1960/1 in photos

Three long-serving players seen here in the pre-season trial match at the Eyrie in August 1960; Tony Hawksworth gathers the ball watched by Bob Craig, extreme left in distance, and Gordon Hepple (no 3). For Craig and Hepple this would be their final season, but Hawksworth continued until 1964/5. Craig had captained the championship-winning side of 1958/9, while Hepple had appeared in goal for the first team in an emergency at Hastings only a few months before this picture was taken. In the distance to Craig’s left is George Fenn, who would be on the move to Tonbridge soon into the season.

Photograph courtesy and copyright of the Worcester News.

Worcester’s Sid Nicholls heads goalwards in the league encounter at St George’s Lane on the second Saturday of the 1960/1 season. Tony Hawksworth (right) saved this effort, watched by Bob Craig (centre) and Denis Howe, but Worcester still won 3-1 before a 3,400 crowd as Bedford started the season with three successive defeats. After a few more matches Craig was to drop back to right-back and then, after the FA Cup defeat by King’s Lynn in October, he lost his place for good. Howe, a very experienced and classy defender who had come from Aldershot in 1959 via West Ham, Darlington and Southend, had been a regular in his first season but struggled with injuries in his second.

Arthur Hukin in typical mode, challenging King’s Lynn keeper Bill Manning in the fourth qualifying round FA Cup tie at The Eyrie on 22 October 1960, with Joe Short in the background. Hukin had given the team an early lead but a dire defensive display saw four second half goals conceded without further reply. On a damp day, only 2,996 people turned up, the lowest FA Cup gate anyone could remember.

Spectators appear to have deserted the Eyrie in this scene from an entertaining 3-3 draw with Chelmsford on 29 October 1960, and the turnout of 1,538 was one of the smallest for years for the first home match after the FA Cup exit. Bedford were in the relegation zone at the time but fought back well to turn a 0-1 deficit into a 1-2 lead before being held to a single point by the eventual runners-up. Here Tony Hawksworth turns a shot by Chelmsford winger Les Brown (far right) over the bar, with Gordon Hepple (left) and David Coney (2) looking on. This was to be the last of Hepple’s 108 senior appearances, and it was also one of the earliest of 220 by Coney, who eventually became club captain under Reg Smith.

Les Stubbs (right) goes close with a header from a left wing cross against Gravesend at The Eyrie on 12 November 1960 but visiting keeper Paull punched clear. Stubbs scored two of the goals in a welcome 5-1 success-the first win for six weeks- as Bedford started to recover from a bad run to reach mid-table safety. He had won a First division championship medal with Chelsea in 1955 and Ronnie Rooke looked to him to supply some experience and class after Duquemin’s departure, but although he took on the captaincy for a time and scored 25 goals in senior matches, he was clearly past his prime and returned to his earliest club, Great Wakering Rovers in Essex, at the end of the season.

The improvement continued with a 3-1 win against Guildford on 10 December 1960. Here Guildford keeper Eric Gill is about to gather a cross under challenge from Arthur Hukin (right) with defenders Skingley and Taylor flanking him, while Peter Cleland (left) and Les Stubbs wait for an opening. Hukin and Stubbs got two of the goals and “Joe” Short the third.

One of the better performances of another ordinary season came on 28 January 1961, when the reigning champions, Bath City, were defeated 4-0 on a very wet and windy afternoon. Here Bath goalkeeper Ian Black has just turned a Bedford shot round a post watched by Peter Cleland (left), and Bath’s right-back, Tony Book, whose career would enjoy a late flowering when he captained Manchester City to the old First Division title in 1968 and the FA Cup a year later (having moved there via Plymouth with Malcolm Allison, who had his first experience of management at Bath a few years later). Book’s tackle on Joe Short in the 25th minute led to a hotly disputed penalty from which Les Stubbs gave Bedford the lead. The miserable weather kept the crowd down to 1,941 but they saw a stirring effort with further goals from Stubbs, Hukin and an own goal.

Another afternoon of heavy downpours failed to deter a crowd of over 3,000 on 25 February 1961 for the local derby against Cambridge City, which produced ten goals, perhaps assisted by defensive errors in the heavy conditions. The Eagles shaded this exciting affair 6-4; 4-1 up at half-time, they were pulled back to 5-4 before a late effort from Brian Whitby made the points secure. Here Cambridge keeper Wilson saves at the feet of Peter Cleland, with Les Stubbs nearby and defender Jeff Suddards standing guard. Cleland had lived in Bedford for some years, though playing for Cheltenham, with a short interlude in league football with Norwich, and Fred Stansfield had almost signed him as far back as 1954. There were regular rumours that he was on the way to Bedford before Ronnie Rooke finally bagged him in the autumn of 1960. By then, however, he was probably past his best, managing only eight goals in 25 starts (including one in this match), and was released at the end of the season. At the River End the tea hut has found a few patrons on a bleak day.

Photograph by kind permission of the Essex Chronicle

Tony Hawksworth (in cap) prepares to save from Chelmsford’s prolific striker, Tony Butcher (far left), at New Writtle Street in March 1961, the other Bedford defenders being John Mills (left) and David Coney. Butcher scored Chelmsford’s goal in the 1-1 draw and this may be the prelude to it. Mills, a tall and confident defender from North Wales, had displaced Bob Craig earlier in the season, while Coney, signed as an amateur from Dagenham, was to hold won a regular spot for the next four seasons, captaining the side in the 1963/4 FA Cup run.

Peter Cleland was off target with this header in the home match with Tonbridge on 8 April 1961, as the season wound its way to a nondescript finish with a 1-0 win. Other Bedford forwards are (left to right) Arthur Hukin, “Joe” Short and Les Stubbs, and in goal for Tonbridge is the long-serving Tommy Bickerstaff, who later managed Cambridge City.

This is a first team group from late 1960/61.

Back row: Ronnie Rooke (manager), Harry Collins and Bill Manning (Directors), Peter Cleland, Peter Smith, David Coney, Tony Hawksworth, John Mills, Colin Brittan, Alan Thompson, Reg Cornelius (Secretary), Charles Gallie (Director), Tommy Ruff (Trainer).

Front Row: Gordon Bruce (Director), Brian Whitby, Arthur Hukin, Leslie Stubbs, Terry Murray, “Joe” Short, Ted Ashdown (Chairman), Jim House (Director).