"...this is the most articulate and accurate piece written about the club for years!" - Tales from the Front, http://www.otib.co.uk/

Monday, 10 October 2016

Gerry Gow: One of Bristol City's greatest players of our greatest team

The news of Gerry Gow's passing has stirred many memories from fans old enough to have him play in his prime to those younger fans who never did, but who have heard so much about the great man.

A couple of years back I wrote this blog post on City's promotion side of 1975-76, a side which had Gow very much in its engine room - appearing as an ever-present as City, finally, once again reached the top flight after decades in the wilderness.

Quite simply, he was one of the best and most-loved players in our greatest team, and that tells you all you need to know


The Exiled Robin

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Monday, 8 August 2016

Tammy Abraham - a view from Chelsea

It’s been a summer of huge excitement at Ashton Gate with the completion of the West Stand setting the perfect backdrop to the most extravagant outlay of our existence. Millions of pounds we know about, plus plenty we probably don’t in loan fees, signing-on fees and wages have led to a glut of exciting signings of mainly young players, a nice mixture of experienced mid 20-somethings and younger, high potential players.

Having already snapped up players from Juventus and Bayern Munich, Lee Johnson and Mark Ashton have turned their attention closer to home with the latest loan signing and could have just landed the most exciting signing of them all, from Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea.

Whilst there may be a touch of self-congratulation around it, both Johnson and Ashton have talked about the lengths they’ve gone to so as to snap up the teenage striker who was also being linked with a move to Spanish La Liga side Real Betis. As is often the case with these sorts of things, it was as much the club and their new coach, Antonio Conte, who needed persuading of our plans, approach and style of football as the player himself.

On first impressions, we have a young player with all the attributes needed to be an old-fashioned number nine.  At six foot five inches tall, he has the height to be a real threat in the air, but also looks to have strength and pace not always seen in those so tall. And then there’s his goal record…

Whilst he was seen briefly in making a superb, immediate impact as substitute on Saturday, many won’t have seen a huge amount of him so I asked the Chelsea blog @PrideOLondon for their views on their youth team star, who has scored an impressive 74 goals in just 98 games during his youth career.

Their youth team expert Siva Sankar penned these words for the Exiled Robin:

"Tammy Abraham has been at Chelsea since he was nine years old. He is one of the top prospects to have come through Chelsea academy and at the age of 18 is ready to take the next step.

Tammy is a naturally gifted with strength and pace that belie his tall, lanky frame. He has had little professional experience to date but one thing that is of little doubt is that physically he's ready to cope with the Championship. His height and strength will give him great advantage when competing for goal kicks or for crosses in the box. But the truth is that Tammy has a lot more in his locker. Chelsea realised long ago that physically he was better than his peers and sought to aid him in developing his footwork and technique.

To that effect, he has been played on the wing quite a lot as well. He can score all sorts of goals and his goal scoring record speaks for itself.

Bristol City sure seem enamoured by him as their pursuit of him has been a long one. This is a loan that will make all parties involved happy.

He has been assigned the number nine and that is very apt because Tammy is the quintessential player of that position. His physical attributes aligned with good technique and a real desire to score make him a potent, well rounded, all action centre forward.

He is also a willing worker who will give his all on the pitch. All these are traits that will endear him to the fans and hopefully he can help himself and the club do well this season. The learning curve will be steep for him and hopefully he will be afforded patience to fully settle into his new environs and the rigors and pressures of professional football.”

My thanks to Siva and Pride of London for their help with this.

If City fans weren’t excited enough by the hype of the signing, then the start Abraham made in his brief appearance on Saturday will have blown it into orbit. But we should remember this is a very young player with a lot to learn, and he will have quiet days, bad games. But with some support in a side looking to attack and work around him as Lee Tomlin in particular will look to do, he can develop significantly in his time with us and play a big part in our season.


Thursday, 21 July 2016

Callum O'Dowda - the future's bright!

In the first of a series of pieces in the lead up to the new season, I take a look at one of our new signings, one who is arguably both the least known and the most exciting in terms of potential.

It’s pretty safe to say that when the rumours started surfacing about City landing this young, Oxford winger, most had to quickly Google the name to find out a little bit more about him. Kemar Roofe took most of the plaudits at the Kassam Stadium last season and was the player fans perhaps hoped we’d be in for this summer.

On a little more investigation, the move comes as little surprise when you hear Mark Ashton was a big fan of O’Dowda whilst at the U’s, and gets on well with his family. Whether or not you feel Ashton should be the one identifying players or not is a matter for another day, but you’d hope and assume with the network now in place that Lee Johnson has also seen enough to be convinced.

Equally, digging a little deeper I have found out that some at the club actually rated O’Dowda as a better prospect than the afore-mentioned Roofe, despite the latter grabbing most of the headlines last season with his goals and form.

So who is Callum O’Dowda? Well I aim to follow this up with a more in-depth look at him via an interview, but for now I’ll give you the words of Patrick McCarry (@patmccarry), correspondent for Irish Sports website www.SportsJOE.ie.

“Bristol City are getting a lad who has seemingly come from nowhere but who looks like he has been around for ages!

He is a pacy winger, with a trick or two in the bag, but likes to drift in and get on the ball. He had a great 2015/16 with Oxford and scored a brace against Barnet earlier this year.

His grandfather, Brendan O'Dowda, is Irish so that made him eligible to play for us. He was called up for Ireland U21s in March and scored on his second appearance for that side.

Martin O'Neill was hearing good things about him so got Steve Guppy to watch him in club action. A senior call-up soon arrived and he made his debut against Belarus in a 2-1 home defeat before Ireland set off for Euro 2016.

He stood out like a beacon in that game, unafraid to take on and beat his man and demand the ball in the tightest of spots.

My SportsJOE colleague, Conan O'Doherty gave him 8/10 and wrote:
‘Was given just 20 minutes to prove himself to O'Neill and, Jesus, he did everything he could to impress in that time. Looked lively, looked creative, confident and positive and really made things happen for Ireland. As late as late bolters go.’

He was a genuine option for O'Neill at Euro 2016, but he went instead with David Meyler as he could cover a number of defensive and midfield roles. Irish fans have only caught a glimpse of him so far but his Championship move should change all that. Expect him to be a regular in Ireland's World Cup Qualifiers squads!”

A regular in a half-decent Republic of Ireland squad and potentially better than Roofe certainly sounds exciting, and helps justify the apparent fee of over one million pounds – one of the largest in our history.

Let’s hope he can fulfil that potential with us and ensure no-one is googling Callum O’Dowda in future to find out who he is.


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