Hard to believe, but it’s 60 years ago today that Rovers pulled off one of the shocks of the FA Cup when they defeated Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’ 4-0 at Eastville in front of a crowd of 35,872.
Historian Mike Jay has produced this short report of the match, for which we are grateful and the grainy photos from the match, while not of the best quality, give a flavour of the occasion.
Ten years ago, on the 50th anniversary of the match, a special commemorative evening was held at The Memorial Stadium to commemorate the event and a replica of the programme produced to mark the occasion.
‘The FA Cup brought, as the Bristol Evening Post described it, ‘Rovers’ finest hour’.
Matt Busby’s Manchester United played at Eastville before a crowd of 35,872 and were defeated 4-0.
‘Although England international and budding superstar Duncan Edwards was injured, the United side was packed with household names, five of whom were to perish in the Munich air crash in 1958.
‘An opportunist goal from Alfie Biggs put Rovers ahead after only ten minutes and Barrie Meyer, at the second attempt, doubled the advantage before half time.
‘Creative and surprisingly confident against such talented opponents, Rovers scored again through Biggs after 60 minutes and a late penalty after 83 minutes from Geoff Bradford, after England left back Roger Byrne had handled.
‘Rovers were the ‘£110 team with the million dollar touch of class’, according to Desmond Hackett in the ‘Daily Express’.
‘Second Division Rovers certainly caused the shock of the third round but United’s Busby Babes ended the season as First Division Champions, losing just seven league matches to clinch the title.’ For Rovers, their promotion challenge to the First Division was four points short after they finished in a creditable sixth position.
The teams lined up as follows:
Rovers: Nicholls, Bamford, Alcock, Pitt, Hale, Sampson, Petherbridge, Biggs, Bradford, Meyer, Hooper.
Manchester United: Wood, Foulkes, Byrne, Coleman, Jones, Whitefoot, Berry, Doherty, Taylor, Viollet, Pegg.