By Martin Bull
After having had the pleasure of the company of Howard Radford at the big BRFPA Annual Dinner in March 2019, we are thrilled to welcome our newest member, Malcolm Norman, the man who went toe to toe with Howard for the Goalie’s jersey as the 1950s and 60s collided.
After his arrival in May 1958 from hometown club Cardiff Corinthians, Malcolm swiftly got injured in pre-season, but by Christmas had made his debut and went on to hold the jersey for the rest of the season, clocking up 21 appearances. And let us not forget that this was one of the best BRFC teams ever, consistently at the upper reaches of what is now called the Championship, finishing 6th in 1958/59 (our joint highest finish, and boasting a joint highest points tally) and 9th in 1959/60.
Malcolm held the jersey into the 1959/60 season, ever present until February, but after an awful case of ‘leaky defence-itis’ Howard was given his chance again.
Malcolm could though lay claim to being between the sticks for both the first floodlit game at Eastville (Ipswich Town in Sept 1959) and the highest attendance ever seen at a Rovers home match (38,472 vs. Preston North End in the FA Cup in Jan 1960).
17 appearances were achieved the next season and it was only in the 1961/62 relegation season that Rads completely reclaimed the jersey, with Malcolm appearing in just the opening three games of the season, all of which happened to be shut-out defeats; in fact Rovers didn’t even earn a point until their eighth game.
So after 69 League appearances and six in cup fixtures, Malcolm moved on to Kidderminster Harriers. It was also Howard’s final season before retirement, so in classic Rovers fashion we’d gone from two excellent goalies, to none, and the man recruited to fill the vacancy in the green jersey was none other than Esmond Million, and we know how that turned out!
After his Carpetmen days Malcolm went on to a happy career in the local Somerset non-league circle, playing for Welton Rovers (three spells), Bath City (28 games) and Radstock Town (two spells), whilst putting down family roots in Midsomer Norton.
After ‘Josser’ Watling and Howard Radford himself, Malcolm is our third oldest BRFPA member, but we look forward to many years of friendship with him.
Note – As a complete aside, an internet search of ‘Malcolm Norman Bristol Rovers’ also brings up the story of a Gashead with the same name who (when the story was written in 2016) hadn’t missed a Rovers home game since 19th February 1966. He can still be seen at the Mem so he’s probably up to a 53 year streak by now!