For a sport that’s become synonymous with big money and unruly egos, it’s sometimes the smaller clubs who can provide a much-needed dose of inspiration.
And whilst the Premier League will continue to hold the world’s attention, there will be plenty of people keeping an eye on the progress of Forest Green Rovers.
This football club have been around since 1889 and are based in the tiny Gloucestershire town of Nailsworth. And the town recently won the honour of being the smallest town to host a football league club when Forest Green Rovers shocked the world when they won the National League play-off final against Tranmere in May.
This ended a 128-year history of non-league action, and it’s the unconventional methods of club owner, Dale Vince, that have played a large part in the turnaround of Forest Green Rovers’ fortunes.
Vince previously earned acclaim as being a green energy industrialist who used his new age traveller philosophy to set up the Ecotricity company. And when he became a major shareholder of Forest Green Rovers in 2011, he installed solar panels, created an innovative organic football pitch, and even banned the players from eating red meat.
Of course, veganism in football has been a noticeable trend in recent years. Stars like Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe have reaped the health benefits of a plant-based diet. But the fact that Forest Green Rovers even stopped their fans from enjoying a traditional meat pie in the half-time break shows how keen their owner is to transform the unhealthy eating habits associated with the sport.
Thankfully Vince’s methods seem to have worked as Forest Green Rovers’ players like Rhys Murphy have benefitted as a result of a change in diet. And whether it will help Murphy get a place in the Republic of Ireland team remains to be seen, but with Irish fans able to share the benefits of a vegetarian takeaway option thanks to the likes of Deliveroo, it seems as though even football fans will be getting healthier.
But it is still unclear whether these eco-friendly tactics will help Forest Green Rovers as they take their first steps in the English football league.
Whilst their first match against Barnet saw them emerge with a creditable 2-2 draw, they followed this up with a 2-0 away defeat to Mansfield before winning a scintillating match against Yeovil Town 4-3.
And so it seems that all those vegan take-aways may help Forest Green Rovers survive in the big league.