Our first visit from a former player this season was none other than Harold Jarman, who was warmly welcomed back to the Mem for the Peterborough United match.
Harold hardly needs any introduction to Pirates who will remember the ghostly chant of ’Harold, Harold!’ reverberating around Eastville, but some younger Gasheads may not realise that Harold entertained packed crowds for 14 years (1959-73), scoring a staggering 127 goals during 452 League matches; an incredible amount for a winger. Overall he holds the third highest amount of senior appearances in Rovers’ history and the third highest amount of goals, beaten only by Geoff Bradford and Alfie Biggs.
Harold’s final fling as a footballer was a brief sojourn at the New York Cosmos in 1974 and when he left a certain Edson Arantes do Nascimento took his place. That’s Pelé to you and me.
Remarkably Harold was also a genuinely excellent cricketer, playing first class cricket for Gloucestershire CCC for a decade (1961-1971). Ian Haddrell and Mike Jay’s book ‘Harold Jarman: Bristol Rovers Local Hero‘ (The History Press, 2014) is a great way to discover the full story of this loveable and humble man.
The wonder winger rather surprisingly became the first ever Bristolian manager of Rovers in the Football League when he took over from Bobby Campbell as caretaker boss on 12th December 1979. Harold managed Rovers for 23 of the League games that season and secured 23 of the measly 35 points Rovers gained all season (only 2 points for a win in those days young ‘uns), but just as Rovers were safe his application for the job full time was overlooked and ex-Leeds United and England legend Terry Cooper was appointed instead.
Harold was the first of many old faces to visit the Mem this season: please give a warm welcome to all those who follow.