In Season 2016/17 there will be a team of Robins in each of the three EFL divisions.In the Sky Bet Championship, there’s Bristol City; and there’s Swindon Town in Sky Bet League One.
Sky Bet League Two’s Robins, meanwhile, are Cheltenham Town after they secured an immediate return to the EFL by winning the National League last season.
The Whaddon Road outfit dropped out of the 72 by finishing 23rd in League Two during 2014/15, but amassed an astonishing 101 points en route to being crowned champions of non-league back in April.
Johnson had a dream…
What can you say about Gary Johnson? He’s a character, that’s for sure, and has plenty of success on his CV.
The Cheltenham boss made a name for himself during his first stint at Yeovil Town, when he led the Glovers out of non-league and established them as an EFL club.
He then took Bristol City to the brink of the Premier League, only to be denied at Wembley in a Play-Off final by a Dean Windass-inspired Hull City.
Unsuccessful spells at Peterborough United and Northampton Town followed, but Johnson was back at Huish Park in charge of Yeovil in January 2012.
From relegation struggles in 2011/12, to promotion the following campaign - the experienced manager, who has also led the Latvian national team, transformed Yeovil and took them to the Sky Bet Championship for the first time ever.
After one season in the second tier, he departed Yeovil in February 2015 with them sitting bottom of League One.
Cheltenham turned to him in March 2015 in the hope of retaining their EFL status, but despite a valiant effort they dropped into the National League. Johnson, though, remained in charge and that proved to be a masterstroke.
Thirty wins and 87 goals scored, losing just five times all season, saw the Robins fly back to the EFL at the first time of asking and wrote Gary Johnson’s name in the Cheltenham Town history books.
The club has even produced a documentary of their National League winning season!
Read more: Cheltenham Town - Documentary DVD goes on sale
Let’s get ready to rumble
“I look at it as a bit like a boxer preparing for a world title fight. He has six or seven weeks to do everything he can to make sure he doesn’t get knocked out when his fight comes along – and that’s what we have to do.”
That’s how Gary Johnson described Cheltenham Town’s pre-season as they prepare for life in Sky Bet League Two, which starts with a home match against Leyton Orient on Saturday 6th August.
Read more: #FixtureReleaseDay – EFL Season 2016/17 fixtures announced
The 60-year-old also highlighted the importance of the momentum they gained after their title-winning campaign last time around, and they can take confidence from Bristol Rovers, who sealed back-to-back promotions by rising into Sky Bet League One at the first time of asking after coming out of non-league.
Trips to Fratton Park (Portsmouth), Bloomfield Road (Blackpool), Kenilworth Road (Luton Town) and the Keepmoat Stadium (Doncaster Rovers) won’t faze Johnson – he’s been there and done it – and you can be sure it won’t affect his troops either.
Leading the line – look out for…
Dan and Danny, Holman and Wright respectively.
The strike duo built up a lethal partnership towards the back-end of last season after Holman moved to Whaddon Road from Colchester United, and they will be eager to test themselves in the EFL.
Holman, 26, was the National League's join-top scorer with 30 goals having spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Woking from the U’s. He only made a handful of appearances for Colchester, which followed prolific spells at Histon and Braintree Town, but now he’s back in the EFL and excited for what lies ahead.
“I have loved every minute since joining [Cheltenham] in January and am looking forward to testing myself in League Two,” he said after penning a new deal.
“We've got a great team here with a great management staff so hopefully next year [2016/17] will be just as successful!”
Wright, 31, has been there and done it in non-league, playing for seven different National League clubs, but this will be his first foray in the EFL.
And it’s safe to say he’s relishing the opportunity.
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