BBC radio broadcaster Richard Atkins has divided loyalties ahead of the Forest Green v Salisbury City clash

FAN-TASTIC: BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Richard Atkins  Pic: Mrs A

FAN-TASTIC: BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Richard Atkins Pic: Mrs A

First published in Gloucestershire Sport
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BBC Radio Gloucestershire's Richard Atkins has divided loyalties this weekend when he watches his beloved Forest Green face his beloved Salisbury City.

The football-loving broadcaster gives his personal view on his big dilemma...

One comes from a village on a hill the other from a famous city with a glorious cathedral.

This weekend, as long as weather allows, these two clash on a football pitch and I have a strong attachment to both of them.

It’s one of two games each season I dread. Question is, do I support the whites or the greens?

Everything was fine for two seasons when one of them languished in the lower leagues but now they are both playing at the same level and the pain begins again.

The two teams in question are, of course, Forest Green Rovers and Salisbury City. One I have supported for over five decades the other for the past seven years.

I was born and brought in Salisbury, followed the whites from the days when they were in the Western League and played at Victoria Park.

I was there for their first home game in the Southern League in 1968 and spent much of my childhood walking to and fro to the ground. It’s a love affair that has lasted fifty years.

Even my first date with Mrs A was watching Salisbury City v Bideford in the FA Cup - we lost!!! Quiet drive home!

Supporting Rovers has been over a shorter period but no less passionate.

Mrs A and I attended our first game at the New Lawn when Oxford United were the visitors; Rovers lost 1-5, it should have been a draw and FGR was in our blood.

Why support Rovers? Well, it’s never dull, often very exciting, occasionally very confusing but whether I’m sitting in the press box or standing on the terraces it’s friendly, always friendly and because of that has become a place that means a great deal to me.

So, what to do when Salisbury City and Forest Green Rovers play each other?

I think I’ve tried everything. On one occasion I stood on the City end at the New Lawn only to find myself being interviewed by BBC Radio Wiltshire as an ‘exiled fan!’ During one televised game we even got ourselves on the telly when the camera caught me charging up and down the line when City scored.

A few seasons back Rovers had a number of ex Salisbury players. I was very happy about that, it was like having one team instead of two, but since Charlie Griffin has gone its City legend Scott Bartlett who represents my ‘other team.’ This time I’m standing on the terraces and wearing both scarves. I hope for a draw but if that doesn’t happen at least one half of me will be happy while the other half will be very disappointed.

So, if you see me wearing two scarves, please don’t barrack just have a bit of sympathy because it’s not easy to passionately support two teams in the same league at the same time when they play each other.

Come on you Forest Green Salisbury City!!!

Richard Atkins FGR/ Salisbury City fan

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