Rovers on this day – August (Part 1)

AUGUST 1st

Happy Birthday to former Rovers winger Brian Jenkins, born on this day in 1935.

Played for Cwmbran, Cardiff City and Exeter City before joining Rovers in the summer of 1963.

Made his league debut for the club, against Bristol City a month later and featured in six more league games before a move to Merthyr Tydfil in 1964.

The holder of three Welsh U-21 caps, he later played for Nuneaton Borough, Kings Lynn and Hunstanton Town.

Happy Birthday, also, to former Rovers defender Johnny Burn, born on this day in 1995.

A schoolboy footballer with Sunderland, Burn enjoyed a loan spell with hometown club Darlington before joining Middlesbrough in March 2013. There were further loan spells, at Oldham Athletic and at Kilmarnock before he arrived in BS7 in January 2017.

After only three league appearances for the Gas (all away from home), he was loaned to York City before joining Darlington. Spent last season with Northern League Division One club Whickham.

Former Rovers striker Junior Agogo was born on this day in 1979.

Born in Accra, Ghana, Junior was with Chelsea as a schoolboy footballer, although he signed for Sheffield Wednesday in October 1996.

There followed loan spells with Oldham Athletic, Chester City, Chesterfield and Lincoln City before a move to America saw him turn out for Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes.

Junior Agogo [Photo Credit – Neil Brookman]

On his return to these shores he signed for Queens Park Rangers and, in June 2002 joined Barnet for what became just a solitary season.

It was at Underhill though where he became a prolific scorer (19 goals in less than 40 appearances), earning a move to BS7, joining Rovers, initially on trial, in June 2003. The deal became a permanent one after the trial period and, in three years with the Gas he scored 45 goals in 120 starts and 20 sub appearances.

Nottingham Forest paid £150,000 to secure his services in June 2006 and he later played for the Egyptian giants Zamalek and Apollon Limassol in Cyprus before appearing briefly for Hibernian in Scotland before retirement.

Blessed with blistering pace and a striker’s predatory instinct Junior also scored 12 goals whilst earning 27 national caps for Ghana.

Sadly, Junior passed away in August 2019, aged just 40.

AUGUST 2ND

Twelve years ago today Rovers hosted Dutch side ADO Den Haag in a pre-season friendly at the Memorial Stadium and were beaten 3-2 in front of a crowd of 1,816.

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.

The only goal of the first half was scored by Richard Knopper for the visitors who had goalkeeper Robert Zwinkle to thanks for preserving their lead as he made excellent saves from Craig Disley, Craig Hinton and Rickie Lambert.

The visitors added a second goal just minutes after half time when Hirsut 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 Zwinkel.

Phillips then gave away a penalty and was beaten by Van Den Haar from the spot before Ben Hunt scored Rovers’ second goal of the afternoon.

Rovers: Phillips, Green (Hunt), Lines, Campbell, Lambert, Pipe (Parrinello), Coles (Hinton), Rigg, Disley, Lescott

AUGUST 3RD

And so, we come full circle as this series of articles on the births, deaths and debuts of post war Bristol Rovers players began a year ago today on the opening day of the 2019/20 season and became a bit of an obsession of mine.

There have been a few mistakes along the way, for which I apologise, but I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my daily ramblings and been reminded of the famous, and not so famous, players who have pulled on the blue and white quarters since 1946.

For the record, that opening day game last season was against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, where we lost 2-0 and six players, namely Anssi Jaakola, Mark Little, Luke Leahy, Tom Davies, Victor Adeboyejo and Tyler Smith all made their Gas league debuts.

I don’t think any of us could have imagined how the season would pan out, or that it would be curtailed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Here’s hoping for a successful and pandemicless 2020/21 campaign…and possibly a few more anniversaries!

AUGUST 4TH

Two years ago today Rovers were beaten 2-1 by Peterborough United at London Road on the opening day of the 2018/19 campaign.

First half goals from Matt Godden, in the first minute, and Mark O’Hara put the home side in the driving seat and it wasn’t until deep into second half stoppage time that Rovers managed to score a consolation goal, through Tom Lockyer.

Programme Cover from our opening day fixture
at Peterborough United on this day in 2018

Manager Darrell Clarke wasn’t a happy man and said afterwards; ‘The first 45 minutes wasn’t acceptable. We talked about having a bright start and getting on the front foot and we were a goal down inside a minute, which is the last thing you need.’

Rovers lined up as follows that afternoon: Slocombe, Leadbitter (Reilly, 61), Lockyer, Craig, Clarke, Upson, Sercombe, Lines, Bennett (Matthews, 66), Rodman, Nichols (Mensah, 70). Substitutes: Smith, Broadbent, Kelly, Russe

AUGUST 5TH

On this day in 1972 Rovers beat Sheffield United 7-6 on penalties at Eastville to win the Watney Cup competition.

The brewery sponsored competition was contested between the two sides in each of the four English Leagues who had scored the most goals in the previous season and not won promotion.

In 1971/72 Rovers finished in sixth place in the Third Division and scored 75 goals which saw them qualify alongside First Division sides Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Second Division sides Blackpool and Burnley, Third Division rivals Notts County, and Lincoln City and Peterborough United from the Fourth Division.

On their way to the final Rovers beat Wolves 2-0, with Bruce Bannister and Kenny Stephens on target, while Bannister and Frankie Prince were the goalscorers when Burnley were also beaten 2-0.

That set up an Eastville final against Sheffield United when a crowd of 19,768 saw the sides play out a goalless draw which meant a penalty shootout was required to determine the winners.

Phil Roberts, Brian Godfrey, Mike Green, Bruce Bannister and Sandy Allan successfully converted their spot kicks while United matched them thanks to the penalties taken by Keith Eddy, Tony Currie, Bill Dearden, Eddy Colquhounj and Alan Woodward.

Lindsay Parsons made it 6-5 to Rovers but Stewart Scullion’s penalty made it all square again. Rovers edged in front thanks to Bryn Jones before Dick Sheppard saved from Ted Hemsley to ensure victory for Rovers.

Rovers players with the Watney Cup.

AUGUST 6TH

On this day in 1994 Rovers hosted Queens Park Rangers in a testimonial match for Phil Purnell and a crowd of 3,022 were at Twerton Park to see Rangers win 2-1.

Phil had scored 22 goals in 152 league games for the club and his career had been ended through injury after he broke his leg in a reserve team match against Yeovil Town.

In charge of Rangers was former Rovers boss Gerry Francis and three former Rovers players also turned out that day, namely Ian Holloway, Steve Yates and Dennis Bailey.

Future Rovers players Michael Meaker and Bradley Allen also featured in the game, while there were two former Rangers players, Andy Tillson and Justin Channing, in the Rovers squad.

Justin Skinner scored for Rovers after 25 minutes, but Kevin Gallen scored twice for Rangers to seal victory.

Rovers: Parkin (Law), Pritchard (Hayfield), McLean (Tillson), Wright, Maddison, Channing,Skinner (Gurney), Tovey, Sterling, Paul, Taylor (Browning)

AUGUST 7TH

Rovers drew 0-0 against Brentford at the Memorial Stadium on this day in 1999, the opening fixture of the 1999/2000 season.

A crowd of 8,514 saw the sides play out a goalless draw, Rovers’ 800th league game in which they had shared the spoils.

Ronnie Mauge made his Rovers debut that afternoon against a Brentford side that finished with ten men after Herman Hreidarsson was sent off two minutes from time. Future Rovers players Danny Boxall, Ijah Anderson and Rob Quinn were in the Brentford side.

The photo shows Robbie Pethick, David Hillier, Ronnie Mauge, David Pritchard and Trevor Challis preparing to defend a Brentford free kick.

Rovers: Jones, Pritchard, Challis, Foster, Thomson, Tillson, Mauge, Hillier, Cureton, Roberts, Pethick (Bennett, 88). Substitutes: Leoni, Ellington, Kuipers, Trees.

Rovers’ defensive wall, Robbie Pethick, David Hillier,
Ronnie Mauge & David Pritchard, in action
against Brentford [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]

AUGUST 8TH

On this day in 1983 Rovers played the second game of their four match pre-season tour of Scotland and drew 1-1 against Airdrieonians.

Paul Randall scored for Rovers five minutes before half time, but the hosts equalised after the break through Steve Miller.

Player/Manager David Williams, who completed his first full game for six months, was said to be delighted with the form shown by youngsters Mark Waite, Carl Metcalfe, Mike Adams and Adi Morris though he was disappointed to lose triallist Dave Linney through injury.

Rovers: Cashley, Linney, McCaffery, Parkin, Waite, Randall, Williams, Metcalfe, Barrett, Morris, Adams. Substitutes: Kite, Slatter, Stephens

AUGUST 9TH

The opening day of the 1997/98 season saw Rovers play out a 1-1 draw with Plymouth Argyle at the Memorial Stadium in front of a crowd of 7,386.

Barry Hayles, on his Rovers league debut that day, gave Rovers the lead but they were pegged back when Argyle skipper Mick Heathcote equalised for Argyle, who finished the game with ten men following the red card issued to Carlo Corazzin.

Barry Hayles celebrates his debut day goal against Plymouth Argyle.
[Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]

Also making their Rovers debuts that day were Jason Perry and Steve Foster. It proved to be an eventful game for Perry, who had to have eight stitches in a head wound, but it was even worse for his team mate Graeme Power, who dislocated his shoulder.

Rovers: Collett, Perry, Gayle, Tillson, Power (Foster, 36), Cureton, Holloway, Penrice, Parmenter (Ramasut, 46), Hayles, Alsop (Beadle, 68)

AUGUST 10TH

On this day in 2002 Manager Ray Graydon got off to a losing start as his first game in charge ended in a 2-1 defeat against Torquay United at Plainmoor.

The manager included six players in his starting XI who were making their league debuts for the club, namely Adam Barrett, Danny Boxall, Anwar Uddin, Rob Quinn, Paul Tait and Giuliano Grazioli.

His side may have lost, but Grazioli could lay claim to scoring the quickest Third Division goal when he netted after only five minutes.

Martin Gritton equalised for the home side and an Alex Russell penalty gave them all three points.

Rovers: Howie, Boxall, Uddin, Barrett, Challis, Carlisle (Richards), Bryant (Astafjevs), Quinn, McKeever, Tait, Grazioli. Substitutes: Hogg, Gilroy, Clarke.

AUGUST 11TH

The opening day of the 2007/08 season saw Rovers travel to play Port Vale in their first league match following promotion.

They returned home with a point from a 1-1 draw, earned courtesy of Andy Williams who was making his league debut for the club.

Vale had taken the lead through a Luke Rodgers penalty on 66 minutes but Williams, who went on in place of Rickie Lambert after 73 minutes, equalised four minutes after entering the fray.

Williams, who scored eight goals in 87 league games for Rovers, has since played for Hereford United, Yeovil Town (twice), Swindon Town, Doncaster Rovers and Northampton Town, for whom he scored at Wembley in last season’s play off final. He was released by the Cobblers shortly after that game and signed for Cheltenham Town.

This is how Rovers lined up against Vale; Phillips, Lescott, Anthony, Elliott, Carruthers, Pipe (Haldane, 68), Campbell, Disley, Jacobson (Rigg, 88), Walker, Lambert (Williams, 73). Substitutes: Green, Hinton.

Andy Williams has just scored on his Rovers debut! [Photo Credit – Jeff Davis]

AUGUST 12TH

On this day in 1980 Rovers won their first ever League Cup penalty shootout as they were 7-6 winners against Exeter City in the League Cup first round second leg tie at Eastville.

Three days earlier, in the first leg at St James’ Park, the sides had drawn 1-1 with Chic Bates scoring for Rovers and Tony Kellow for the Grecians.

The same players traded first half goals in the second leg at Eastville and there were no further goals in normal time or extra time, meaning that the crowd of 4,070 were treated to a penalty shootout.

Stewart Barrowclough netted Rovers first spot kick and then Martin Thomas saved from Kellow, but referee Clive Thomas ordered the Exeter man to take his spot kick again, saying that Thomas had moved too soon and Kellow made no mistake second time around.

Vaughan Jones blazed his penalty over the bar while Steve Neville, Peter Hatch, and John Delve scored for Exeter with scored for Exeter, as did David Williams, Gary Emmanuel and Donny Gillies for Rovers, leaving Dick Forbes the opportunity of settling the tie in Exeter’s favour.

However, his spot kick was saved by Thomas and then Phil Bater scored for Rovers and former Rovers defender Phil Roberts for Exeter. Gary Mabbut scored for Rovers and Roy Ireland for Exeter before Mark Hughes edged Rovers back in front with his spot kick and Thomas saved from Dave Pullar to send Rovers through to the next round.

Rovers: Thomas, Gillies, Bater, Hughes, Mabbutt, Cooper, Barrowclough, Williams (D), Bates, Emmanuel, Barrett (Jones, 46).

AUGUST 13TH

On this day in 1988 Rovers played a testimonial match for Jack Pitt against FA Cup holders Wimbledon at Twerton Park.

Jack had brought the curtain down on a Rovers playing career that had taken in 467 league games at the end of the 1957/58 season. However, he had continued to serve the club first of all as a member of the coaching staff and then as groundsman at both Eastville and Twerton Park.

Many former Rovers players turned up to his special game, including Geoff Bradford, George Petherbridge, Peter Sampson, Bill Roost, Harry Liley, Barry Watkins, Alfie Biggs and Doug Hillard.

Bobby Gould was in charge of Wimbledon at the time and the sides played out a 1-1 draw with Peter Cawley scoring for Wimbledon and Devon White for Rovers.

The match report ended with these words; ‘A draw was an appropriate result on a day when everyone wanted Jackie Pitt to be the only winner.’

Jack Pitt with the FA Cup at his testimonial match. [Photo Credit – Alan Marshall]

AUGUST 14TH

On this day in 2007 Rovers knocked Championship side Crystal Palace out of the League (Carling) Cup, winning 4-1 in a penalty shootout.

Palace had taken a first half lead through Dougie Freedman with a well struck free kick, but Craig Disley equalised for Rovers early in the second half.

That was the score at ninety minutes and thirty minutes of extra time failed to produce any more goals, so the crowd of 5,566 witnessed a penalty shootout.

Richard Walker, Joe Jacobson, Craig Disley and Byron Anthony all scored for Rovers, while Dougie Freedman and Shefki Kuqi missed their Palace spot kicks. Clinton Morrison did score from the spot, but it wasn’t enough to save the visitors.

Future Rovers players Dave Martin and Tony Craig were in the Palace lineup for this game.

Rovers: Phillips, Lescott, Anthony, Elliott, Carruthers, Pipe (Rigg, 106), Campbell, Disley, Haldane (Jacobson, 54), Walker, Williams (Lambert, 54). Substitutes: Igoe, Hinton

AUGUST 15TH

Games between Rovers and Yeovil Town are often feisty affairs, but the clubs haven’t met in the league since our promotion season of 2015/16.

Although we have played them three times since, (all at the Mem, once in the league and twice in the EFL Trophy) the last time we visited Huish Park for a league match was on this day in 2015 when an Ellis Harrison goal two minutes from time sealed victory for Darrell Clarke’s side.

Just when it looked as though home goalkeeper Artur Krysiak would keep Rovers at bay and earn his side a point, he was beaten by Harrison’s rising shot from just inside the area.

By then Yeovil were down to ten men following the 65th minute dismissal of Matthew Dolan, booked in the first half and again after the break.

The side from Somerset could only name five substitutes and remained pointless after just two games of the fledgling season. Rovers, beaten by Northampton Town the previous week, gave new on loan goalkeeper Aaron Chapman his debut and wore their new yellow and black away strip for the first time.

Rovers: Chapman, Leadbitter, Lockyer (Montano, 75), Parkes, Clarke (J), Brown, Lines, Clarke (O) (Monakana, 75), Sinclair, Taylor (Easter, 67), Harrison. Substitutes: Gosling, Preston, Bodin, Malpas