|Full name||Richard James Sheppard|
|Rovers apps (goals)a||151 (0)|
|Date of birth||14 February 1945|
|Date of death||18 October 1998|
|Height||6 ft 0 in|
|1969 from West Bromwich Albion|
|1975 to join Weymouth|
|West Bromwich Albion|
|a League appearances and goals only|
Last updated by Backtothefuturetote on 10/07/2016
The popular goalkeeper played 151 times between the sticks for The Pirates in a six-year stint with the club spanning the period from 1969 to 1975 after joining from West Bromwich Albion.
Although originally from Bristol, Dick served his apprenticeship with West Bromwich Albion, spending three years learning his trade before signing professional terms with them in 1963.
He played 39 times in the league for the West Midlands club before returning to his home city to join Rovers in 1969 where he played a further 151 times.
It was in his 150th league game for Rovers on 13 January 1973 that he suffered the injury that would ultimately end his career, playing against Tranmere Rovers he fractured his skull and was unable to play again for almost a year while he recovered. He was sent out on loan to Torquay United as part of his rehabilitation, turning out twice for the Devon side in December 1973, eleven months after sustaining his injury. However, it would be a further year before he played again.
His final appearance for Rovers, and his only game for them after suffering his injury, came on 28 December 1974. He was selected for The Pirates' Second Division clash with local rivals Bristol City at Eastville, and although he kept a clean sheet in the first half, Rovers eventually lost the game 4–1. This match marked not only the end of his career with Rovers but also his time in the Football League. Although he was loaned out to Fulham late in the 1974–75 season, he didn't play any league football for them, and he dropped out of the league to join Weymouth in the summer of 1975.
He returned to Bristol after a year on the south coast, spending the 1976–77 season with Portway Bristol, before rounding off his playing days with three seasons with Paulton Rovers, eventually hanging up his boots in 1980.
He returned to Bristol Rovers in January 1980, taking on the role of goalkeeping coach at the club. He died in Bristol on 18 October 1998, aged 53.
The highlights of Dick Sheppard's career with the Rovers came in four very noted parts. Firstly the incredible affection that all Rovers fans felt for the man, was due not only to his skill as a goal stopper, but also to his more than affable manner on pitch, always turning to the fans who once stood on the old, Eastville stadium's renowned Tote End and gesture to them all with a massive smile, to raise up the volume on their chanting, to which our fans would rousingly respond back; indeed very, very often during a match, it would Dick Sheppard's name, that would be heard being chanted above all others.
Secondly, it was Dick Sheppard's penalty save in the Watney cup final of 1972, against Sheffield Utd, in which the Rovers won 7-6 in a do or die penalty shoot out, which gave Bristol Rovers and to Bristol its first ever and only major, nationally recognized trophy to date. That was Sheppard's all-time golden moment.
Thirdly, Dick Sheppard would become the man of the moment yet again in 1972 after pulling off a great penalty save from the once world famous and noted Manchester Utd striker, George Best in a league cup replay match, which would help see the Rovers through to a 2-1 victory up in Manchester, following the 1-1 draw at Eastville.
Last of all and very sadly, in what would be Dick Sheppard's very last game for the club, against Bristol City. The Rovers as already stated above, were soundly beaten 4-1 at home. On the finale whistle, as the players began to file off towards the dressing rooms, amidst great celebrations among the city fans, such were the fears amongst our fans for our beloved, goalkeepers future, that our fans in an unprecedented act, chanted Sheppard's name, non stop until the man was out of sight. On hearing this Dick Sheppard, true to form, turned to all our fans with a smile, gave a massive wave back and was sadly never seen again playing in a Rovers shirt.
DICK SHEPPARD A TRUE PIRATE LEGEND 1945 - 1998