John Ward believes Bristol Rovers are close to securing their own identity for the first time in almost 30 years after the prospect of a new stadium moved a step closer last night.
A £40 million project to build a stadium on land at the University of the West of England in Stoke Gifford is back on track after a legal challenge, which had delayed the project, was dismissed by a High Court judge yesterday.
Rovers, who host Southend in a League Two encounter this evening, are now in a race against time to start building the stadium this summer in order to complete the 21,700-capacity arena in time for the start of the 2015-16 season.
"I was at the club with some people who have worked here for many years when news of the decision filtered through," said manager Ward.
"You could see by the looks on their faces just how much it meant to them all. I was pleased to have been there and I think those sorts of situations were probably replicated around other Bristol Rovers' areas of the city.
"I'm thrilled for the chairman (Nick Higgs). I know how much it means to him and how much work has gone in to getting the situation this far. It is extremely exciting news and development and it has been a long time coming.
"A new stadium would give the club an identity for the first time probably since the Eastville days because it would be a place that is our own. I know we own the Memorial Stadium now, but it is essentially a rugby ground that has become a football one. The new one is going to be essential for Bristol Rovers. It will be our home and one the supporters and players can all feel belongs to them."