Rovers on this Day – May

MAY 1ST

Happy Birthday to former Rovers players born on this day; Martyn Britten (1955), Scott Jones (1975) and Andy Dorman (1982).

Former Rovers midfielder Brian Godfrey was born on this day in 1940.

Maurice Lockier made the first of his two Rovers league appearances on this day in 1950, in a goalless draw against Northampton Town at Eastville.

MAY 2ND

On this day in 1990 Rovers beat Bristol City 3-0 at Twerton Park to guarantee promotion from the Third Division. Devon White (2) and Ian Holloway (penalty) scored the all important goals that night.

Ian Holloway scores his penalty on the 2nd of May 1990 [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]

MAY 3RD

Happy Birthday to former Rovers midfielder Tom Stanton, born on this day in 1948.

Former Rovers defender Micky Slocombe was also born on this day, in 1941.

Two players, Ashley Griffiths and Mark Hughes, made their Rovers league debuts on this day in 1980, in a 2-0 defeat against West Ham United at Eastville.

Darren Carr made the first of his 30 league appearances for Rovers on this day in 1986 when we were beaten 2-0 at Gillingham.

On this day in 1997 midfielder Lee Zabek made his Rovers league debut in a 2-1 defeat against Rotherham United at the Memorial Stadium.

MAY 4TH

Happy Birthday to legendary former Rovers winger Harold Jarman, born on this day in 1939.

Albert Giles, who played one league game for Rovers, in 1946, was born on this day in 1924.

Rovers longest serving post war manager Bert Tann was born on this day in 1914.

Midfielder Frankie Prince made his Rovers league debut on this day in 1968 in a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Swindon Town.

Josh Low made his Rovers league debut on this day in 1996 in a 2-1 win against Wycombe Wanderers at the Memorial Stadium.

MAY 5TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers goalkeeper Ray Johnston, born on this day in 1981.

Martin Shaw made his Rovers league debut on this day in 1979, when Rovers lost 1-0 against Preston North End at Eastville.

There were Rovers league debuts for Conor Gough and Mitch Harding on this day in 2012 when Rovers were beaten 4-0 at Dagenham & Redbridge on the final day of the 2011/12 season.

Conor Gough [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

On this day in 1990 Rovers won 3-0 at Blackpool to clinch the Third Division title.

On this day in 2007 Rovers were 2-1 winners at Hartlepool, a result that saw them clinch a play off spot. An account of that topsy turvy day up North can be found HERE.

MAY 6TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers defender Alan Routledge, who made just one substitute appearance for the club, born on this day in 1960.

Birthday Greetings, also, to former midfielder Ian Weston, born on this day in 1968. Ian is currently Head Physio at Forest Green Rovers.

Happy Birthday, also, to former goalkeeper Steve Phillips who was born on this day, in 1978. His first season with the Gas, following his move across town, saw him appear in the JPT Final in Cardiff and the Play Off final at Wembley.

Finally, Happy Birthday to former Rovers striker Will Hoskins, born on this day in 1986. Will scored 17 league goals in his one season in BS7.

MAY 7TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers player Tony Sealey, born on this day in 1959.

Three players, namely Alex Jeannin, Jefferson Louis and Louie Soares, all made their Rovers league debuts on this day in 2005 when we beat Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 at the Memorial Stadium in the final game of the 2004/05 campaign.

Current skipper Ollie Clarke made his Rovers league debut on this day in 2011 when going on as a late substitute in our 2-1 defeat at Colchester United.

On this day in 2016 Rovers were promoted to League One when Lee Brown’s 92nd minute goal gave them a 2-1 win against Dagenham & Redbridge.

MAY 8TH

On this day in 1993 Mike Davis made a goalscoring Rovers league debut in the final game of the season, and the final one at The Den, when we were 3-0 winners against Millwall.

Goalkeeper Ray Johnston made his Rovers league debut on this day in 1999 when we were 4-3 winners against Macclesfield Town at the Moss Rose.

MAY 9TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers forward Colin Dobson, born on this day in 1940. A former Sheffield Wednesday team mate of Rovers manager Don Megson, he joined the club in November 1972 and scored four goals in 63 league appearances.

MAY 10TH

On this day in 1979 Dave Palmer and Mike England made their Rovers league debuts in a 1-0 win at Wrexham.

Happy Birthday to current Rovers player Gavin Reilly, born on this day in 1993.

MAY 11TH

Happy Birthday to John ‘Josser’ Watling, born on this day in 1925. Believed to be the oldest living former Bristol Rovers player, ‘Josser’ appeared in 323 league games for the club, having made his debut in a local derby against Bristol City in 1948.

Josser Watling

Happy Birthday, also, to former Rovers defender Paul Hardyman who joined the club from Portsmouth in July 1992, having appeared in the FA Cup Final for Pompey just a few months earlier.

Former striker Fred Leamon, who scored 21 goals in 43 league games for the club, was born on this day in 1919.

MAY 12TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers midfielder Dwayne Plummer, born on this day in 1978.

Former Rovers defender David Lawrence was born on this day in 1933.

Alan Ball, who ended his illustrious playing career with Rovers, was born on this day in 1945.

On this day in 2007 Rovers beat Lincoln City 2-1 at the Memorial Stadium in the first leg of their play off semi final. Craig Disley and Richard Walker scored the goals that gave us a slender lead going into the second leg. An account of that warm day can be found HERE.

MAY 13TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers striker Peter Beadle, born on this day in 1972.

Birthday greetings, also, to former goalkeeper Shane Higgs, born on this day in 1977.

Another former Gas goalkeeper, Steve Mildenhall, was born on this day in 1978, so it’s Happy Birthday to him as well!

Peter Beadle [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]

MAY 14TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers players Bobby Brown and Deon Moore, born on this day in 1949 and 1999 respectively.

On this day in 1983 Mike Adams made his only league appearance for Rovers in the game against Cardiff City at Eastville, which ended 1-1.

Chris Smith made his only league appearance for Rovers on this day in 1985 in a 1-1 draw against York City at Eastville.

A crowd of 8,538 were at Twerton Park on this day in 1995 to see Rovers and Crewe Alexandra play out a goalless draw in the first leg of their Division Two play off semi final.

MAY 15TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers defender Aaron Downes, born on this day in 1985. Aaron is currently assistant manager at Torquay United.

MAY 16TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers defender Robbie Ryan, born on this day in 1977.

Former Rovers defender Peter Sampson died on this day in 2009.

MAY 17TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers player Mark Johns, born on this day in 1959.

Happy Birthday, also, to Barry Hayles, born on this day in 1972. It’s the second time we’ve sent birthday greetings to him recently, as his date of birth was mistakenly recorded as 17th April.

Former Rovers defender Vaughan Jones made his league debut for the club on this day in 1977, the final day of the 1976/77 season. Rovers drew 2-2 against Bolton Wanderers at Eastville.

On this day in 1995 Rovers beat Crewe Alexandra 1-0 in the second leg of their Division Two play off semi final, thanks to Paul Miller’s goal in extra time.

It was goalless at the end of 90 minutes but Crewe substitute Darren Rowbotham put his side ahead before Paul Miller grabbed a late equaliser for Rovers, who went through to the final on the away goals rule after the tie ended 1-1.

Rovers would meet Huddersfield Town in the final 11 days later.

On 17th May 2007 Rovers won 5-3 at Lincoln City in the second leg of their play off semi final to go through to the Wembley final 7-4 on aggregate. Goalscorers for Rovers that night were Stuart Campbell, Rickie Lambert, Richard Walker, Sammy Igoe and Sean Rigg. An account of that momentous evening can be found HERE.

They would meet Shrewsbury Town in the play off final on 26th May and were hoping for their first win at Wembley at the third attempt.

Lee Mansell after he scored the winning penalty on this day in 2017 [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

On this day in 2015, after one year in the Conference, Rovers bounced back to the Football League at the first attempt after beating Grimsby in a penalty shootout in the play off final at Wembley.

Lennell John-Lewis scored for Grimsby after only two minutes, while Ellis Harrison equalised for Darrell Clarke’s side on 29 minutes and there were no further goals in the 90 minutes of normal time or the 30 minutes of extra time.

The penalty shootout saw Rovers score all five of their spot kicks, while Jon-Paul Pittman missed for Grimsby and Rovers won the shootout 5-3. Lee Mansell scored the winning penalty and Chris Lines, Matty Taylor, Lee Brown and Angelo Balanta were also successful from the spot.

MAY 19TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers striker Archie Stephens, born on this day in 1954.

Happy Birthday also to former Rovers defender and Bristol Rovers Former Players Association (BRFPA) President Billy Clark, born on this day in 1967.

Billy Clark [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]

Former Rovers defender Ralph Jones was born on this day in 1921.

Legendary former Rovers winger George Petherbridge, who scored 85 goals in 457 league appearances for the club, was born on this day in 1927.

MAY 20TH

Former Rovers defender, coach and groundsman, Jackie Pitt, was born on this day in 1920. He appeared in 467 league games for the club, a figure bettered only by Harry Bamford and Stuart Taylor. To mark the centenary of his birth Keith Brookman wrote a tribute HERE on the amazing one-club man.

Former Rovers striker Ray Seatherton was also born on this day, in 1932.

On this day in 1990 Rovers played at Wembley for the first time in the club’s history, in the Leyland DAF Final. It was an all Rovers affair, as Tranmere were their opponents, and those Rovers took a ninth minute lead when Neil McNab’s throw in from the right was knocked on by Chris Malkin and Ian Muir executed a perfect half volley to beat goalkeeper Brian Parkin.

The equaliser arrived six minutes into the second half when Paul Nixon’s cross found Devon White at the back post. The striker’s initial shot was deflected back to him off of defender Steve Mungall but he made no mistake with his second effort, his left foot shot entering the net via the crossbar.

Devon White scores at Wembley [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]

Seven minutes later, just when it looked as though Carl Saunders was going to put Rovers ahead, he was checked by Tranmere goalkeeper Eric Nixon as he tried to take the ball round him but referee Vic Callow waived play on.

Tranmere’s Jim Steel headed home what proved to be the winning goal after 72 minutes, though Rovers felt there was a foul on Geoff Twentyman in the build up. Although not Wembley winners, the Rovers of Bristol had already won the Third Division title in what was an amazing season.

MAY 21ST

Happy Birthday to former Rovers players Richard Iles and Will Packwood, born on this day in 1967 and 1993 respectively.

On this day in 1989 Gary Penrice scored his 23rd goal of the season, and the first scored by Rovers in 469 minutes of football. It gave his side a 1-0 advantage over Fulham in the First Leg of their Third Division play off semi final.

This is how his 72nd minute goal was described in the local press; ‘An evenly balanced contest was beginning to look like ending in a goalless draw when the arrival of David Mehew as a 63rd minute substitute for an again subdued Dennis Bailey gave Rovers an added sharpness.

‘His threatening run down the right forced Jeff Eckhardt to concede a corner. Andy Reece took it, Devon White challenged keeper Jim Stannard and the ball dropped for Penrice to hit home from close range.’

The second leg of this semi final tie was scheduled to take place at Craven Cottage just four days later.

MAY 22ND

Happy Birthday to former Rovers midfielder Mike Barry, born on this day in 1953.

MAY 23RD

Happy Birthday to former Rovers loanee Craig Armstrong, born on this day in 1975. Craig made 14 league appearances for the club when on loan from Nottingham Forest in 1996. If you think you’ve seen this message before, you’d be right! I had Craig’s birthday down as 2nd May and not too long after I’d posted it, I had a message from Craig to say that his Birthday was, in fact, 23rd May.

By that time quite a few people had said some nice things about him, so I’m only admitting my mistake today! I did apologise to Craig and this was his response; ‘No apologies needed. It was nice, and I loved playing for the Gas.’

Craig Armstrong [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]

MAY 24TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers defender Nick Tanner, born on this day in 1965.

Former Rovers defender Alex Munro died on this day in 2009.

MAY 25TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers striker Oumare Tounkara, born on this day in 1990.

Birthday greetings, also, to former Rovers manager Mark McGhee, born on this day in 1957.

On this day in 1989, defending a one goal lead from the first leg of their play off semi final at Twerton Park, Rovers overran Fulham in the second leg, winning 4-0 at Craven Cottage to go through to the final.

For 63 minutes the game remained goalless, but then Rovers hit their hosts with a devastating four goal salvo in 24 minutes.

Billy Clark, playing only his second full game in six months, scored the first when he headed in from Phil Purnell’s cross.

Fulham were then reduced to ten men after midfielder Peter Scott received his marching orders after collecting his second yellow card of the night for a foul on Ian Holloway. His first half booking came following a foul on Gary Penrice.

Rovers took full advantage of their numerical superiority and Holloway beat goalkeeper Jim Stannard with a finely struck chip shot to make the aggregate score 3-0 in favour of the Gas.

Dennis Bailey, on as a substitute for Penrice, scored again for Rovers with a firmly struck shot that beat Stannard, while Andy Reece completed the scoring with three minutes of normal time remaining when he shot past the beleaguered shot stopper.

Two future Rovers players, Ronnie Mauge and Justin Skinner, were in the Fulham starting XI that night and the game was watched by a crowd of 10,668 of which some 2,000 were Gasheads.

In the other semi final played that night Port Vale were 4-2 aggregate winners against Preston North End and they and Rovers would meet in the two legged final (it was the last season before one off games were held at Wembley).

MAY 26TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers striker Ryan Brunt, born on this day in 1993.

On this day in 2007 Rovers were at Wembley for the third time and, after losing on their first two appearances at the National Stadium, were winners on this occasion as they beat Shrewsbury Town 3-1 in the League two Play Off Final to gain promotion to League One.

Just as in the final at the Millennium Stadium the previous month, Rovers conceded an early goal when Stuart Drummond headed home after only three minutes to give the Shrews the lead.

Rovers, though, hit back and Richard Walker equalised with 21 minutes on the clock, clipping the ball past goalkeeper Chris Mackenzie with his left foot.

The striker then scored one of his best ever goals in a Rovers shirt with ten minutes of the half remaining. Running into space on the left he latched on to a pass from Chris Carruthers and as Mackenzie advanced off his line, he chipped the ball over the goalkeeper’s head and into the far corner of the net.

Shrewsbury did all they could to get back on level terms after the break but resolute defending and some excellent saves from Steve Phillips kept them at bay. With added time looming the Shrews were reduced to ten men when Marc Tierney picked up his second yellow card of the afternoon following a late challenge on Stuart Campbell.

Richard Walker & Sammy Igoe at Wembley in 2007 [Photo Credit – Jeff Davis]

Goalkeeper Mackenzie went up for a last minute corner but the ball was cleared as far as Sammy Igoe deep inside his own half and we all know what happened next…he set off for the unguarded Shrewsbury goal with Shrewsbury players in hot pursuit.

As they closed in, Igoe summoned up enough strength to shoot and the ball rolled agonisingly towards the empty net. For one minute it appeared that defender Kelvin Langmead would get back to clear. After what seemed like an eternity, though, the ball crossed the line. Rovers were promoted, and the celebrations began!

You can read a fuller account of that fantastic weekend, which culminated in an open top bus tour and civic reception, here- It Happened in May – Pt 4 – Walker in a Wembley Wonderland

MAY 27TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers defender Dave Pritchard, born on this day in 1972.

MAY 28TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers striker Julian Alsop, born on this day in 1973.

Having beaten Crewe Alexandra in the play off semi final, Rovers faced Huddersfield Town in the final at Wembley.

The first half came to life just before the half time whistle, as both sides scored. Ronnie Jepson and Andy Booth combined to put Huddersfeld ahead when Jepson’s overhead kick was nodded on by Darren Bullock to Pat Scully, who headed back across goal for Booth to bury in the top corner of the net.

However, the Terriers were unable to hold on to their lead as Marcus Stewart scored his 50th goal for Rovers before the break.

Worrell Sterling’s long throw from the right was headed towards his own goal by Tom Cowan, but Justin Channing intercepted the ball and found Stewart, who turned to steer it into the net from six yards.

Rovers missed a great opportunity to take the lead in the second half when a Stewart header came back into play off the crossbar and fell kindly to Gareth Taylor. With the goal at his mercy, he somehow managed to miss the target from four yards; it was a miss that was to prove costly.

It was Huddersfield who scored the deciding goal when substitute Ian Dunn curled a cross in from the left which Booth headed back across goal where Chris Billy’s diving header beat goalkeeper Brian Parkin.

Stewart hit the angle of bar and post, with a header, before the 90 minutes were up but Huddersfield held on to win 2-1.

MAY 29TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers midfielder Jeff Hughes, born on this day in 1985.

MAY 30TH

Happy Birthday to former Rovers defender Neil Slatter, born on this day in 1964.

Former Rovers forward John Timmins was born on this day in 1936.

MAY 31ST

Happy Birthday to former Rovers goalkeeper Kelle Roos, born on this day in 1992.

Birthday greetings, also, to current Rovers goalkeeper Alexis Andre Jnr., born on this day in 1997.

Former Rovers forward Frank Curran, who played for the club either side of World War Two, was born on this day in 1917.

Frank Curran

Five days before their Division Three play off final first leg, Rovers manager Gerry Francis called Paul Nixon and Ian Willmott into his squad as loanees Dennis Bailey and Ian Hazel had returned their parent clubs, Crystal Palace and Wimbledon, at the end of their loan spells.

The manager also had doubts over Devon White and Gary Penrice, both of whom were receiving treatment for knee and rib injuries respectively.

As it happened, both recovered in time to take their place in the starting lineup and played their part in earning their side a 1-1 draw at Twerton Park in front of a crowd of 9.042.

In fact, it was Penrice who scored Rovers goal, after just 31 minutes of the contest when a Nigel Martyn clearance was flicked on by White to the diminutive striker. Spotting Vale goalkeeper Mark Grew off his line, Penrice lobbed the ball over the stranded shot stopper from 35 yards.

Vale, managed by former Rovers striker John Rudge, were a determined and stylish side, though, and drew level in the 73rd minute.

Ron Futcher, who many thought should have received a red, not yellow, card for a foul on Ian Alexander moments earlier, was the provider. As he battled for another ball in the Rovers area, it broke free to Robbie Earle and he had the simple task of nodding it over the line from close range.

The visitors went close to taking a first leg lead back to Vale Park, but Martyn and David Mehew denied them in the final minute so the tie remained finely poised ahead of the second leg on 3rd June.