By Keith Brookman
One of the Bristol Rovers Former Players Association (BRFPA) committee members is none other than Gas legend David ‘Boris’ Mehew, so it was a pleasure to see his son, Tom, make a goalscoring debut for the club in his first senior appearance.
That was, of course, against Walsall in the EFL Trophy tie at the Memorial Stadium on 8th September. He followed that up with another appearance, and another goal, in the same competition against Oxford United on 6th October.
The BRFPA decided that sponsoring the shirt of a member of the current squad would enable us to help the football club, financially, in this difficult time and so the logical choice was Tom and we are sponsoring his away kit for the current season.
It’s not a huge amount of money and we would like to do more but, unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic has curtailed all of our fundraising activities for the time being.
Tom’s debut goal was a cracker and the pity is that there were no fans in the ground to see it. At least ‘Boris’ was able to follow the game on ifollow and he was in his favourite armchair again for the Oxford match. Needless to say he’s one proud Dad!
Walsall now figure quite prominently in the Mehew family football history as it was against the Saddlers that ‘Boris’ made his first league start for Rovers, on the opening day of the 1985/86 season at Fellows Park, having made four appearances from the bench during the previous campaign.
Rovers won 3-0 that day, with Trevor Morgan scoring twice and Kenny Hibbitt also on the scoresheet. Young ‘Boris’ collected a first half booking, but according to press reports, played well; ‘Bobby Gould’s cut price team of teenagers and free transfer signings silenced their critics with a stunning start to the season. Up front Mehew and Morgan were unselfish workers who never gave the Walsall defence a moment’s rest.’
Rovers lined up that day as follows; Carter, Scales, Smalley, Jones, Tanner, Alexander, Penrice, Hibbitt, Micallef, Morgan, Mehew.
His Rovers career took in 222 league games and 63 goals, and he was a key member of the 1989/90 promotion winning side that also appeared at Wembley in the Leyland DAF Final.
He wasn’t done with Walsall, though, as he was persuaded to join them in the summer of 1994 by his former Rovers team mate Kenny Hibbitt, by then in charge of the club.
Within weeks of signing ‘Boris,’ Hibbitt was then sacked! We’re not sure if that was a case of cause and effect though?
Then a combination of injuries and illness restricted Mehew’s league appearances to just 13 in his one season in the Midlands, though Walsall finished in second place in the Third Division that season and were promoted, so somewhere among the Mehew memorabilia lies another medal to go with those from 1990 with the Gas!
As for Tom, he was also booked on his Rovers senior debut; his yellow card arrived on the hour mark. By then he had already scored his first goal for the club, though; ‘The ball was laid off by Ayunga to Mehew and he took aim from 25 yards before firing a shot into the top corner of the net.’
The goal was timed at 16 minutes, while his strike against Oxford on his next start was arrived after only 12 minutes.
Rovers drew both of the games Tom appeared in (2-2 against Walsall and 1-1 against Oxford) but went on to lose both in the subsequent penalty shootouts.
This was the lineup for Tom’s first senior appearance; Van Stappershoef, Kilgour, Kelly, Hargreaves (Daly, 70), Ayunga, Hare, Mehew (Grant, 83), Tutonda, Harries, Baldwin, Walker (Mitchell-Lawson, 70).
Substitutes: Alexis Andre Jnr, Little, Martinez, Heal.
In his interview after the Oxford game Tom let slip that ‘Boris’ always gets the DVD’s of his Rovers games out for family viewing at Christmas. Perhaps this year it will be his turn to show the family highlights of his games!
To the best of my knowledge, the Mehew’s are only the second father/son combination to appear in a senior competitive game for Rovers, following in the footsteps of Ray and Gary Mabbutt.
There have been others who have come close and I recall the sons of Phil Kite, Dave Palmer and Phil Bater all appearing in reserve team games, but not a first team match.
Just as there were three Mabbutt’s, father Ray and sons Gary and Kevin, involved in the game there are also three Mehew’s.
Olly, Tom’s older brother, started out in the Rovers Academy before being offered a scholarship with Blackburn Rovers. He later returned to the Gas and is now back playing for Yate Town, the club he left for Bristol Manor Farm last season.
The BRFPA will be following Tom’s career very closely and we wish him every success as he attempts to become a regular first team player for the Gas.
One thing I did learn recently was that I’ve been pronouncing the family surname wrong for something like 30 years. Apparently it really is Meehew, not Mayhew; I’ll get it right the next time Tom makes a first team appearance!