Where are they now? Bristol Rovers side thumped by Barton’s Fleetwood in Ben Garner’s last game as Gas boss

Football works in strange ways as this weekend Ben Garner takes charge of Swindon Town against his former club Bristol Rovers.
Bristol Rovers take on their former manager Ben Garner on Saturday. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)Bristol Rovers take on their former manager Ben Garner on Saturday. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)
Bristol Rovers take on their former manager Ben Garner on Saturday. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Garner was manager of Rovers from December 2019 to November 2020 after succeeding Graham Coughlan.

Ironically, the man who brought an end to his time at the Memorial Stadium is the one who currently resides in the hot seat now.

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Joey Barton, then manager of Fleetwood Town, oversaw a 4-1 win over the Gas, which brought to an end Garner’s 11-month reign.

A brace from Callum Camps as well as goals from Ched Evans and Paddy Madden ensured an emphatic victory for the Cod Army with Josh Grant ultimately scoring a consolation goal.

As the two go head to head in League Two after their relegations last season, we take a look at what became of Garner’s last team.

Jordi van Stappershoef

This was a real continental signing for Rovers as he was brought to the club to compete with Finnish goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola.

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The 25-year-old, who had played in the Dutch lower leagues for FC Volendam and Jong Volendam was mainly back-up and over the period of two seasons, he was limited to just 13 appearances.

He was allowed to leave in the summer on a free transfer and later joined Jong AZ, the reserve side of AZ Alkmaar.

Adored by Ben Garner but discarded by Joey Barton. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)Adored by Ben Garner but discarded by Joey Barton. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Adored by Ben Garner but discarded by Joey Barton. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Max Ehmer

The German born defender had a good amount of experience both in League One having played for Yeovil, Preston, Stevenage and Carlisle before settling at Gillingham. After five seasons at the Kent-based club he joined Rovers on a two-year deal and was made captain just two months later.

The arrival of Barton saw him stripped of the title and instead it was given to Luke Leahy. The defender could barely force his way into Barton’s plans and a shoulder injury meant that he would miss the remainder of the season.

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He is the first of two players in the list who went from Rovers to Gillingham, returning to his former club.

Jack Baldwin

Signed on a free transfer after his contract had expired at Sunderland, Baldwin had a fair bit of experience at League One level.

Baldwin was part of a defence that unfortunately shipped 70 goals last season with the centre-back playing in 38 league matches.

After starting the season with the club and playing in all four of their opening fixtures, his contract was terminated and he was allowed to join Scottish Premiership side Ross County.

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The 28-year-old has played in 17 of their fixtures this season as they try to preserve their top flight status.

Cian Harries

After showing promise at Coventry City from an early age, he was one player that the then director of football Tommy Widdrington may have had a part in signing, having joined from Swansea City from an undisclosed fee.

The Wales Under-21 centre-back spent the first season in Holland with Fortuna Sittard but was at Rovers for the next but was limited to just three outings. Last seasn is where he would cement himself in the backline, making 32 appearances but he was one of the few players that suffered relegation.

Harries remained at the club and is a first-team starter, playing usually in a centre-back three of himself, Alfie Kilgour and Connor Taylor.

Josh Hare

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Signed by Graham Coughlan after his contract expired at Eastleigh, Hare joined mid-table Rovers with most of his experience in the National League.

The defender adapted to life well at the Mem but an injury had him sidelined for months and as he made his return under a new manager, the season was curtailed due to COVID.

He made 19 appearances last year, appearing twice after Barton had arrived.

After being released by Rovers, he opted to make a return to non-league football, rejoining Eastleigh.

Zain Westbrooke

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Arriving from Coventry City, where he had won the League One title, playing 41 times, Westbrooke was seen at the time as a real coup and a player that could make the Gas into a promotion-chasing side. Instead the opposite would happen as Rovers were relegated to the fourth tier with Westbrooke missing just four matches of that campaign.

This season has been a different story as Westbrooke has been frozen out of the first team picture.

Earlier this week he was sent out on loan to Stevenage, where he links up with Paul Tisdale and a strong contingent of former Gas players.

Josh Grant

Signed on a free transfer after leaving Chelsea, having been there at under-eight level, Grant needed a club where he could reinvent himself after loans at Yeovil Town and Plymouth Argyle.

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Rovers was just that, appearing 32 times last season, he was the last scorer of the Ben Garner era.

Midfield is Grant’s usual role but as a result of an injury crisis this season, he’s played a few times at right wing-back, where he’s done a more than capable job.

He unfortunately suffered an injury last month against Forest Green Rovers but is now back playing and a big part of Rovers’ ambitions.

Luke McCormick was a loan star for Bristol Rovers but is now at AFC Wimbledon. (Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images)Luke McCormick was a loan star for Bristol Rovers but is now at AFC Wimbledon. (Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images)
Luke McCormick was a loan star for Bristol Rovers but is now at AFC Wimbledon. (Photo by Jacques Feeney/Getty Images)

Luke McCormick

A season-long loan from Chelsea, McCormick came in with a bit of experience having been at Shrewsbury Town.

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He had made just eight appearances that year but became a key part of Rovers’ midfield in an ill-fated season. He appeared 39 times for Rovers scoring six goals but earned a ten out of ten after his brace against Doncaster Rovers.

The 22-year-old, still with a year left on his deal at Stamford Bridge, was allowed to leave permanently when AFC Wimbledon came in for him.

He’s become an equally as important player for the Dons, continuing his goalscoring exploits with six goals and four assists.

Ali Koiki

Signed on a free transfer after he let his contract run down at Burnley, rejecting a new deal, Koiki came as a hot property.

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He had already played for Swindon Town on loan but unfortunately his time at Rovers would be plagued by injuries.

The 22-year-old has now got over those issues and has been ever present for automatic promotion chasing Northampton Town.

It was reported this week that the defender was attracting interest from Preston North End, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland.

Erhun Oztumer

Another signing that Ben Garner made, though he wasn’t around to see him much as Garner would depart just a month later. Oztumer joined from league rivals Charlton Athletic on a season-long loan and he immediately made his debut the day after.

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The 30-year-old made 25 appearances in total following his move from the Addicks but after he returned to the Valley his contract was not extended. He now plays in the Turkish Super League for Faith Karagumruk.

Brandon Hanlan

Signed from Gillingham on a two-year deal in September 2020, Hanlan was brought in to get goals after the departure of Jonson Clarke-Harris. He did that but not to the level of his predecessor, scoring seven goals in 44 appearances.

He started this season contracted to the club and played a half in the 4-1 defeat to Exeter City at St James Park but that would be his last action in a Rovers shirt.

After Lincoln City had a bid rejected, which was less than the £150,000 the club exchanged for him, Wycombe Wanderers came in ater Barton said the striker’s head had been turned.

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The 24-year-old already has seven goals in all competitions for the Chairboys this season as they plot a return to the Championship.


Sam Nicholson

Signed after a spell in the United States with both Minnesota United and Colorado Rapids, winger Nicholson had a respectable first season with six goals and three assists, but suffered relegation.

One of only a handful of players to be kept on, the 26-year-old has five goals in 22 appearances this season and is one player that fans are keen to see extend his stay at the club.

James Daly

A January signing in 2020, the 22-year-old was brought in from Crystal Palace where Garner had previously worked but failed to make an impact. He found the back of the net on just four occasions in 35 appearances for the club.

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One of four former Rovers players at Stevenage along with Chris Lines, Ed Upson and as the aforementioned Zain Westbrooke.

David Tutonda

Along with Max Ehmer, Tutonda is at League One outfit Gillingham. Despite having another year on his two-year contract, it was terminated and he was allowed to move to Priestfield Stadium.

He has gone on to make 16 appearances for the Gills, though they are struggling and as a result, he could suffer a second relegation.

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