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Hall of Fame: Harold Jarman

Article features some information sourced by the Bristol Rovers History Group

23 April 2021

Harold Jarman becomes the ninth addition to the Hall of Fame, and the first living inductee.

Entertaining winger Harold Jarman, the darling of the Eastville crowd through the 1960s, was a hugely influential figure with Rovers for more than a decade.

With his debut falling fortuitously on Boxing Day 1959, he played in three distinct decades for the club, amassing a huge tally of goals and appearances for Rovers. At thirteen years 115 days, his Rovers career is the eighth longest in the Football League era; his nine goals constitute a club record in the League Cup; he played in 236 League matches at Eastville, a figure only exceeded by Stuart Taylor and Harry Bamford.

In his time sporting the blue and white quarters, Jarman scored 127 League goals, 81 of them at Eastville, tallies only beaten by Alfie Biggs and Geoff Bradford.

Only four men have played in more League games for Rovers than Jarman and he is only one of nine men to have played League football for the club in three decades.

Despite the endless reel of statistical pedigree Jarman possesses, raw statistics do not do justice to his exciting playing style, nor to the enthusiastic support generated by this gifted player.

Through the 1960s, the cry of “Harold, Harold” emanating from the North Enclosure at the old stadium at Eastville was one of the standard experiences of a Saturday afternoon in Bristol.

“What a much duller decade the sixties would have been for the Rovers had it not been for Harold Jarman”, wrote the journalist Robin Perry in 1970.

A childhood prodigy, who once scored 35 of his school’s 43 goals in a season, Jarman grew up as a supporter of the Gas' city rivals but proved to be an ever-present with Rovers, particularly in the 1963-64 and 1966-67 seasons.

He had suffered relegation with Rovers in 1961-62 and stayed almost long enough to see the club regain Second Division status in the spring of 1974.

He scored against Liverpool at Eastville, when Rovers won 4-3 in April 1961. Incidentally, Jarman was offered a testimonial in April 1970 against Liverpool, Ian St John scoring Liverpool's equaliser at Eastville after Bobby Jones had put Rovers ahead after 21 minutes before a crowd of 6,676.

At this stage in his career, Oldham offered £4,000 for his services, yet Rovers held on to the ageing, yet still talented winger.

Indeed, in 1970, the penalty taker, set-piece operator and tactical genius hit a popular hat-trick, after ten, 80 and 84 minutes, when the Gas defeated Bradford City 4-2 in October 1970. Twelve months later, his goals after nine, 27 and 61 minutes helped Rovers defeat York City 5-4 at Eastville.

Way beyond the end of his career when an ex-Rovers XI defeated a Charity XI at Clevedon in September 1997, Jarman could still not be stopped, characteristically scored one of the goals.

The winner of the Harry Bamford Award for Sportsmanship in 1968-69, Jarman had earlier represented the Downs League against the Suburban League in 1955 and played once for St George against Worle Old Boys on Easter Monday 1958 before signing for Rovers.

When he left Eastville, he enjoyed brief spells at Newport and most notably, the New York Cosmos, where he was eventually replaced by a Pelé, not bad company to be in.

Jarman scored 4 goals in his time Stateside, including a brace against San Jose in 1974.

Upon returning to the UK, Jarman still had time to score three hat-tricks for Mangotsfield United in the 1974-75 season, his third coming in a 4-1 victory over Tiverton Town in January 1975 and, as manager, he led the club to their record win, a 10-1 thrashing of Barnstaple in September 1990.

In between his stints at Mangotsfield, he briefly held the reins at Rovers, becoming the first Bristol-born man to manage the club, Ian Holloway later becoming the second.

Aside from football, Harold Jarman was also an exceptional cricketer, scoring 100 not out for Optimists against Trowbridge in 1967 and playing in 45 county matches for Gloucestershire between 1961 and 1971, scoring 1,041 runs at an average of 18.58 and top-scoring with 67 not out. Of his twenty club cricket centuries, the highest was 167 not out and he once took 9-23 against Shirehampton.

A carpenter by trade and living in Westbury-on-Trym, Jarman is a constant reminder of the very best in terms of flair and guile whilst sporting the Rovers crest.

As part of the Hall of Fame project, we are looking to hear from the fortunate Gashead's who witnessed Jarman's playing days, or those who had stories passed on of his quality. In these difficult lockdown times, we encourage supporters to pick up the phone, or zoom call family members to discuss his legacy.

Please screen record these chats and send them on to alexslater@bristolrovers.co.uk, these will form part of videos to be used on social media and the big screen when Harold and his family can attend a game after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

As mentioned in the initial Hall of Fame announcement, artist 'Tonz' will be creating unique artwork for each of the 10 initial inductees which will decorate the Thatchers Bar as a permanent reminder of the Hall of Famer's legacy.

Finally, we would like to remind supporters this selection is initial, those not selected over the coming weeks stand plenty of chance to be included in the future, please respect the carefully considered selections from the Retro Rovers Podcast panel. 

On being inducted into the official Bristol Rovers Hall of Fame, Jarman himself said "It is an honour and privilege to be named in the Hall of Fame for my services to Bristol Rovers FC and to be recognised by the fans with their ongoing support."

After selecting Harold Jarman as their 9th inductee, the Retro Rovers Podcast said, "Harold Jarman was always going to be one of the initial inductees into the Bristol Rovers Hall of Fame. Another local lad, he appeared in 452 league games for Rovers, scoring 127 goals in the process. Making him the third highest goal scorer in the club's history, listing him amongst some esteemed company.

"Alongside his professional football career, Jarman also represented Gloucestershire CC for 10 years in first class Cricket. A face that is still prominent around the club. He can often be seen attending The Mem when possible and a call of "Haaaaaaarold!" that is synonymous with one of the Rovers' greatest ever players.

"The Hall of Fame panel were unanimous in the belief that Harold Jarman should be the latest to be recognised for his contribution both as a player and in his post playing days as a manager."


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