Here it is, our new away kit for another crack at League One: The 703.
It’s our tribute to Roger Thorndale, who passed away during the lockdown in May last year.
Sadly we have been unable to say a proper goodbye because of the effects of the pandemic, so this summer we’ve dedicated our new strip to our record appearance maker.
Roger started his Cheltenham Town career in 1955 and went on to make an unprecedented 703 appearances, a record that’s unlikely to ever be beaten.
The new design is stripped back to reflect the style of kit that the ever present right-back would have worn many times on his travels. The royal blue shirt will sport a monochrome badge for the first time and will be matched by blue shorts and white socks, as it would have been back then.
We’ve etched his signature into the neckline of the shirt alongside his incredible record to inspire our current crop of players on the eve of our fifth campaign in the third tier.
Roger was once described by Echo reporter Derek Goddard as: "not the quickest player but possessing a very good football brain and positional sense as well as being one of the best tacklers anywhere." A popular character among supporters and fellow players alike, Thorndale was a big part of the positive spirit within the club for seven decades.
His impact at Whaddon Road went well beyond his playing days and is still felt today. During the 1974/75 season he was appointed assistant manager by Denis Allen and went on to manage the reserves, bringing the likes of John Murphy and Steve Cotterill into the club.
Murphy remains a club director while Cotterill went on to secure promotion to the Football League, mentoring current boss Michael Duff along the way. The rest, as they say, is history. In later years he rarely missed a game and was a regular in the boardroom until passing in May last year.
The 703: a film
As part of this launch we’ve made a film and it features some precious memories from his son Rob and Murphy, a former teammate and good friend. It also includes some rare cine footage of Whaddon Road during the 1960s, supplied by lifelong supporter Chris Carter, and is thought to be the oldest in existence. It’s a grainy gateway to a bygone era at the club.
One long lost moment features Roger as the players take to the pitch on Boxing Day, sporting a white kit before a brief glimpse of the game itself, lined by snow. A reminder of the transformation at Whaddon Road follows, shot when the new stand was completed in 1963 and then there is some cup action towards the end of the decade, played out in front of a sizeable crowd. We have created an extended version of our launch film to feature each story and every second of the footage, capturing them all for posterity.
Alan Laurie has supplied the pictures which appear in the film, and we thank him for his help.
Music producer and overseas supporter Nigel Groom has been working with us again, providing his own composition for the project. He has also been creating a new ‘run out’ track to build the excitement on matchdays at kick-off and we’ll be announcing more before the opening home match against Wycombe Wanderers.Special guests at the Walsall game
We will wear the new blue kit for the first time on Saturday against Walsall in our final friendly of the summer, when Roger’s family and up to ten of his former teammates will join us as guests of honour (3pm kick-off).
Players including Willie Ferns, Alan Jefferies, Dave Hudd, Dave Hurford, Ken Skeen, Trevor Lewis, Dave Lewis, Tony Crosby, Duncan Berry and Paul Collicutt are all expected to be in attendance.
It will also be an opportunity to remember Alec Carson, who also died last year aged 77. The former club captain played alongside Roger and many of those players under Bob Etheridge during the 1960s.
The new away shirt is available to buy online with options for worldwide postage and click and collect, which will be available at tomorrow's match.
The present day
For the photoshoot we invited defender Sammy Hallsworth (below, left) and winger Billie Haynes (right) to join Elliot Bonds and George Lloyd as the Ladies continue their preparations for their forthcoming Women’s National League Division One South West campaign. Tom Davies' side get their season underway on Sunday, August 15 when they host Southampton Women.
The new away shirt is now available to buy online and in our club store from Saturday onwards (opens midday). It is priced £40 for adults and £30 for youth sizes.
This season we've added a third shirt, featuring the names of all the supporters who donated their season ticket refunds last season. We will continue to wear our League Two title-winning home kit for a further year.