1962/3 in photos

The photographer tries something different for the squad photograph in August 1962; instead of the conventional “big ones at the back” he has gone for “little ones at the ends”. At least the directors have been kept out of things for once, although the players at the right hand end seem rather distant. The most newsworthy summer signing, the six foot plus goalkeeper Jock Wallace from West Bromwich Albion, is given pride of place in an interesting piece of public relations.

Left to right: Ronnie Southgate, Jimmy Dunne, Bobby Tebbutt, David Sturrock, Alex Stenhouse, Bill Morrison, Roy Banham, Bill Goundry, Ken Hawkes, David Coney, Jock Wallace, Tony Hawksworth, Bobby Anderson, David Price*, Tommy Kay*, Vernon Avis, Jackie Walker, Brian Whitby, Arthur Hukin, Brian Wright, John Fahy.

*Players who never made a first team appearance.

Chelmsford City had signed more high-profile former Football League players than any other Southern League club in the summer of 1962 (although Bedford had done their bit with Jock Wallace), and they were the visitors for the opening match on a sunny afternoon of 18 August 1962. The weather, and feelings of expectation after several disappointing seasons, had swelled the crowd to 4,373, the largest for over two years, and they were treated to an impressive 2-0 win by the Eagles. Here Chelmsford’s Denis Hatsell is about to pass back (allowed in those days) to his keeper, Alan Collier, who would join Bedford three years later, with Brian Wright about to pounce. In the background is Ronnie Southgate, who scored an excellent opening goal, only for his promising career to be curtailed by a serious injury in the next match against Poole, from which he never really recovered. The new Bedford kit on view here featured numbers on the shorts rather than the backs of the shirts, prompting Reg Smith’s comment that the opposition wouldn’t be able to tell whether his players were coming or going….

In another view of the opening match, Vernon Avis (left) and Roy Banham attempt to thwart Chelmsford’s Alec Moyse. Banham, who was one of the new signings from Peterborough with Ken Hawkes and Jimmy Dunne, was a steady centre-half who was first choice for this season but lost his place early in the following season to the long-serving Mick Collins-who was at left-half for Chelmsford in this match.

Bedford won their first five league and league cup matches of 1962/3, the fifth being a 1-0 defeat of Dartford at The Eyrie on 1 September. But they were struggling for goals, managing only five in the four league matches, and this was to be a recurring theme for the next three years. The only goal of this match was a late strike from the right wing by Brian Whitby, see here in the distance turning away to celebrate after beating goalkeeper O’Dell on his near post, with Jimmy Dunne following up. The crowd was 4,470, more than at the Chelmsford match, but as the early successes could not be maintained this would prove to be the best league crowd of the season.

Jock Wallace was rapidly becoming a favourite with supporters, performing spectacular heroics behind a defence that was often under pressure in the absence of a dominant forward line. Despite the caption, it looks to me as if he has turned a Hitchin shot over the bar in this incident from the FA Cup second qualifying round tie at Top Field on 22 September 1962. Also in view, left to right, are Brian Whitby (in distance), Bill Goundry, Vernon Avis, David Coney and, on the goal line, Gerry King. Bedford managed to avoid a repeat of the previous season’s embarrassment at the same stage with a 5-3 win, but they were only 3-2 up at half-time and this wasn’t one of Wallace’s better games. Like other spectacular keepers he could on occasions make bizarre mistakes, and two of these, involving misjudgements of the ball in flight, gifted Hitchin their first and third goals. It was just as well that Arthur Hukin obliged with a hat-trick at the other end, the second of the three being his 100th goal for the club.

Cambridge City goalkeeper Roy Jones is about to be beaten by this shot from Brian Whitby (out of picture) which put Bedford two goals ahead nine minutes from the end of the third qualifying round FA Cup tie at The Eyrie on 6 October 1962, watched by Arthur Hukin in the background and his colleague Sammy Salt (right). Despite a late Cambridge reply, Bedford hung on to win this local derby 2-1 before 5,417 spectators, including a big visiting contingent. They had faded in the league after their bright start, having not won for over a month, whereas City, with several expensive signings, were going well and would eventually win the title, so this was a pleasant surprise for the supporters.

Jones in action in the first half of the Cambridge City tie, under challenge from David Sturrock, who was now starting to establish himself in the side. Brian Whitby is in the background, with Jeff Suddards (left) and Reg Pearce the nearest City defenders.

After defeating Wisbech 1-0 at home in the fourth qualifying round, Bedford found themselves drawn at home to the other Cambridge club, United, in the first round proper on 3 November 1962. Nearly 7,000 saw an enthralling tie which was decided by an injury time winner from Brian Wright after Arthur Hukin had given Bedford the lead after 75 minutes, only for Cambridge to equalise ten minutes later. Here, during the goalless first half, Hukin (right) throws himself at this challenge with centre-half Bill Howell as keeper Rodney Slack looks on. United were to end the season as runners-up to their neighbours, City and it was only towards the end of the decade that they forged ahead of City on their way into the Football League.

The Cambridge United tie was a personal triumph for Brian Wright, a feisty little red-haired inside-forward who had come from Leicester via Lincoln in Ronnie Rooke’s final close season. Above, he tangles in the air with Cambridge’s Welsh (6) and Boggis in the first half. Later Wright moved on to join Arthur Hukin and Alex Stenhouse at Corby Town.

In the second round of the FA Cup the Eagles visited Gillingham at Priestfield Stadium on 24 November 1962, but were unable to avenge their home defeat by the same team three years earlier. But the 0-3 result might have been different had they not lost David Sturrock for much of the match after injuring an ankle in the first half, and Brian Wright for part of the second half. The nine fit men could not hold out although Gillingham’s third goal did not come until the final minute. Here (top) Wright has been floored by a defender early on, and (bottom) Gillingham’s Gordon Pulley shoots wide past the diving Wallace.

In another scene from the Gillingham match, home keeper John Simpson advances to intercept from the onrushing David Skinn, who had just broken into the first team to claim a place that he would hold for almost another 16 years. Two thousand Eagles supporters traveled to swell the crowd to 12,097, but they would have to wait another year for a Cup run to emulate the “Arsenal” episode of 1955/6.

Bedford’s league fixture against Cambridge United at The Eyrie on 26 January 1963 made history of a sort, because it was the first non-league match to feature in Anglia TV’s Sunday afternoon highlights programme, Match of the Week. It was very nearly the only match in the Anglia area of that particular week, which came in the middle of the Great Freeze of early 1963. Bedford’s previous match before this had been a whole month earlier, when they drew 1-1 at Yeovil on Boxing Day and had to struggle home through the ice and snow that were to envelop the country until early March; and they only managed to complete three matches in February. It’s debatable whether conditions for this match were much better than for the many that were postponed but with the clubs and the TV producers equally desperate for some revenue-producing action, the referee was persuaded to give it a go. Here we see a Bedford attack building up from the viewpoint of the main stand spectators, with the TV cameras on a temporary gantry somewhere near the directors’ box.

Three more scenes from the Big Freeze. In the Cambridge United match, (top), Jimmy Dunne, a talented Irish ball-player who struggled with injuries, scores Bedford’s goal past Rodney Slack’s outstretched leg, and (centre) Barry Hawkes trying a possibly unwise sliding tackle. The huge mounds of cleared snow, shifted earlier by volunteers, can be seen around the touchlines. The match ended 1-1 and marked the debut of Ron Heckman, signed from Crystal Palace just after the weather closed in, who can be seen in the background of the upper picture. Only 1,828 people braved the elements and the takings were some £250.

The lower image is from the Metropolitan League match against Guildford Reserves the following week, 2 February, where both clubs, having had their Southern League matches called off, played many first team players. Guildford won 2-0 and here Jimmy Dunne is seen sliding through the snow to no avail, watched by Ron Heckman on the left.

Barry Hawkes beats goalkeeper Reader to score against Gravesend in the 3-1 win at The Eyrie on 23 March 1963. John Fahy is the other Bedford player visible behind him. Although less well known than his brother Ken, who had been a regular full back in Luton’s first division days, Barry made more appearances in the first team. This was one of the first games after the long gap caused by the worst winter of the century, but absence did not make supporters grow fonder, the attendance barely passing 2,000 as what had promised to be a much better season turned out pretty much the same as the previous few.

An end-of-season group pose with the Beds Professional Cup (left), and the Metropolitan League Challenge Cup, won by the reserves,

Back row (left to right): Roy Banham, Vernon Avis, Jock Wallace, Tony Hawksworth, Norman Cooley, Bobby Anderson.

Middle row: Reg Game (first team trainer), Joe Campbell (assistant trainer), David Skinn, Alex Bain, Brian Wright, Harry Collins , George Senior and Charles Gallie (directors), Ron Heckman, Barry Hawkes, Mick Collins, Reg Cornelius (secretary), Reg Smith (manager)

Front row: Jim House (director), David Sturrock, Gordon Bruce (vice-chairman), David Coney, Ted Ashdown (chairman), Bill Goundry, Bill Manning (director), David Lovell.

Bain and Collins both appeared as triallists in the end of season friendly against Arbroath, and then signed for the following season. Their careers with the club were very different, however; Collins became a key figure at centre-half for the next four seasons as well as club captain from 64/5, whereas Bain was suspended for some time for missing training and played only a handful of times before being released a year later.

(The full headline on the left read "All in all it was not so bad", a summing up of theseason !)