Soy of the Rovers: the vegan football club kickstarting a green revolution

Led by eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince, Forest Green Rovers have become the world’s first carbon-neutral football club. Now there are plans for a Zaha Hadid Architects all-timber stadium… A player miskicks the ball – skies it – and its clatter on the metal roof is the loudest sound in the Covid-emptied stand. There’s not much by way of a corresponding stand on the other side of the pitch, mostly just advertising boards and a momentarily malfunctioning scoreboard. Behind them a hillock, behind that a sunset. There’s an ill-timed tackle, a melee of angry players, a red card for the home team. But the visitors, Colchester United, look rudderless – it’s the first game for their interim manager – and 10-man Forest Green Rovers run out 3-0 winners. If much of this is a typical scene of lower-league football, as played out all over the country every week of the season, in some crucial details it is not. It’s partly the setting that’s different, on a hill outside Stroud in Gloucestershire, in a landscape more redolent of point-to-points than professional football. “Jilly Cooper loves Forest Green Rovers!” says one of the billboards – a tribute from a local author to the local team. “Red sky at night,” says one of the few people permitted to be there, as he contemplates the sunset, “shepherds’ delight.” I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard that line of commentary at a football match before. Away supporters mockingly turn up in butchers’ aprons. They chant ‘Where’s your burger van?’ Continue reading...

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