Jamie’s Gas Journey

By Keith Brookman

The third goal of Jamie Cureton’s hat trick against Whitehawk earlier this season was the 350th of his long and illustrious career and this afternoon he achieves another milestone in his quite remarkable career, in that he played his 1,000th first class game at Bishop’s Stortford F.C.

Jamie- credit Alan Marshall
JC where he usually places the ball… in the net!   [Photo credit – Alan Marshall]
The diminutive striker, clearly in love with the beautiful game, continues to defy the years and is still regularly finding the back of the net.

My article concentrates on his time with Bristol Rovers for that is where I got to know him well when I was the club’s programme editor.  I’m sure that there will be tributes from many of his former clubs in the Bishop’s Stortford programme on Monday.

Although a Bristolian by birth, his amazing football sojourn didn’t begin in his hometown, as he signed schoolboy forms for Southampton at the age of 11 and, when he was 14, for Norwich City.

And so Norwich was really where it all began though he would be the first to admit that he didn’t make the most of his talent when he broke into the first team when still a teenager. The Canaries were a Premier League side at the time, and he scored four goals for them in 1994/95, a tally that included strikes against Chelsea and local rivals Ipswich Town.

He became a bit of a cult hero with the Norwich fans for dyeing his hair green for the 1996 East Anglian derby, by which time he had, apparently, turned down an opportunity to sign for Manchester United.

Instead of Old Trafford, though, he moved back home after a loan spell with Bournemouth and Ian Holloway brought him to BS7, also on loan, before making the move a permanent one just a month later.

That was in September 1996 – Rovers’ first season back in Bristol, and the 21 year old for whom Norwich had been seeking a fee in the region of £200,000 came with this endorsement from Holloway; ‘Getting Jamie on loan gives me time to have a look at him and make sure he’s what we want. He’s lightning fast and alert, a lively sort of player always looking for the ball over the top. Hopefully he can get us the goals we’ve been lacking.’

Two days after his arrival, on 21st September 1996, he was handed his Rovers debut at Home Park, Plymouth and he played 75 minutes before being replaced by Peter Beadle in a 1-0 victory.

Jamie pictured on his debut at Plymouth - credit Alan Marshall
Jamie pictured on his Gas debut at Plymouth   [Photo credit – Alan Marshall]
Holloway was impressed with his new signing, saying; ‘Jamie worked hard and was unlucky with his one on one chance in the first half. The shot he hit with the outside of his foot in the second half showed what he can do.’

Jamie himself said; ‘I was very nervous coming back to play for Rovers. I went into the game thinking I should score and maybe that was a problem. I snatched at my best chance. But if I keep working hard the goals will come.’

He made his home debut for The Gas just seven days later, against Chesterfield when a Memorial Ground crowd of 5,008 saw him register his first goals in a Rovers shirt as he scored both in a 2-0 win and he was up and running!

That game was my first as the Bristol Rovers programme editor and while Jamie’s career continued in an upward trajectory, it’s safe to say that mine went steadily downhill!

His form during the one month loan spell was good enough for him to be offered a four year contract and he put pen to paper on 17th October after scoring four goals in six games.

Allegedly, Rovers had to part with £250,000 to secure his services but, looking back, it was money well spent.

He ended that first season at the Memorial Stadium with 11 league goals to his name and topped that with 14 in all competitions the following season when Rovers reached the play offs.

However, in the game that clinched a play off place, and having scored one of the two goals that enabled Rovers to beat Brentford, Jamie sustained a broken leg and missed out on the two legged play off semi final against Northampton Town which The Cobblers won 4-3 on aggregate. Who knows what might have happened had he been able to play in those games?

Watching after breaking his leg - Photo Credit Alan Marshall
JC watching after breaking his leg [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]
Rovers possessed a potent strike force that season, with Peter Beadle, Barry Hayles and Gary Penrice all playing their part in a campaign that, ultimately, ended in disappointing fashion.

In 1998/99 Jamie was even more prolific, adding a further 29 goals to his Rovers tally, a total that included four against Reading (who can forget him and Jason Roberts destroying The Royals with six second half goals at The Madejski Stadium – You can watch some of here if you want) and hat tricks against Walsall and Macclesfield Town as well as doubles against Stoke City and Blackpool.

Rovers finished in a disappointing 13th place that season, though with Roberts also now scoring freely, there were high hopes of a play off spot at the very least in 1999/2000.

They occupied a top six place for much of that season but a disastrous run that saw them take just six points from their final ten games saw them finish two points outside the play offs, despite earning 80 points.

At Wycombe - Photo Credit Alan Marshall
At Wycombe  [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]
It was another prolific season for Jamie, though, and his seasonal tally of 24 included a hat trick at Oxford and braces against Oldham Athletic, Blackpool, and Luton Town.

He would appear in a Rovers shirt just one more time, against Bournemouth at the Memorial Stadium in the first game of the 2000/01 campaign.

Not surprisingly, he scored Rovers’ goal in the 1-1 draw and then he was off, ironically to join Reading at the Madejski Stadium, scene of one of his finest performances in the quarters.

And so began a journey that, since Reading, has taken in Busan i.cons (since renamed Busan IPark), QPR, Swindon Town, Colchester United, Norwich City (again), Barnsley, Shrewsbury Town, Exeter City, Leyton Orient, Exeter City (again), Cheltenham Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, Farnborough, Eastleigh, Farnborough (again), St Albans City and, of course, Bishop’s Stortford (apologies if I’ve missed anyone out!).

Off Duty - Photo Alan Marshall
JC off duty  [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]
I interviewed Jamie many times whilst he was with Rovers, for the matchday programme, and enjoyed watching him develop as a player and, naturally, it was always a pleasure to see him score!

Over the years he was often linked with a return to the Memorial Stadium, but for whatever reason it never quite materialised, even though I got the impression he would have liked to have come back.

Today’s milestone represents a fantastic achievement for a gifted footballer who gave so much pleasure to Rovers supporters during his four year sojourn at the Memorial Stadium and, on behalf of Gasheads everywhere, I would like to thank Jamie for some great memories and wish him every success for the future.

A Tribute to Lindsay Parsons

20th March 1946 – 12th April 2019

Today we were saddened to learn of the death, at the age of 73, of former Rovers full back Lindsay Parsons, following a long illness.

Born in Bristol, on 20th March 1946, Lindsay signed his first professional contract with Rovers in March 1964, on his 18th birthday.  By the time he left the club, in July 1977, he had appeared in 360 league games, a total that included one run of 167 consecutive appearances.

Lindsay Parsons - Photo Credit Alan Marshall
Lindsay Parsons  [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]

A member of the side that won the Watney Cup in 1972 and promotion to the Second Division in 1974, the right footed left back never though managed to get his name on the scoresheet for Rovers.

He more than made up for his lack of goals with his consistent defensive displays in a blue and white quartered shirt, though, and his no nonsense defending and goal line clearances were often the talk of the Eastville terraces.

He was awarded a testimonial season in 1974/75 and in the first home programme of that season we were told that; ‘We shall be concentrating all our efforts in helping Lindsay in his testimonial year. There will be various events, including the ever popular darts matches and the not too serious football fixtures.’

Scanned from programme photo taken by Alan Marshall on the occasion of his first testimonial event, a darts match at Snuff Mills
Scanned from programme photo taken by Alan Marshall on the occasion of Lindsay’s first testimonial event, a darts match at Snuff Mills

In the 1976/77 season, his last at Eastville, Lindsay skippered the side and appeared in 26 league games.

He moved on to Torquay United after leaving Rovers in the summer of 1977 and played 56 league games for the Plainmoor outfit before embarking on a non league career with Cheltenham Town, Taunton Town, Gloucester City, Forest Green Rovers, Yate Town, Hanham Athletic and Frome Town.

Lindsay was also a schoolboy coach at Rovers between 1983 and 1988 and in November 1990 he returned to Whaddon Road to take on coaching duties for Cheltenham Town. He became caretaker manager in 1992 and later that same year took on the role in a permanent capacity, with former teammate Peter Aitken as his assistant.

In 1995 he joined another former team mate, Tony Pulis, who was then manager of Gillingham and the two of them went on to work together at Bristol City, Portsmouth, Stoke City, Plymouth Argyle and Stoke City again.

He often returned to watch Rovers, both in a professional capacity when he was a coach/assistant manager at other clubs, and sometimes simply as a former player.

A popular figure, remembered with fondness by older supporters and his former Rovers team mates, Lindsay will be greatly missed, and we offer our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.

by Keith Brookman

The BRFPA will pass on any funeral news when available / appropriate.

Rest In Peace Lindsay

Lindsay Parsons - 20Dec66 - Credit Unknown
Press photo from 1966 – Credit Unknown