WHEN midfield kingpin Reece Brown left to join Championship outfit Huddersfield Town and hot-shot striker Christian Doidge flew to Scottish Premier League outfit Hibernian last summer, Forest Green fans could be forgiven for fearing the worst, but fast forward four months and the club are now eyeing a remarkable automatic-promotion spot.

Losing their crown jewels and capitulating in the play-offs to Tranmere Rovers last season, pundits expressed a testing campaign for erudite head coach Mark Cooper and company.

The play-off hangover never came to fruition and Rovers found a quick hangover cure with a swift squad overhaul under Cooper and astute director of football Richard Hughes.

And now the fans are more optimistic than pessimistic as Rovers look upwards to a potential dream promotion into League One for the first time in their 130-year history.

Green shoots are starting to appear, which is befitting of a trailblazing club now famed for being the first vegan football club on the planet.

Despite their growing profile, Rovers are still an undiscovered mystery to many. Plum in sat navigation details and you’ll be in for a surprise. Perched on top of a picturesque Gloucestershire hill, just up the steep and winding road from the sleepy village of Nailsworth, the road address to the New Lawn stadium is aptly titled ‘Another Way’ and this fits succinctly in with the way leftfield, eco-entrepreneurial chairman Dale Vince goes about his day-to-day business at this far from run of the mill league two outfit.

Vince has a steely determination to change the world of football and get his beloved club up to the Championship. It will be a long journey but Vince and Cooper seem perfect bedfellows, and the wheeling and dealing Cooper has done, has cemented his place in the good books of the man controlling the purse strings.

Cooper, a youthful-looking 50-year-old is now rightly revered as one of the top bosses outside of the Championship. His record speaks for itself during a richly successful three-and-a-half-year tenure, which now sees the former Swindon Town and Peterborough gaffer at number six in the EFL longest serving managers hall of fame.

Careful Cooper, who has two-and-a-half years left on his five-year deal, is thought to have squirreled away more than half-a-million from the sales of Brown and Doidge and then displayed great acumen to usher in strikers Matty Stevens from Peterborough United and Aaron Collins from Morecambe on the cheap. Add former Leeds United teenage defender Liam Kitching and attacking midfielder Jack Aitchison, on a season-long loan from Celtic, and you can see why everything is blossoming in Rovers’ organic garden.