Man Utd 50th Anniversary Evening Update

December 31, 2005


Only a few tickets remain for the 50th Anniversary Evening of the famous Bristol Rovers 4 Manchester United 0 FA Cup 3rd round tie in 1956.

The Supporters Club have produced a commemorative programme for the evening celebrating the 50th anniversary of Rovers 4-0 mauling of the Busby Babes. The evening and the programme have kindly been sponsored by Cowlin
Construction, and the Supporters Club thank them for their support. The programme includes a reproduction of the original programme for the match in January 1956 plus facts, figures and articles on the Rovers and Manchester United clubs in the 1955-56 season. The programme costs just £2.50 and will be on sale on Thursday evening and at Pirate Leisure, 199 and over the internet from Friday onwards. This is a programme that will be a collectors item in the future for all Rovers fans.

 The evening is being held in the Bristol Room at the Memorial Stadium on Thursday 5th January, starting at 7.30pm. Obtaining footage of the actual match has proved difficult, but we have some superb Pathe newsreels of not just cup matches in the 50’s (including a superb win over Bristol City, but two other superb items showing Rovers pre season activities.

We are looking forward to a superb evening. Club Historian Mike Jay is describing some of the memorabilia from the match which will be on display on the evening. We also have guests including Alfie Biggs, Bill Roost and George Petherbridge.

With souvenirs on sale on the evening and great raffle prizes also available, including Toffs shirt signed by Alfie Biggs, provisional running order will be: 

7pm onwards – 50’s music playing, exhibition for viewing

 7.30pm – Gather in Bristol Room

7.40pm – Turning on the Gas clip followed by Introduction of the Legends – Nick Day

7.50pm Manchester United – The Busby Babes – Kim Stuckey followed by clips of Man U (presentation on big screen)

 8.00pm – Bristol Rovers in the 50’s – Mike Jay (presentation on big screen)

8.20pm – Rovers Clips with commentary

8.35pm – Reading from Ray Kendall book on the Man U match

8.45pm – Questions to Guests about football in the 50’s

9.00pm Close and Vist Exhibition

Raffle & Gifts


Ray Kendall commented on the match in his evocative book “An Away Game Every Week”.

“On the 7th January 1956 Manchester United came to Bristol and left with their tails between their legs. It was my debut that day on the public address system at Eastville, – for whatever reason Bert Tann said he wanted a West Country voice to take over and I got told to get on with it”. I was a bag of nerves. I followed the patter which Rovers had laid out for me, welcomed the public and Manchester United then told to announce the players and goalscorers as they went in, as 35,872 people looked on”.

“What a match it was for my first public performance though! There were ten minutes gone when Biggs got the first goal, and the noise was deafening beyond belief. They said you could hear the roar when Rovers scored five or six miles across town, and I’m not surprised. I just recall the excitement of it all, on a blustery day, watching Rovers put United through absolute murder in all departments from goalkeeper to number 11”.

“Barrie Meyer got the second just before half time, and then Biggs made it three in the 62nd minute before Bradford wrapped it all up seven minutes from the end. My memory is that it could have been more but for United’s England international goalkeeper Ray Wood – the press cuttings of the day
say the same thing”.

“At the end there was cheering and clapping, and it was so emotional it was unbelievable. No one attempted to go on to the pitch. They just stood on the terraces and cheered and applauded the greatest football day they had seen – or probably would ever see”.

“Bradford, Meyer, Biggs, the 7th January 1956”, the middle section of perhaps Rovers most evocative anthem  Tote End Boys, by Ben Gunstone.

Just over a year ago we looked at the diary and realised the 7th January 2006 was a Saturday. FA Cup 3rd Round Day being 50 years to the day and a chance of a win in our 2nd round replay against Port Vale, it surely had to happen!


For the first time since that heady Sunday at Derby County and Nathan Ellington’s hat-trick, Rovers would make the 3rd round and get Manchester United in the draw. But dreams are just dreams, we bowed out of the Cup in the 2nd round, but we are Rovers, Bristol’s oldest professional football club, and we will celebrate the finest hour in our history when the best team in the land travelled to Bristol and went home battered and defeated.

So we salute all of you, players, officials and spectators who saw that magnificent match and hope this celebration evening brings back the memories of that day.

Finally, there will be one person missing from the evening, the person who made his match day announcing debut that day, announcing the Rovers goals and scorers to roars that could be heard for miles.

Rest in Peace Ray Kendall, a true gentleman, who was so looking forward to meeting everyone at the celebration evening. He will be missed but never forgotten by all of us who came into contact with him over his many years at Rovers. 

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