It’s a sobering thought to think that six years ago Rovers were a non league side following the previous season’s relegation.
On this day in 2014 the Gas were beaten 2-1 by Altrincham at what was then called the J Davidson Stadium.
Steven Gillespie, who had scored once in 13 league games for Rovers in 2013/14, was in the Altrincham side and appeared on the cover of the matchday programme.
The home side made all the early running and went ahead after 18 minutes when Damian Reeves picked up a headed clearance from Tom Parkes and drilled the ball into the net beyond the reach of Steve Mildenhall.
A second goal arrived after 65 minutes when Rovers failed to clear a ball into the box and Mark McChrystal’s final touch resulted in an own goal.
Lee Mansell pulled a goal back for Rovers when he headed past home keeper Stuart Coburn in the 76th minute.
Stuart Sinclair collected a last minute red card a for a professional foul to complete a miserable afternoon and make it a debut to forget for Dave Martin.
Rovers: Mildenhall, Leadbitter (Gosling, 59), Parkes, McChrystal, Brown, Sinclair, Mansell, Clarke (White, 74), Martin, Brunt (Monkhouse, 66), Taylor. Substitutes: Trotman, Puddy
Rovers opened the 1980/81 season with a 1-1 draw against Orient at Eastville with David Williams and John Chiedozie trading first half goals.
Less than 24 hours later Eastville’s South Stand, which housed the dressing rooms and administrative offices, was gutted by fire and the photos shown in our main article HERE tell their own story. It was the beginning of the end for Rovers’ spiritual home.
Five home games, including League Cup ties against York City and Portsmouth, were played at Ashton Gate, home of Bristol City, while the Eastville ground was made safe for spectators.
The club returned to play home games at the ground, but It was never the same as before, with Portakabins for dressing rooms and a distinct lack of atmosphere at a venue that held so many memories for generations of supporters.
Six years after the fire Rovers left the dilapidated old stadium they were once proud to call home and moved to play their home games at Bath City’s Twerton Park for a decade.
On this day in 1996 Rovers played their last league game at Twerton Park, which had been their ‘home’ for ten years.
The game against Peterborough United was the opening fixture of the 1996/97 season and marked the first game in charge for new manager Ian Holloway.
Rovers took all three points thanks to Andy Gurney’s 11th minute goal, but they were fortunate to seal victory as Peterborough put them under intense pressure for much of the game.
Andy Collett pulled off a number of fine saves to preserve the lead and deservedly picked up the Man of the Match accolade.
Former Rovers defender Aidy Boothroyd started for Peterborough and future Rovers players Scott McGleish and Giuliano Grazioli went on as substitutes in the 62nd minute, while Rovers handed league debuts to Lee Martin and Matt Lockwood.
Rovers: Collett, Martin, Lockwood, Browning, Clark, Tillson, Holloway, Gurney, Miller, Archer, Beadle. Substitutes: Parmenter, Higgs, Low
On this day in 2001 striker Ross Weare scored the only goal of his brief Rovers career as Rovers won 2-1 against Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park.
Signed that summer by his former Queens Park Rangers boss Gerry Francis, he was to appear in 10 league games for the Gas before his career was curtailed through injury.
Nathan Ellington, with a firm left foot shot past goalkeeper Steve Crousdon, had given Rovers a 28th minute lead at Scunthorpe and Weare crashed a shot into the net to double the lead just before the break, even though he was injured and never reappeared for the second half.
Scunthorpe scored their consolation goal almost immediately and neither side could muster a second half goal so Rovers had a 100% league record after the first two games!
Rovers: Howie, Wilson, Thomson, Foster, Trought, Challis (Jones, 19), Gall, Mauge, Hillier, Ellington, Weare (Cameron, 46). Substitutes: Foran, Gilroy, Clarke
Imagine Rovers in the same division as Liverpool and the atmosphere those games would generate; well, the sides met regularly during the 1950’s when both were in the Second Division.
Those meetings continued into the 1961/62 campaign and Liverpool visited Eastville for the opening game of that season and on this day in 1961 an Eastville crowd of 19,438 saw them win 2-0.
Rovers’ new signing Johnny Hills, who had arrived from Spurs in the summer, put through his own goal on his debut and Liverpool’s other goal was scored by Kevin Lewis.
As well as a debut for Hills, Brian Carter was making his first appearance for Rovers while Liverpool handed debuts to Ian St John and Ron Yeats.
Come the end of the season Liverpool were Second Division Champions and Rovers were 21st and relegated to the Third Division.
Rovers: Norman, Hills, Frowen, Mabbutt, Davis, Carter, Jarman, Jones, Bradford, Hamilton, Hooper
Having made League Cup history by becoming the first club to win a tie in the competition, Rovers created a little bit more history by becoming the first club to be knocked out in a preliminary match.
Second half goals by Boston United’s Steve Burton and Simon Weatherstone gave the previous season’s Conference Champions victory at the Memorial Stadium on this day in 2002.
Rovers had finished second bottom of the Third Division and Ipswich Town’s late entry into the UEFA Cup left 71 clubs in the first round so the Football league decided that a preliminary tie was required to eliminate one team and even things up for the second round (35 first round winners plus Ipswich).
A crowd of 4,555 saw Ray Graydon’s first cup tie in charge of the Gas in what is, to date, the only ever preliminary round game played in the competition.
Bristol Rovers: Howie, Boxall, Uddin, Barrett, Challis, Carlisle, Hogg, Quinn, McKeever, Tait, Grazioli. Substitutes: Gilroy, Arndale, Gall, Shore, Clarke.
It’s 55 years since substitutes were permitted during matches in the English Football League.
During the first two seasons after the law was introduced, each side was permitted only one substitution during a game. In addition, the substitute could only replace an injured player.
And so, on this day in 1965 Rovers, along with all other Football League clubs, named a substitute for the first time.
Roy McCrohan was the first substitute to be named by Rovers and he took his place on the bench for the game against Grimsby Town at Blundell Park, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
He never did make an appearance off the bench for Rovers as it was to be October before the club first took advantage of using a substitute when Joe Davis went on in the match against Walsall at Eastville.
The new rule didn’t even warrant a mention in the Grimsby programme for the match and although McCrohan was named as substitute in the programme for Rovers first home game of the season, the rule change didn’t merit an editorial piece in that publication, either!
For the record, Bobby Jones scored Rovers first goal of the season that afternoon against Grimsby, and the side lined up as follows; Hall, Hillard, Parsons, Oldfield, Davis, Mabbutt, Jarman, Brown, Biggs, Hamilton, Jones (R). Substitute: McCrohan.
On this day in 2009 Rovers were 1-0 home winners against Huddersfield Town at the Memorial Stadium and were watched by a crowd of 6,952.
It was a third successive win for Paul Trollope’s side and the three points came as a result of an 84th minute penalty taken by Jeff Hughes after defender Andy Butler had handled in the area. Hughes hit his spot kick high into the roof of the net, showing team mate Darryl Duffy how to do it.
Duffy had seen his 17th minute spot kick, awarded after Chris Lines was fouled by goalkeeper Alex Smithies, saved by the shot stopper diving low to his left and it seemed that in missing he had relinquished penalty duty for the foreseeable future.
Trollope confirmed, after the game, that Hughes would continue to take them.
Rovers: Forster, Regan, Coles, Anthony, Lescott, Pipe, Campbell, Lines, Hughes, Kuffour (Blizzard, 86), Duffy (Williams, 78). Substitutes: Phillips, Elliott, Reece, Swallow, Hunt
On this day in 1997 Rovers striker Gary Penrice became the only player to score league goals for the club at all four of the grounds they have called home since 1920.
His first goal at Eastville came against York City in May 1985, and he scored against Swindon Town in a home game played at Ashton Gate in April 1987.
In addition, he scored a number of goals for the club when we moved to play home games at Bath City’s Twerton Park. His goal on this day back in 1997 came against Carlisle United at the Memorial Stadium.
That goal, Rovers third in a 3-1 win, came in the 46th minute of the game and was his first for the club since October 1989 after his stints at Watford, Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers.
Frankie Bennett and Barry Hayles also scored that day and Jamie Cureton missed a 63rd minute penalty.
A crowd of 6,044 saw this Rovers side in action that afternoon; Collett, Perry, Gayle, Tillson, White, Bennett, Holloway, Penrice, Alsop, Cureton (Beadle, 79), Hayles. Substitutes: French, Ramasut
Many supporters recalled watching the game against Liverpool in 1961 that was featured on 19th August. I wonder if anyone reading this was at Eastville for this game, featured because of the remarkable attendance.
On this day in 1957 a crowd of 5,034 turned up at Eastville to watch a Rovers reserve team game against Aldershot and 2,507 of them paid 1d for a single sheet programme, contributing to gate receipts of £221 7s 5d (old money!).
I’m sure that a number of League One and Two clubs would welcome crowds like that for a first team game these days!
The programme, featured here, saw the half time scoreboard on the front while the reverse contained the lineups for the afternoon and news of forthcoming fixtures. Everyone was urged to be at ‘The Grand Opening First Team Match’ (first home game of the season) two days later for a 6.30pm kick off.
Peter Sampson skippered the side against Aldershot in a game which ended goalless. Three other Rovers teams were in action that day. The first team drew 2-2 at Barnsley, The Colts lost 5-0 against Bideford and the Suburban Junior side recorded a 4-1 win against Victoria Park.
On this day in 2012 Rovers were heading for their first league win of the season at Adams Park, home of Wycombe Wanderers, when the match was abandoned.
After 65 minutes of the game they were leading 3-1. Lee Brown had given Mark McGhee’s side a tenth minute lead and although the home side had equalised through Richard Logan goals in the 34th and 36th minutes by Eliot Richards capped an outstanding first half performance by the Gas.
Conditions became very difficult after the break as heavy rain, along with thunder and lightning, replaced the glorious sunshine that was prevalent earlier in the afternoon.
Referee Andy Davies took the players off for what was supposed to be a ten minute break after 65 minutes, but they never returned. Wycombe’s Health & Safety Officer ruled it was not safe to continue as the pylons behind the away stand had twice been hit by lightning.
The rearranged game was played later that season, on 1st December, and Rovers lost 2-0. The goals and appearances for the abandoned game were expunged from the records, so as well as Brown and Richards missing out on their goal tally the following players are an appearance short on their overall records!
Walker, Smith, Virgo, Parkes, Paterson, Richards, Brown (W), Gill, Brown (L), Harrold, Clarkson. Substitutes: Gough, Broghammer, Norburn, Harrison, Clucas, Lund, Lockyer
Former Rovers player Gary Waddock was the Wycombe manager at the time, while former Wycombe striker Matt Harrold turned out for Rovers. Current Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth was on their bench that afternoon.
On this day in 2017 Rovers recorded their first home win, in the league, of the 2017/18 campaign when they beat Fleetwood Town 3-1 just days after beating Fulham 1-0 in a Carabao Cup tie at Craven Cottage.
The opening goal arrived on 26 minutes when Stuart Sinclair stroked the ball past visiting keeper Alex Cairns following Rory Gaffney’s lay off.
Gaffney also set up the second goal for Billy Bodin a minute before half time, supplying the pass for the striker to rifle a shot in off the post from some thirty yards out.
The visitors pulled a goal back on the hour mark through Devante Cole, but Rovers put the game to bed with ten minutes remaining when Ellis Harrison headed home following Joe Partington’s cross from the right.
Of the squad on duty that afternoon, only goalkeeper Alexis Andre Jnr is still at the club.
Rovers: Slocombe, Partington, Lockyer, Sweeney, Brown, Sercombe, Sinclair (Lines, 31), Clarke, Bodin, Gaffney, Nichols (Harrison, 65). Substitutes: Alexis Andre Jnr, Burn, Telford, Moore, Bola
Four years after their August match at Wycombe was abandoned because of torrential rain and thunder, Rovers were involved in another August abandonment on this day in 2016.
The venue on this occasion was Swindon Town’s County Ground and when the game was called off the score was 0-0 on a very waterlogged pitch following heavy rain and a half time thunderstorm.
Referee Oliver Langford took the players off 15 minutes into the second half and waited another 15 minutes before undertaking a pitch inspection. It was, though, merely a token gesture and it came as no surprise when he declared there would be no further play.
For goalkeeper Kelle Roos, signed on loan from Derby County, it was the Rovers debut that never was and he had to wait until 10th September for his legitimate Rovers league debut, in a 2-2 draw against Rochdale.
The rearranged game against Swindon took place at the County Ground on 20th September when Rovers ran out 2-1 winners.
The side for the abandoned game was as follows: Roos, Leadbitter, Lockyer, Hartley, Clarke (J) (Bodin, 46), Brown, Sinclair, Clarke (O), Lines, Harrison, Taylor. Substitutes: Roberts, Mildenhall, Easter, Montano, James, Gaffney
100 years ago today Rovers played their first ever match in the Football League and lost 2-0 against Millwall at The Den.
Millwall’s goals were scored by Bill Voisey on 52 minutes and Jimmy Broad on the hour mark and the game was watched by a crowd of 25,000.
There were no quartered shirts back then and Rovers wore white shirts and navy blue shorts and socks and goalkeeper Harold Stansfield wore glasses!
Prior to the start of the season Chairman George Humphreys announced that the club was debt free as he had paid, in full, for Eastville Stadium and that the club owned 19 acres of land on that site.
Humphreys had also appointed a new manager in Ben Hall, a former defender who had played for Grimsby Town, Derby County, Leicester Fosse and South Shields.
Rovers lined up as follows for that historic first game: Stansfield, Bethune, Panes, Boxley, Kenny, Steele, Chance, Bird, Sims, Bell, Palmer.
On this day in 2000 Rovers recorded a 6-2 away win against Brentford at Griffin Park.
The scoreline suggests that this might have been a one sided game, but that actually wasn’t the case as the home side enjoyed a great deal of possession though they simply weren’t clinical enough in front of goal.
Vitalijs Astafvevs opened the scoring after eight minutes, Nathan Ellington added a second just after the half hour mark and Lewis Hogg added the third after 38 minutes.
Brentford pulled a goal back on 67 minutes through Paul Evans, who beat Nick Culkin from the penalty spot after Andy Thomson was adjudged to have handled a cross into the box.
Three minutes later Hogg scored his second goal of the game and Astafjevs made in 5-1 with six minutes of the game remaining. Scott Jones added a sixth goal before Andy Scott scored again for Brentford.
Martin Cameron, who had replaced Micky Evans inside the final ten minutes, sustained a broken ankle which was likely to keep him out for three months.
Rovers: Culkin, Bignot, Thomson, Foster, Jones, Wilson, Hogg, Bryant, Astafjevs, Evans (Cameron) (Walters), Ellington (Ellis). Substitutes: Pethick, Parkin
On this day in 1960 Rovers hosted a Second Division match against Leeds United, in front of a crowd of 19,028 and earned a remarkable point from a 4-4 draw.
Bert Tann’s side were 4-0 down at half time after the visitors scored through John Hawksby (2), Colin Grainger and John McCole.
The second half fightback began with a George Petherbridge goal and Ian Hamilton and Peter Hooper (2) also scored to ensure that Rovers took a point from a seemingly impossible situation.
Jack Charlton was in the Leeds side that day, as was former Manchester United player Freddie Goodwin but Don Revie, who was listed in the programme for the match, was missing from the starting lineup.
‘Josser’ Watling skippered the Rovers side and the match referee was Jack Taylor, who would take charge of the 1974 World Cup Final.
Rovers: Norman, Hillard, Watling, Ricketts, Pyle, Mabbutt, Petherbridge, Biggs, Edge, Hamilton, Hooper.
On this day in 1986 Rovers played their first ever league match at Bath City’s Twerton Park, at the start of what turned out to be a ten year groundshare.
Club skipper Trevor Morgan scored the only goal of the game, a 17th minute penalty, awarded after he had been brought down by Mark Came. Rovers, who by virtue of having won their opening two games, were top of the league that Saturday night.
Nicky Tanner, who had been booked in the first half, picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Warren Joyce after the break and received his marching orders 15 minutes from time.
Rovers, though, held on to take all three points and Morgan, who had scored the last ever league goal at Eastville, went in the record books as the scorer of the club’s first ever league goal at Twerton Park.
Rovers: Carter, Scales, Smalley, Jones, Tanner, Alexander, Penrice, Hibbitt, Purnell, Morgan, Mehew. Substitute: Francis
Twenty four years ago today, in 1996, Rovers played their first league game at the Memorial Ground (as it was then) and drew 1-1 against Stockport County in front of a crowd of 6,380.
Lee Archer opened the scoring for Rovers after only 12 minutes, but John Jeffers equalised for Stockport with 73 minutes on the clock. Both goals were scored at the ‘South Stand’ end of the ground, though both goalkeepers thought that the crossbar was too high at that end!
A team of 250 volunteers had cleared the ground of builders’ rubble, and a safety inspection 24 hours before kick off ruled that the game could go ahead.
The players changed in a ‘double decker’ portacabin in the far corner of the ground and spectators were only allowed on the open Blackthorn (now Thatchers) Terrace , the Centenary (East) Terrace and in the Centenary (East) Stand.
This is how Rovers lined up for that historic first match back in Bristol; Collett, Martin, Clark, Tillson, Lockwood, Gurney, French, Holloway, Archer, Miller (Parmenter), Beadle (Low). Substitute: Higgs