Every Gloucester City fan has a story about their memories of Meadow Park and what it means to return to Gloucester but few can say they’ve captained, managed and coached the side they’ve loved since they were young. So, ahead of the planning committee meeting on September 4, when Gloucester City Council will vote on whether to bring our club home Neil Mustoe explains just how important it is that Gloucester City AFC are allowed back where we belong.
Neil’s connection with the club began on July 21, 1987, when, as an 11-year-old boy he attended his first ever football game. He paid 20p to sit in the stands and watched Gloucester City lose 6-0 to Arsenal. After the game it was Meadow Park and the roar of the T-End which stayed with him.
“That was as close as I was ever going to get to live football at that age,” he said. “We played Swindon as well that year in pre-season and I thought one of their players was Jimmy Quinn. I went running onto the pitch to ask for his autograph and he was kind enough to tell me he wasn’t who I thought he was.
“You could get so close to the players which wasn’t something I’d ever imagined I’d be able to do and Gloucester were my local club.”
Flash forward 20 years, almost to the day, and that 11 year old boy is now captain of Gloucester City. He’s even managed the team for a fleeting few games. And, as Neil helped bail water out of his mother-in-law’s home as the City flooded, he received a call to say Meadow Park was falling victim to the rising waters.
“We had played Salisbury,” he said. “And everyone had been in getting the ground ready. I’d had a call and had to rush home from work to help my mother-in-law. Then I found out the ground had flooded again and at first we didn’t know how bad it was.
“The worst thing was finding out the extent of the floods after all the work we’d put in, stabilising things on the field, suddenly we didn’t know where we’d be playing.”
As one of a select band of the current first team squad and management to play for Gloucester at Meadow Park Neil said it is hard to explain the atmosphere to younger members of the team.
“You can’t recreate the T-end,” he said. “It is one of the most unique non-league experiences. When you are going for goal and on top and there are guys there banging the back of the stand and the roar of the crowd, it’s a unique sound. It was our own little Wembley.
“The youth team, and now the development, haven’t had their own grounds. We used to have cup finals at Meadow Park, they have them at Shortwood or Tuffley Rovers now and its not the same. The development squad have missed out on promotion twice for not having a ground, its time they reached their full potential.
“I have been involved with this club for 25 years of my life now, from my first game to riding to games on my bmx and locking it up behind the stands to playing and now coaching.
“Coming back to Gloucester is for the future of this club. I’m disappointed that I probably won’t get to play for Gloucester in Gloucester again and that my son never saw me play at Meadow Park but the future of the club is more important than anything else.”
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I want glos city council to grant outline permission to @GCAFCofficial #bringgloucesterhome pls RT
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