Ian Hamilton (part four)

Nov 29, 2021 | News

…On September 23rd 1963 Rovers beat Shrewsbury Town 6-2 in a League Cup tie at Eastville when Ian scored four of the goals and he followed that up with his first league hat trick, against Brentford at Griffin Park on October 12th, as Rovers ran out 5-2 winners.

Here are just a few excerpts from the Shrewsbury match report, written by Herbert Gillam of the Western Daily Press; ‘Ian Hamilton, who has been unable to keep a regular place at inside forward in the Bristol Rovers side, accomplished the best performance of his career when he shot four goals, including a hat trick, against Shrewsbury Town in a League Cup first round replay at Eastville last night.

‘Hamilton headed in from Geoff Bradford’s corner to give Rovers a 13th minute lead and he made it 2-0 in the 32nd minute when he outjumped Dolby on the six yard line with goalkeeper Beel late leaving his line.

‘Hamilton completed his hat trick after 55 minutes from the best movement of the game. Mabbutt sent a fine pass to Biggs, who touched the ball back, and from Mabbutt’s through pass Hamilton streaked through to hit the ball past the luckless Beel.

‘Hamilton struck again two minutes later as he robbed full back Wright and burst through and Beel could do nothing about it as he left his goal.’

He also appeared in all four FA Cup ties played by the club that season. Rovers beat Bournemouth, Coventry City and Norwich City in rounds one, two and three respectively and those victories earned them a fourth round tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford.


Even back then United were one of the top teams in the country. They had rebuilt the side following the Munich Air disaster in 1958 and were once more becoming a force to be reckoned with in English football, They were too strong for Rovers on January 25th 1964, blowing Bert Tann’s side away by four goals to one and a certain Denis Law scored a hat trick.

The attendance at Old Trafford that day was 55, 722, the biggest crowd Ian was to play in front during his career. What an experience that must have been!

Rovers finished that season in 12th place in the league and in the end of season Gloucestershire Cup Final they drew 2-2 against City at Ashton Gate. Ian appeared in that game as well.

There were high hopes of promotion back to the Second Division in 1964/65 but, eventually, they fell four points short of an automatic promotion place, one of which was occupied by their cross-city rivals from Ashton Gate.

In terms of appearances, Ian totalled 33, though in terms of goals it was his best ever campaign, as he managed 21. He missed just one game up until, and including, the match against Shrewsbury Town on February 23rd 1965, but injury then forced him to miss the remainder of the season.

At the time of the Shrewsbury game Rovers were four points behind league leaders Hull City and three points ahead of their red neighbours. Would promotion have been achieved had Ian not been injured? We will never know, of course, but without him in the side and without his goals, it was a disappointing end to a promising season.

Ian did claim a place in the record books that season, in that he scored a hat trick against Southend United at Roots Hall on October 23rd 1964. Unfortunately, Southend scored six that day and one of their players, Jimmy McKinven, also scored a hat trick. It was the first occasion that a Rovers player had scored three goals in a game and ended up on the losing side…

Ian pictured recovering from injury in hospital, is visited by team mates Joe Davis, Bernard Hall and Doug Hillard

Keith Brookman