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Book pays tribute to former talented footballer from Knowle West

Main image Rovers v City at Eastville on 2 February 1957 where Alfie Biggs (left) is thwarted by Bristol City goalkeeper Bob Anderson, with Ernie Peacock in attendance, during the 0-0 draw. Picture Bristol City programme.

All images supplied by Ian Haddrell and Mike Jay.

A book has just been launched about former sporting legend and Knowle Wester Alfie Biggs – one of the top footballers and goal scorers for Bristol Rovers.

Nicknamed “The Baron” because of his smart appearance, Alfie played for Rovers in two separate spells from the early 1950s up to 1968 – leaving to play for Preston North End for just a year from 1961-62.

He has recently been honoured in the Bristol Rovers Hall of Fame – scoring an incredible 197 goals in 463 appearances with “The Gas”.

The book has been produced by friends Ian Haddrell and Mike Jay, who both attended the same infant and primary schools in Eastville. They were motivated to write it as a “tribute to a fine footballer and talented goal scorer.”

Front cover of the book which details Alfie’s life and sporting career.

Mike, who now lives in South Bristol says: “Coming from a large working class family in Knowle, Alfie had ambition to become a professional footballer and improve his skills and became one of Bristol Rovers’ finest goal scorers. 

“Biggs is a Bristol legend and was inducted last year into the club’s Hall of Fame.”

The pair say the 180-page book covers from his early life growing up in Knowle until his retirement and death in Poole, Dorset, in 2012. 

The information was sourced “from consultation with his family – his widow Marion, and two daughters Juliet and Melanie as well as research in local Bristol newspapers.” 

Ian and Mike also gleaned facts from former team mates and Rovers supporters as well as research at the newspaper archive at Bristol Central Library and from other football historians in Preston.

Alfie was born in 1936 to dock worker George Biggs and his wife Lily (nee Ewans) and was the youngest of 11 children – although three never survived beyond infancy.

The family moved to Knowle West from St Jude’s in the 1930s, living first in Headford Road and then moving to Throgmorton Road, where Alfie grew up. He attended Ilminster Avenue School and then Connaught Road Boys Secondary School – which had a proud record of sporting achievement.

As a young footballer Alfie played for Connaught Road School – and was first selected for the school senior team in 1948/49 when he was two years younger than the rest of the boys in the side.

He appeared in the Woodcock Shield finals of 1949, 1950 and 1951 – an Under-15 tournament for all schools in Bristol – and established a record by becoming the first ever – and perhaps only – boy to play in three of these finals.

Connaught Road Secondary Boys School football team winning the Woodstock Shield for the second time in 1950 in the year they were also league champions. Alfie is front row, far left. Picture Veale & Co of Bristol.

Biggs also played football for Eagle House Youth Club outside of school – and was selected to play for Bristol Rovers Juniors in 1951.

He carried on achieving success during his professional career – with sporting prowess appearing to run in the family.

Ian says: “Two of Alfie’s brothers were also good footballers. Stanley, who was killed in Normandy on the 26 June 1944, aged 18 and Burt, who as a youngster was on Bristol City’s books and played for St Philip’s Marsh Adult School in the Bristol Combination league for 16 years…”

Alfie and Burt are the only brothers to have been awarded the Harry Bamford Memorial Trophy – given each year to an outstanding Bristol footballer.

Ian adds: “I think that Alfie was simply an exceptional sportsman, as besides being a professional footballer, he was a very useful cricketer; also good at snooker, darts and table tennis. He played in a table tennis league in Lancashire when he played for Preston.”

Alfie Biggs – Bristol Rovers Eastville Baron costs £14 plus £2.50 postage and packaging – with only a limited number of copies printed. Anyone interested in buying a book can email