1957/8 in photos

Here is the 1957/8 pre-season squad as photographed at the public trial in August.

Back: Dougie Gardiner (trainer-coach), Jim Smillie, Gwyn Hughes*, Colin Gill, Colin Morhen, Terry Pope, Alan Thompson, Andy Easton, Des Quinn, Terry Murray, "Paddy Watson" (assistant trainer).

Middle: Tim Kelly (manager), Brian Moule, Liam Coll, J.F.Taylor*, Ben Marden, Sid Asher, H.L.Miles (director), Ron Smith, Felix Staroscik, Alan Norman, Reg Cornelius (secretary), Johnny Crichton.

Front: Jim House (director), Gordon Hepple, F.C.Reynolds (director), Harry Yates*, Harry Cosford (vice-chairman), Bob Craig, Ted Ashdown (chairman), Micky Bull, J.A.England (director), Len Garwood, Len Noble (director),George Stobbart, Cyril Symes (director).

* Unfortunately the original photograph occupied a double page and could not be copied from the bound volumes at the British Newspaper Library without partially “losing” these players. Taylor was an amateur who never appeared in the senior team.

Terry Murray (left) challenges Worcester keeper John Kirkwood in the first home match of the season on 31 August 1957. The Eagles went down 0-2 in an indifferent display, and would not find their feet for a few weeks more. Murray spent most of this season as an inside forward, scoring ten goals, but in 1958/9 he made a succesful transition to left-half.

Andy Easton (9) about to score Bedford’s third goal in the 4-2 defeat of Gloucester at The Eyrie on 5 October 1957. At that stage Easton, signed from Weymouth in the previous summer, had not really established himself in the team but he soon became a fixture and went on to score 76 goals in 111 senior appearances over the next two years. Perhaps at his best when acting as Len Duquemin’s strike partner in 1958/9, he had a good eye for a half-chance but rather like Arthur Adey a few years earlier, he also had a fiery temper which tended to make him a target for referees and opposition supporters. Tracking down his numerous clubs has proved to be one of the hardest tasks of my researches-his career included at least three clubs for whom he appeared in two separate spells (Weymouth, Yeovil and Clacton), and towards the end of it he was more often at centre-half than centre or inside forward. 4,772 watched this match which maintained a decent recovery by the team after an indifferent start to the season, which had seen only one win in the first four league matches.

Bedford’s forwards put the Exeter City Reserves defence under pressure in their 6-0 victory at The Eyrie on 19 October 1957, watched by 5,300. Goalkeeper Alex Bell advances to help out his defenders against Felix Staroscik (11), who scored four of the six goals, Terry Murray (centre) and the emerging Hungarian youngster, Bela Olah (far right); concealed behind Staroscik is Harry Yates who is about to beat Bell for one of his two goals. Exeter were the last Football League club to play their reserve team in the Southern League, and were to drop out after 1959/60 because of traveling costs; before the war, the competition had been dominated by such teams.

There was to be no repeat of the previous two seasons’ excitements in the FA Cup in 1957/8. Walthamstow Avenue avenged their heavy defeat of two years earlier with a 1-0 win in a replay at their Green Pond Lane ground on 7 November 1957, after a 1-1 draw at The Eyrie, watched by just over 9,000, the previous Saturday. In the top picture Felix Staroscik heads Bedford’s late equalizer at the Eyrie, and below, in the replay, Des Quinn (left) and Bob Craig have joined the attack in a final desperate bid for the equalizer, supported by Andy Easton (far right), but home keeper Denis Wells has the ball under control. 3,300 saw the replay, played on a Thursday afternoon.

Harry Yates (9) about to put Bedford ahead in the first few minutes against Poole Town at The Eyrie on 11 January 1958, with Andy Easton looking on. Yates was nearing the end of his time at the club, which produced 90 goals in 130 senior appearances. Poole’s first visit to Bedford produced an entertaining 5-4 home win. Next to their goalkeeper, Kirk, is their player-manager Stan Rickaby, formerly of WBA and England. This success kept up Bedford’s challenge for the championship after the FA Cup disappointments.

Note the original appearance of the main stand, without the entry tunnels or fascia boards added in the following summer. Spectators at this stage had to walk along the touchline and reach their seats via the stairs such as the one just to Easton’s left.

Tom Ritchie (far left) heads for goal as Bedford attack the Guildford City defence in the Southern League Cup third round tie at the old Joseph’s Road ground on 12 February 1958. Guildford were a “bogey” team at the time and true to form, won 5-2 in this weekday afternoon encounter, two of their goals coming from Sid Asher, who had been released by Bedford earlier in the season because of traveling problems. Ritchie was an Ulsterman who had started his career at Manchester United and had been signed from Dartford the previous month but moved on in the following close season, scoring six times in 16 appearances. The League Cup was not a competition that brought Bedford much success over the years, until, ironically, the penultimate season before the extinction of the “old” Eagles, 1980/1, when they finally won it with a 3-1 aggregate win against Bognor Regis.

Eagles' goalkeeper Terry Pope in grimly determined mode against Bath at Twerton Park on 22 February 1958, as he frustrates Bath's Len Pickard, their scorer in a 1-1 draw, with Des Quinn looking on. It was a grimly wet day and only 1,780 turned up. Pope was nearing the end of his career with the club and would lose his place after a handling error cost another dropped point in the vital home game with Kettering at Easter. His subsequent football career is a mystery although he later moved to the LIverpool area where he was amarket trader, and died there in 2003.

The 5-0 defeat of Barry Town on 1 March 1958 at The Eyrie was a personal triumph for Terry Murray, seen here (far right) scoring one of his three goals past goalkeeper Peter Isaac, with Andy Easton on the ground and Tom Ritchie behind him. Four of the goals came in the final 20 minutes before a crowd of 5,300. After this win Bedford were six points clear at the top of the table with ten games left, but they won only one of their remaining five home games, losing three and drawing one, which in the end cost them the title.

Photograph courtesy and copyright of the Worcester News.

One of this sequence of dropped points came at Hereford on 8 March in a 1-1 draw. Here Len Garwood (6) challenges Hereford’s Cyril Beech (right) but Beech slipped the ball to Ray Hardiman (left), who scored Hereford’s goal. Micky Bull is in the distance. Garwood, a Bedfordshire native from Eaton Bray who had been on the fringe of the Spurs first team in the late 40s, spent seven years at The Eyrie, interrupted by a brief spell in Canada in 1954/5, and became a very useful utility defender.

As in 1956/7, Kettering included some Bedford portraits in their programme for the match on Easter Monday, 1958, won 1-0 by Bedford. The ones shown here did not appear in the 1956/7 programme. Downwards from top left : Bela Olah, Alan Thompson, Gwyn Hughes; Roy Davies, Jim Smillie, Andy Easton. This includes two Scots (Smillie and Easton), a Welshman (Hughes), a South African (Davies) and a Hungarian-Olah, who came to England as a refugee after the Budapest uprising in 1956. He had to play as an amateur until he had been in the country for two years under the FA regulations of the time, and was soon capped by Bedfordshire. In 1958/9 he moved to Northampton and although his League career never really got started, he later played for several other Southern League clubs. Davies achieved the probably unique double of playing football for a South African representative XI as well as cricket for Bedfordshire, while all five of Smillie’s goals for the club came in two days, four on his debut in the 9-1 home thrashing of Hastings on Christmas Day, 1957, and the other against the same opponents at Hastings on Boxing Day.

There was a brief break from the pressure of the league title race on 14 April 1958, when 5,700 on a Monday evening saw Bedford put up a decent fight against a strong Luton eleven before going down 1-2 in the final of the County Professional Cup. Here Luton keeper Ron Baynham is about to save a left wing cross watched by Andy Easton (right), and his centre-half, Terry Kelly, son of the Bedford manager.

The day it all went wrong, Saturday 26 April 1958. Despite their stumbles in the final weeks, with home defeats by Cheltenham and Dartford and only three points out of six at Easter, Bedford were top before their final fixture, at home to Chelmsford, with 57 points, four more than their nearest challengers, Gravesend. A win would have made the title almost certain. Here Tom Ritchie (left) heads them ahead after 18 minutes, while Andy Easton (right) possibly obstructs Chelmsford keeper Jack Parry and Terry Murray (centre) looks on with Chelmsford right-half Lyall Bolton. But a disputed retaken penalty and a late winner by Chelmsford’s former Bedford player Arthur Adey were to dash the 7,200 crowd’s hopes.

How the Pink 'Un's cartoonist saw the Chelmsford defeat in his round-up; the "pensive Eagle" attempts in vain to hatch out the Southern League championship after eight long months of trying (thanks to Mike Crisp for this)

Photo by kind permission of Colin Morhen

This first team photo was taken on 5 May 1958 before the end-of-season friendly against Sheffield Wednesday.

Back row: Tim Kelly (Manager), Len Garwood, Alan Thompson, Colin Morhen, Des Quinn, Phil Frost, Dougie Gardiner (Trainer/Coach).

Front row: Jim Smillie, Andy Easton, Tom Ritchie, Harry Cosford (Vice-Chairman), Bob Craig, Ted Ashdown (Chairman), Terry Murray, Micky Bull.

The trophies are the Southern League runners-up shield and the Hunts Premier Cup, of which Bedford had won a half-share by drawing 1-1 at Peterborough the previous week.