The town of Nailsworth – population 5,794 – will become the smallest town to ever host a Football League club, should Forest Green Rovers achieve promotion to League Two at Wembley Stadium on Sunday (KO 3:00pm).
Forest Green Rovers is the ‘world’s first vegan football club’ and according to FIFA – the ‘greenest football club in the world’ – and are aiming to bring their sustainability message to a bigger audience in the Football League.
FGR lost last year’s promotion final 3-1 to Grimsby Town.
The equivalent of almost half the population of Nailsworth watched FGR at The New Lawn stadium last Sunday, when they defeated Dagenham and Redbridge 2-0 (and 3-1 on aggregate over two legs) in the play-off semi-final.
Now the club are encouraging football fans from across the West Country to make the trip to Wembley Stadium for the first time in a generation for the second time in 12 months as Forest Green bid to overturn last year’s promotion final disappointment and achieve promotion into the Football League after almost two decades in the fifth tier of English football.
Rovers finished the regular season in 3rd place and overall attendances at The New Lawn again reached record levels, averaging 1815 compared to 950 when Forest Green chairman Dale Vince first took over the club in 2010-11.
Forest Green Rovers chairman, Dale Vince, said: “It’s been another great year for Forest Green. We’re in the play-offs again and at Wembley again, with the strongest team and manager combination we’ve ever had. I think there’s every chance for promotion to League Two and for the club to make some history at Wembley.
“It’s the first step in our big plan to get to the Championship. We’ve been working at this for a few years and every time we are getting closer. Each time we don’t get promoted, we’re stronger because we make improvements on and off the pitch. When we get to League Two, we’ll thrive.”
The club with a proud 127 year history are technically located in the tiny hamlet of Forest Green at the top of the hill from Nailsworth, however the two genteel Cotswold locales have long since become one.
Tim Barnard, author of ‘Something to Shout About’ – The History of Forest Green Rovers FC said: “FGR began their life in the hamlet that bears their name in October 1889, founded by the local Non Conformist Church Minister and in 1894 Forest Green became founding members of the Mid Gloucestershire League, the first “socker” league in the county outside Bristol.
“Forty years ago we’d only ever played in the county leagues and even when the club achieved promotion to a national league in the late 90s and moved into the current stadium – which took us up a notch – the idea of playing in the Football League was pretty much a pipe dream.
“I think every supporter expects FGR to enter the Football League sooner or later. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”