Bees Focus On BRFC

May 30, 2015

Jaybee from Barnet Mad looks at Bristol Rovers.

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Barnet Mad looks at one of the clubs that Barnet will play against next season in League Two.

Bristol Rovers were formed in September 1883 and were originally known as Black Arabs FC, but then changed their name to Eastville Rovers and then Bristol Eastville Rovers before becoming Bristol Rovers in 1899.

In 1892, the club became founder members of the Bristol & District League, which later became the Western League. For two seasons, 1897-99, the club were members of the Birmingham & District League as well.

In 1899, Bristol Rovers were elected to the Southern League, along with QPR and, in their first season, they finished 10th, with Spurs as champions. In 1904/05, they were champions of the Southern League First Division in a league that included Spurs, QPR,  Fulham, West Ham,  Southampton, Portsmouth,  Millwall and  Watford.

In 1920, Rovers, along with all the other Southern League First Division clubs, were elected to the new Football League Division Three and they finished 10th in their first season before the division was reconstructed regionally and Rovers were placed in the new Third Division south for season 1921/22.

The club’s inter war years in the league were quite uneventful with Rovers mainly finishing in the bottom half with the occasional top half of the table finish, though never enough to give the impression they might be promoted. In the last season before WW2 they finished bottom.

Following the end of WW2, league football resumed and in 1948/49 the club finished 5th and, in 153, Rovers won the Third Division Championship and were promoted to the 2nd Division. Geoff Bradford finished leading scorer for the division with 33 goals. Bradford was capped as a full international with England, the only player to play for England while with Bristol Rovers.

Rovers finished a creditable 9th in their first season and in 1956, finished 6th, a position they repeated in 1959 and they were regularly a top half of the table team. However, in 1962, they finished 2nd from bottom and were relegated to the Third Division. In 1964, Rovers finished 12th but Alfie Biggs was the division’s top scorer with 30 goals.

Rovers became an established Third division side, finishing 3rd in 1970 and in 1974, they finished 2nd and were promoted back to the 2nd Division. Rovers struggled back in the higher division, failing to make the top half of the table during their stay and, in 1981, they finished bottom and were relegated along with rivals,  Bristol City. In 1972, Bristol Rovers won the Watney Cup beating  Sheffield United in the final.

In 1988/89, Rovers finished 5th and made the play-offs but lost in the final to Port Vale, but the following season they won the championship and were promoted along with 2nd placed, Bristol City. In 1993, they finished bottom and were relegated again. In 1989/90, Rovers reached the final of the Football League Trophy but lost 2-1 to Tranmere Rovers in the final at Wembley.

Following the formation of the Premiership, the Third Division was renamed the 2nd Division and in 1995 they finished 4th and made the play-offs but lost in the final to Huddersfield Town. In 1998, they reached the play-offs again after finishing 5th and Barry Hayles was the division’s top scorer with 23 goals. However, they lost in the semi-final to Northampton. Jamie Cureton was the division’s top scorer with 25 goals in 1999. In 2001, rovers finished in the bottom four and were relegated to the 3rd Division and were then in the bottom tier of the league for the first time.

Rovers struggled in their first season in the bottom tier finishing 2nd from bottom , but things gradually improved and in 2007, Rovers made the  play-offs of League Two, as the division was now called, after they finished 6th and in the play-off final at Wembley, Rovers beat Shrewsbury Town 3-1 to win promotion to League One.They also reached the final of the Football League Trophy that season but lost to Doncaster Rovers at the Millennium Stadium.  In 2011, Rovers finished 3rd from bottom and were relegated back to League Two.

Rovers finished 13th in 2012 and 14th in 2013 before finished 2nd from bottom on goal difference last season and being relegated to the Conference and losing their Football League place after 94 years in the league.

The first time that Barnet & Bristol Rovers met was in November 1983 in the 1st round of the FA Cup at Underhill with the match ending goalless. In the return at Eastville, Rovers won 3-1 with Barnet’s goal coming from Nicky Evans.

The two clubs didn’t meet again until 1993 in Barnet’s only season in the third tier of English football and Bristol Rovers completed the double over the Bees winning 2-1 at Underhill, Kelly Haag scoring for Barnet and 5-2 at Twerton Park, which the Gasheads shared with Bath City. Paul Wilson and Edwards.

Another 10 years followed before the clubs met again; this time in the LDV Vans Trophy at the Memorial Ground where Rovers moved to in 1996. Rovers won a 2nd round match 2-0. At the end of the 2004/05 season, Barnet were promoted to League Two and the opening match of the 2005/06 season saw Barnet and Bristol Rovers share a 1-1 draw, Richard Graham scoring for the bees while ex Bee, Junior Agogo grabbed a late point for Rovers. In the return match, a Ben Strevens goal was not enough to prevent Barnet losing 2-1.

In 2007/08, Rovers won 2-0 at the Memorial Ground and drew 1-1 at Underhill, Jason Puncheon scoring for Barnet. Rovers were promoted at the end of the season to League One but came back down in 2011. Prior to that, the two clubs met in the 4th round of the FA Cup in 2008 at Underhill with Rovers winning 1-0 after Puncheon missed a penalty early on in the game.

In 2011/12, Barnet completed their first ever double over the Gasheads winning 2-0 at the Memorial Ground, Izale McLeod and Mark Byrne scoring and by the same score at Underhill, McLeod and Clovis Kamdjo scoring for Barnet.

The following season, Barnet and Rovers drew 1-1 at Underhill in the opening home game of the season with Ricky Holmes scoring for the Bees but Rovers won 2-1 in Bristol with a late, late goal after Harry Crawford had equalised for Barnet. Ultimately, that dropped point cost the Bees their league status.

At the end of 2013/14, Bristol Rovers finished 23rd in League Two and were relegated to the Conference National.

Last season, the two sides met at the Hive in Barnet’s opening home game of the season with the Bees winning 2-0 with goals from John Akinde and Charlie MacDonald. Luisma Villa scored in the game at the Memorial Ground but Rovers won 2-1. At the end of the season, Barnet and Bristol Rovers were both promoted back to League Two, the Bees as Champions and Rovers via the play-offs.

Players who have played for Barnet & Bristol Rovers Giuliano Grazioli who joined Barnet from Bristol Rovers and starred in Barnet’s 2004/05 Conference winning team (see articles on Graz on Barnet Mad website), Junior Agogo who moved to Bristol Rovers from Barnet for £110,000 in 2003 (Graz was makeweight in the deal) and who was Barnet’s leading scorer in 2002/03, Danny Senda, Michael Leary, Anwar Uddin, Matt Lockwood and Chris Plummer.

Barnet’s current striker, John Akinde, made 18 first team appearances for the Pirates during a loan spell in season 2010/11 while with Bristol City. He scored 31 goals for the Bees last season.

 

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