Wednesday, 26 October 2016

1956/57 Season Review

A pre-season tour of France, sees Rovers face crack French side Rochemonte Rapides in their final match. The star-studded French side have two superb forwards, Jules Leclair (CF 9) and Gustav Cartier (IL 10), who were kidnapped before the big match. Roy and Blackie of course rescued them and made a daring dash by helicopter back to Rochemonte Stadium. The pals just make it as the helicopter runs out of petrol and makes an emergency landing on the pitch. 

The match is fantastic and Rovers fans are given their first glimpse of "lightning" right winger Pierre Dupont, who creates the first goal for Leclair and scores a fantastic curling second. 

Two-down, Roy swings into action, netting a thunderbolt. Blackie smashed in the equaliser following a goalmouth scramble, before Dawson crossed for Roy to nod in the winner in the last minute.

1956/57 Melchester Rovers vs Rochemonte RapidesSuitably impressed with the French sportsmanship, Roy and the boys head for the post-match meal, where Pierre Dupont announces that he will be travelling back to Melchester for a trial. His trial goes well, but of course current Rovers right-wing Sam Higby sees his place in the first-eleven under threat and aims to make Pierre's life hell. 

Higby is fuming when he is dropped for the visit of Welbeck Wanderers. The match starts promisingly for Rovers, as Dupont shows his remarkable pace to set up Roy, but his shot is tipped over. Only the goalie's miraculous efforts keep Rovers out, but the desperate Wanderers eventually break. Sensing the danger Len Dolland flies from his line only to receive a hefty knock from the forward and a dislocated shoulder. Roy takes over in goal, something that Rovers fans would see regularly over the following decades! 

Roy plays a blinder and with the scores level at 1-1, launches a counter attack. Dupont picks up Roy's clearance and races upfield, the defence splits leaving Pierre enough room to crash the ball past the helpless goalie. It was his second goal of a spectacular debut! 
1956/57 Melchester Rovers vs Welbeck Wanderers

Playing with just ten, the Rovers tired as Welbeck pinned them in their own half. The pressure told, Dave Williams tumbled, carelessly placing his hand on the ball, the referee gives the penalty. A the Rovers protest the final two minutes disappear, the forward takes the kick and Roy leaps to his right, gets finger tips to the ball and just about keeps it out. The ref blows for full-time before the forward could get to the rebound. 

Ben Galloway makes Dupont's signing official and Rovers have themselves a new star right-winger! 

Sam Higby is most annoyed and has convinced himself that Pierre is trouble. Pierre's strange behaviour does little to calm Higby. But the replaced right-wing goes as far as to lock his rival in a cupboard before the match away at league leaders Portdean. With Higby changed and ready to take his place back in the first-team, Dupont appears and is restored to the line-up, infuriating Sam. 

Rovers win a classic match 4-3 with two goals for Roy and one from Blackie Gray. The equalising goal saw Roy Race "charge" the opposing goalie over the line!

1956/57 Melchester Rovers vs Dunard
Much of the rest of the season revolves around Higby's attempts to convince Roy and the Rovers that Dupont is a "crook." A bizarre tale centred on a French football cup that sits in the Rovers trophy room, unravels to reveal that Pierre is not a crook and it is Higby who disgraces himself again! 

The trophy is eventually recovered, although flattened by a bus, Pierre discovers a hidden note giving the site of his family's buried treasure. The Rovers of course agree to help and travel to France to play local side Dunard with the intention of going on a treasure hunt before the game. However the same crooks that had earlier tricked Higby were already digging at the Chateau. Typically beaten and tied up, and the treasure chest in Pierre's possession, Roy, Blackie and the French winger marched to the ground carrying the glittering box. 

However a policeman was suspicious and the crowd sensing skulduggery barracked Dupont. His poor performance soon saw the Rovers three down. But the policeman now believed the Rovers' story about the ownership of the chest and Pierre returned to form in the second half. Netting the winner in the last minute to give Rovers a 4-3 victory! 

1956/57 Melchester Rovers stats, line-ups, opponents, results


1956/57 Melchester Rovers line up

1 - Dolland 
2 - Williams 
3 - Roberts 
4 - Griffiths 
5 - McDonald (c) 
6 - Brown 
7 - Dupont 
8 - Gray 
9 - Race 
10 - Hallett 
11 - Dawson 

Reserves: Hedlow, Dodds, Higby, Jones 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Season Review 1955/56

After a series of fine performances on a pre-season tour of South America, Roy Race and Blackie Gray are thrust into first-team action on the opening day of the First Division calendar. Elbury Wanderers are Melchester Rovers' formidable opponents, with England international Arty Hedlow at inside-right expected to cause trouble for the defence.

In a thrilling encounter Roy scores twice adding to a goal from inside-left Jim Hallett, but Hedlow inspires the Wanderers who battle to a 3-3 draw. It was a fantastic opening to an eventful first season of top level football for Race and Gray.

Manager Ben Galloway was more than impressed with the performance of Roy, yet his lingering doubts over Blackie's quality led to a surprise transfer. With Hedlow's powerful display fresh in his memory the Rovers boss jumped at the chance the sign a proven internationalist, splashing out £10,000 to sign up the classy inside-right.

Melchester Rovers vs Cobdale United 1955/56Of course Blackie was disappointed, but even at this early stage his dedication to the Rovers was evident. He buckled down and set about starring for the reserves, the aim to put pressure on the new big money signing, Hedlow.

Hedlow proved a natural leader, his attacking plans complimenting the midfield and defensive abilities of skipper Andy McDonald. Debuting against Cobdale United, Hedlow and Roy combined effectively on the field, but the eager Race had trouble accepting Hedlow's criticisms. The pair almost came to blows at half-time, but it was Roy's bravery that set up Hedlow's second and the Rovers winner.

Fortune favours the brave and Blackie's bravery in taking care of the new Rovers mascot, Billy the Goat, led to his fortunate recall to the first team. Billy escaped Gray's grasp, butting Hedlow, the resultant injury preventing Arty from taking his place in the number 8 jersey for the local derby match versus Hamville.

Blackie took his chance and on a snowy field scored twice to give Rovers the two points. Galloway was satisfied and Gray had secured his place as Rovers inside-right, one he would not give up for some time!

The season came to a close with Rovers unable to make an impact at the top of the table or the Cup. However Hedlow's return to from injury created more headaches for our hero pair of Race and Gray. The traditional end of season floodlit challenge match with Cliffport United was the catalyst for a series of bizarre events surrounding Arty Hedlow and the special medals gilded for the winners of the friendly. Attempts to frame Blackie as thief of the precious medals were fruitless, however on the field, playing in place of the injured McDonald at centre-half, Hedlow's tricky display made Gray out to be useless.
Cliffport United vs Melchester Rovers 1955/56

Over-hit, under-hit and spinning passes caused Blackie to miscontrol and lose possession constantly. And Cliffport surged into a two goal lead. At half-time, Roy having noticed Arty's foul play, confronted the brash midfielder, who promptly fled onto the roof of the main stand. Blackie and Roy talked him down and with quick forgiveness given the Rovers were all set for a second-half comeback.

Hedlow settled into the game, creating the goals that would give Rovers a 3-2 victory.

1955/56 Melchester Rovers stats, opponents, line-ups, scorers


1955/56 Melchester Rovers line-up

1 - Len Dolland 
2 - Dave Williams 
3 - Doug Roberts 
4 - Hughie Griffiths 
5 - Andy McDonald (c) 
6 - Buster Brown 
7 - Charlie King 
8 - Blackie Gray/Artie Hedlow 
9 - Roy Race 
10 - Jim Hallett 
11 - Tom Dawson 

Reserves: Porky Jones (LB), Allan, Blake, Riley, Sam Higby (RW), Bill Biggs, Pete Crowley (RH)