By Keith Brookman

When Tom Mehew made his senior Rovers debut, in the EFL Trophy last September, I penned an article for the Bristol Rovers Former Players Association saying that if he went on to appear in the league for Rovers then he and his dad, David, would be following in the footsteps of the Mabbutts, Ray and Gary.

Tom, of course, made his long awaited league debut on the final day of last season, at Blackpool, so I thought it was time to revisit that old article and undertake some thorough research.

My task was made easier as recently I checked back on all the players who had made their league debut for the club since 1920 and by checking and cross checking (several times!) I was able to ascertain how many players have represented Bristol Rovers in league football.

I have to be honest and say that, prior to my research, I hadn’t paid a great deal of attention to the names of those players who had appeared for the club prior to the Second World War.

However, the names of Hamilton and Muir amongst the 259 players to have represented the club between 1920 – 1939 were familiar and a quick check identified John Hamilton and John Muir as fathers of players who also later played league football for Rovers; just as their fathers were both named John, the sons were both named Ian!

As I reached the end of my research into debuts, I realised there were more fathers and sons who had represented the club than I had first thought, for as well as the Hamilton’s and Muir’s, there were four other father/son footballers who have turned out for The Gas.

In case you’re wondering, the full list is as follows; John & Ian Hamilton, John & Ian Muir, Ray & Gary Mabbutt, Tony & Anthony Pulis (both are actually named Anthony, but Pulis senior was always known as Tony), John & Paul Petts, and David & Tom Mehew who are, therefore, the sixth father/son combo to play league football for Rovers.

And so, beginning tomorrow, the Bristol Rovers Supporters Club website will be running a series of articles on the fathers and sons who have represented Bristol Rovers in the Football League. The articles on the Hamilton’s and the Muir’s will run before the Christmas period and the remaining ones will appear in the New Year.

It’s by no means a comprehensive record of the careers of the players mentioned, but a snapshot of their time with Rovers and it’s their Rovers careers I have focussed on rather than their records with any other clubs they might have represented.

I hope you find it them enjoyable to read and would like to thank all who have provided photos/press cuttings to facilitate my research.

A copy of an autograph sheet from 1931, showing John Hamilton’s signature in the left hand column (sixth down from the top) and John (Johnnie) Muir’s signature in the right hand column four up from the bottom