As part of mkdons.com’s build-up to Fixture Release Day next week, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the seven sides that have joined the division this season.
First up is Bristol City, who will compete in third tier of English football for the first time in seven years following their relegation from the Championship in 2012/13.
Sean O’Driscoll - A former Republic of Ireland international midfielder, O’Driscoll made over 600 Football League appearances for Fulham and AFC Bournemouth before taking up management with the latter in 2000. Since then, O’Driscoll has managed Doncaster Rovers, Crawley Town, and Nottingham Forest before joining Bristol City in January this year.
Key and notable players:
Sam Baldock – ‘One of our own’ Baldock (pictured below) became the first local player to graduate through the Dons’ academy set-up, scoring 43 goals in 124 appearances for the Club before joining West Ham United for an undisclosed fee in 2011. Baldock played 34 times in his debut season for Bristol in 2012/13, netting 10 goals.
Liam Fontaine – Fontaine, a 27-year-old centre-back from Beckenham, has made over 220 appearances for Bristol City since signing from Fulham in 2006. The 6ft 2in defender played a crucial role in the side’s promotion to the Championship a year later and has since been a regular at the heart of the back four. Fontaine put pen to paper on a new two-year-deal with the Robins in January.
Steve Davies – A striker who signed from League rivals Derby County in August last year, Davies was the spearhead of the Robins’ attack last season, finishing with 11 goals in his first year at Ashton Gate. The 25-year-old Liverpudlian is a natural goalscorer and may draw interest from higher division sides this off season.
Stadium: Ashton Gate (21,501 capacity)
Nickname: The Robins
Kit: Red shirts, white shorts, red socks.
The Robins were founded in 1897 when Bristol South End turned professional and subsequently changed their name to what it is currently.
The Bristol outfit, who won the Second Division title in 1906, enjoyed their highest-ever League finish a year later when they finished one place behind champions Newcastle in the First Division. The Robins then made it through to the FA Cup final in 1909, although they were beaten by Manchester United in London.
Since then, City have claimed five pieces of silverware; three Third Division titles and two Football League Trophies, their most recent success in the latter competition coming in 2003.
After avoiding relegation from the Championship by the skin of their teeth in 2011/12, Bristol City went into last season with the hope of re-establishing themselves as a top-half outfit.
However, after a solid opening month, City began to lose form and a run of eleven games without a win saw the Bristol side slip into the bottom half of the Championship. The Robins’ struggles continued during the winter period and after managing to record only three victories between 22nd September and 12th January, then-manager Derek McInnes’ departed from the club.
Appointing O’Driscoll as manager soon after, the Robins saw a brief upturn in results before a winless April saw them relegated from the second tier.
Bristol City released seven players following their relegation to League 1 with midfielder Cole Skuse and striker Jonathan Stead the most recognisable faces to depart. Also let go were Mark Wilson, Brian Howard, Matthew Bates, Dean Gerken and Lewis Carey.
Trio Tom Heaton, Lewis Nyatanga and Louis Carey have all been offered new contracts by the Robins but, as yet, none of those players have yet to put pen to paper.
Meanwhile, O’Driscoll has already dipped into the transfer market to sign youngster Jordan Wynter after the midfielder turned down a contract extension with Arsenal while the Robins are in talks to sign Swindon Town centre-back Adam Flint after a fee between the two sides was reportedly agreed.
Away from the pitch, Bristol City have seen a shake-up in the backroom staff with the club appointing ex-Sheffield United youth coach John Pemberton as assistant manager following Richard O’Kelly’s resignation.