Alfie Biggs becomes the fourth inductee to the Official Bristol Rovers Hall of Fame, in partnership with The Retro Rovers Podcast!
An incredible character who became an icon of 1950/60's Rovers sides, Biggs held a lifelong affiliation with the Gas and deservedly becomes the latest addition to the Rovers Hall of Fame.
Amongst the plethora of players who have represented Bristol Rovers across the years, there are a handful of names that stand out, one of whom is undoubtedly Alfie Biggs, a tall, strapping centre-forward, whose rumbustious style and never-say-die attitude epitomised Rovers’ halcyon days of the 1950s. Like many in the great Rovers sides, and indeed this Hall of Fame, Biggs was Bristol born and raised, and loyal to his hometown.
In an obituary on the forward, the Independent newspaper said "Though locally he was a famous socialiser, certainly relishing bar and betting shop, dance floor and snooker hall, he was never seriously attracted to the bright light of any city but the one in which he was born.
"Biggs was Bristolian to his core."
Biggs achieved an incredible mix of social and footballing lifestyle whilst playing in the blue and white quarters, showing impeccable capability on the training ground, regardless of his evening prior. His style on the pitch often made Eastville his stage, and the adoring Gasheads his audience, with his buccaneering approach made to look effortless as he'd rifle home goal after goal.
His debut for the club came against giants Manchester United in a friendly in 1953, and Biggs' performances in that same campaign played a big part in the Gas' ability to secure themselves in the second tier after promotion in the previous campaign. Dubbed the 'Baron of Eastville', Biggs would go on to enjoy a successful sixteen-year career, becoming a notorious figure across the football pyramid, but predominantly with the Gas.
Biggs would be pivotal to the Gas' wider story on two standout occasions, the first of which coming in the league, in a gargantuan Second Division fixture against Liverpool.
After Geoff Bradford had opened the scoring, Biggs cut in from the right on fifty-nine minutes and shot low and hard into the net to seal victory. Liverpool, of course, progressed to multiple Football League championships and European triumphs, whilst this fixture remains the sole time Rovers have ever won at Anfield.
Later that season, a 19-year-old Alfie Biggs would line up against another European behemoth in the form of Manchester United. Famously, their side full of stars were humbled 4-0 at Eastville in the FA Cup, with Biggs scoring twice. The visit of a side bristling with international players encouraged a crowd of 35,872 to congregate on the terraces and the home supporters, and they were treated to a football masterclass. Biggs would score once in each half to secure arguably the greatest victory in Rovers' long history.
A tally of 178 league goals left Biggs placed second in the all-time league goal-scorer charts for the Gas, behind fellow Hall of Famer Geoff Bradford.
The thirty League goals he scored in 1963-64 represent the most recent occasion any Rovers player has reached this seasonal landmark, although Rickie Lambert came very close in recent years. Both Bradford and Biggs registered League goals against fifty-five different clubs.
A scorer of multiple hat-tricks in his illustrious career, Biggs secured the match ball against Stoke, Notts County, Brentford and Peterborough United in league outings, whilst also finding the net three times in an FA Cup clash with Oxford City. In the 1966-67 campaign, Biggs was awarded the 'Clubman of the Year' award.
Biggs exuded a friendly, personable demeanour and was invariably dress smartly. His impressive appearance led to his nickname, 'The Baron.' On the pitch, things were a different story, with 'Elbows' quickly becoming an alternative nickname based on his style of play.
Prised away from his adoring Rovers crowd at Eastville in 1961, Preston North End paid the handsome sum of £18,000 for his services. A year later though, Biggs completed a sensational return, labelled as a real coup for the club. However, despite being appointed club captain on his return, Biggs could not prevent his home-town club from being relegated back to third-tier football.
He left Rovers for good in 1968, but not without a token of his undying support for the Gas, with a Rovers season ticket for life built into his transfer agreement to Walsall.
Upon his retirement from football, Alfie Biggs worked as a car salesman at Newton Cars and at Luton’s Car Sales. He also took positions as a postman, baker, and on the maintenance staff at Eastville. He later worked for a business parcel delivery service and, from 1997, as a security officer at Bristol University.
A regular snooker player at the Eastville Club throughout his time with the Gas and beyond, he continued to attend Rovers games following his playing years. Biggs sadly passed away in 2012, at the age of 76 in his family home in Dorset, he will always be remembered, not just for his performances on the pitch, but for the charming demeanour he graced it with.
As part of the Hall of Fame project, we are looking to hear from the fortunate Gashead's who witnessed Biggs' 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, these will form part of videos to be used on social media and the big screen when the family of Biggs 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 the picking Alfie Biggs for the Hall of Fame, Retro Rovers Podcast said, "The decision to induct Alfie Biggs into the Hall of Fame was a very easy one to make.
"Bristol born, 'The Baron' scored an incredible 197 goals in 463 appearances across two prolific spells with Rovers. Alfie’s Rovers career was only interrupted with a 15 month spell at Preston North End. He had everything; strength, pace and the valuable knack of being able to score goals almost at will.
"He will be forever linked with one of the most famous days in Rovers history, as he struck twice in a 4-0 victory at Eastville over Manchester United’s “Busby Babes”. With his name enshrined in the lyrics to Tote End Boys, it’s now fitting that Alfie Biggs now takes his place in the Bristol Rovers Hall of Fame. "