By Keith Brookman
One of the jobs I have been tasked with, since joining the committee of the Bristol Rovers Former Players Association, is to attempt to recruit new members and let them know about us and the events we organise.
We currently have over 120 players on board and recent additions to the membership include Paul Trollope, Howard Radford, Rory Gaffney, Andy Collett, Byron Anthony and Michael Smith.
We’ve also bagged former Rovers striker Ellis Harrison, who only left the club in the summer of 2018 when he signed for Ipswich Town.
Apart from a brief loan spell with Hartlepool United, the Newport born forward was with Rovers from a young age
He made excellent progress in his first year as a scholar and was handed his first team debut by caretaker boss Stuart Campbell down at St Mary’s Stadium when he went on as a second half substitute against Southampton on 16th April 2011, a game that ended in a 1-0 defeat for The Gas.
He continued to progress the following season, scoring regularly for Rovers’ youth team, and was handed his first professional contract in the summer of 2012.
He made his first start for the club in a 3-0 win against Fleetwood Town on 12th January 2013 and scored his first senior goal two weeks later, in a 3-1 win against Rotherham United.
He enjoyed a great deal of success at first team level and ended the 2012/13 campaign with 13 appearances and three goals to his name.
Such was his progress that he was offered a new three year deal in the summer of 2013 and earned the first of his 14 Welsh U-21 caps in October 2013 when he played against Lithuania and San Marino (against whom he scored his first goal for his country).
He was unable to sustain his progress during the following campaign and a disappointing season saw him appear in just 25 league games, 16 of which were from the bench.
He was placed on the transfer list at the end of the 2013/14 campaign but worked hard in pre-season training and featured regularly in the squad in 2014/15, making most of his appearances from the bench. He scored the first hat trick of his career in the 7-1 FA Cup Fourth Preliminary Round win against Dorchester Town in October.
An extended run in the side towards the end of the season saw him score at Wembley in the Promotion Play Off Final against Grimsby Town.
After scoring in our league match at Oxford January 2016, Ellis spent a month’s loan with Hartlepool United, where he made just two league appearances, but he returned to score some important goals for Rovers as promotion to League One was clinched on the final day of the season.
In 2016/17 he scored four goals in a match, the first Rovers player to do so since Rickie Lambert, in a 5-0 win against Northampton Town, on 7th January 2017.
Last season he enjoyed what was, arguably, his best season in a Rovers shirt when he scored 12 goals in 42 league appearances, a total that included two more against Northampton Town, who must dread him playing against them!
A bubbly personality who livened up the dressing room, Ellis is actually a very caring young man and would go out of his way to help/meet supporters.
I used to give him a lift into training before he passed his driving test and bought his own set of wheels and got to know him very well. Daft as a brush at times, but always has time for people, whether they be family, friends or fans.