My father and uncles were all rather casual fans of the Bristol Rovers football team, and on many Saturday afternoons they took me as a boy to watch matches at Eastville Stadium.
The first team played at home on alternate weekends and on the intervening Saturdays there was always a debate about whether or not to go to watch the reserve team. Most of the first team matches were attended, but the reserves were often given a miss, especially if the Bristol rugby team was playing at home on the nearby Memorial Ground. My paternal grandfather played rugby for Bristol in the years before the First World War and father played both rugby and soccer, so watching either game was equally pleasurable to him.
Regular attendance at Bristol Rovers matches soon made all the players familiar and after more than sixty years the team is still imprinted on the mind. Captain, Ray Warren, played at centre half and was the firm pillar around which the team was intended to revolve. He was flanked by the half-backs (mid-fielders), Jackie Pitt and Peter Sampson. Behind the captain were two stalwart fullbacks (defenders), Harry Bamford and Geoff Fox. Vic Lambden, scorer of 117 goals, was centre forward, or striker, with George Petherbridge on the right wing, Len Hodges inside right and Josser Watling on the left wing. Arthur Weare was in goal. The end of the decade, 1949, saw the first appearance of Geoff Bradford, Rovers’ highest scorer, with 242 goals in 462 league games, and the only Rovers player ever to play for the England national team.