Everyone at Bristol Rovers was saddened to learn of the death of our former player Gordon Fearnley last Thursday and we send our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.
Born: 25.1.1950 Bradford, West Yorkshire
5’ 10”; 11 st 12 lbs W
Début: 16.3.71 v Barnsley
Career: Bradford Schools; 25.1.68 Sheffield Wednesday; 3.7.70 Bristol Rovers (professional, 5.10.70) [94+26,21]; May 1977 Toronto Metros-Croatia; June 1977 Miami Toros (loan); February 1978 Fort Lauderdale Strikers; May 1978 Birmingham Bandits (head coach); July 1978 Cleveland Force (player-coach); 1979 Sacramento (player-coach); 1981 Chicago Horizon (to 1982).
When Rovers demolished Brian Clough’s Brighton side 8-2 at the Goldstone Ground in December 1973 to set a club record victory score, winger Gordon Fearnley headed the second goal.
'Supersub' Fearnley evolved into an essential ingredient in Rovers’ inexorable rise to Division Two, proving a useful utility player as promotion was attained in the spring of 1974 and playing regularly in the second tier of English football.
A member of a sporting family, he was the younger of two sons to Albert Fearnley and Edna Hilton, who married in 1945. Albert had been on the losing side in two Rugby League Cup Finals at Wembley with Halifax and was later the coach at Bradford Northern, whilst Gordon’s older brother Stanley, who won an England cap at Rugby League in 1975, was on the losing side at Wembley with Bradford Northern in 1973 and picked up a winners medal with Leeds in 1977.
A good quality footballer in his own right, Gordon Fearnley was unable to make the first team at Wednesday, whom he had joined on his eighteenth birthday, and followed his captain Don Megson to Eastville, living in Stapleton, after playing for England Schools at U-19 level and impressing on a Football Association tour of the Far East in 1969.
He did not let Rovers down, serving admirably for a number of seasons and scoring in a 1-1 draw on his return to Hillsborough in August 1974, before the lure of North American football became too great.
Fearnley scored in his solitary game at Toronto and added three goals in 20 matches at Miami, two in 22 appearances for Strikers, one in four games for Force and ten goals in fourteen fixtures on the books of Horizon. He once played for Strikers against New York Cosmos before a crowd of 76,000.
An intelligent and well qualified man, Fearnley was the holder of three University degrees, physiotherapy, nursing and law and he practiced as a litigation lawyer in Fort Lauderdale in the late 1990's.
Gordon Fearnley, who had been married to Kathy for 25 years, had lived since 1977 in the States and prior to his death was working in home health, specialising in the rehabilitation of patients with replacement hips and knees.