It’s a Rovers return for goalkeeper Bernie

A Bristol Rovers legend has been honoured by his former club.

Goalkeeper Bernie Hall played 162 games for Bristol Rovers in the 1960s before his career was ended through injury.

Bernie, 81, is a resident at the St Monica Trust’s Russets and Sherwood Care Home and it was wellbeing coordinator Jim Forrest who contacted the club on Bernie’s behalf.

Between them, Jim and the Rovers Community Trust CEO Adam Tutton arranged an unforgettable day for Bernie and his grandson at a home match against Carlisle United.

After arriving at the Memorial Ground, the pair were given a tour of the stadium before being taken to the home dressing room, where he was applauded by the Rovers first team and presented with a club pennant.

He then enjoyed a pre-match meal in the executive box where he met Club President Wael Al-Qadi, CEO Tom Gorringe and Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees.

At half-time, Bernie and his family were invited onto the pitch where he was introduced to the 9,000 strong crowd.

Bernie was then presented with a personalised goalkeeper’s jersey from Adam Tutton and a commemorative cap from Supporters’ Club board representative, Helen Wigmore.

The number 134 on Bernie’s goalkeeper’s jersey represented the number of consecutive games he played for the first team and the number on his cap was in recognition of Bernie being the 361st player to sign for the club.

The day was a surprise for Bernie and he was overjoyed with the experience. He said: “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be presented to crowd at half-time and now I know. It was fantastic!”

Bernie was only 24 years old when a challenge from an opposing centre forward left him in a coma for 16 days and forced him to retire from the game.

One of the highlights of his career was a Fourth Round FA Cup tie against a Manchester United team that included Best, Law and Charlton. Despite losing 4-1, Dennis Law sought him out at end of game to shake his hand and told him he was a brilliant keeper – better than their own.

After retiring from football, Bernie worked as a groundsman at the Imperial Sports Ground. He was also an accomplished cricketer and coached his local school football team.

Jim, who accompanied Bernie on the day, said: “From the minute he was met in the car park by fans asking him to autograph programmes from his playing days to the final whistle, Bernie was overwhelmed with the reception he received from everyone associated with the club and he can’t thank them enough.”