Everyone at the Bristol Rovers Former Players Association was saddened to hear of the death of Brian Carter, who passed away aged 80 on 21st July.
We would like to extend our condolences to Brian’s family and friends on their loss and by way of our own tribute, publish this brief resume of his footballing career.
Brian was born in Weymouth on 17th November 1938, and played for the Grammar School before joining his local club in June 1955, turning professional a few months later in November.
He was soon spotted by Portsmouth who paid £2,500 in January 1956 to take him to Fratton Park. Brian played 45 games for Pompey before Rovers paid £1,500 in the summer of 1961 to bring him over to Eastville. He had played against some of his new team mates before, having been a member of the Pompey side defeated 5-4 by Rovers at Fratton Park in February 1960.
However, Rovers lost all four League games in which the right half appeared, and Brian moved down the A4 to Bath City in March 1962.
Brian played 242 games for the Romans and scored the first of his seven goals in their 2-1 defeat against Romford in September 1964. Highlights of his time at Twerton Park included 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the Southern League Premier, and reaching the 3rd Round of the FA Cup in 1964, their joint furthest ever journey in the oldest association football competition in the world.
Thereafter a peripatetic existence took him around the Somerset and Wiltshire non-league circuit, encompassing:
In part 2 of the ‘Dutch Connection’ Keith Brookman, brings you up to date with our brace of recent encounters with a Dutch team, and also looks at the ephemera of all things Dutch Gas related.
The last time that Rovers faced Dutch opposition in Bristol was at The Mem on 2nd August 2008 when ADO Den Haag were in town for a pre-season friendly and, in front of a crowd of 1,816, won 3-2 thanks to goals from Richard Knopper, Hirsut Meric and Hans van den Haar while Ben Hunt and Rickie Lambert replied for Rovers.
Rovers were missing a number of players, including new signings Darryl Duffy and Jeff Hughes and picked up two more injuries in this game, as Danny Coles and Ryan Green were forced off.
Knopper opened the scoring in the first half and while Rovers had chances to equalise, they were thwarted by goalkeeper Robert Zwinkels who made saves from Craig Hinton, Craig Disley and Lambert.
The visitors added a second goal just minutes after half time when Meric headed beyond the reach of goalkeeper Steve Phillips.
However Lambert pull a goal back for The Gas when he sprung the offside trap and drove a low shot past Zwinkels.
Phillips then gave away a penalty and was beaten by Van Den Haar from the spot before Hunt scored Rovers’ second goal of the afternoon.
Rovers: Phillips, Green (Hunt), Lines, Campbell, Lambert, Pipe (Parrinello), Coles (Hinton), Rigg, Disley, Lescott.
Last year, of course, Rovers returned to Holland and played a match against FC Eindhoven at DOSL Sports Park in Leende on the outskirts of the city.
More than 300 Gasheads made the trip to see their side run out comfortable 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Ollie Clarke and Kyle Bennett.
Rovers’ starting XI for the match were; Slocombe, Clarke (J), Lockyer, Broadbent, Kelly, Rodman, Sercombe, Upson, Clark (O), Bennett, Mensah.
On the bench were; Smith, Kilgour, Craig, Leadbitter, Russe, Matthews, Nicholls.
In addition to the three Dutch born players who have played for Rovers, and who are mentioned at the beginning of this article, several Rovers players have played football in the Netherlands.
The Northern Irish international striker James Quinn spent a month on loan with Rovers over Easter 2002 and scored once in six League matches. He joined the Dutch Eredivisie side Willem II at the end of that season and, over nearly three years, scored 11 times in 30 (+17) matches.
Paul Bannon (1956-2016) scored eight League goals for Rovers in 27 (+2) League matches between February 1984 and July 1985, when he left Rovers deal to join the Dutch club NAC Breda.
Jamie Forrester, who was with Utrecht in 1999/2000, scored nine goals for Rovers in 23 (+9) League games between 2004 and 2006.
Harry Rose (1900-41), who played centre half in 15 League games for Rovers in the early 1920s, was manager of Ajax Amsterdam for the 1925/26 season.
Harry Topping (1913-2001) played for Rovers in the unofficial FA Cup campaign of 1945/46 and was coach at Feyenoord in 1950/51, as well as PSV Eindhoven the following season.
Les Talbot (1901-83), who represented Rovers during wartime football in the Second World War, died in Alkmaar, having coached five Dutch professional sides. He led both Heemstede in 1953 and DWS in 1964 to the Dutch title and was manager at our 2018 opponents FC Eindhoven from 1969 to 1973.
In addition, there have been a number of Dutch players who have played against The Gas.
Only one Dutch international has opposed Rovers in League football; this was the unmistakable figure of Edgar Davids.
At the age of 39, after a long career encompassing many years with Ajax, for whom he played in the 1996 Champions League Final, as well as 74 caps and six goals for Holland, Davids was player/manager of the Barnet side which lost 2-1 to Rovers at The Mem in February 2013.
Billy Hunter, a Scotsman who played in seven Southern League fixtures for Millwall against Rovers between 1904 and 1909, was later manager of the Dutch national side.
Jack Reynolds, in Watford’s side against Rovers in March 1908, was manager of Ajax in three spells between 1915 and 1947, leading them to eight Dutch championships. He also coached the national side, as did Edgar Chadwick (Southampton, 1900-02), who led Holland to the bronze medal in the 1912 Olympics before coaching Sparta to the Dutch League championship in 1915.
Jack Hall, who played in the Southern League for Brighton against Rovers in April 1909, coached at Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and Willem II between 1926 and 1936.
Twenty seven Dutch-born opponents have opposed Rovers in League football, amongst them Pim Balkestein (Brentford and AFC Wimbledon), the son of a Netherlands international.
Most recently, Anfernee Dijksteel, born in October 1996, was in the Charlton Athletic side which opposed Rovers in April 2018, whilst Dutch born Queensy Menig and Gevaro Nepomuceno (both Oldham Athletic) and Rodney Kongolo (Doncaster Rovers) also played against The Gas.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, with 23 Dutch caps to his name, managed Northampton Town against Rovers last season.
Many of Rovers’ opponents down the years, most frequently in recent years, have enjoyed football in Holland as well as England.
Amongst the earlier names is Raymond Lawrance (1911-87), who played against Rovers in both Newport County’s games of the 1937/38 season, before spending the final inter war season at Dutch club Haarlem.
Having played in the Swindon Town side that lost 1-0 at Eastville in a Southern League fixture in March 1908, Frank Warburton was manager in 1910 at Amsterdamsche FC, from 1910 to 1913 at Hercules Utrecht and between 1913 and 1935 at Den Haag. He was also national manager of Holland from 1919 to 1923, a tenure that included winning a bronze medal for football at the 1920 Olympic Games.
Fred Pagnam, who scored twice in eight games for Fulham against Rovers between 1922 and 1926, later coached in Holland. Len Hill, in goal for QPR in nine League games against Rovers between 1921 and 1925, coached Sports Club Utrecht in 1933.
Jimmy Yates scored twice for Southampton when they met Rovers in the FA Cup in December 1897; he was the first foreign coach in the Netherlands when he joined HVV in July 1904.
Another opponent was Wilson Lennox (1901-76), who scored twice in the three games he played against Rovers whilst with Charlton. In May 1934 he accepted a post as coach at the Dutch club Enschede to help the growth of football in Holland.
The future England manager Bobby Robson played five times for Fulham against Rovers between 1953 and 1956, scoring twice; he was manager at PSV Eindhoven, 1990-93 and 1998/99. Steve McClaren was in the Bristol City side beaten by Rovers on New Year’s Day 1987 and was manager of Twente in two spells.
The recent signing of goalkeeper Jordi Van Stappershoef means that he is the fourth Dutch player to join Rovers.
Of the other three two of them, Michel Kuipers and Kelle Roos, were also keepers, meaning that the only Dutch outfield player to have been on our books is Sergio Ommel.
Michael Kuipers was born in Amsterdam in June 1974, played in goal in one game for Rovers in March 1999 and then enjoyed a decade on Brighton’s books.
Fellow goalkeeper Kelle Roos, born in Rijkevoort in May 1992 and formerly with RKSV Nuenen, played for Wimbledon against Rovers in March 2016 and played 16 times in the League on loan with Rovers the following campaign.
Roos actually made his Rovers debut in a game that was expunged from the records and those who were at Swindon on 27th August 2016 will know why. The match, which remained goalless, was abandoned after an hour because of a waterlogged pitch following a thunderstorm and torrential rain during the half time break.
He appeared in goal for Derby County in the Championship play off final against Aston Villa in May 2019 and has signed a new three year deal with the Pride Park outfit.
Sergio Ommel was born in Den Haag in September 1977 and played for both Groningen and Stormvogels Telstar from Ijmuiden, before joining Rovers in November 2001. He returned to these shores in August 2018 when he played in Ashley Belsten’s Charity match at Mangotsfield.
His eight goals in 18 (+5) League games made him Rovers’ second highest scorer in 2001/02 and on his release at the end of that season he returned to Telstar.
Stappershoef may be interested to know that there are many other links between Rovers and his home country.
For instance, Rovers beat the Dutch National side in a friendly match played on Sunday 16th November 1930, just 24 hours after a League match and following an overnight North Sea crossing, Rovers won 3-2.
Rovers were reported to be surprised by the ball playing skills of this emergent nation, 22 year old outside right Adje Gerritse (1908-95) of Hilversum catching the eye and centre forward Gerrit Hulsman (1900-64) scoring twice.
Nonetheless, Ronnie Dix’s two goals and one from Arthur Attwood earned Rovers a deserved victory. Eight of the Dutch side that day won full caps for their country: Jan van Diepenbeek, Tap Wim, Henk Breitner, Adje Gerritse, Eef Ruisch, Gerrit Hulsman, Jan van den Broeck and Joop van Nellen.
On 5th April 1948 Rovers hosted Racing Club, Haarlem at Eastville and ran out 1-0 winners courtesy of Vic Lambden’s tenth minute goal.
Apparently the game was a great success as in the match programme for Rovers’ game against Notts County on 10th April it was stated that; ‘The match with Racing Club, Haarlem gave the spectators a most interesting exhibition of soccer, and although it was only a friendly game there were thrills enough to send most people home happy on a Monday evening.
‘The Chairman of the Haarlem Club told the writer that the sportsmanship of the Bristol crowd tremendously impressed both their players and officials.
‘There is little doubt but that this match, together with the social side which accompanied it, created a most happy feeling between the two clubs.’
‘In connection with the visit to Bristol, the work of the Supporters Club in organising so well the tour of a tobacco factory and the coach trip to Cheddar was greatly appreciated and provides one more example of the splendid job they are doing.’
News of a Rovers tour to Holland was mentioned in the club’s news bulletin dated 29th July 1948 which read; ‘latest information from Holland leaves no doubt but that the Rovers party will be having a first class tour. The opening of the Haarlem Flower Week and Illuminations, its first post war revival, comes on the Friday that the Rovers arrive.
‘Apart from the two matches to be played (on Saturday August 7th and Tuesday August 10th), the party have a very full programme of sightseeing arranged for them by our hospitable Dutch friends.
‘The tour closes with a Dinner which has been arranged by the Netherlands Football Association, and the Burgomaster of Haarlem will be presiding.’
On 5th August 1948, 14 Bristol Rovers players, accompanied by four directors, two representatives from the Supporters Club, the club secretary, trainer and Mr WA Wilkins, the MP for Bristol South, left Bristol for an overnight stay at the Grand Hotel in Southampton Row, London.
The following morning the tour party travelled to Liverpool Street Station and then on by train to Harwich where they took the boat train to the Hook of Holland. They would arrive at their destination at 6.45pm when another train journey would take them to their hotel in Haarlem.
For reasons unknown, neither manager Brough Fletcher or his assistant, Bert Tann, made the trip and Chairman Con Stevens was also absent, though he did send the following message to his fellow director Jim Bissicks.
“I know that not only you but George, Lew and Ernest (directors) will do all you can to maintain amongst the boys the feeling that although they are going over to play football and, at the same time, to enjoy a pleasant holiday, you are really going to Holland as English ambassadors and the good and friendly behaviour of our boys will do much to strengthen the friendship between two nations.”
The day after arriving in Holland, the party took in a visit to the battlefields where airborne troops had landed and fought in 1944. It was also the day of the first game of the two match tour, against Dutch First Division side NEC.
The game was played at Niymegan, on a pitch described as a miniature Wembley, in front of a crowd of 14,000 and according to reports Rovers were; ‘Decidedly unlucky to lose by the only goal, scored in the closing stages.
‘NEC included three guest players in their lineup, all internationals, and their half backs played a sterling game. Rovers, tired after some 36 hours of travelling, acquitted themselves well.’
The following Tuesday Rovers took on Racing Club Haarlem in a match that had been arranged following the Dutch side’s visit to Bristol just a few months earlier, and first half goals by Lambden, Watkins and Lockier put them in control. Lambden added a fourth in the opening minutes of the second half before the hosts scored twice to make the scoreline more respectable.
Mr Wilkins the MP appeared to double up as a reporter for this game. Saying; ‘Once Rovers were three up they gave a grand exhibition of football which was thoroughly appreciated by the Dutch spectators.’
Skipper Ray Warren said; ‘The matches gave us a chance to get together before our trials next Saturday.’
Club secretary John Gummow added; ‘There was no sea sickness, no injuries and no luggage lost. In fact, it was a very happy trip altogether.’
The next Rovers News Bulletin, issued on 19th August, went into great detail about the tour and here are just a few extracts of what was said; ‘There is no doubt that the tour in Holland will live long in the memories of all those who made the journey. The immense hospitality and great kindness shown to the party will have created a lasting impression.
‘The two games were contested splendidly and in the initial match the Rovers were decidedly unlucky to lose by the only goal, scored in the closing stages……It was in this match that the visitors came across the difficulties of the Continental referee and his interpretation of the rules and also the strangeness to be experienced when playing with a white, highly enameled ball.’
‘The Blue and Whites benefitted from a good rest before taking the field for the second game and netted three goals within nine minutes during the first half and another goal in the opening minutes of the second half clinched the issue.’
‘So much was seen and done in a crowded five days, for instance journeying through the maze of Amsterdam Canals in the same launch that Mr Winston Churchill made a similar trip earlier in the year, left no doubt as to the authenticity of that city’s claim to be the Venice of Northern Europe.’
‘The visit to the islands of Marken and Volndam brought the most mirthful episode of the tour when half a dozen or so members of the party changed into Dutch National Costume, much to the delight of the slimmer and possibly more sedate lookers on…Jim Bissicks, John Gummow, Jack Pitt, John Watling, Len Hodges and Vic Lambden provided as funny a spectacle as could possibly be imagined, more especially as clogs and pantaloons were not all of the correct size.’
In much more sombre mood was the laying of wreaths at the British Airborne Cemetery at Arnhem and the visit to the graves of the Dutch Underground Movement near Haarlem. Impressive was the inscription ‘It is better to die standing than to live on your knees,’ So few words with so much meaning…’
In 1951 there was a fortnight of football to celebrate the Festival of Britain in 1951, whereby various European clubs toured the country.
Rovers’ sole fixture in this period was a goalless draw at home to the Dutch side EDO Haarlem on 14th May 1951.
Watch out for Pt.2 of the ‘Dutch Connection’ – coming very soon…