Managers United

By Keith Brookman

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United have been a big news story this season.

Solskjaer, the incumbent of the managerial seat at Old Trafford, has hardly put a foot wrong since taking charge and has led the club to the quarter finals of the Champions League.

So, it’s hard to believe that in July it will be twenty years since Manchester United, and Solskjaer, played at the Memorial Ground.

Team group taken before the game [Photo credit - Neil Brookman]
Group photo taken before the game  [Photo credit – Neil Brookman]

The occasion was, of course, a testimonial match for Lee Martin.  The former United defender, who scored the winning goal in the 1989 FA Cup final replay against Crystal Palace (against former Rovers goalkeeper Nigel Martyn), had been forced to retire from the game through injury.

His career had seen him leave Old Trafford in 1994 having made only 73 league appearances for the club. He signed for Glasgow Celtic that year, but a broken leg sustained while in Scotland restricted his appearances to 19 and in the summer of 1996, he had been persuaded, by Ian Holloway, to join Rovers.

However, persistent back problems during his time in BS7 eventually persuaded him to call it a day, though not before a final attempt to save his career with a loan spell at Huddersfield Town, where he played four games.

It was all in vain, though, and he was forced to admit defeat and his former boss, Alex Ferguson, had no hesitation in agreeing to bring a United side down to Bristol to play against The Gas even though United were scheduled to face Arsenal in the Charity Shield at Wembley just two days later.

United, who had completed a remarkable treble of winning the Premiership, FA Cup and European Cup the previous season, included regular first teamers David Beckham, Paul Scholes, David May and Solskjaer in their lineup.

Taken from the South Stand End, you can see there was still no roof on what is now the Thatcher’s End [Photo credit - Neil Brookman]
Taken from the South Stand End, you can see there was still no roof on what is now the Thatcher’s Terrace [Photo credit – Neil Brookman]
A crowd of 10,534 turned up on a balmy July evening and they saw United take an early lead through Solskjaer who tapped the ball in from close range after goalkeeper Lee Jones failed to hold a Ryan Ford cross.

Rovers scored twice in four minutes just after half time, though, Jamie Cureton whipped in a curling right foot shot off the underside of the crossbar for the equaliser before putting Rovers ahead from the penalty spot after Jason Roberts had been fouled by John O’Shea.

Mind you, his spot kick was beaten out by goalkeeper Nick Culkin, who later spent a season long loan with The Gas, but ‘Curo’ picked up the rebound and slotted home.

Lee Jones saved a penalty at the other end, from Alex Norman after Mike Trought had fouled David Healy, but United did equalise two minutes from time with a 25 yard effort from Healy.

It’s a Solskjaer sandwich - the United striker is flanked by Steve Foster and David Hillier [Photo credit - Neil Brookman]
It’s a Solskjaer sandwich – the United striker is flanked by Steve Foster and David Hillier  [Photo credit – Neil Brookman]
The Rovers side that night included a number of members of the current Former Players Association, the full lineup being as follows; Jones, Pethick, Thomson (Smith, 67), Tillson (Martin, 84), Foster (Trought, 67), Challis, Hillier (Trees, 65), Mauge, Pritchard (Leoni, 65), Roberts (Bennett, 63), Cureton (Ellington, 63).

United’s lineup was; Culkin, Clegg, May, O’Shea (Hilton,77), Curtis, Ford (Healy, 64), Beckham (Stewart, 64), Scholes (Welling, 64), Chadwick, Solskjaer (Norman, 64), Greening.

All of this brings me to the title of the article inspired, naturally, by the photos shown below; Michael Meaker with Paul Scholes and Solskjaer with Ray Johnston.

All four, of course, are or have recently been managers, something probably only Solskjaer might have been thinking about all those years ago. While he’s in charge at Old Trafford, his erstwhile colleague Paul Scholes recently took his first steps in management, with the club next to where he grew up, Oldham Athletic, but resigned after just 31 days.

As for Meaker, well he was assistant manager at Truro City until last week, and Johnston, whose only Rovers appearance came in the final game of the 1998/99 season against Macclesfield Town (‘Curo’, who else, scored a hat trick that 4-3 win at Moss Rose) is now in charge at Hallen.

I’m not too sure if any of the other United players involved that night have gone on to manage/coach at any level, but of the Rovers players on duty, Lee Jones is goalkeeping coach at Morecambe, Andy Tillson has had extensive coaching duties with Exeter City and Team Bath, while Trevor Challis is with the Bristol City Academy and David Hillier did have a spell as manager of Oldland Abbotonians.

Stephane Leoni is manager of French side US Sarre-Union and Jamie Cureton, while still playing, and scoring for Bishop’s Stortford, is also their joint Interim Manager.

BRFPA Former Players Dinner 2019

Oh, no, you just missed the 3rd Annual Former Players Dinner which danced its way into town on 28th March, and then lumbered out in a slightly more merry haze.

The good news is that there is a link to the ‘match report’ HERE, which includes over 30 photos and a FREE 20 page match night programme that is available to view or download > BRFPA Annual Dinner 2019 – Match Night Programme

This year’s Special Guest was none other than former Rovers, Liverpool and England striker Sir Rickie Lambert  –   back of the net!

Rickie, Craig Hinton, Byron Anthony & Steve Elliott  –  To register an interest for our 2020 Dinner please email –   [Photo by Neil Brookman]

 The sold out event featured, in the end, 27 former players and first team members of staff, boasting 5,518 appearances and 479 gas goals between them!


Left to Right –  Seated – Paul Randall, John ‘Josser’ Watling, Howard Radford, Harold Jarman.

Standing – Andy Reece, Bobby Gould. Tom Stanton, Rickie Lambert (behind), Peter Aitken, Steve Elliott, Dave Gilroy, Lee Mansell, Byron Anthony, Craig Hinton, Dave Wilcox (far behind), Justin Skinner, Tom Ramasut, Simon Bryant (behind), Bob Bloomer, Geoff Twentyman, Lewis Hogg (behind), Gavin Kelly, Vaughan Jones, Billy Clark (far behind, almost obscured), Trevor Challis, Christian McClean and Phil Purnell.

Two Penalties

By Stephen Byrne and Keith Brookman

When Rovers were awarded two penalties at Portsmouth a few days ago (19th February 2019) I couldn’t for the life of me remember the last time we had two spot kicks in the same game.

I needn’t have worried though, as Stephen Byrne, as usual, had the answer to hand and he kindly sent me the complete list of 19 matches in which we have been awarded two penalties in a match (reproduced at the end of this article).

There are three current Former Players Association members on that list, namely Jamie Cureton, Marcus Stewart and Richard Walker.

Richard walker pen - Photo Credit Neil Brookman
Richard Walker successfully scores from the penalty spot against Mansfield Town in 2005    
[Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]
I doubt if Jonson Clarke-Harris will dwell on his penalty miss against Portsmouth at Fratton Park; having scored once from the spot in the first half, he blazed his second half penalty over the bar. He seems a confident player and I’m sure it won’t be the last spot kick he takes for us!

He’s in good company, though, as he’s not the first Rovers player to have taken two penalties in a match and scored one and missed one. It happened to Jamie Cureton on two occasions, but more of that later!

It was on Boxing Day 1925, in a match against Bournemouth, that Rovers were first awarded two penalties and both were scored by Jonah Wilcox. He also scored twice more from open play in a 7-2 win and thus became the second Rovers player, after Sid Leigh in 1921, to score four goals in a league match.

Rovers weren’t so fortunate on the second occasion they were awarded two spot kicks in the same match. When suffering a 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Swindon Town on in December 1928 both Albert Rotherham and John Phillips failed to find the back of the net with their attempts from 12 yards.

The first Rovers player to take two penalties in a match and score one and miss one was Harold Houghton, in a 3-1 away defeat at Cardiff City in March 1937.

Jackie Pitt scored both penalties awarded to Rovers in a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Newport County on in March 1948 and both Alex Munro and Tony Ford scored from the spot when Rovers recorded a 3-0 home win against Luton Town on 10th February 1970.

Sandy Allan, against Tranmere Rovers in 1971, and Bruce Bannister against Blackburn Rovers in 1972, both scored twice from the spot. Both games were won by Rovers (2-1 against Tranmere, 3-0 against Bournemouth).

Bannister wasn’t so ‘spot on’ in 1974, though, when he scored one and missed one in a 3-0 win against Bournemouth.

Another 3-0 win, against Brentford, in 1985 saw Brian Williams successfully convert two penalties and Marcus Stewart did the same in a 4-3 win against Bradford City in 1993.

Now we come to Jamie Cureton, who twice took two spot kicks in one game, against Reading in 1998 and Colchester United in January 2000. On each occasion he scored one and missed one. We beat Reading 4-1 but lost 5-4 at Colchester.

JC pen - Photo credit Jeff Davis
Placing the ball on the spot the Jamie Cureton way [Photo credit – Jeff Davis]
A 6-2 win against Oxford United, in 2001, saw Dwayne Plummer miss a penalty and Mark Walters score one, while in a 2-2 draw against Bury in 2004 Jamie Forrester scored one and missed one.

Junior Agogo and Richard Walker both scored penalties in a 4-4 home draw against Mansfield Town in 2005 and the same two players took penalties in a 2-2 draw against Orient in 2006. That game ended 3-3 with Agogo missing his penalty and Walker scoring his.

In 2007 Walker scored both of his spot kicks in a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Leyton Orient and in 2009 Darryl Duffy missed a penalty and Jeff Hughes scored on in a 1-0 home win against Huddersfield Town (see photos below)

That was the last occasion we were awarded two penalties in a game, until Tuesday 19th February this year and the tale of Jonson Clarke-Harris against Pompey!

So, out of a total of 38 penalties awarded in the 19 games we have been awarded two of them, we have scored 27 and missed 11.

Richard Walker has been involved in three games where we have been awarded two penalties and has a 100% success rate, having scored four out of four, while Jamie Cureton missed two of the four spot kicks he took when we were awarded two in a match. However he more than made up for that in other games, and is still scoring goals, for Bishop’s Stortford!

Walker and Junior Agogo are the only two players to have taken spot kicks, when we have been awarded two, in more than one game.

We have twice been awarded two penalties in matches against Bournemouth and Leyton Orient but only once have we been awarded spot kicks twice in a match in the same season. That was in 2004/05, against Bury and Mansfield Town.

Interestingly, we have been awarded two penalties in 16 home games but only three times on our travels.  Should we read anything into this?!

The full record of matches in which we have been awarded two penalties is as follows.

26.12.25 Rovers 7 Bournemouth 2        Wilcox (scored 2)
29.12.28 Rovers 1 Swindon T 4              Rotherham (missed), Phillips (missed)
27.03.37 Cardiff C 3 Rovers 1                 Houghton (scored 1, missed 1)
27.03.48 Rovers 2 Newport C 3              Pitt (scored 2)
10.02.70 Rovers 3 Luton T 0                   Ford (scored), Munro (scored)
21.08.71 Rovers 2 Tranmere R 1            Allan (scored 2)
14.03.72 Rovers 3 Blackburn R 0           Bannister (scored 2)
19.01.74 Rovers 3 Bournemouth 0        Bannister (scored 1, missed 1)
06.04.85 Rovers 3 Brentford 0               B.Williams (scored 2)
09.10.93 Rovers 4 Bradford C 3             Stewart (scored 2)
15.08.98 Rovers 4 Reading 1                  Cureton (missed 1, scored 1)
08.01.00 Colchester U 5 Rovers 4          Cureton (scored 1, missed 1)
21.04.01 Rovers 6 Oxford U 2                Plummer (missed), Walters (scored)
10.08.04 Rovers 2 Bury 2                        Forrester (scored 1, missed 1)
19.03.05 Rovers 4 Mansfield T 4           Walker (scored), Agogo (scored)
31.01.06 Rovers 3 Orient 3                     Agogo (missed), Walker (scored)
29.09.07 Rovers 2 Orient 3                     Walker (scored 2)
23.08.09 Rovers 1 Huddersfield T 0      Duffy (missed), Hughes (scored)
19.02.19 Portsmouth 1 Rovers 1            Clarke-Harris (scored 1, missed 1)