Like with most football teams, Bristol Rovers have adopted a nickname, which for Rovers is The Gas, or Gasheads as the fans are known. However, officially, they are the Pirates, reflecting Bristol’s maritime history.
The Gas nickname was initially used as a derogatory term by Bristol City fans. Not letting this get their spirits down, Rovers opened their arms and welcomed the nickname, which they are still known as to this day.
The name is derived from the fact that the clubs old ground, Eastville Stadium, was stationed right next to the old Eastville gas works. The deep, unpleasant smell of Gas would often sweep across the pitch during matches, giving the players and fans a not so lovely scent to endure throughout matches.
Many fans, and players, began to embrace the odd yet fitting nickname of ‘Gashead’ from the mid-1970s. Gashead then became a banner name for the fans, which led to the abbreviation nickname ‘the Gas’ later on.
It may not be the most exciting nickname out there, but it is definitely one of the most unique. It comes with a sense of warmth and history, seeing as the nickname was created with actual reason, with real history and meaning behind it.
There will be some Bristol Rover fans who will remember watching a home match, and then having a waft of Gas filling the Tote. The scent could even be nostalgic to some, being taken back to the old days whenever they smell Gas.
The name Gas wasn’t always pleasant though; from the opponent’s point of view, they called the Gas because in their eyes, they stank, they didn’t mean they smelt of Gas, they were referring to their football skills! Rovers, and their fans, had to put up with some foul behavior from others, constant insults, and pounding of being told they stank. Not forgetting the constant nose holding from rival fans when they would walk past Rover fans, as well as whispering ‘gassssssssss’ under their breaths.
The Rovers never let this get them down though, neither did the fans. Some fans started embracing the nickname with enthusiasm. Fans and players would chant ‘WE ARE THE GAS, WE ARE THE GAS’ at games and when celebrating. Rival players and fans were stunned by how Rovers were taking their nickname; rumor has it they were offended by the way they turned the name into a positive.
What started out as a hate name in the 70s from rivals, has now become a part of the Bristol Rovers identity. The Gas is a name they are proud of and represents part of the clubs history and background. In the present day, the nickname is just a nickname, there is no gas scent when playing at the Memorial Stadium. The gasworks and Eastville Stadium are both long gone, but it is a nickname that has stuck, and I’m sure Bristol Rovers will be called The Gas for years to come.