It Happened in September

By Keith Brookman

It’s probably fair to say that the 2012/13 season was endured rather than enjoyed, but sometimes you have to remember the bad times in order to enjoy the good times, so here we go with a look back to September 2012 to see what was happening in BS7.

The month didn’t start well as, on the first day of the new month Rovers were beaten 3-0 by Morecambe at the Memorial Stadium.

A crowd of 5,207, with just 47 travelling down from the Fylde coast, saw Gary McDonald, Nick Fenton and Kevin Ellison all score in the second half.

Matt Lund in the thick of the action against Morecambe [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

Manager Mark McGhee wasn’t happy with his side’s performance and refused to let his players leave the ground until they had watched the second half on DVD. He said; ‘I have never done it before in my managerial career, but I don’t want them to go home without seeing what went wrong and taking responsibility for it.’

There was an early opportunity for them to bounce back from that defeat, as on the following Tuesday they entertained Yeovil Town in the first round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

The manager said; ‘We can’t mess about and think that we can beat Yeovil with a second string team. I watched them against West Brom last week and they were fantastic. They have a bit of everything about them and I’m not surprised they have started the season so well.’

Just 2,810 fans were inside the Mem for this one and once again they saw Rovers ship three goals without scoring themselves. Ed Upson, now a Rovers player of course, scored twice from free kicks that night and Sam Foley scored their other goal.

Ed Upson, who scored twice for Yeovil, challenges Wayne Brown [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

The Glovers ended the game with ten men after seeing Jamie McAllister sent off on 77 minutes with the score at 1-0.

Former Rovers player Dominic Blizzard was in the Yeovil side that night.

In spite of the defeat, McGhee had this to say afterwards; ‘It was 100% better than the performance we put in on Saturday. The whole tempo and determination were first class and we will win football matches if we continue to go out on the field with that attitude.

‘I’m really gutted for the players because it such a scandalous scoreline. We passed the ball brilliantly and their commitment couldn’t be questioned. Their lad scored two fantastic free kicks and you just can’t legislate against that.’

Speaking a day later skipper Matt Gill admitted that the second half display against Morecambe had left him feeling embarrassed though said he felt that there were positives to take from the game against Yeovil; ‘We needed to offer some sort of response to what happened on Saturday and although we might not have got the result we wanted against Yeovil it was important that we reacted in a positive way after what was a very bad defeat.’

Next up was another home game, against Aldershot and striker David Clarkson had this to say ahead of that match; ‘It hasn’t been the start that any of us wanted and I’m not sure why that is. The only thing we can do now is focus on the positives. We are only a few games into the season, and I don’t think there is any reason for anyone to panic.’

Rovers collected just a point from their visitors from Hampshire, playing out a 2-2 draw in front of a crowd of 5,117 though they left it late to claim a point, as Fabian Broghammer’s equaliser was timed at 90 minutes.

David Clarkson had scored his first goal in a Rovers shirt in the 11th minute, but Craig Reid equalised for the Shots just four minutes later and Alex Rodman, another player who is now turning out for us, put his side ahead after 57 minutes.

Alex Rodman (then an Aldershot player) is being challenged by Eliot Richards [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

McGhee felt that it was a point gained for his side; ‘It was important that we didn’t lose another home game. What we have also done is to score two goals in front of our own supporters for the first time this season. That was important, because we’ve proved to ourselves that we can get goals.

‘In the end, it was a point gained. At this stage, the way things are for us, any point is a point gained.’

Broghammer, whose goal was his first for the club, said; ‘I started well when I came on trial in the summer. I needed a bit of time to acclimatise to my new surroundings after that, but I feel I’m starting to get into it now and I’m really enjoying it.’

Manager McGhee, meanwhile, was concerned about the fitness of central defender Garry Kenneth and revealed that he was putting him on an intensive exercise regime. Kenneth had not, at that point, started a competitive match for the club after limping out of the warm up prior to the game against Barnet on 21st August.

McGhee said; ‘I still worry about Garry’s general fitness and his weight. He’s a boy who works so hard in the gym and on the training ground, but I don’t see him reducing his weight or increasing his fitness as quickly as I would like.’

There was bad news for another Rovers central defender as it was revealed that on loan Leicester player Cian Bolger would be missing for three months after sustaining a posterior cruciate ligament injury in the game against Aldershot.

Cian Bolger was stretchered off during the Aldershot game [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

Striker Matt Harrold, meanwhile, spoke about the fact that the club had only picked up one point from a possible nine in their three home games to date; ‘It’s a difficult one to explain. We were very solid at home towards the end of last season and we’ve come back struggling to perform in front of our fans.

‘It’s not a great feeling. There is that added bit of pressure on us because we haven’t started great and we haven’t got as many points as we would have liked.’

Rovers’ next game was a trip to Kent to face league leaders Gillingham at the Priestfield Stadium and Sam Walker, who had yet to keep a clean sheet, was hoping that the club could pull off a surprise win; ‘I’ve come off after every game and felt that I haven’t really had to make many saves. The goals have been flying in all over the place and that has been frustrating for me. Goalkeepers do everything we can to stop the ball going in the net, but there are times when you are beaten by a goal you can’t do much about.

‘What you have to be as a goalkeeper is mentally strong and you have to forget about the ones that have gone in and just focus on keeping them out in the next game.’

Unfortunately, though, the goals continued to fly past him at Gillingham. Four of them to be exact, and Rovers failed to find the net at the other end.

Physio Phil Kite signals to the bench at Gillingham that Matt Harold is unable to continue… [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

The rot set in as early as the fifth minute when Danny Kedwell scored from the penalty spot after a clumsy challenge on him by Tom Parkes. The same player added a second with 15 minutes on the clock and it was virtually all over by half time as Charlie Lee scored a third on 45 minutes. Chris Whelpdale completed the scoring with eight minutes of the game remaining.

Former Rovers skipper Adam Barrett was in the Gillingham side that afternoon.

‘We are giving away too many soft goals,’ said McGhee afterwards, before adding; ‘but you have to remember that we brought in Cian Bolger and Garry Kenneth for that very reason and we need one of those two back quickly.’

Matt Harrold was injured in the Gillingham game and a subsequent scan revealed that he had sustained a knee ligament injury; ‘We are looking at being without him for quite a lengthy spell,’ said McGhee, ‘and it’s a terrible blow, both for him personally and for us as a club.’

…Matt was a spectator for the rest of the match and faced a lengthy lay off [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

A Tuesday night trip to Home Park, Plymouth, was next up for McGhee’s side and the manager gave Garry Kenneth his league debut, in spite of questioning his fitness only a week earlier.

The gamble, if it was one, paid off as Rovers hit back from being a goal down to equalise through Tom Parkes (his first goal for the club) and claim a point from a 1-1 draw.

That made it six games without a win and McGhee was expected to dip into the loan market to strengthen his squad; ‘We were disappointed to miss out on the striker we tried to get in over the weekend, but it just wasn’t possible to do the deal and now we move on to other targets. The injury to Matt Harrold has forced our hand in terms of adding to our squad and that is my first priority at the moment,’ said the manager.

Tom Parkes celebrates his goal at Plymouth [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

Nineteen year old Tom Parkes had this to say; ‘I enjoyed scoring that goal. I struck it sweetly and it was all the more pleasing as it was the equalising goal for us.

‘It was certainly a good point to pick up after the disappointment of losing heavily at Gillingham last Saturday.’

Ahead of the game against Fleetwood Town at the Memorial Stadium, manager Mark McGhee signed Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge in a one month loan deal. The 22 year old shot stopper had, at that point in his career, made 37 international appearances for the Philippines.

Sam Walker, signed ahead of the first game of the season, was to return to Chelsea, though he was on the bench for the remaining two games of the month.

It was Fleetwood’s first season as a league club, but they had some experienced players in their side, none more so that striker Jon Parkin and Rovers defender Garry Kenneth was looking forward to the challenge of marking him; ‘I don’t mind playing up against a big lad,’ said Kenneth, who was not exactly small in stature himself!

‘I enjoy that sort of physical battle and the likelihood is that you don’t have to worry about them running in behind. I don’t know that much about Fleetwood, but their results so far suggest that it is going to be a tough game.’

The game saw Rovers extend their run without a win to seven with a goalless draw against their visitors. So, it was a clean sheet on his debut for goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and there was no goal for Fleetwood’s Jon Parkin.

Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge made his debut against Fleetwood and is seen here being congratulated by manager Mark McGhee after keeping a clean sheet. Garry Kenneth looks on. [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

McGhee said, after the game; ‘I’m disappointed not to have won the game because we did enough to take all three points. David Clarkson is the first to admit he should have scored in the second half and I thought Joe Anyinsah might have done better with one of his chances.

‘I was pleased with the performance, but we need to start picking up wins. I am looking to go into the loan market for a couple of strikers.’

Defender Lee Brown felt there were positives to take from the performance; ‘There are a lot of positive signs at the minute. We had chances to win at Plymouth and against Fleetwood, so we are a little disappointed to only get two points from those games.

‘I think it’s good to be disappointed because it shows that we have a belief in ourselves to win games. It was a good confidence boost to keep a clean sheet and if we can add a few goals to our game, then I think we can really kick on from there.’

Midfielder Ollie Norburn, meanwhile, was hoping he had done enough to warrant a run in the side; ‘I am happy to be starting now and I just want to keep my place in the team and, hopefully, kick on with more good performances.

‘It is a team game and I believed I would get my chance. When I got that chance, I thought I would be able to take it and hopefully I am doing that. There are a number pf good midfield players here and I believe that whoever does play will perform, Competition for places is healthy and I am just happy that it’s me in the side at the moment.’

Two days before the final game of the month striker Matt Harrold spoke of the devastating blow of having his season cut short by a long term knee injury; ‘When I first found out the injury was going to keep me put for a while, I probably cried more in an hour than I have in my whole life. I quickly pulled myself together because you soon realise that these things happen in football and you have to get over it and move on. I didn’t think I’d injured myself at all. My knee went from under me when I slid for a ball down by the corner, but it didn’t feel too bad at first. There was a bit of initial pain, but I thought I could run it off.

‘When I returned to the pitch, and went for a header, I felt a bit of a click and a pop in my knee. I knew something was up and the worst was confirmed after some tests. I suppose I am looking at a period of six to nine months out, which is a long time, but when your career is at stake you can’t afford to cut corners.’

Ahead of the game at Exeter City on 29th September, the manager’s promise of two new strikers materialised. Bolton Wanderers striker Tom Eaves agreed to a 93 day emergency loan, while Scottish striker Derek Riordan was offered a short term deal until Christmas.

‘I’m hoping that the arrival of Tom and Derek will fire up the likes of Eliot Richards, Joe Anyinsah and David Clarkson,’ said manager Mark McGhee.

On his Rovers debut Tom Eaves was closely marked by former Rovers defender Danny Coles [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

Twenty year old Eaves had yet to start a league game, though he had made 15 appearances from Oldham’s bench the previous season. As for Riordan, who had won three Scottish international caps, McGhee said; ‘He’s a bit of an enigma and some supporters will wonder about him because he is not the most industrious of players.

‘When it comes to creativity, however, he can be brilliant. He has great feet and offers us fantastic shooting, passing and crossing ability.’

It was also revealed that the striker was expected to stand trial after appearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to face charges of breach of the police and using anti-homophobic sexual language to door staff at a nightclub in the Scottish capital.

Eaves and Riordan were both handed their debuts in the game at Exeter and Rovers recorded their first win of the season, beating the Grecians 2-1 thanks to goals from David Clarkson and Eliot Richards. Former Rovers striker Jamie Cureton scored the Exeter goal.

There were three more former Gas players in the Exeter squad; Danny Coles and Pat Baldwin were in the starting lineup and goalkeeper Rhys Evans was on the bench.

McGhee claimed a little bit of credit for the goal scored by Richards, which proved to be the winner; ‘I had a chat with Eliot during the week and sometimes he has a vacant look on his face. But he reacted in the best possible way, working hard for the team and getting the winning goal.’

So, victory was achieved, for the first time, in the eighth game of the season but it wasn’t really a platform for greater success. McGhee remained in post until 15th December before he was dismissed in a phone call after his side had lost 4-1 at York City.

Tractors, Pirates and Deja Vu

By Keith Brookman

Rovers will face Ipswich Town in the Carabao Cup for only the second time in their history and, just as was the case when the clubs first met in the competition back in 2012, the game will also be played before the start of the League campaign.

Back in 2012 it was known as the Capital One Cup when Rovers travelled to Portman Road.

TUESDAY 14th AUGUST 2012

IPSWICH TOWN 3 BRISTOL ROVERS 1
Scotland (40), Smith (56), Cresswell (84) / Smith (27)
Attendance: 8,645 Referee: F Graham

Mark McGhee was in charge of the Gas, while Paul Jewell was the manager at Ipswich, the club where Rovers’ then assistant manager Marcus Stewart was held in high regard.

Rovers were struggling with a bit of a goalkeeping crisis at the time and the day before the tie as first choice shot stopper Scott Bevan was injured and Iain Turner had decided against joining the club. Still, McGhee was confident of signing former Nottingham Forest keeper Paul Smith as cover.

Overnight, though, Rovers failed to agree terms with Smith and after a number of phone calls McGhee finally managed to agree to the signing of Chelsea keeper Sam Walker. The team set off on the morning of the match to their hotel, while I travelled with McGhee, in his car, to collect Walker on the way.

Goalkeeper Sam Walker who faced Ipswich in the competition for the second successive season [Photo Credit – Jeff Davis]

Talk about shady dealings; we collected the goalkeeper from outside a pub/club/hotel somewhere off the M25 – Brentwood, I think it was, and drove on to meet the squad at the hotel.

Introductions were made and Walker, along with every other member of the travelling party, jumped on the coach for the journey to Portman Road where Rovers made a spirited exit from the competition, losing 3-1 after Michael Smith’s first goal for the club had given them a 27th minute lead.

Walker had an excellent debut, though, counting a penalty save amongst many that he made that evening.

Jason Scotland, Tommy Smith and Aaron Cresswell scored for the Championship side and although they did most of the early running it was Rovers who took the lead when Rovers defender Smith cut in from the right touchline and unleashed a looping left foot shot from 25 yards that beat Scott Loach in the Ipswich goal.

Michael Smith celebrates. [Photo Credit – Jeff Davis]

The goal knocked confidence in the Ipswich ranks for a while, but when they did hit back Walker made two smart saves from Chopra. They eventually made the breakthrough five minutes before the interval when Scotland bore down on goal and slid the ball wide of Walker’s outstretched arms.

Ipswich were awarded a penalty on 54 minutes when Luke Hyam went down under an Adam Virgo challenge in the area. Walker, though, palmed Chopra’s spot kick behind for a corner but from that set play Jimmy Smith powered a header past the Rovers’ keeper.

As Ipswich went in search of further goals Emmanuel Thomas fired over the bar and Chopra hit a couple of efforts wide of the mark and it was left to Cresswell to clinch victory for the Tractor Boys when he headed home, six minutes from time, after Walker had palmed away another Emmanuel-Thomas effort.

Michael Smith said afterwards; ‘I’m really looking forward to this season. When I first came, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I feel that I have made massive improvements in certain areas of my game.

‘I didn’t play much under Paul Buckle; he wasn’t having me, but the new gaffer has given me a new lease of life. He likes the way I play and that has given me a lot of confidence.’

As for his goal, he said; ‘It was definitely a shot and it was certainly the best goal I’ve ever scored. I really enjoyed the moment, but I don’t really know where it came from. Some of the boys have been giving me stick, because they reckon I meant it as a cross.’

As well as Walker, David Clarkson also made his senior Rovers debut in this game but Fabian Broghammer, who travelled with the squad, was unable to play because the club hadn’t received the necessary international clearance.

David Clarkson in action on his first team debut [Photo Credit – Jeff Davis]

Walker was playing against Ipswich in the competition for the second year running, having been in the Northampton side that beat them the previous season.

Matt Gill, who started in Rovers midfield that evening, is now assistant manager at Portman Road. Former Rovers striker Nathan Ellington was on the Ipswich bench.

This is how the two sides lined up.

Bristol Rovers: Walker, Smith, Virgo, Paterson, Brown (L), Brown (W), Gill (Lund, 60), Norburn (Clucas, 63), Anyinsah (Clarke, 80), Clarkson, Harrold.
Substitutes: Harding, Gough, Staley

Ipswich Town: Loach, Cresswell, Chambers, Edwards, Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra, Martin (Burke, 89), Scotland (Stevenson, 89), Luongo, Hyam, Smith. Substitutes: Lee-Barrett, Ellington, Ainsley, Wright, Lawrence

100 Years Ago Today – Our First Football League Game

By Keith Brookman

100 years ago today, on 28th August 1920, Bristol Rovers played their first ever Football League match and were beaten 2-0 by Millwall, at the Den, in front of a crowd of 25,000.

Both clubs, along with all of the Southern League’s First Division clubs, were elected to the newly formed Football League Third Division in the summer of 1920. It was not until 1921/22 that it became the Third Division (South) when a Northern section was also formed.

Millwall Athletic had, in fact, been founder members of the Southern League and were the undefeated champions in that competition’s inaugural season in 1894/95 and they retained their title the following season.

Rovers did not compete in the Southern League until 1899/1900 when they finished tenth in the 15 team First Division, while Millwall were in seventh place. The games between the sides that season both ended in home wins, Rovers winning 3-0 at Eastville and Millwall 2-0 winners at their North Greenwich home.

Rovers, of course, were Southern League Champions in 1904/05, a season when Millwall finished in 15th place in the now 18 team First Division.

Millwall moved to their new home, at The Den in 1910, the official opening taking place on 22nd October that year and the clubs continued to meet in Southern League action until 1919/20, though neither ever won the title again.

And so, when they first met in the Football League on August 28th 1920, they were certainly not strangers to one another.

William Panes

The match report of the game in the Western Daily Press (kindly supplied by Eric Whitlock of the Bristol Rovers History Group) makes for an interesting read, if only for the style of reporting back then.

The opening paragraph reads; ‘The Millwall and Bristol Rovers game at New Cross (note it wasn’t referred to as the Den!) attracted one of the biggest League gates in the history of the club, well over 25,000 being present when Kenny beat Fort with the toss, and the homesters Sharpshooter Broad kicked off facing the sun.

‘…Though they were beaten the Rovers put up a very good show and were a trifle unlucky in their defeat.’

The report continues; ‘In the first half they were every whit as good as Millwall, and twice Bird came within the veriest fraction of scoring. Up to the interval honours were even and the blank scoresheet was a fitting reflection of the level balance of play.

‘Just before the interval, however, Bird was injured. He had cleverly beaten two men and was just about to put in a terrific drive for goal when McAlpine, Millwall’s half, got his foot to the ball. The force of the impact strained the guides of Bird’s ankle and he was carried off the field. True, he returned after the interval, but he was almost a passenger to the end of the match.’

Both of Millwall’s goals came in that second period and were described as follows; ‘Voisey got a goal with a good long shot and when Broad later added a second, the game was as good as over.’

The report concluded that; ‘The new men of the Rovers team did well especially Kenny, who worked like a Trojan, and Bird. The half back line was easily the best department of the team and Steele the pick of last season’s players.’

Davis Steele

The report from the Millwall end went along these lines; ‘The game itself did not develop into anything spectacular and both teams were evenly matched during the first half, which ended goalless.

‘Six minutes into the second half ‘Banger’ Voisey picked up a loose ball and from fully twenty yards struck a thunderous shot which Stansfield in the visitors goal could only divert into the net.

‘They kept up the pressure and were justly rewarded with a second goal seven minutes later. Centre forward Jimmy Broad was responsible for the goal, heading in a perfect centre from left winger Dempsey.

‘Millwall continued to press forward but found that the Rovers defence had settled and were not to be breached again.’

Millwall: Lansdale, Fort, Hodge, Voisey, Riddell, McAlpine, Waterall, Travers, Broad, Sutherland, Dempsey.

Rovers: Stansfield, Bethune, Panes, Boxley, Kenny, Steele, Chance, Bird, Sims, Bell, Palmer.

Five members of that first ever starting XI in the Football league had previously played Southern League Football for Rovers, including goalkeeper Harold Stansfield who had appeared in 57 league games in that competition after joining the club in November 1912. He always wore glasses when he played, which was very unusual for any player, let alone a goalkeeper!

Harold Stansfield

Although contact lenses had been thought of at that time, it wasn’t until the 1950’s/1960’s that a satisfactory design was perfected, so Stansfield would have had no option but to wear glasses when playing.

He appeared in the club’s first three Football League matches, the third of which was the reverse fixture against Millwall. The Lions won that game 2-1 and Jesse Whatley took over in goal for the following game.

William Panes signed for Rovers in 1916 and played regular football during wartime. He made 18 league appearances in the club’s final Southern League campaign in 1919/20 and went on to appear in 74 Football League games for the club.

David Steele arrived at Eastville in November 1919 and scored once in 21 Southern League games. He went on to make 67 Football League appearances before finding fame with Huddersfield Town, helping them to become the first club to win three consecutive league titles. He also appeared in the 1928 FA Cup final and won three full Scottish international caps.

He later managed both Bradford PA and Bradford City, as well as his former club Huddersfield Town.

Stephen Sims, born in Bedminster in 1895, scored the winning goal in Rovers’ first ever league win, against Newport County. Prior to that he had scored nine goals in 32 Southern League games after joining the club from Leicester Fosse in July 1919.

He joined Burnley in 1922, Weymouth in 1924 and Bristol City in 1925 before returning to Rovers in 1926 and his overall Rovers record when he left again, in July 1927, was nine goals in 79 league appearances.

William Palmer also enjoyed two spells with Rovers. He appeared in 23 Southern League games for the club in 1912/13 before a move to Everton where he won a league championship medal in 1914/15.

He returned to Rovers in 1919 and scored twice in the final Southern League campaign, going on to score ten goals in 45 Football League appearances for the Gas prior to subsequent moves to Gillingham and Doncaster Rovers.

The other six players were all signed ahead of that inaugural Football League season. John Bethune had previously played for Heart of Midlothian and Barnsley and went on to make 30 league appearances during his one season at Eastville.

Harold Boxley had appeared in seven league games for Derby County before he arrived at Eastville in August 1920 and in three seasons with Rovers he scored eight goals in 47 league games.

Harold Boxley

David Kenny, another arrival in the summer of 1920 had previously played league football for Grimsby Town and in his only season with Rovers he made just 11 league appearances and became the first Rovers player to score an own goal in the Football League, ironically, against Millwall in the game at Eastville.

George Chance would score 11 goals in 80 league appearances for Rovers over four seasons following his arrival at the club in the summer of 1920. He signed for Gillingham in 1924 and in April 1925 ended up at Millwall, for whom he went on to play in 175 league games.

Harold Bell had appeared in 15 league games for Barnsley prior to arriving at Eastville, also in the summer of 1920. After appearing in the club’s first ever league fixture he made just one more league appearance, against Brentford in November 1920. He was released by the club at the end of their first Football League campaign.

Walter Bird also spent just the one season with Rovers, scoring five goals in 21 league games in 1920/21 and he is credited with scoring the club’s first ever Football League hat trick, scoring all three goals in the 3-1 win against Brighton on 25th September 1920.

We should also mention the club’s first ever manager in the Football League; Ben Hall was recruited by Chairman George Humphreys and became the club’s first full time manager. Prior to that Alfred Homer had been secretary/manager from 1899 and he remained at the club, as secretary, until 1928.

Hall had played for Grimsby Town, Derby County, Leicester Fosse, Hyde and South Shields. He had spent time as trainer at Huddersfield Town before his arrival at Eastville and he was in charge of the club for just that inaugural Football League season. He left the club in May 1921 and was succeeded by Andrew Wilson.

Sixty year old Chairman George Humphreys was clearly an influential figure at the club as before the beginning of their first season as a league club, he announced that the club was debt free as he had paid for Eastville in full which meant that the club owned 19 acres of land, including the stadium site and land up to the Thirteen Arches railway bridge overlooking the site.

The club didn’t wear blue and white quartered shirts for that first league campaign. The new kit consisted of white shirts and navy blue shorts and socks, colours they would wear for the next decade.

The Rovers team photo for 1920/21 is reproduced here and though he isn’t mentioned in the caption, Harold Stansfield is stood between Jesse Whatley and Alfred Sydney Leigh. As for the two ‘civilians’ at either end of the back row, I can only assume that one of them is manager Ben Hall whilst the other gentleman could well be trainer George Endicott.

Whilst also appearing in the first ever league game at the Den, Rovers were also the opposition when Millwall played their last ever game at that venue, on 8th May 1993. A 3-0 Gas win probably wasn’t in the script for that afternoon, but it was achieved, thanks to goals from Lee Archer, Mike Davis and Marcus Stewart.