Behind the scenes at Bristol Rovers with community trust stalwart Adam Tutton
Today we launch our second series of Legends of Bristol - and what better place to start than at the Memorial Ground with Bristol Rovers Community Trust CEO Adam Tutton
and live on Freeview channel 276
Bristol Rovers fans are used to turning up at the ground in ready anticipation of the game – grabbing a programme, a couple of pints and a pie. But few may know the work that goes behind the scenes on match day.
And even less the work that goes on supporting various charitable causes across the city. In this episode of ‘Legends of Bristol’ journalist Neil Maggs pays a visit to the Memorial stadium for a tour around the ground and what goes on.
He meets local Bristol born and raised Adam Tutton, who has been the CEO of the club’s Community Trust for 12 years. Tutton shows us around and provides an insight into the splendid work the charity does for several social causes.
The all-access tour takes them into the stands, the pitch and dug out, the bar, and even the changing rooms. Though Tutton tells us with a smile that, “On a match day they wouldn’t let you anywhere near here.”
A grand total of 14 managers have come and gone since Tutton started in his role at Rovers. Some have been more welcoming than others to his presence. He feels under manager Joey Barton and CEO Tom Gorringe, that today the club really values the work they do.
He frequently pops in before the game to introduce a guest to the manager and the players. “We get some people from the hospital or who are in difficult times and Joey is very good with that. Meeting people in a bad situation,” he explained.
This is something that’s not just a tick box exercise, and he feels the club genuinely cares about the community work they do. He continued: “Where the whole trust is now lucky at Bristol Rovers is it’s not an add on, it is at the heart of this football club.” The implication being that this hasn’t always been the case.
The work the Trust does is highly valued by the fans, and never more apparent than on the annual community day. Tutton explained: “Yes once a year we do a walk about and celebrate the groups we work with. So it’s from the cradle to the grave. The youngest we have engaged with this year is about four, and the oldest has been 102.
Who is one of our extra time participants. One of our older people,” he added.
As Tutton stands in the players tunnel, talking about the mascot experience, he explains part of their strategy to capture the next generation of Gas heads. “For us its about engaging with them as young as possible. And I know if I was a kid and I was here and I felt the roar when you come out, that would mean being a Rovers fan for life.”
Innovative drives at the club to engage with new audiences have seen the release of promo video on graffiti, a graffiti wall honoring heroes past and present, revamping the bars and creating a new fan zone with live music and gastro food.
It’s important to take people with you though, and some traditions do prevail, and one is inside the changing rooms. According to Tutton, Rovers are believed to be one of the only clubs in the football league that still use a communal team bath. Whether this a good thing or not he’s not so sure!
One of the great traditions of the club is of course the unique singing of ‘Goodnight Irene, the song that was inspired by a hit and first sung by fans in 1950. It’s become synonymous with the club on terraces at home and across the country.
Tutton attempts to sing it with Neil Maggs in the interview, and unknown to many he reveals he once sang it outside Number 10 Downing Street. But judging by his singing voice it could well trigger a resignation from another Prime Minister!
The full video can be found at the top of this page.