Picture this

Mar 11, 2021 | News

By Keith Brookman

In these days of instant access to stats, facts and figures about the game we all follow, the publication of club handbooks and football annuals does seem to be rather out of date.

I say this only because I’ve recently discovered three West of England Football Annuals that I had forgotten all about. In fact, I thought I had sold them at a car boot sale some years ago.

The three in question relate to seasons 1958/59, 1969/60 and 1961/62 and all have a cover price of one shilling (5p). I have no idea how many years the title was published, but if you were a fan of Rovers, City or Bristol Rugby, then this pocket sized book was well worth owning.

While not lavishly illustrated, there are a handful of photos in each issue which, viewed some 60 years later, are fascinating to look at. For instance, in the 1958/59 issue there is a photo of John McIlvenny scoring against Liverpool, a game that Rovers won 3-1 at Eastville.

In the 1959/60 issue, there is a photo of Len Drake in action against Stoke City while the 1961/62 issue carries an action photo taken during an FA Cup tie against Aston Villa.

All very run of the mill, I agree, but as someone who always likes to illustrate articles with an appropriate photo, then these titles are a godsend. For instance, although McIlvenny appeared in 79 league games for Rovers, the action photo of him playing against Liverpool is the only one I have seen.

Similarly, Drake played only eight league games for the Gas and the one taken against Stoke is the only action one I’ve seen of him playing for the club.

So, if you do see any articles from me mentioning either of these two players, then you’ll know the photos have been scanned from these titles.

In closing, could I please ask if anyone out there has any Rovers photos they are willing to let me borrow or buy, then please get in touch as there are many interesting ones out there with a story deserving to be told!