…It was a season in which snow and ice disrupted the league campaign, particularly in January 1963, and the final game of the campaign wasn’t played until May 20th.
It had looked as though Rovers were heading for a second consecutive relegation until Ian’s intervention. When the side travelled to face Halifax Town at The Shay, in the penultimate game of the season, a win was desperately needed and they managed it, beating their already relegated hosts 3-2.
More than 500 Rovers fans travelled to Halifax for the game in the hope they would see their side get the necessary win to stave off relegation, and they weren’t disappointed.
Here are just a few extracts from the match report; ‘Rain poured down throughout the first half and made the pitch and ball extremely slippery.
‘Rovers took the lead through a second minute Bobby Jones goal and Ian Hamilton headed in a fine second goal from a brilliant Geoff Bradford centre 10 minutes later.
‘A third first half goal for Rovers, which would have sewn things up, didn’t materialise and after the interval the pattern of play changed dramatically and Bernard Hall made smart saves from Bill Hopper and Dennis Fidler.
‘Paddy Stanley pulled a goal back for Halifax after 56 minutes when he headed Fidler’s corner high into the net and Rovers began to struggle.
‘A quick 69th minute breakaway down the right by Bill Holden saw him square the ball to Fidler and his rasping angled shot beat Hall to put the home side back on level terms.
‘For a few moments Rovers fans were stunned into silence but the roars quickly returned and five minutes later Hamilton scored his second headed goal of the game, this time from a Bobby Jones corner from the left.
‘There were no conspicuous individual successes in the Rovers side although, of course, Hamilton must be singled out for two well taken goals. It was essentially a team effort that brought victory in a game that was always interesting and exciting.’
After that game the team that pulled off the win, together with Dave Bumpstead and Dave Stone, who travelled but didn’t play, were told this by Chairman Geoffrey Vaughan; ‘Thank you for keeping Rovers in the Third Division. I want you to know now that you will all be retained for next season.’
(Ian, on the extreme left of the photo, training with his team mates – how many can you identify?)
Rovers lost their final league game, at Port Vale, but three days later Ian was on target in the Gloucestershire Cup Final against Bristol City at Eastville. Rovers won 2-1, Ian scored one of the goals, so at last there was a winner’s medal for the Hamilton family!
The following season saw him play in 40 games, the most he had ever played in one season for the club and, once again, he was into double figures with his goal tally as he went four better than the previous campaign…