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Stylish Pirates

The immediate post-war years saw most clubs take and easy route and produce black and white programmes, sometimes even single sheets as they attempted to adjust to the economic conditions of austerity and reconstruction.

But to their credit Bristol Rovers jumped in with a stylish looking issue based around an excellent illustration of a Rovers' player in mid-air against the background of a portion of Eastville. I'm not sure whether he's leaping towards the 3d ball or has already headed it forward but I can almost smell the brylcreem.

This edition comes from 1949/50 in Division 3 South when the club had settled on the cyan coloured paper and is against mid-table rivals Swindon Town. Almost a local derby.

What is interesting in the programme is there are no official club notes of any kind. After the advert for Simonds Beer, there is in-depth statistical information on Swindon's history, the previous season's goal scorers and appearances and details of the playing personnel. The statistic theme is extended on the following pages with details of Bristol Rovers scorers in the current season plus latest results and teams from the first eleven down to the "C" XI.

The only notes in the entire publication come from the Supporters Club and are signed by 'The Pirate'. He covers a number of points including the success of a recent meeting of the Skittle section, failure of a Whist Drive and the launch of a Film Club - who had already lined up 'Caesar & Cleopatra', 'Great Expectations' and 'Mrs Miniver'. He also asks who will be signing up for the away games at Torquay and Nottingham, decries Club Members who have yet to pay their subscriptions but are still wearing the Club badge and notes that Ralph Jones is making good progress from his recent facial injury.

The centre-page team sheet is fairly normal except that the height and weight of each of the Bristol Rovers team is noted by their names (though not their christian names). Very unusual.

The adverts that surround the teams are very local which was common at the time but still amusing to note the competing Wiltshire Hatchery and Maurice Millard offering day-old chicks and growing pullets! British Railways also offering an Evening Excursion to the Bridgwater Carnival.

This is followed by a couple of action photos from a recent match against Walsall.

It'll be clear over these pages that I'm a sucker for a cartoon. Opposite a page advertising Greyhound Racing at the football ground and His Majesty's Cinema ('For them that Trespass' and 'Fools Rush In') is this superb graphic description of the match against Walsall that was also covered by the photos above. I think this is a wonderful way to frame a match report and it's a shame that very other clubs attempted such a thing.

Well done Bristol Rovers.

The match, by the way, ended in a 2-0 victory for the home side. Neither club set the world alight that season with Rovers finishing 6th and Town 14th.

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