Introducing the former players – #5 Paul Randall & Dave Wilcox

The Punkiest Pirate in Town

At the Shrewsbury Town game we were joined by two former players, Paul Randall and Dave Wilcox.

Dave was brought in from Portway Bristol by Harold Jarman in 1979, initially on a non contract basis. Dave signed a professional contract in 1980 under Terry Cooper, but at the end of an awful season on the pitch Rovers were relegated and Dave was released before he could play a first team game.

Dave later played for Frome Town and Clevedon Town, and told the BRFPA that he enjoyed his time at Eastville alongside some great players including Tony Pulis, David Williams, Ian Holloway, Phil Kite and his best mate Mike Barrett who tragically died from cancer just a few years later, aged just 24.

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Dave Wilcox (left) and Paul Randall (right) with BRFPA Committee Member Simon Hedges.

Paul Randall barely needs an introduction. Paul was the darling of the Eastville terraces, and even after being sold for a staggering £180,000 to Stoke City in 1978, the fans helped pay for his return just over two years later, leading to a further 187 League appearances, and 61 more goals, before unexpectedly turning his back on full time football in March 1986 to become a new legend at both Yeovil Town (62 goals in less than 150 games) and Bath City (112 goals in 212 apps).

To this day Paul is still the only player since Bobby Jones and Harold Jarman to score over 100 goals in Rovers colours.

BRFPA Committee member, Simon Hedges, spoke to Paul about some of his memories in the famous blue and white quarters.

Strikers generally only talk about two things; goals they scored, and the defenders who used to kick them up in the air. Of the latter Paul names the hardest men he faced as Norman Hunter, Denis Smith, Sam Allardyce and Forbes Phillipson-Masters (once voted the poshest sounding player in football).

One of Simon’s own earliest away games was the infamous match at Walsall in April 1983. The Rovers Directors innocently provided free coach transport, ending up with around 40 coaches going. Paul recalls coach after coach after coach going up the M5 with fans continually waving at the players from their coach windows. The enormous following clearly didn’t have the desired affect though: Rovers were hammered 5-0 and the waving at the players on the way back wasn’t quite so appreciative of the Directors’ generous gesture, with Paul thinking ‘oh, here comes another one…’.

Coaches regularly feature in many football stories of yesteryear and they struck again at the last game of the following season on the way to Hull City in May 1984, resulting in the players changing on the coach and getting taxis to the ground. The taxi that Paul and Ray Cashley were in then proceeded to break down and they even helped the driver change a tyre with their full kit on. After finally arriving at Boothferry Park at around 3.15, they kicked off with hardly time for a breather. Ray though kept a clean sheet and Rovers earnt a point.  One coach story that did have a happy ending!

Paul was actually born in Sefton, Liverpool and is still a very keen Liverpool FC fan. Whilst at Stoke City he found himself sitting on the sub’s bench at Anfield on April Fool’s Day 1980. If that was a ‘pinch me’ moment imagine his delight when he was called onto the pitch for the final 30 minutes.

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Paul Randall being interviewed by BRFC Head of Media, Keith Brookman.

Star struck Paul couldn’t remember much of the football though, only the staring at the packed stands and the famous Spion Kop. Curiously his penultimate goal for the Potters was a last minute equaliser against the Reds in November 1980.

Paul is now a keen darts and skittles player and regularly watches his son, Mark, play for Wells City. This is almost a full time job as Mark remarkably reached his 500th appearance for the Blue Army in November 2016; a club record. By his own admission Paul says his son has a sweet left peg, unlike himself!

Punky got his nickname for his love of the edgier music of his youth, and recalled watching The Jam in his Stoke days, alongside Lee Chapman and Adrian Heath. ‘Inchy’ was presumably sitting on Chapman’s shoulders!

In 2013 Paul finally answered the question he was regularly asked – “why don’t you write a book?” – by releasing his autobiography ‘Punky’ with Neil Palmer (JDM Media, 2013).

Introducing the former players – #4 Tim Parkin

The Pub Quiz Pirate

A few months ago we had the pleasure of welcoming a big group of former players to a match, with David Mehew, Phil Kite, our President Billy Clark, and Tim Parkin all joining our regular host Vaughan Jones.

The man we are focussing on today is the one who we see least of around the Mem, Tim Parkin. Tim has an excellent excuse though, as he lives in his native Cumbria.

Tim was born in Penrith and started his career with Blackburn Rovers in 1976 before a move to Sweden premier club, Malmo FF, in 1980. Malmo were managed by Bob Houghton, who later managed Bristol City, China and India amongst others, and had recently narrowly lost in the European Cup Final; in fact, to this day they are still the only Nordic club to ever reach the final.

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That unconventional move saw a season to remember as his club finished runners up in the Allsvensken, won the Svenska Cupen, and most notably for pub quizzers, played in the Intercontinental Cup against Paraguay’s Olimpia. After less than 5,000 fans had attended the first leg in Sweden the Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo labelled the cup “a dog without an owner”; a view shaped by years of controversy, decline and non-attendance by many of the European Cup winners, including Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. Club Brugge even sort of morally ‘won’ the 1978 edition by virtue of Boca Juniors declining to even turn up!

Tim played in the second leg, in the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, in front of 47,000 fans, the only player on the pitch who wasn’t either Swedish, Paraguayan or Argentinean.

The other fact pub quizzers need to know is that when Rovers wanted to bring him to England in August 1981, they were informed that the Swedish FA only allowed players to move between professional clubs in December and June. So Tim ‘signed’ for local minnows Almondsbury Greenaway, and remained there for all of 30 minutes before becoming a Rovers defender in a £15,000 deal.

If that unorthodox entrance had concerned any Pirates,Tim soon banished any worries by instantly becoming a solid and regular performer on the pitch, racking up 206 league games in just five seasons before being sold to Swindon Town for £28,500, just as cash-strapped Rovers were about to up sticks to Twerton Park. Tim’s last Rovers game was that infamous final match at Eastville, a 1-1 draw against Chesterfield on 26th April 1986 in front of less than 4,000 supporters.

Tim enjoyed a successful time at the Robins, including an instant promotion in his first season via the first ever play-off finals, until a £60,000 move took him to fellow Second Tier club Port Vale. He later moved up to Darlington and Barrow, where a broken leg at the age of 36 finally ended his career.

Tim was briefly a Football in the Community officer at Middlesborough FC before becoming a completely different type of officer back ‘home’ in Cumbria; a Police Officer! How apt for a defender.

It was wonderful to see Tim again in Bristol and we are very grateful for him coming all that way.

Only a few places left for the Former Players Dinner 2018

Only a few tables and individual places are still available for our Former Players Dinner 2018 so if you would like to join us please act fast.  Full details are given below.

We can also update you on some of the guests who are attending.

  • We will be joined by up to 32 former players from across the eras, including Peter Aitken, Bob Bloomer, Trevor Challis, Ryan Clarke, Steve Elliott, Dave Gilroy, Bobby Gould, Ian Hazel, David Hillier, Lewis Hogg, Vaughan Jones, David Mehew, Christian McClean, Phil Purnell, Gary Smart, Tom Stanton, Nick Tanner, Martin Thomas, Geoff Twentyman, Ross Weare, Che Wilson and all the way from sunny Spain, David Pritchard!     More will be added later.
  • The dinner will also see the presence of current and former Rovers personalities, including BRFC President, Wael Al-Qadi, Chairman, Steve Hamer, Manager, Darrell Clarke, and BRFPA President & Rovers Stalwart Billy Clark.
  • Also, following our collaboration with the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) on purchasing a specially adapted bed for Rovers record appearance holder Stuart Taylor, the PFA will be represented by Ritchie Humphreys, former PFA Chairman & Hartlepool United’s own record appearance holder. He’s also an ex-team mate of DC and was on the pitch that fateful day in May 2007 when Rovers crept into the play-offs & stopped Pools winning League Two!

BRFPA Annual Dinner - 2018 - How to Book your place