Geoff Bradford becomes the first inductee to the Official Bristol Rovers Hall of Fame, in partnership with The Retro Rovers Podcast!
Born in July 1927, local boy Geoff Bradford would go on to play for the Gas between 1949-1964, becoming a one-club man in the process.
In his time in the famous blue and white quarters, Bradford was an ever-present goalscoring threat, notching an incredible 242 goals in 461 league games, catapulting himself to the summit of the all-time Rovers goalscoring charts, a position he still holds to this day.
Crucial goals in a 1952 season which would culminate in the Gas hoisting the Division Three (South) trophy aloft served as a highlight of Bradford's Rovers career, as he formed a deadly partnership with Vic Lambden to smash the Gas to the league's summit, securing promotion to Division Two for the first time in the club's history.
Bradford scored 11 league hat-tricks across his career including four goals in a fixture against Rotherham United. His goalscoring return prompted international interest, becoming the only ever player to feature for England while playing for the Gas, appearing against Denmark in a 5-1 victory back in 1955, scoring a goal on his single appearance.
A further highlight of Bradford's career came in the FA Cup, as he played a part in one of the Gas' most famous victories, a 4-0 drubbing of Manchester United to send the Red Devils packing in the legendary cup competition in January 1956.
His consistent scoring drew attention from some of the world's largest clubs, with Rovers reportedly turning down a £22,000 bid for the forward from Liverpool in 1952. Bradford would go on to be the club's top goalscorer in five separate seasons, before converting to a full-back at the tail end of his career, though he would feature in all 10 outfield positions across his time in the blue and white quarters.
Bradford showed his strength of character and clear love for the game when he stood alone in refusing to vote for a potential wage strike.
Prior to his retirement in 1964, Bradford would solidify his legendary status with a goal coming in a 4-0 thrashing of local rivals Bristol City, in 1963.
Bradford was a unique character in the Rovers dressing room, and was known to take a nap before a match - he was also known around his local neighbourhood for more than just his footballing endeavours, delivering lemonade part-time to supplement his Rovers salary.
For a time following his retirement, Bradford ran the Golden Lion Pub on Fishponds Road before becoming an Oil Tanker driver. In a posthumous biography on Bradford, it was revealed he once played a part in saving a drowning woman from a swollen river in Devon.
Sadly, Bradford passed away at the age of 67 in 1994, leaving a legacy as one of the greatest players in Bristol Rovers' long history.
As part of the Hall of Fame announcements, we are keen to collect views and stories from those who stood on the terraces to watch Geoff Bradford - therefore, we ask the younger generations of supporters to start conversations with their older relatives to not only bring families closer together in these tough times, but start a chat regarding one of the Gas greats.
Please screen record these chats and send them on to firstname.lastname@example.org, these will form part of videos to be used on social media and the big screen when the family of Bradford 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.
On the first inductee, Retro Rovers Podcast said, "We are delighted to reveal Geoff Bradford as the very first inductee into the Rovers hall of fame, Geoff's scoring record for The Gas is one that is never likely to be broken and to date he is the only player to appear for England whilst being a Rovers player with a record of 1 game and 1 goal!
"For many fans when they think of Rovers at Eastville, Geoff Bradford and his outstanding exploits in front of goal will be at the very front of their mind. It was a no brainer for us that Geoff should be the very first name to enter this illustrious and exclusive hall of fame! UTG"