Everyone at Bristol Rovers was saddened to learn of the death of our former player Bill Roost, at the age of 88.
Bill passed away on Sunday 10th February, after a short illness, and we send our condolences to his family and friends.
Until quite recently, he was attending our home games with his great friend ‘Josser’ Watling.
Whilst Rovers relied on Geoff Bradford and Vic Lambden for the goals which shot the club to glory in the halcyon days of the immediate post war period, local boy Bill Roost was scoring prolifically in the background, contributing 49 goals in 178 League games in almost a decade.
This unsung hero of a golden era in the club’s history undoubtedly played a critical role as the side reached its first FA Cup quarter final in 1951 and secured the Third Division (South) title in the spring of 1953.
William Charles ‘Ginger’ Roost, the tenth of eleven children to Oliver William Roost and Emily Rosina Lewis, who had married in Bristol in 1909, was born in Bristol on 22nd March 1924 and attended St Michael's School before serving in the Royal Navy.
Following a brief trial at Ashton Gate, he joined Rovers in September 1948 after impressing for Stonehouse in a fixture against Soundwell and was top scorer for the reserves during 1948/49, his first season with the club, accumulating 11 goals.
Five feet nine inches in height and weighing eleven stone four pounds, he scored after just four minutes of his Rovers debut and swiftly added a second as Reading were defeated 4-1, before being Rovers’ leading scorer in the 1949/50 campaign, his 13 goals coming in just 28 League fixtures.
A good squad member, whose inclusion in the side was often rewarded with goals, Roost supported Bradford’s immense talent and contributed in his own way. A first minute goal put Rovers on course in an FA Cup tie with Orient in November 1952 and a freak goal from near the corner flag eased Rovers to another cup victory, this time over First Division Portsmouth, in January 1955.
By this stage, Roost had helped Rovers gain promotion to second tier football and was continuing to score at this level.
Moving to Swindon in May 1957, his three goals in 18 Third Divison (South) fixtures all came in the same match, a hat trick in a 3-1 victory at Shrewsbury in December 1957 before, after a September 1959 trial with Yeovil Town, he scored on his Minehead debut at Barnstaple Town in January 1960.
90 games for the Somerset club produced 21 goals, Roost being fined £3.3.0 by the Somerset FA following an incident in an October 1960 fixture against Bridgwater Town and he played his final game away to Portland United in February 1963.
Injured playing for Rovers’ Ex Players against City’s Former Stars in Jack Connor’s testimonial game in 1967, Roost lived in Whitehall and ran the ‘Black Horse’ in St George for five years before working as a yard foreman for Power Scaffolding.
Married to Florence Starr in 1949, he had two sons, Geoff and Chris, the elder winning England Youth amateur caps against Ireland and Wales and, latterly widowed, Bill Roost continued to live in St George.