…Rovers lost to a controversial penalty, awarded after the referee spotted a handball by centre half David Pyle, though the player said afterwards; ‘It should have been a free kick in my favour. Leary pushed me and sent me staggering towards the ball. It was never a penalty.’
Of Ian’s debut, local reporter Pat Kavanagh said; ‘It was a difficult match for the BAC apprentice 17 year old Ian Hamilton to make his league debut.
‘I like his style and distribution, but often the extra pace of the Second Division found him at a loss. Nevertheless, it’s only a couple of seasons since Dai Ward, who played so well in this game, made a similar sort of debut at Eastville.
‘Now Ian knows exactly what he has to achieve but at least he knows that his manager approves of his baptism in league football.’
Bert Tann was the manager then and, indeed, throughout most of Ian’s career with the club and he said afterwards; ‘I thought it was a most encouraging start for him. His passing was good and only the pace and lack of experience beat him at times. I was well satisfied and think the game will do him a lot of good.’
After that game it was back to playing in the reserves and, occasionally, for the Colts again and it wasn’t until the 1958/59 campaign that he earned himself another first team opportunity. He appeared in five league games during the following season and scored twice (his first league goals) in a 4-3 away win at Scunthorpe on March 5th 1960. He also scored twice the following week, in a 3-1 home win against Rotherham United.
His first team opportunities were obviously limited at the time as Rovers could field a well established forward line in Bradford, Biggs, Hooper, Ward and Petherbridge, though as the 1960’s dawned, the careers of many of those stalwarts who had given the club such loyal service during the halcyon days of the 1950’s were coming to an end.
There were no substitutes back then, of course, and very little player movement because of the maximum wage and the Rovers’ No Buy No Sell’ policy, which often hindered the progress of young players hoping to break through into the first team.
Progress for Ian was slow; there were five more league appearances in 1960/61 and a first ever appearance in the Football League Cup when he scored twice in a game against Reading at Elm Park.
It was only Rovers’ second game in what was the first season of the competition and they were 5-3 winners in this second round tie though they were beaten 2-0 by Rotherham United in round three.
His first goal brought the scores level, at 2-2; ‘The equaliser arrived courtesy of Ian Hamilton, who took Harold Jarman’s through ball before beating Meeson.
‘The final goal arrived 17 minutes from time when Peter Hooper crossed from the right and Hamilton headed home at the near post. Rovers comfortably held on to their lead for the remainder of the match without being troubled by the home side.’
There were ten league games in 1961/62 and a first FA Cup tie, against Oldham Athletic, on January 8th 1962. Although Rovers drew 1-1 with The Latics at Eastville, they were beaten 2-0 in the replay at Boundary Park.
There was also a first appearance in the Gloucestershire Cup Final, though the game against City at Ashton Gate on May 1st 1962 ended in a 3-1 defeat and meant another loser’s medal for the Hamilton family.
The season ended with Rovers suffering relegation to the Third Division but the following season, 1962/63, he appears to have made his breakthrough in terms of becoming a first team regular as he appeared in 31 league games and scored ten goals…