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Hall of Fame: Harry Bamford

Article features some information sourced by the Bristol Rovers History Group

12 March 2021

Harry Bamford becomes the third inductee to the Official Bristol Rovers Hall of Fame, in partnership with The Retro Rovers Podcast!

The importance of Harry Bamford as a man and as a footballer for the Gas was perfectly summarised by Rovers’ manager Bert Tann at Bamford’s memorial service when he commented that “a part of Bristol Rovers died with him”. 

Born in February 1920, Bamford would go on to forge a career spanning 13 years with the Gas, between 1945 and 1958.

Described as a shy but perfect gentleman and sportsman, he was an inside-forward who, after three-and-a-half wartime years in Burma and India with the First Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment, was converted into a cultured and reliable full-back. He accumulated a total of 486 appearances for the Gas, scoring 5 goals in his time.

Bamford's style of play resembled a modern approach to the full-back role, looking to spring attacks through the flanks and play himself out of tight situations.

As Bamford's reputation grew over his career, he received a call-up to tour Australia with the Football Association in 1951, playing in the unofficial 17-0 win against Australia in June of that year, notching three goals on the tour. Goal-scoring was not the Bristolian's forte, although he did score against Fulham in August 1953 in Rovers’ first ever game in Division Two. 

His first goal for the side had also been noteworthy, a strike coming as the result of a thirty-yard solo run ten minutes from the end of a comfortable home victory over Ipswich Town the previous March. 

The full-back was one of six ever-presents in Rovers’ Third Division (South) championship side of 1952-53. 

Bamford sadly passed away in tragic circumstances when involved in a traffic collision while on his motorbike on 28th October 1958. He died three days later, on 31st October at the age of just 38. 

Bamford's legacy lived on though, through The Harry Bamford trophy, an award is given to the outstanding Player of the Year from the point of view of good sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct both on and off the field. For a 40-year period the trophy was deemed missing, but upon resurfacing in 2014, the award was presented retrospectively for those years.

A testimonial game was also organised following Bamford's passing, which drew a crowd of 28,347 to Eastville to see a combined Rovers/City XI defeat Arsenal 5-4.

As part of the Hall of Fame project, we are looking to hear from the fortunate Gashead's who witnessed Bamford'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 the family of Bamford 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 Bamford joining the Hall of Fame, Retro Rovers Podcast said, "Harry Bamford was another unanimous and obvious choice for the Hall of Fame, and we are honoured to reveal his induction today.

"The honour and distinction with which Harry served Rovers across 13 years and 486 league appearances was incredible. An unflappable right-back who displayed the very highest levels of sportsmanship and conduct in the quarters, he was a true gentleman both on and off the field. Another local lad who became a Rovers legend, his name is synonymous with honour, sportsmanship, loyalty, and thankfully, forever associated with Bristol Rovers. When tragically taken so young, part of Bristol Rovers died with him, and Harry Bamford is now rightly installed as the latest inductee to our Hall of Fame."


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