September 12th 1940 – April 25th 1921

John’s son, Ian, was born on September 12th 1940. A promising young footballer, who played as an inside forward, Ian suffered a badly broken leg as a teenager which would leave him with his right leg two inches shorter than his left leg!

Nevertheless, on his recovery, he was good enough to be selected for a course at Lilleshall aimed at youth players and their coaches where it’s understood that one of his fellow students was a certain Bobby Moore.


(The programme for the FA course Ian attended in 1957 (all images kindly supplied by Ian’s family)

Looking back at the itinerary for those five days, in July 1957, it’s fascinating to see what was involved. It would seem that there was only one free evening for participants and that, presumably, is when they were able to play golf and/or tennis as per the notes on what equipment they could take with them.

There’s an interesting letter from Fred Ford, Rovers’ coach at the time, telling Ian not to forget his slippers!

His early career saw him play for the club his father had joined on leaving the professional game, Thornbury, though he joined Rovers as an apprentice in 1956 and signed professional forms for the club in January 1958.

It was a time when players were paid a maximum wage, and there was also a minimum wage! In the Supporters Club handbook of 1958/59, it was noted that an 18 year old professional with Rovers could earn a maximum wage of £12. 10 shillings per week (£11.00 in the close season) while the minimum rate was £5.00 all year round.

Although not quite complete, I have a collection most of the club’s teamsheets from the 1950’s and whilst he may have signed, initially, in 1956, the first record I have of Ian playing for a Rovers team is from August 31st 1957 when he played, and scored, for the District Premier League side in a 2-1 win in an away game against Keynsham Town. I don’t recognise any of the other names on the teamsheet for that game and am pretty sure that he was the only one to go on to play in the first team.

The first teamsheet I have showing Ian playing for the Colts is from 14th September 1957 when he was in the side that lost 2-1 against Salisbury City at Kingswood (presumably the Douglas Ground).

Joe Davis, Terry Oldfield and Doug Hillard were in the side that day and those three and Ian would become colleagues in the first team in years to come.

He appears to have played regularly for the Colts and the District Premier League side in 1957/58, though he is on the reserves teamsheet for the 3-2 win against Charlton Athletic at Eastville on March 15th 1958.

He scored one of the Rovers goals that afternoon when his team mates included Howard Radford, Hillard, Paddy Hale, Jack Pitt, Ray Mabbutt and Alfie Biggs.

On December 6th 1958, some 29 years after his father’s Rovers debut, Ian made his first team debut for Rovers in a 4-3 defeat against Charlton Athletic at The Valley. He became the 336th player to represent the club in the Football League.

The side lined up as follows: Radford, Doyle, Watling, Sykes, Pyle, Ricketts, Petherbridge, Hamilton Bradford, Ward, Hooper.

Dai Ward (2) and Geoff Bradford scored for Rovers that afternoon on what was Ian’s only first team appearance that season….

Rovers fielded six teams on August 31st 1957 and, as you can see, Ian played, and scored, for the District League PremierXI side in their 2-1 win against Keynsham Town.

Keith Brookman