An attempt by fans of the red footballing half of Bristol to mock their blue and white rivals’ relegation didn’t last long.
Bristol City fans left a coffin on the side of a main road into the city painted with the words: “Goodnight Irene” “RIP” and “OTIB”.
But a brave Bristol Rovers fan went into the heart of City territory to pour an entire tin of white paint over the upright coffin, which had been left outside a pub on the A38 Bedminster Down road.
The stunt was the latest bit of banter between Bristol City fans and Bristol Rovers fans, neither of whom have enjoyed much success at all this season.
Some City fans, eager to celebrate the relegation of bitter rivals Bristol Rovers to League Two at the end of this season, placed a rather macabre black coffin propped up on the Parson Street gyratory on Thursday (May 6), ahead of the final City game of the season.
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For those not familiar with the language of the Bristol footballing rivalry, Goodnight Irene is the name of the Bristol Rovers fans’ anthem – the song they made their own in the 1950s, and sing at most home games, before the pandemic.
Originally a Leadbelly song, it was a popular tune from a musical film in 1950, when it was adopted by Rovers fans during a comeback victory over Plymouth Argyle, and has remained a terrace favourite ever since.
City fans mocked Rovers’ relegation to the bottom tier of league football this season and reminded them of their long-standing higher place in the football structure with the initials ‘OTIB’, which stands for One Team In Bristol’.
The Ashton Gate club’s fans have little else to cheer about, other than Rovers having an even worse season than City – the team’s form collapsed on the pitch and they dropped out of the play-off places to a lowly 19th, with even new manager Nigel Pearson unable to halt the slide.
The coffin was placed on the side of the main road from the airport into the city centre, outside the Miners Arms in Bedminster – a pub which is well known for being at the heart of the City-Rovers rivalry:
In 2020, City fans staged a huge Mind The Gap Party’ outside the pub to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the last time Bristol Rovers were ever above Bristol City in the league.
But while the coffin turned heads on Thursday, and baffled the non-football fans of South Bristol, it didn’t last long as an intact work of banter art.
For at just after 11.20pm on Thursday night, CCTV cameras captured the moment a man strolled up to the coffin and emptied an entire tub of white paint on it from the top, leaving the upturned pot there, for good measure.
On Saturday, the coffin was still there, albeit even more a work of abstract sculpture.