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Rovers Register Cheltenham Town Academy Player - 7 December

will dawes cheltenham town and tuffley roversOff the back of a disappointing result in the Hellenic League Perpetua Press, Floodlit Cup tie on Tuesday, Tuffley Rovers have moved quickly to add to their ranks, with the registration of Cheltenham Town Academy player, Will Dawes, on a work experience arrangement.

Dawes (pictured), who joined Southern League Yate Town on a similar deal earlier this season, is an emerging talent with the Football League club and he is now in his second year in the Under 18s squad, so his parent club are looking for him to gain some important experience at first team level.

Town’s Academy manager, Antoine Thompson, a former Rovers player himself, saw the move as a good opportunity for the promising youngster. “Will is a hardworking, attack minded player and we hope Tuffley Rovers will benefit from having him there.”, he said. “This is a great opportunity for Will to play and learn from a spell in men’s football, which is a completely different experience from the U18s game. I’m very grateful that Tuffley are offering him this opportunity.”

Rovers currently sit in 18th place in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division and their manager, Mark Pritchett, feels that Dawes’s signing might be just what they need to turn a series of promising performances into the results they’ll need to stay in the division, ahead of what may well be a relegation battle. “This is an exciting signing for the club, as Will has huge potential and has already been involved in the first team squad at Cheltenham. We’ve struggled to convert chances and he comes highly recommended, so I’m hoping that he can add to what we have and help us start to turn a corner”, the Rovers boss confirmed.

Dawes has already been an unused substitute for Cheltenham’s first team on three occasions – for League Two fixtures at Coventry City, Barnet and Cambridge United – and is added to the squad for this weekend’s league game at home to Binfield.

 

Pritchett Looking For El Glossico Fillip - 14 August

mark pritchett tuffley rovers hellenic leagueAfter a difficult start to the 2018/19 playing season for his young Tuffley Rovers squad, their manager, Mark Pritchett, will head into tonight’s local derby with Longlevens (kick off 7:45pm) hoping for improved fortune, as his side look to kick-start their Uhslport Hellenic League, Premier Division campaign.

The fixture at Glevum Park will be the first of three competitive meetings in just 4½ weeks, with Mark Moore’s side due to host the return league fixture in early-September, before the two clubs meet in the Buildbase FA Vase on Friday, 14 September. With two chastening defeats behind them this season, Pritchett (pictured) is hoping a good performance will see them accumulate the points that will set his squad in the right direction but also provide an inexperienced group with the much needed confidence that will see them well-prepared for the season ahead.

“Longlevens have started the season well, and had a good win in the FA Cup at the weekend, so we will need to raise our performance levels if we want to win this derby”, Pritchett confirmed. “I know Mark will have his side set-up well, hard to beat, but if we stay focused, I believe we can get a result.”

Pritchett’s counterpart, Moore, has overseen a number of changes to his squad in recent weeks, replacing the lost firepower associated with Brad Martin, who moved onto Bishops Cleeve, with new signings, including Adam Philp, James Campbell and youngster Isaac Johns. He also signed former Tuffley Rovers player, Kieran Squires during the summer period.

Although there are two further meetings scheduled in the near future, this will be the ‘El Glossico’ rivals’ second meeting in recent weeks, as they met in local radio station Severn Sport’s pre-season tournament, where Longlevens triumphed 2-0. In contrast to Rovers’ opening two defeats, their Gloucester rivals have played an additional game and won for the first time on Saturday, as they overcame Holmer Green FC to progress in the FA Cup. That result followed one point gained in their opening two league fixtures.

Pritchett has injury doubts affecting Cameron Williams and Paul Carter, whilst he will need to make a choice between former Levens’ keeper Luke Marchant and Kane Winman in goal. Otherwise, the Rovers boss has a full squad to select from, with Dom Kent, Brad Loveridge and Essa Sabally all pushing for places in the starting line-up.

 

Blackburn In, As Rovers Prepare For New Season - 3 August

ken blackburn hellenic league tuffley roversWith the new competitive playing season set to start this weekend, Tuffley Rovers have made a significant move off the field, with the appointment of former Gloucester City Youth Development supremo, Ken Blackburn (pictured) , as their new Head of Football Development.

The former Brighton & Hove Albion, Dover Athletic and Gloucester City player, who had served as City’s youth lead for 19 years until June of this year, when he advised his services were no longer required, is joining the Uhlsport Hellenic League outfit in a role agreed with Rovers’ Chairman/Secretary Neil Spiller.

“As Gloucester City Under 18s had played at Glevum Park for several years, I’d got to know Ken quite well and once I heard he was no longer with City I had a chat about the possibility of working with us”, said Spiller. “Both our first team and reserve team managers are relatively young and with the advent of an Under 18 squad playing Midland Floodlit Youth League football it seemed to be an appointment that could only benefit the club.”
After a short break from the game, Blackburn ultimately decided to take the discussion further and is now very much looking forward to the opportunity presented to him.

“I’m really looking forward to taking up the role offered to me by Tuffley Rovers”, Blackburn confirmed. “Since leaving Gloucester City I’ve been very fortunate to have received offers to take up a few other roles with local, well-established clubs, but having lived in Tuffley for 35 years, I have always felt a deep affinity with this well-structured and well-run club.”

Rovers’ first team manager Mark Pritchett is one of many local players to have graduated with honours from one of Blackburn’s many City squads and with several of the current Hellenic League squad sharing that distinction, the new Head of Football Development will be surrounded by familiar faces, as he looks to help promote the next generation of youngsters at Rovers.

“People who know me understand that I am very much in favour of encouraging young players, taking them through a youth development programme and then ultimately making the step up into adult football”, he added. “So, it was incredibly encouraging to see no less than eight ex-City Under 18 players in the first team squad when when I watched Tuffley Rovers’ game earlier this week. Knowing that the club has entered a squad in the Midland Floodlit League is such a positive step for the club going forward and bodes well for the future.”

With the first team now firmly established in the Hellenic League’s Premier Division, Blackburn feels he can play a part in the positive feeling at Glevum Park being transformed into future success, although he’ll be keeping an eye on the progress of all the club’s major sides.

“Whilst the flagship of any club is the first team, the backbone at any club is in the success of its Reserves and youth development programme”, he confirmed. “What Tuffley Rovers already have in place excites me and I want to help all the teams, in any way I can – the managers, coaches and players can bend my ear anytime!”.

Spiller sees the appointment as being the next step in developing the club’s playing squads, with particular emphasis on increased development of players coming through from the youth section. “We don’t have a playing budget, which puts us in a minority at this level of football, and so we rely on bringing in promising youngsters if we are to sustain healthy performance on the field”, Spiller confirmed. “So, if Ken can use his contacts to help attract players, offer some advice to our managers on how best to help others develop or flag up a talent that might otherwise go unnoticed, that can only benefit the club. I’m delighted he’s agreed to help us and believe this will be good for our management teams, as well as the playing squads.”

The short-term aim is for Blackburn to take a look at how the transition arrangements for players might be improved, with one eye on creating a more seamless pathway between U18, reserve team and Hellenic League football, but Spiller is not placing any boundaries on the potential development of the role. “Although our Under 18s are separately affiliated to our youth section, I have already spoken with their Chair about the support Ken might be able to provide. My hope is that he will help any coach who wants to benefit from his extensive football experience”, Spiller concluded.

The Rovers’ Chairman is hoping that Blackburn’s influence will benefit both Pritchett and the new reserve team manager, Dan Gillespie, and he believes Rovers have the right people in place to take the club forward. “Pritch has twice taken us to a top ten finish in the Hellenic League, as well as a Supplementary Cup Final in 2017, which is more than we might have anticipated and in reserve team boss, Dan Gillespie, I think we’ve appointed a very promising coach, who I believe can be incredibly successful in the years to come. However, both are young and I think having Ken Blackburn as someone who can offer advice or be a sounding board is too good an opportunity to turn down”, he enthused.

Pritchett himself sees the appointment as a positive one, particularly as he finds himself with a new assistant this season (following the departure of Shayne Anson and subsequent appointment of Alex O’Leary). “Alex and I have a bit of a rebuilding job on our hands and I’m pleased to have Ken involved in the development of the football club. I think this is a great appointment for the future of the club”, Pritchett confirmed.

 

Pritchett Putting Faith In Youth, As Rovers Look To Rebuild - 3 August

Tuffley Rovers will travel to Royal Wootton Bassett Town this weekend, for a 3pm kick-off on Saturday afternoon, with Mark Pritchett putting his faith in a young squad as he looks to build on two consecutive 10th placed finishes in the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division.

Since Dave Evans and Shayne Bradley both announced their retirement at the end of the 2017/18 season, Pritchett also lost his Player/Assistant Manager Shayne Anson, who has moved to Evesham United, which saw former Colchester United and Dagenham & Redbridge pro Alex O’Leary promoted to the role vacated by Anson. Losing three senior and influential players was a blow, but Pritchett feels that, after a difficult start to pre-season, his side are now ready for the challenges ahead.

“We’ve lost a lot of experience with Bradders and Dave retiring, then Shayne moving on, which has meant Alex and I have a bit of a rebuilding job on our hands”, Pritchett confirmed. “Despite that, we have a lot of young players, with huge potential, and we’re excited to see what they can do at this level.”

Pritchett’s side played seven pre-season games and after opening with three defeats, including losing both games in the inaugural Severn Sport Shield in early July, but performances improved as the preparations gathered pace and the Rovers boss is feeling very positive ahead of an opening Uhlsport Hellenic League game at Royal Wootton Bassett Town on Saturday. “After a tricky pre-season, when injuries and player availability really affected us, I’m really looking forward to the start of the season”, he added. “We might have benefited from having a little bit more experience in the squad, but I’m happy with what we’ve got.”

Rovers’ recent games against Saturday’s opposition have seen both mixed performances and results, but their last visit to The Gerard Buxton Sports Ground saw them record a dramatic 4-3 win, with two goals in the closing seconds sealing a comeback from a 3-1 deficit. Earlier in the 2017/18, Royal Wootton Bassett Town’s current manager scored twice to seal a 2-0 win against Pritchett’s men.

After the departure of several players over the course of the last 12 months, Pritchett might have good reason to feel pessimistic but he confesses to feeling very pleased with the shape of his squad as they prepare for the 2018/19 season. After losing Evans to retirement and then seeing his first choice replacement, Eric Edge, opt for a move to Slimbridge, Pritchett is pleased to have two good goalkeeping options at his disposal. “Losing Dave Evans was a big blow, as he was not just a great keeper but a real leader, too”, reflected Pritchett. “I’m really pleased we’ve managed to bring in Luke Merchant, who has signed on dual registration forms from Cirencester Town, but Kane Winman has shown in pre-season that he is capable of competing for a place in the team and having two options is important in any position, but particularly in goal.”

Away from the goalkeeping position, the Rovers boss has bolstered his options with a number of young players hungry for their chance at Hellenic League level and he sees all of them as capable of producing performances that will make his side competitive. Former Gloucester City U18 players Dom Kent and Brad Loveridge have developed quickly over the pre-season period, whilst forward Essa Sabally has made the step-up from Rovers’ own U18 squad and looks to have genuine potential. In addition, Pritchett has managed to persuade the talented Paul Carter to make the move from County League football with Hardwicke and Ryan Dobbins has returned to the club after a very successful year at another County League club, Gala Wilton. Although he’s struggled with injury, former Bishops Cleeve Development player Jake Rhodes has shown flashes of good form during pre-season, meaning the huge loss associated with Shayne Bradley;s departure could be masked by a sense of genuine competition for attacking roles, with last year’s new-boy, Ash Bird, netting regularly in pre-season, after a relatively barren 2017/18 campaign.

All in all, Pritchett is looking forward to the trip to Royal Wootton Bassett with real optimism. “This squad has real potential and we’re genuinely excited to see what we can do. I can’t wait to get started”, he concluded.

 

Rovers Looking To Continue Warm Welcome - 1 July

Having had the honour of being voted the Uhlsport Hellenic League, Premier Division’s “Most Hospitable Club” for the second year in succession, Tuffley Rovers are resting on their laurels and have already started to look at improving the welcome on offer to visiting clubs and officials with the addition of some new facilities, but are also looking to ensure that paying spectators retain good value for the 2018/19 season, with the release of a season ticket that will cost just £35 for all league and league cup games.

After a creditable tenth placed finish in the Premier Division table in 2017/18, Rovers will be hoping for another positive season on the pitch, but the addition of a new hospitality room, burger bar and hard-standing area means that their facilities have taken another step in the right direction. In addition, new dugouts have been installed at Glevum Park, with a modern design replacing the breeze-block construction that had been in place for many years.
“We don’t have a playing budget, which can be make it difficult to progress on the field, but the club’s committee are focused on ensuring that we continue to develop our facilities, for the benefit of all”, confirmed Chairman/Secretary, Neil Spiller. “Whilst there is still plenty to do, we’ve come a long way since returning to the Hellenic League and our aim is to make sure it is somewhere that people want to visit, whether from the local community or from further afield.”

Spiller was quick to point to the support his club had received from the Football Foundation, whose funding support had been instrumental in helping make the ground improvements possible. “Without access to the funding provided by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF) over the past three years, we might never have been able to even start the changes we’ve introduced, let alone continue the developments once the first phase of essential changes had been made”, Spiller added. “We aren’t yet finished but the bulk of the work is done and we hope people will enjoy and appreciate the benefits”, he added.

Despite the costs involved in the Glevum Park improvements, Rovers are continuing to offer regular supporters good value for money, as they launch their 2018/19 season ticket, with the opportunity to attend all the club’s game for less than £2 per fixture. Tickets, which have now gone on sale, will be priced at £35, with guaranteed admission to nineteen league games and any home draws in the league cup competitions.


“Last season we had the sixth biggest average crowd in the Hellenic League Premier Division and we feel that a contributing factor is our efforts to provide value for money”, said Spiller. “So, even though we considered increasing admission rates, they will stay at the same level (£5 per game; £3 concessions; with U16s offered free entry), with a season ticket also available for just £35. We feel that represents good value and hope that it will help us not only maintain a good level of spectator support, but also increase the number of people watching games.”
Anyone interested in signing up for a season ticket should contact the club via admin@tuffleyroversfc.co.uk or their social media pages.

Rovers begin their pre-season fixture schedule with a visit to Hereford Lads Club on Monday evening, with the game kicking-off at 7:15pm in Hereford.

 

Returning Rovers Takes On Reserves’ Mantle - 31 May

Former Tuffley Rovers player Dan Gillespie is relishing a return to the club, after being appointed as the new manager of the club’s reserve team, ahead of the 2018/19 playing season.

Despite plenty of positives for the club during 2017/18, when the club’s Hellenic League secured a 10th place finish in the Hellenic League’s Premier Division, at the end of manager Mark Pritchett’s second full season, and a youthful reserve squad finally began to become a source for first team players, the second string squad struggled for consistency and their place in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League, Division One was only secured in the closing weeks of the season.

Former Forest Green Rovers, Cheltenham Town and Gloucester City player Tommy Callinan then decided to step away from his role in the reserve team set-up, having joined at the start of the season, in a triumvirate including Russ Williams and Phil Ryder-Jones, which left the club with a potential vacancy, which former Tytherington Rocks boss, Gillespie, is delighted to fill.

Gillespie was the club’s third team manager prior to leaving for The Rocks at the start of the 2016/17 season, and he was pleased to have the opportunity to return to the club he represented during their County League days. "It's great to be back at the club”, he confirmed. "I had a good opportunity to manage at Hellenic League level when I left Tuffley for Tytherington Rocks, two years ago, and although it wasn't a long tenure I learnt as a manager and gained some valuable experience.”

Gillespie was out of the game for a short period, but had a spell at County League side Gala Wilton before his appointment to the new role.  "Having recently been at Gala Wilton, on a short term basis as a first team coach, it was there where I realised that I needed to pursue my main goal and that's to manage at the highest standard I can. Coming back to Tuffley is now a chance for me to settle down and progress as a manager at a well-run and forward moving club. The aim now is to bridge the gap between the first team and the reserve side and build a side that can challenge for honours”, he concluded.

First team boss Pritchett confirmed he was consulted on the appointment, which he gave his full-backing to, particularly as Gillespie will work with Williams and Ryder-Jones, who had been integral in the development of the squad over the past twelve months. "I see this as a great appointment for our reserve team squad and the club as a whole”, said Pritchett. "Dan brings a lot of enthusiasm and really wants to help push the club forward. Along with Russ and Phil our reserves are in very good hands for the season ahead.”

Pritchett and Gillespie now have their sights set on the start of the new season, with Pritchett confirming pre-season training will start on Tuesday, 26 June. New, existing and returning players are welcome to train, with the session starting at 6:45pm at Glevum Park.

 

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