Eco-friendly Forest Green Rovers ready to come up smelling of roses

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Forest Green Rovers are nine points clear at the top of League Two

Forest Green Rovers are nine points clear at the top of League Two (Picture: Getty)

In 1897, the continuous tinkering of Thomas Edison drew scorn from some of his contemporaries. One branded him a ‘conspicuous failure’, just before he invented the lightbulb.

I’m not comparing Dale Vince to Big Tom, but those who scoffed at the Forest Green Rovers owner’s vision of a fully green, successful football club are certainly eyeing up a slice of humble pie.

And not just any humble pie, but one made from tofu, celery rib and diced carrot. Yummy.

Sorry, I’m already playing into the inaccurate, lazy stereotype that a trip to the New Lawn involves pre-match yoga, a wellness seminar and an optional meet and greet with Spider from Coronation Street.

Far from it. I’ve loved my couple of trips up the hill to visit the Nailsworth side. It’s a wonderful weekend excursion for anybody who loves breathtaking scenery, country walks and a proper game of football.

The first team kit warn by Forest Green Rovers this season is made from recycled plastic

The first team kit warn by Forest Green Rovers this season is made from recycled plastic (Picture: Getty)

They are, officially, the world’s first carbon-neutral club, with their plan still to create an eye-catching, 5,000-seat, wooden stadium called Eco Park.

Their latest kit is made out of recycled plastic and coffee grounds, but the real headlines of this season belong to those who wear it.

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Nine points clear at the top of League Two, top scorers, second tightest defence and unbeaten in the division since October 9.

To put that into context, that pre-dates the rewriting of the definition of the word ‘party’.

Their only two losses have come at home, meaning they have picked up at least a point from every single away trip so far. No wonder Dale Vince has wood.

When it comes to goals, I don’t need to apply any gloss to the two Matts. Thirty-two-year-old Jamille Matt and his 23-year-old strike partner Matty Stevens have more chemistry between them than Marie and Pierre Curie.

They have 28 league goals combined, and also a hatful of selfless assists.

Scotsman Nicky Cadden can often fill highlight reels all by himself, while fellow wide-boy Kane Wilson is arguably the most consistent cog in the machine. He’s only 21, a mere spring chick’n, with potential plain for all to see.

Jamille Matt has been in outstanding form for Forest Green Rovers this season

A timely mention for Ebou Adams, who is currently playing a key role for Gambia in the Africa Cup Of Nations, and is part of a Forest Green midfield that never runs out of renewable energy.

Massive credit goes to manager Rob Edwards in his first senior role, fresh from working with England Under-16s.

Despite being sickeningly young himself at 39, he shows patience beyond his years, sticking with three at the back and a versatile formation suiting how he wants his side to play, with positivity, aggression and a high press.

But there is no pretty football for the sake of it. If playing out from the back works, great, but if not they have the tools to launch it, and sometimes do.

Edwards has bonded a relatively small squad, giving them confidence and consistency on and off the pitch. Win or lose, he is not going to be calling them out publicly or throwing teacups at dressing-room walls.

So, what could possibly go wrong? Well, I almost don’t want to say it, but there is a certain window open right now that their fans would gladly see bricked up.

Last season, departures and key injuries helped turn their promotion dream to dust so, understandably, there is a palpable level of anxiety.

Still, if I was a gambling man, which I am, I would have them as my surest bet in the entire English Football League to finish the season with a glass of champagne in hand, which would mean they could be playing the likes of Derby, Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday next season.

For Forest Green, everything is coming up organically fertilised roses, and it’s enough to make many a club green with envy.


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