Organising coach travel to away games is, of course, one of the core services we provide and it is particularly galling that it is a service that we are unable to provide in this Covid world that we now live in.
We are indebted once again to Keith Brookman who has penned us the following article about Rovers fans taking to the air to watch the team:
Bristol Rovers Supporters Club earned themselves national headlines back in 1955 when they decided to charter a plane to fly across to Denmark to see Geoff Bradford play for England.
At a cost of £450 the plane had a capacity of just 34, so 16 of the 50 supporters applying to travel were disappointed. There was a further problem in that the match was all ticket and no one was sure if a block booking of 34 would be permissible.
That issue was resolved by the Football Association and the Dutch Consul in Bristol arranged transport and meals for the group whilst they were in Denmark.
Geoff Bradford’s wife was a guest of the Supporters Club on that trip and the whole group were delighted to see an England victory and a Bradford goal.
In April 1956 another air trip was arranged, this time to Leeds, to watch the club’s penultimate league game of the season, which ended in a 2-1 defeat in front of over 49,000 supporters.
This got me wondering how many of our supporters have ever flown to watch a Rovers league game in this country on a flight organised by the Supporters Club.
I have to confess that I can’t think of any, though I do vaguely recall seeing an advert in a Rovers programme publicising a flight to watch the Gas at Sunderland.
It would be great to hear from anyone who was on either of those trips to Denmark or Leeds, or any subsequent air trips for a league match.
I recall a group of supporters flying up to see us play at Darlington, back in 2003 and there was also a chartered plane to Norwich for a League Cup tie in 2004, though neither trip was organised by the Supporters Club.
I know that some supporters have flown up to Sunderland for league games against the Gas, and no doubt many would have done so again this season had it not been for Covid-19. Trouble is, the airline increases the price once the fixtures are out, so it’s very difficult to make a block booking at a reasonable price.
I was fortunate to be on the flight for that cup tie at Norwich, when a good many supporters travelled with the team and, in spite of the logistical problems it might throw up, I’m surprised there haven’t been more since then for fixtures in the far north.
Don’t forget, if you have any memories of flying to a Rovers league match, please get in touch. In the meantime, have a look back at these photos from the trips to Darlington and Norwich.