The name Forest Green has seen its name in lights, with the club from the tiny town of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire winning promotion to the English Football League.
The Gloucestershire outfit are not content with making history as one of the smallest clubs to have reached the Football League, though. They have made another bit of history, becoming the world’s first vegan football club.
With the town of Nailsworth having a population of just 5,800, and the club’s stadium, The New Lawn, only holding a capacity of 5,141 it is surprising to see a club of Forest Green’s stature enter the Football League.
The ‘Little club on the hill’ rose through the non-league pyramid coming from the Stroud league to the National League. The vegan club struggled to get out of the National League, but last Sunday they achieved their aim of reaching the land of milk and honey by reaching the Football League.
Recently voted the ‘Greenest football club in the world’ by FIFA, Forest Green have made complete overhauls for the club to reach the title.
Chairman and owner Dale Vince, who himself is a vegan, has seen the club’s home kit changed from black and white to green and white – the badge has changed to a green and black design, too.
Dale Vince made the bold choice to remove all red meat from the club, before removing all meat from the club and becoming almost completely vegan at the end of 2015. Vince sighted the ban on all meat products on ethical and health related issues.
The club has not warmed the hearts of all, particularly in the National league. Supporters of other clubs became outraged that the traditional pie and chips was very much off the menu. Supporters instead had to resort to meat free products including quorn mince and leek pie. Furthermore, milk was banned from the club, instead soya milk is the replacement – half-time cuppas will never be the same again.
Almost completely vegan?
You won’t find any meat products inside the clubs stadium, the players have to eat what they’re provided at the club’s stadium and the training facility. However, playing for the vegan club hasn’t stopped the players from enjoying a trip to Greggs on the odd occasion, when former target man Jon Parkin was snapped tucking into a slice of pizza – a meat one at that!
What next for Forest Green?
Even though from the outside they were not the most popular of teams in the National League, everyone can admit they play decent football under former Swindon manager Mark Cooper.
And Rovers chairman, Vince, made more headlines on Monday:
Getting into League One, I do think will be easy. There are four slots.
So that’s the ambition? It’s no secret that Vince has poured money into the club. Forest Green had by far the highest budget in the National League last term with the club rumoured to have been paying wages that wouldn’t look out of place in the third tier of English football.
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Whether Forest Green continue to grown as a club and brand or not, no one can take away the limelight currently on them as they enter the Football League. Forest Green have lofty ambitions of exiting League Two and making another step-up in their first season. Big ambitions for a club with an average attendance of just 1,800.