Bristol Rovers fan’s view with Dennis Payter
You may think John Ward, Ryan Blunt or even Tom Parkes are behind this great Rovers revival, but really it could all be down to divine intervention.
The late Bill Roost deservedly got a great minutes applause in celebration of his life and Rovers career before Saturday’s game but it could be his legendary goal scoring partner Geoff Bradford who is behind our dramatic turn of fortunes.
Sixty years ago this season the pair terrorised defences as Rovers won the Third Division (South) championship.
But before we went to Fleetwood just over a month ago we were rock bottom of the Football League staring non-league football in the face and just maybe that is when the great Bradford struck again for Rovers.
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One of my friends on the West Enclosure terrace regularly tends the graves of her parents, just yards away from where Bradford is buried.
For some reason my friend went over and polished the top of Bradford’s grave saying: “Geoff, Rovers are in a bad way, we could do with some divine intervention.”
Just days later our 3-0 win at Fleetwood was the start of our revival. My friend has been back to Bradford’s grave for a quick word every week since then, and we all know how we are doing. Some may dismiss it all as a coincidence, but let’s face it, Bradford was a great player.
I don’t mind if Mr Ward continues to get the glory for our revival, but Bradford’s grave could soon be the most highly polished in the cemetery. My friend, who will remain anonymous, just has to keep tending those graves for a little bit longer.
Teenager Blunt is the new striking hero and his winning goal was typical of his all-action Roost style in the way he fought for the ball, laid it off to Joe Anyinsah and raced to the edge of the area to get on the end of the winger’s cross and smash it home with a Wycombe safety officer nowhere to be seen.
Smoke from a nearby bonfire swept across the ground in the first half, I presume someone was standing by to stoke it up and get the game abandoned if Wycombe had got back in the game but our defence coped adequately with everything thrown at it.
The new team spirit was never more epitomised than in those closing minutes as Rovers threw their bodies in the way of a series of shots and hugged each other as a shot finally went over the bar.
The pre-Christmas Rovers would have lost this game but they did not wilt under the early pressure from a useful Wycombe side. It was a hard-earned three points as Steve Mildenhall, John-Joe O’Toole and Mark McChrystal again looked invincible.
Mr Ward was featured in the BBC’s Football League Show on Saturday but we all know it is also down to the players for turning our fortunes around and I don’t just mean those who wore the shirt last weekend.