see where you can build on next season and I fully focussed on the season coming up and threw all my energy and efforts into getting fit for pre-season.

How difficult mentally are those low points?

It doesn’t get easier as you get older. You would expect it to but it doesn’t.

Football is a game of real highs and real lows and, unfortunately, that was a real low but the main thing that I have taken from lows during my career is not to take them to heart too much and learnt he lessons and move on quickly.

It is not nice but it is part of the game and you’ve got to get on with it.

I think fans saw from you the real emotion and how much you cared throughout the season, was that important for you?

As soon as I came back and came into Forest Green, I really tried to get in amongst the culture and speak to the fans and it meant a lot.

I think it grew throughout the players for the players and the fans as well, that coming together really spurred everybody on and the fans don’t know how much of an impact they have on that.

For me personally, I took it as something I wanted to achieve, a goal I set out at the start of the season and I’m an emotional player when it comes to certain aspects of the game and towards the back end of the season, particularly the play-offs, it is hard to hide your emotions in big games like that.

It is a feeling I don’t want again but to see the other side of it, from their players celebrating, it gives you a taste of what you can get and what you want to achieve.


Getting to know: Grimsby


Elliott Whitehouse celebrates for Grimsby

One of the five sides that Rovers did the double over last season, Grimsby Town make the trip to Nailsworth for their second away game of the new season with hopes of improving on the 2018/19 campaign.

Despite some good runs of form, particularly during December where Michael Jolley picked up the manager of the month award, and January, The Mariners ended the campaign in 17th position, just one place better than the season before.

Grimsby started their preparation for the 2019/20 season with an 8-0 victory over local side Cleethorpes Town, before a pre-season camp in Cheshire, along with two warm-up games against higher opposition in Doncaster Rovers and Peterborough United, looked to set The Mariners up nicely for the season to come.

Their start to the League Two campaign has also caught the eye early on, with an away win over Morecambe on the opening day of the season followed up by a draw over Bradford City, before the Carabao cup saw a repeat of their pre-season fixture with Doncaster, in which they claimed a 1-0 victory over the League One side to progress to the next round.

Town manager Jolley, has been at the club since March of the 2017/18 season following his departure from Swedish club AFC Eskilstuna, and was pivotal in them beating the drop that campaign as they battled near the foot of the table alongside FGR.

He has made a handful of changes to his squad over the summer. The addition of three forwards and the versatile ex-Notts County defender Elliott Hewitt, paired with popular goalkeeper and back-to-back player-of-the-season winner James McKeown penning a deal until 2022, can only spell good news for the Town faithful.

ACADEMY SPOTLIGHT – Alfie Saunders  

Alfie Saunders running warm-up

I feel like it has been a good first year with the boys I have come in with.

It was good to have the second years we had because they brought us into the group quite quickly and as a team I feel like we had a successful year, not only for the team winning the Merit League Two trophy, but for myself as I felt like I improved a lot through the season.

It was a learning curve getting used to competitive games and fighting for your place in the team.

I also learnt how to manage a game and with it being development football, you are still learning about the league and how to go through a full campaign with points on the line.

This pre-season, I have done a lot of off-season work because I felt like I needed to get fitter and I have come back and feel really strong and I feel like this could be the year that I push on.

I want to get into that Under 23s team with the Central League competition as a personal aim but as a team we are aiming to come top five in the Youth Alliance League because I don’t think the club have achieved that before and that would be a great achievement and another step forward.

How to get your programme:

Official Forest Green Rovers programmes will be available for sale at £3 from our volunteer sellers around The New Lawn.

It can be purchased at the ground on matchdays and online via the Forest Green Rovers club shop.