1956/7 in photos

This pre-season group was taken in August 1956.

Back: Bernard Moore, Frank Faulkner, Terry Murray, Terry Gregory, Terry Pope, Gordon Hepple, Phil Nolan, Len Garwood, Don Adams, Harry Kinsell, Gwyn Hughes, Des Quinn.

Middle: F.C.Reynolds and H.L.Miles (directors), Jimmy Bowie, Billy Cooke (partly hidden), Felix Staroscik, Doug Farquhar, Ronnie Steel, Micky Bull, T.C.Eckstein and Jim House (directors), Tim Kelly (manager).

Front: Harry Yates, Harry Cosford (director), George Stobbart, F.French (vice-chairman), Johnny Crichton, Ted Ashdown (chairman), Cyril Symes (director), Bob Craig, J.A.England (director).

August 1956, and the first steelwork is going up for the new main stand opened in December that year . Directors and managers were temporarily housed at the Nelson Street End.

A scene from Bedford's 3-4 defeat at home to Peterborough in the East Anglian Cup on 27 September 1956, watched by almost 7,000 on a Thursday evening. Posh goalkeeper Adam Dickson intercepts from George Stobbart (8), watched by Gwyn Hughes (left) and Harry Yates (right). Peterborough, then in the Midland League, were starting the run of success that would take them into the Football League by 1960. Here they won with a late goal from Dennis Emery, later to play for the Eagles, after being 1-3 down at half time.

Bedford’s league season in 1956/7 was spent in an increasingly vain pursuit of Kettering, who were eventually champions by eight points, with 106 goals. When the Poppies came to The Eyrie on 6 October 1956, the crowd of 8,728-one of the largest for a league match in the history of the ground-saw them win 2-1, but the match was notable for the first team debut of Terry Murray, seen here beating Kettering keeper Jack Wheeler for Bedford’s only goal, with Harry Yates on the far post and defenders Amos Moss (left) and Norman Plummer looking on. Having joined from King’s Lynn the previous summer Murray had a rather long wait for his debut, but thereafter he was a first choice player for the next five seasons; a former Eire international who had played for Dundalk, Hull and Bournemouth, he was originally a right winger but played for most of his Bedford career at inside forward and then left half. He later rejoined Tim Kelly at Hastings before managing Rushden Town, and went on to have a distinguished career in the insurance industry.

Mick Reid heads Bedford's first goal past Kettering keeper Jack Wheeler in a Southern League Cup tie at The Eyrie on 1 November 1956. The Eagles beat the eventual champions 3-2 before a crowd of nearly 3,500 which was a remarkable attendance for a weekday afternoon in pre-floodlit days. Johnny Crichton is in the background

Micky Reid (centre) in action in the 1-0 win against Gravesend on 1 December 1956, the day on which the new stand was officially opened. Reid, signed from Tonbridge in October, was a very experienced striker who had won a championship medal at Yeovil in 1954/5 and scored 11 times in his 13 appearances, including one in the Cup victory at Norwich, but had moved on to Dartford by the end of the season. Sometimes non-local players found the practical problems of traveling to matches and training from a distance too much, and this may have happened with Reid.

The high point of 1956/7 was the 4-2 defeat of Norwich at Carrow Road in the first round proper of the FA Cup on 17 November 1956-even though Norwich ended the season bottom of the Third Division (South). Bedford had to come from behind in the first half but second half goals from Harry Yates and Micky Reid saw them home. Here, Norwich keeper Ken Oxford saves from Yates, watched by Reid and his captain, Roy McCrohan (right). Bedford unusually avoided having to play in the preliminary stages; normally only the previous season’s Amateur Cup winners and runners-up enjoyed this privilege but the runners-up, Corinthian Casuals, declined to enter and Bedford, the most successful non-leaguers of the 1955/6 competition, took their place.

Managers absorbed far less of the attention of the media in the 50s than they do now, so this shot was unusual for the period, showing Tim Kelly on the bench during the Norwich match, with his lieutenant, Dougie Gardiner, in the centre and reserve Jimmy Bowie on the left. Gardiner had captained Luton while Kelly was on the coaching staff there, but it was Ronnie Rooke who had brought him to Bedford in 1951. He retired as a player in 1955 and remained with the club in one capacity or another until after Rooke’s second departure in 1961, when he was caretaker-manager for a short time and perhaps unlucky not to get the job permanently. Bowie sat this match out but many supporters thought that his last-minute inclusion for Steel in the next round at Reading cost Bedford the match.

Celebrations in the dressing room after the win at Norwich.

Back: Harry Yates, Doug Farquhar, Ronnie Steel, Johnny Crichton.

Middle: ??, Dougie Gardiner (trainer-coach), Micky Bull, Des Quinn, Gordon Hepple, Micky Reid, Terry Pope, Tim Kelly (manager).

Front: Jimmy Bowie (reserve), Bob Craig, Terry Murray.

In the second round against Reading at Elm Park on 8 December 1956, Bedford were thought unlucky to lose 0-1 after a disallowed goal, watched by almost 23,000, twice Reading’s average gate. Here Gordon Hepple, nearest the camera, is about to clear from a corner watched by keeper Terry Pope, Johnny Crichton (far post), Reading’s Jimmy Whitehouse and Doug Farquhar (extreme right). Hepple had arrived from Norwich the previous summer, and had taken part in the defeat of his old club in the previous round; he was to stay for five seasons before becoming player-manager at Kempston. Farquhar, a Scottish wing-half, had spent time at Reading in the early 50s; this was one of his final appearances before he emigrated to the USA early in 1957, and in 1959 he was capped by his adopted country against England.

Two more views from the Reading match-left, Reading right winger Bobby Campbell, scorer of the only goal, outpaces Hepple to cross, and right, Terry Pope’s speed beats the camera shutter as he moves to intercept, watched by Bob Craig and Reading’s other winger, Jimmy Wheeler.

Part of the substantial Bedford support at Elm Park. The Santa costume is being won by a Mr W J Fowler of Great Butt Street, whose banner links the Norwich Canaries with Reading’s nickname, derived from the local Huntley and Palmer’s factory.

The programme cover design in the mid-50s included a highly impressionistic drawing of the ground, giving a rather exaggerated idea of its size and the average attendances. The “Covered Accommodation for 12,000” claim related to the new main stand, opened earlier in the month. This match was the last visit by the Welsh club Llanelly, who went down 0-5, ended the season bottom and dropped into the Welsh League. Note the advertised Christmas morning fixture-these were to continue only for one more season.

A selection of the advertisements appearing in the programme at this period, many of which were worded with a footballing slant. The Snooker Halls “over Burton’s” (Montague Burton’s Gents Tailors) had started during the 1930s as a cheap place for out of work men to go in the daytime.

Micky Bull (airborne on right) heads home for the Eagles' first goal in a 2-0 win against his old club, Hastings, on 5 January 1957, watched by 5152. Bull was a very skilful little winger of the old-fashioned type who could play on either flank and, considering the hammering he received from heavily built defenders, stayed remarkably fit; he came from Hastings in the summer of 1956 and returned there, 189 appearances later, to rejoin Tim Kelly, in 1960, along with Len Duquemin, before ending his career with several Kent clubs.

Bedford were rarely outside the top three in the table once their cup interest had ended in 1956/7. This 2-1 win against Chelmsford at The Eyrie on 19 January 1957 kept up the pressure on Kettering. Once again Micky Bull (centre) is in the thick of things-he looks a bit on the small side to be challenging Chelmsford keeper Bill Parry for this ball, while Harry Yates (right) is too far away to intervene. The Chelmsford defenders are Jimmy Jones (left) and the very long-serving Derek Tiffin (5).

George Stobbart (right) challenges Kettering’s Harry McDonald in the league match at Rockingham Road in February 1957. A crowd of 8,700 saw Kettering, the runaway league leaders and eventual champions, lose 2-1 to the eventual runners-up-their only home defeat of the season. Stobbart was a much traveled inside forward who scored 18 times in 50 senior appearances, but his best days were well behind him.

Top: Kettering keeper Jack Wheeler has just been beaten by this shot from Terry Murray (out of view), the winner in the game at Rockingham Road on 16 February 1957

Bottom: Left back Harry McDonald has just failed to keep out a header from Harry Yates (left) for the Eagles' first goal-Kettering had gone ahead in the first minute. (thanks to Mike Crisp for making these photos available)

From the same game, Wheeler shapes to save watched by Harry Yates, Poppies' centre-half Norman Plummer, and Terry Murray

(Reproduced by kind permission of the Northants Evening Telegraph)

The Kettering-based Evening Telegraph or "Pink 'Un" carried a weekly cartoon reflecting on the previous week's results for the clubs it covered. Each club had a symbolic figure who appeared in happy or miserable guise depending on how their match had gone. This cartoon appeared the week after Bedford's win at Kettering and in the bottom right hand corner, the Bedford Eagle is jumping on a [gramophone] record belonging to the Kettering Friar (left). "Lumme, you bust me best Rockingham Roller", says the Friar (rock 'n roll was starting to take off) and the Eagle replies "Somehow I didn't think it was unbreakable". Also featured are the tartan-clad Steelman of Corby, defeated by the Mariner of Grimsby Reserves in the Midland League, the Luton Hatter who has beaten the "relegation bogey" posed by Newcastle in the First Division (note the two points symbolised by the conical objects to the Hatter's right), and two Eastern Counties League clubs represented by the March Town Hare and the Spalding United Tulip.

Portraits of the first team squad from 1956/7 which appeared in the Kettering programme for the League match at Rockingham Road that season.

More portraits from the same programme.

The eleven that ended the 1956/7 season as first choice pose with the Southern League runners-up shield before beating Wrexham 6-1 in a friendly on the eve of the FA Cup Final in May 1957.

Back: Tim Kelly (manager), Gwyn Hughes, Gordon Hepple, Terry Pope, Des Quinn, Johnny Crichton, Dougie Gardiner (trainer-coach).

Front: Micky Bull, George Stobbart, Harry Yates, Bob Craig, Terry Murray, Felix Staroscik.