1955/6 in photos

The 1955/6 playing staff seen a few days before the start of the season.

Back row: Paddy Watson (assistant trainer), Ted Duggan, Alf Rogers, Derek Williams, Ben Kinchin, Terry Pope, Harry Yates, Ron Steel, Dougie Gardiner (trainer-coach).

Centre: Tim Kelly (manager), W. Burridge (director), Frank Faulkner, N. Grey (director), Phil Nolan, H.L.Miles (director), Bob Craig, F.G.Wells (director), Roy Brandham, Harry Cosford (director), Arthur Adey, T.C.Eckstein (director), Des Quinn, Cyril Symes (director), Reg Cornelius (secretary).

Front row: Billy Cooke, F.French (director), Billy Waugh, F.Ambidge (director), Len Garwood, Cyril Folkes (chairman), Johnny Crichton, Len Noble (vice-chairman), Felix Staroscik, C.H.Goodman (director), Cyril Partridge.

Arthur Adey (centre) heads the first of Bedford’s four goals in the FA Cup 1st qualifying round tie against Biggleswade at The Eyrie on 24 September 1955. Signed by Tim Kelly the previous summer from Bradford (Park Avenue), this tall Glaswegian played for numerous clubs and seemed to have a talent for getting into trouble at most of them; he launched his Bedford career with the considerable feat of getting into a fight (with Doug Farquhar) in the public trial match! Later in his wanderings, when he played for Chelmsford City, he scored the goal that denied Bedford the league championship in April 1958. Tony Butcher, a team mate there, recalled: “On one trip we were coming back by rail when one of the directors upset him. The next thing we knew, Arthur had picked up his bowler hat and thrown it out of the window”. (Wheel ‘em in, the official history of Chelmsford City FC by Steve Garner, 2001)

The first real test in the 1955/6 FA Cup run came in the 4th qualifying round on 5 November, with the visit of Walthamstow Avenue, who were the reigning Isthmian League champions and had won the Amateur Cup in 1952. However, they were thrashed 6-0 before a crowd of just under 8,000. Here their Polish goalkeeper, Stan Gerula, prepares to save from Billy Waugh, who was deputizing for the injured Ronnie Steel.

The first round proper brought a visit from Leyton (not to be confused with Leyton Orient), another east London amateur club, from the Athenian League, who were beaten 3-0 before about 7,000 on a grey 19 November 1955. This is the first goal, scored from long range by Doug Farquhar (out of shot), with Ronnie Steel watching as goalkeeper Mitchell and full back Fitch are beaten.

10 December 1955 was a day of records; the first home FA Cup tie against a League club, a new record attendance of 13, 150, and Bedford’s first defeat of a League club, as Watford, of the Third Division (South) were defeated 3-2 in the second round. In this first half scene Watford keeper Ted Bennett saves under imminent challenge from Arthur Adey. The open terracing in the background, known as “Barrackers’ Hill”, was one of the flanks to the old seated stand (out of shot to the right) which was replaced the following year, thanks to the profits generated by this cup run, by a new stand running the whole length of the touchline.

Just before half time Bedford took a 2-1 lead against Watford when Felix Staroscik (centre) bundled this close range effort over the line. Staroscik had come to England during the war and played for the Polish Forces XI before joining Third Lanark, a long defunct Scottish League club in Glasgow, and then moving to Northampton until the summer of 1955. An aggressive, goal-scoring left winger in the Finney rather than the Matthews mould, he was “Starry” to the supporters who found pronouncing his name a struggle and ran his own electrical business for many years in the area, passing away in August 2009.

Early in the second half, Felix Staroscik put Bedford 3-1 ahead with a header and here he lands in the net while keeper Bennett looks accusingly at his defenders and Bernard Moore (9) turns in celebration.

While they were progressing in the FA Cup, Bedford had slipped behind in their league fixtures although their good start meant that they were still in mid-table when they put four goals past Cheltenham at The Eyrie on a very wet 27 December 1955. Here, Arthur Adey (left) heads the first goal past Cheltenham keeper Bill Gourlay, watched by Harry Yates (centre) and Felix Staroscik in the background. The attendance of just under 5,000 was a little disappointing, however-perhaps the bad weather tempted some to watch the film advertised in this edition of the Bedfordshire Times-Maureen O’Sullivan and Johnny Weissmuller in Tarzan the Ape Man, at the long forgotten Picturedrome, on the south bank of the Ouse by the Town Bridge.

Bedford drew the “plum” tie of the third round against Arsenal at Highbury, and here Bob Craig (right) meets Arsenal’s captain Cliff Holton and referee Leo Callaghan on 7 January 1956; he was deputizing as captain for the injured Johnny Crichton that day but took over the captaincy the following season. 55,178, the biggest crowd ever to watch Bedford, were settling down for what proved to be one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition. Below, the cover and centrefold of the match programme (with Crichton incorrectly shown as playing). Note the 3pm "floodlight" kick-off: at this time the Football League still didn't allow floodlights to be used but the FA was more progressive.

Terry Pope about to clear his goal area in the first match of the third round FA Cup tie against Arsenal at Highbury. The Arsenal forward is Vic Groves and the defender in the background is Des Quinn. Pope, a former Newport County player, was the only full-time professional on the books at the time, and spent his days assisting the groundsman and doing maintenance work. After three seasons as first choice goalkeeper, he was dropped and released after a blunder against Kettering on Good Friday, 1958, had cost a vital league point. His later football career, if any, is unknown, but he became a market trader in Liverpool and died in 2003.

Arsenal dominated the first half. Above, on the left , Pope is beaten by a shot from Holton that skimmed the bar, and (right), having been beaten by a Bloomfield shot that hit the post, he is on the ground and unable to stop Tapscott putting Arsenal one up. Craig (left) and Farquhar can't get back in time.

Below left, Vic Groves beats Terry Pope for Arsenal's second goal, with Bob Craig looking on .

Below right, from the second half, Arsenal keeper Con Sullivan saves in an Eagles attack, with Harry Yates on the ground possibly appealing for a free kick while referee Leo Callaghan waves play on.

With 13 minutes left, Arsenal goalkeeper Con Sullivan is stranded as Ronnie Steel (out of shot) reduces the arrears in the Highbury cup tie, with centre-half Jim Fotheringham chasing back in vain. Arsenal had taken a two-goal lead with goals from Tapscott after 5 minutes and Groves shortly after half time.

With six minutes left in the first match at Highbury, Bernard Moore (who died in July 2014 at the age of 90) has just scored the equalizer from close range after an interchange between Staroscik and Adey on the left wing. Moore can just be seen wheeling away, right, arms outstretched, behind Arsenal’s Fotheringham. Full back Dennis Evans is grounded by the far post and Ronnie Steel is about to converge on Moore. A few minutes later, Harry Yates was denied a winner when Fotheringham deflected his goal-bound effort into the side netting with the goalkeeper stranded.

The same scene a split second later as seen from the stands, with the players identified.

Celebrations at Highbury after Bedford have just held Arsenal to a 2-2 draw, 7 January 1956.

At back: Terry Pope, Billy Cooke, Harry Yates, Desmond Quinn, Doug Farquhar.

Front: Felix Staroscik, Len Garwood, Bob Craig (behind), Ron Steel, Arthur Adey, Johnny Crichton#, Bert Carberry*, Paddy Watson (assistant trainer), Dougie Gardiner (trainer/coach).

# Injured. *Reserve.

Bernard Moore, who scored the equalizer, is the only missing member of the eleven that played. He gave a radio interview after the game so that probably explains his absence.

Arsenal’s Welsh international keeper, Jack Kelsey, who missed the first match, saves from Harry Yates in the replay at the Eyrie the following Thursday, 12 January 1956. Bernard Moore is the other Bedford forward and Arsenal backs Denis Evans (left) and Stan Charlton look on. The goalmouth looks as though a snowstorm has just passed by but in fact it was spread with sawdust, much to Arsenal’s disgust.

A minute into the second half, (left), Fotheringham (5) failed to clear a Staroscik cross and Harry Yates (out of shot) beat Kelsey with his left foot from ten yards out to put Bedford ahead. Here the goalkeeper is grounded as Fotheringham contemplates his mistake and the ball hits the back of the net.

(Above) the view from the other side, as Yates turns away to celebrate. The open banking to the right of the old stand (out of shot) can be seen with the rather precarious looking platform for the TV cameras.

This is how Laurie Pignon, of the long defunct tabloid the "Daily Sketch", saw Yates's disallowed second goal in the 59th minute. Bernard Moore (9) has been carried beyond the touchline in his run and Yates (8), to whom Moore cut the ball back, surely can't have been offside when Moore passed to him. So was Moore interfering with play? Referee Leo Callaghan told the "Bedford Record" reporter that he'd already blown his whistle three times before the ball entered the net. Had the linesman flagged Moore offside when he originally received the ball? The surviving video footage (see the links at 1955/6 Summary) doesn't provide a clear answer.

Arsenal’s Jimmy Bloomfield advances on goal in the replay, with Bob Craig (right) moving across to cover and Des Quinn in pursuit. The attendance of 15,306 was the highest in the club’s history to date and was surpassed later only by the Carlisle (1963/4) and Everton (1965/6) attendances, after the capacity of the ground had been increased by the larger main stand which was built in the following season. Bedford received £3,553 as their share of the gate at Highbury and £1,500 from the replay.

There were only four minutes of normal time left in the replay when Vic Groves headed Arsenal level. Here Pope sprawls as the ball passes him watched by Bob Craig (left) and Doug Farquhar. Bedford might have been two up by then, but an earlier goal by Yates had been disallowed for offside. Two minutes into extra time, Derek Tapscott put Arsenal ahead, and they held out to win 2-1 despite another disallowed effort, by Staroscik, in the second period; referee Leo Callaghan later called his house in Merthyr Tydfil “Offside”. He told reporters that Staroscik’s “goal” was offside by two yards. The photograph below, showing Staroscik a split second after his shot had beaten the grounded Kelsey and the linesman with his flag held high, is, of course, inconclusive, although Staroscik remained convinced that he had scored a good goal as late as 1999 when he was interviewed by the compilers of The Eyrie Roar.

Reproduced by kind permission of Bedford Community Arts

Even after their replay defeat, Bedford's players had a consolatary drink-here, left to right, are Des Quinn (pouring champagne), Billy Cooke, Bert Carberry, Arthur Adey, Felix Staroscik and Len Garwood.

[Thanks to Mike Crisp for finding this photo]

Below, Arsenal's cheque for Bedford's share of the gate at Highbury, £3,553 and four old pence, equivalent to about £80,000 in 2018 terms. By comparison, their share of the gate at Dunstable in the second qualifying round was £27 2s 11d!

How Arsenal's programme editor saw the outcome of the replay (from the programme for their next home match, v Tottenham, two days afterwards).

After their FA Cup exit, Bedford won their next four league matches to give themselves a decent chance of challenging the leaders. At the top of the table in the fourth of those matches, at The Eyrie on 28 January 1956, were Guildford, the eventual champions, who were defeated 3-2 in front of over 7,500. Here Bernard Moore (right) outjumps the defenders, watched by two players who had been signed just after the Arsenal ties, George Stobbart (8) from Brentford, and Jimmy Bowie (centre), who had played for Watford in the FA Cup at The Eyrie a few weeks earlier.

After defeating Kidderminster 5-2 at The Eyrie on 17 March 1956 (having won by the same score at Kidderminster ten days earlier), Bedford stood third in the table, only six points behind the leaders, Guildford, and with two games in hand. This was a particularly good result given that they were two goals down inside the first quarter of an hour. Here Ronnie Steel (right) challenges goalkeeper Crowther, with Felix Staroscik backing up.

Bedford’s league aspirations for 1955/6 were ended by a poor Easter when they took only two points from the three matches that they played, as was customary, in four days, starting with this 1-1 draw with Weymouth at The Eyrie on Good Friday, 30 March 1956, before 7,496 people. Harry Yates saved a point with an equalizer ten minutes from the end, and in this shot, taken after that, defenders Bert Carberry (left) and Des Quinn have joined the forwards to try a force a winner, but Weymouth keeper Stan Hayhurst holds firm, watched by George Stobbart (9).

I’ve included this Reserve team group from April 1956 because it includes some players who made first team appearances but aren’t shown elsewhere.

Back: Peter Whiffin, Bernard Moore, Bert Carberry, Ben Kinchin, Phil Nolan, Cyril Partridge.

Front: J F Taylor, Arthur Adey, Alf Rogers, Les Champion, Billy Waugh.

Of these only Rogers and Taylor, an amateur, never appeared in the first team. Nolan and Rogers were both very experienced defenders (with Watford and Aldershot respectively) who were never able to break into regular first team spots, but in the days of the maximum wage in the Football League they may well have been better off playing part-time reserve football while working at their normal jobs in the week. Partridge, who moved to Rotherham in the following summer, later worked for Don Revie on Leeds United’s coaching staff in the 60s. Adey doesn’t look too pleased to be playing at this level, however.

This picture was taken before the first leg of the Metropolitan League Challenge Cup Final at The Eyrie against Headington reserves, who were defeated 3-0; the second leg was drawn 1-1 so Bedford won the trophy on aggregate. This was the Reserves’ first season in the competition, having previously competed in the lower level United Counties League, and attendances of two or three thousand were quite common-2,500 watched this game. By the mid 60s, 250 would be a more typical turnout.

For more on the Reserves see The Eaglets.