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Forest Green Rovers on brink of becoming smallest Football League club – here’s how they’ve reached play-off final vs Tranmere at Wembley

Green Army are just a game away from the Football League as they face Tranmere in the National League play-off final

WHEN Forest Green Rovers take on Tranmere only one in 30 of Wembley’s 90,000 seats will be filled by their Green Army.

And still over half of their hometown will have turned up.

Forest Green Rovers are just a game away from the Football League

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Forest Green Rovers are just a game away from the Football League

Beat Tranmere on Sunday and League Two fans can forget about sinking their teeth into a meat pie with a cup of Bovril at The New Lawn next season.


Keep up to date with all the latest news, gossip, rumours and done deals in SunSport’s live transfer blog


Forest Green proudly claim to be the ‘world’s first vegan football club’, inspired by chairman and green energy tycoon Dale Vince, who’s worth over £100million.

Green energy tycoon Dale Vince is worth over £100m and has turned the club vegan

PA:Press Association
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Green energy tycoon Dale Vince is worth over £100million

The club went full vegan in June 2014 with no meat, fish, dairy or animal products available to players at the training ground or before matches.

But they get greener: there are electric car chargers at the stadium, solar panels on the stadium roof and robots to trim the organic turf they play on.

As Vince explained in an interview earlier this year: “It’s fairly widely known that red meat is bad for performance.

Christian Doidge celebrates with fans after booking a date with Tranmere at Wembley

Reuters
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Christian Doidge celebrates with fans after booking a Wembley date

Fans celebrate at the club's 5,141-capacity stadium where there are just 2,000 seats

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Fans celebrate at the club’s 5,141-capacity stadium where there are just 2,000 seats, as players do a lap of honour on the organic turf

Doidge celebrates after netting againstr Dagenham in the play-off semis

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Doidge celebrates after netting against Dagenham in the play-off semis

“It isn’t uncommon for top athletes to avoid it, but it’s less common in football and particularly at the level Forest Green is at, in the fifth league,”

“Personally I’m vegan and have very strong views on the environment, animal welfare and human health.”

THREE TO WATCH

CHRISTIAN DOIDGE (Striker, 26yo)
Welsh hitman fired in 26 National League strikes this season. Netted against former club Dagenham in semis.
LIAM NOBLE (Midfielder, 26yo)
Sunderland acadamy graduate has curbed discipline issues and among most cultured players in division, with 21 assists.
KEANU MARSH-BROWN (Winger, 24yo)
Ex-Arsenal and Fulham trainee scored a screamer in last year’s play-off final and bagged another in this year’s semis.

The Green Army – based in the Gloucestershire town of Nailsworth with a population of 5,794 – are not just planning for life in League Two.

Vince is targeting the CHAMPIONSHIP.

Keanu Marsh-Brown will be one of Forest Green's key men against Tranmere

Reuters
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Keanu Marsh-Brown will be one of Forest Green’s key men against Tranmere

Former Swindon and Notts Co manager Mark Cooper bossed them to third in the National League

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Former Swindon and Notts County manager Mark Cooper bossed Forest green to third in the National League this season

Ahead his team facing Tranmere, Vince said: “It’s the first step in our big plan to get to the Championship.

“We’ve been working at this for a few years and every time we are getting closer.

“Each time we don’t get promoted, we’re stronger because we make improvements on and off the pitch. When we get to League Two, we’ll thrive.”

Rovers finished third in the National League under impressive former Swindon and Notts County boss Mark Cooper, before downing Dagenham in the play-off semis.

The club have managed at average gate of around 1,815 this season – double what it was when Vince took over in 2010.

Three thousand fans have so far snapped up tickets for the 100-mile trip to Wembley in the hope of becoming inhabitants of the smallest town to ever play in the Football League.

It would also help erase the painful memory of the last season’s 3-1 play-off final defeat to Grimsby and end two decades in the fifth tier of English football.

Vince reckons promotion is inevitable, even if they fail on Sunday.

Cooper prepares his players at the club's New Lawn stadium

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Cooper prepares his players at the club’s New Lawn stadium

Midfield man Liam Noble prepares for Wembley on Friday

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Midfield man Liam Noble prepares for Wembley on Friday

Keeper Sam Russell is the man tasked with keeping Tranmere at bay

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Keeper Sam Russell is the man tasked with keeping Tranmere at bay

The chairman added: “It’s just a question of when. If it doesn’t happen this Sunday, we’ll have another shot next year. It’s part of the long-term vision for the club.

“It’ll be different to last year, because we’ve been there and done it already. I think it makes us as a club much more relaxed about the trip to Wembley.

“Our first time in the play-offs, when we finished fifth, was much more anxious for us than this year, our third time in the play-offs.”

“We’re going to have a great day on Sunday and see what comes.”

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