Of the six fathers who will appear in this series of articles on fathers and sons who have represented the club, John Peden Hamilton was the first to appear in a Rovers shirt.
Scottish by birth, he was born on April 25th 1909 in Armadale and played for Penicuik Juniors prior to signing for Bristol Rovers in June 1929.
John’s daughter, Margaret, has confirmed that it was football that prompted him to move to Bristol. He stayed in lodgings with an aunt of his future wife Hilda and that’s where they met.
Margaret was unsure how many siblings that John had, though she does know that he had at least two sisters and a brother.
John’s mother was also named Margaret and although we don’t know the name of John’s father, we do know that he was a coal miner, as was John before he became a professional footballer.
His first game in a Rovers shirt was in a reserve game against Lovells Athletic in August 1929 and when he made his league debut, against Swindon Town on 7th September 1929, John became the 128th player to appear for Rovers in the league. It wasn’t, unfortunately, a winning debut as a crowd of 5,000 at Swindon’s County Ground witnessed a 2-2 draw.
Given that his position was as a wing half, I think it’s safe to say that John would be a midfielder in the modern game. His debut against Swindon was the first of 35 league appearances he made in 1929/30 and he scored once, against Newport County at Eastville on 8th February 1930.
Another crowd recorded as 5,000 saw that game and they also saw John score at both ends of the pitch, thus becoming the first Rovers player to do that. Unfortunately, Newport were 3-2 winners on that occasion.
Interestingly, the match report I found for this game didn’t mention the fact that he scored at either end! In fact, the reporter felt that Rovers were unfortunate to have lost and laid the blame firmly at the door of goalkeeper Jesse Whatley, as this extract shows.
‘The Rovers did quite 75 per cent of the attacking but the shooting, especially in the second half, lacked sting and direction.
‘The half backs, Britton, Plenderleith and Hamilton, worked hard to keep up the service of the ball and to create openings, but most of these were thrown away through the over-eagerness and poor finish of the forwards.
‘Bristol Rovers should have made the game secure in the first half when their forward line almost completely dominated the game. Newport’s attack was intermittent in the first half and the goal they obtained was in no way a reflection on their share of the game.
‘In fact, a combination of bad fortune and the uncertain mood of Whatley principally led to the downfall of the Rovers.’
John also made four other appearances for Rovers that season as he appeared in the three FA Cup ties played by the club and one of the two Gloucestershire Cup ties against Bristol City.
Results of the FA Cup ties were as follows; a 2-0 away win against Nunhead, a 4-1 home win against Accrington Stanley and a 1-0 defeat away at Clapton Orient.
Extract from a newspaper report of the game against Newport County in which he scored for both sides