A CAPital idea?

Dec 24, 2021 | News

This article was originally published on Bristol Rovers Supporters Clubs’ website on 24th February 2021

by Keith Brookman

Apparently, when George Williams made his Rovers debut against Oxford United last month, he was the 954th player to appear in the league for the club since 1920. *

It got me thinking as to why we don’t make a little bit more of players who make their debuts.

When Paul Trollope was in charge at the club we often used to train at Derby County’s training ground on the way to play up north. In the corridor outside of the dressing rooms there were photos of all of the Derby Academy players who had made it through to the first team, so they at least recognised the efforts of their home grown players.

Not too long ago it was suggested that when players made their debut they should, like Test cricketers, have their ‘number’ on the front of their shirts, so George Williams would have 954 on the front of his shirt. *

However, the best idea I have seen to commemorate a player’s debut is the one implemented by West Bromwich Albion.

They have decided that every player who has made a first team league appearance for them will be awarded a cap with the debut number on. A cap will, eventually, be awarded to every living ex player and/or a relative of a player.


It’s a mammoth task, but one I feel could bring all of the club’s support organisations together to work with the football club in order to bring the idea to fruition.

Albion began by hosting a commemorative dinner on the 50th anniversary of their 1968 FA Cup win when the players who represented the club at Wembley, or a relative, received a cap bearing the relevant debut number.

They wouldn’t have to be presented at a dinner, but perhaps players from certain eras could be invited to receive their caps at a home game, post pandemic of course!

Working forward from the Watney Cup side, we would have the 1974 promotion winning side, the 1990 Championship winning side, the 2007 play off winners and the 2016 promotion squad.

There are a few problems with the idea, in that statisticians don’t include players who made their debut in the Conference in their totals, nor do they include players whose only appearances have been in cup competitions.

There is also the cost of the caps themselves and that needs to be ascertained before such an idea gets off the ground. It would be great if a sponsor could be found and a local manufacturer involved.

Worth considering, surely!

As already mentioned, I would dearly love this to take off and be something that all support groups could be involved in. After all, these groups exist to help the club and players, past and present, don’t they?

I’ll park it there but hope it merits some discussion in the months ahead and leave you with a couple of images of a West Brom cap.

  • Subject to ramification, all debuts currently being scrutinised.