Rovers mourn losing one of their finest

Bristol Rovers are mourning the loss of former chairman Geoff Dunford, who died yesterday at the age of 66.

Together with father Denis, Geoff played a huge role in keeping Rovers going as a club in the mid-1980s and he remained a key figure and Board member until resigning in August 2014.

Geoff continued to support the team and will go down as one of the most influential figures in Rovers’ history.

His family released the following statement yesterday afternoon.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Geoff Dunford on the morning of Saturday, October 21, 2017 at 66 years of age.

“Geoff quietly and peacefully passed away at home with his wife Sharon, sons Peter and Matthew and step-daughters Jessica, Esther and Kathryn at his side.

“Geoff had very bravely battled a long-term illness and throughout displayed great courage, humour, strength and faith.

“Geoff was well known as a prominent businessman in the West Country, for his involvement on the Board of Bristol Rovers FC and for the various charity and community projects he supported throughout Bristol.

“At home, he worked just as tirelessly as a husband, father and most recently a grandfather. He will be greatly missed by us all.

“We ask for family privacy at this time and details of his funeral will be announced in due course.”

A tribute to Geoff Dunford will feature in next weekend’s Independent. l We had a bumper entry for our competition to win copies of the Harry Bamford book (Harry Bamford Bristol Rovers First Gentleman of Football).

Our three lucky winners, who will receive their copies in due course, are Dave Tancock, of Minehead, Somerset; David Welsh, of Portishead, Bristol, and Nigel Adlam, of Bridgwater, Somerset.

Harry had built up a reputation throughout the area as loyal and dependable full-back, never booked or sent off, and an example to so many for his attitude on and off the pitch.

His tragic death in a motor-cycle accident in 1958, after 524 games for the Pirates, was mourned throughout Bristol and beyond.

He was held in such high esteem that an award The Harry Bamford Trophy has been presented on an annual basis, to sportsmen who have displayed similar qualities to those of Harry’s. Even after the trophy went missing, presumed lost, for around 40 years (many feared it had been destroyed in the devastating Eastville fire of 1980) local soccer enthusiast Steve Sutor ensured that sportsmen deserving of recognition would not go unnoticed, playing a major role in the resumption of the award.

And, with preparations put in place by Steve for a replacement trophy, the original was miraculously found and is still being awarded to this day.

Hilary Lewis, daughter of Harry, has made countless appearances to proudly present the trophy to worthy winners and has now, together with local freelance journalist Joyce Woolridge, co-written this fascinating insight into the life and career of her late father.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.