1958/9 in photos

The squad at the 1958/9 public trial in August.

Back: Mick Nagy, Billy Beckett, Tommy Tilston, Colin Gill, Alan Norman, Colin Morhen, Tony Jones, Alan Thompson, Des Quinn, Maurice Robinson.

Middle: Jim House (director), Jack Winter, Reg Cornelius (secretary), Ron Newman, Ron Smith, T.C.Eckstein, F.C.Reynolds and Cyril Symes (directors), Len Garwood, H.L.Miles (director), Gordon Hepple, Phil Frost, Charlie Bicknell (assistant manager), Tim Kelly (manager).

Front: Jimmy Clugston, Harry Cosford (vice-chairman), Andy Easton, Ted Ashdown (chairman), Bob Craig, J.A.England (director), Micky Bull, Terry Murray.

On the second Saturday of the 1958/59 season, 30 August, Bedford defeated Hastings by a solitary goal at The Eyrie, watched by 5,484 on a very hot day. It was a lacklustre performance and the goal came from this move, with Jimmy Clugston (8) challenging visiting keeper Farnfield, who was unable to gather cleanly and in attempting to clear, right back Anderton (right) sliced the ball into his own net.

Photograph by kind permission of the Lynn News

Bedford’s first visit to King’s Lynn’s Walks ground on 13 September 1958 produced their first league defeat of the season, by 1-2. Here centre-forward Jack Winter unsuccessfully challenges home goalkeeper Bernard Streten, formerly of Luton and England, watched by home defenders Jack Selkirk (2), Tom Docherty (centre) and Reg Foulkes (far right), while Bedford’s Andy Easton is in the distance. Winter was a much travelled player who had been recruited as a striker to replace the departed Harry Yates, but after the FA Cup defeat by Wisbech in October he lost his place and was soon doomed to reserve football by the signing of Len Duquemin, moving on to Cambridge United early in the new year. This was to be the team’s only league defeat until they went down at Yeovil on 21 February. Lynn were one of the newcomers to the competition in the summer of 1958, joining from the Midland League along with Boston, Corby and Wisbech (who were allocated to the north western section rather than Bedford’s south eastern one); their local scribe expressed disappointment that “only” 3,721 had seen a good match, although that would be riches compared to their later gates.

Colin Morhen attempts to foil an attack by the South African Touring XI on 20 September 1958, flanked by Gordon Hepple. The visitors won this friendly 3-2. Morhen was a tall and capable goalkeeper who displaced the long-serving Terry Pope in 1957/8, only to lose his own place to the even longer-serving Tony Hawksworth just before Christmas 1958.

Bedford's third goal in a 3-1 victory against the then league leaders, Yeovil, at The Eyrie on 4 October 1958. Jimmy Clugston, far left, has just headed a corner from Maurice Robinson (just visible to the left of the referee) past Yeovil goalkeeper David Jones and his full backs Robshaw (right) and Earl (3), with Andy Easton, ready to pounce on a loose ball, left, and Yeovil player-manager Jimmy Baldwin (centre). Attendances were already on the decline from the start of the season with only just over 4,000 turning up. I’m somewhere up in the main stand, attending my first unaccompanied match-a great landmark.

For all matches in the club’s Golden Jubilee season in 1958/9 a special programme cover was produced, but it brought no luck on this occasion-a 3-4 defeat at the first hurdle in the FA Cup by Wisbech, newcomers to the Southern League from the Midland League.

Wisbech keeper Gerry Lowery here saves from Jimmy Clugston (right) in the early stages of the FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie on 1 November 1958, which attracted 8,041 spectators. Bedford never recovered from being three goals down after 37 minutes, and although they pulled back two goals early in the second half, a breakaway goal created by the former Wolves and England star, Jesse Pye, did for them, despite a late rare goal by Bob Craig. Wisbech effectively had only ten men for 70 minutes, with another of their former internationals, Bobby Langton, a passenger on the wing. Clugston had arrived the previous summer from Portsmouth and proved a useful signing with 55 goals in his 102 appearances. This early Cup exit for the second successive year set off weeks of angry letters in the local press, which must have looked bizarre when the League title was secured five months later.

The first of many-Len Duquemin, on the ground, signed from Spurs two days earlier, beats Weymouth keeper Len Beal to put Bedford ahead at the Eyrie on 22 November 1958. Many supporters were unaware of his signing, along with wing-half Colin Brittan, until the players ran out. He added another goal later in a 5-2 win; they were the first of a remarkable 74 in 84 appearances over the next two seasons, the most successful striker in the club’s history and, by common consent of all who met him, a gentleman of the game. Weymouth may have had some excuse for this heavy defeat-their train into London was delayed, then they lost their kit while crossing the city and had to play in Bedford’s red and white change strip. Coincidentally, exactly the same problem beset their trip to Bedford the following season, causing the kick-off to be delayed, but this time Weymouth won 2-1 (thanks to Mike Crisp for the recollection).

At the start of December 1958, Tim Kelly made the final change to produce what would become a championship-winning side by signing Tony Hawksworth, a 20-year old goalkeeper from Manchester United. Hawksworth had already won England schoolboy and youth caps as well as a FA Youth Cup winner’s medal in this 1955 side, where he is pictured third from the left at the back, alongside the likes of Duncan Edwards (extreme right, back row) and Bobby Charlton (extreme left, front row).

Bedford collected maximum points from their two Christmas matches against Tonbridge. Here, in a slightly damaged photo, on 27 December 1958, Andy Easton watches a shot from Micky Bull (out of shot) go wide, with Len Duquemin to the right. Easton got one of the goals, Duquemin another and Clugston two in a 4-0 win to go with a 2-0 success at Tonbridge the previous day, as the Eagles stretched their lead at the top of the South Eastern section of the league.

Andy Easton (8) in an aerial duel with Kettering Town’s player-manager, Jackie Froggatt, in the Southern League Inter-Zone match at the Eyrie on 24 January 1959. Watching are Jimmy Clugston (left) and Len Duquemin. The Kettering player on the extreme left is Brian Reynolds, who was better known as a very long serving batsman for Northamptonshire. The Inter-Zone competition must have been one of the most pointless ever devised; intended to provide fixtures for otherwise blank Saturdays when the league was divided into two regional sections in order to generate a Premier and First Division for the following season, it got behind due to bad weather and it was eventually decided that there was no time for the zonal leaders to play off, leaving a competition with no winner.

Jimmy Clugston slides this shot past Cambridge United’s Andy Smith for an 88th minute breakaway goal in United’s first league visit to The Eyrie on 14 February 1959, and clinches an eleventh successive league win (2-1) as Bedford consolidated their position in the south-eastern section of the regionalized Southern League. This result left them second by a point to Gravesend, but they had a whole five games in hand. Len Duquemin is backing up. Despite the success on the field, however, attendances were starting to decline; “only” just over 4,000 saw this match and the local press report was accompanied by a letter from the chairman of the Supporters’ Club calling for more frankness from the directors on the financial position. The Supporters had given £4,500 already that season, he claimed, and were committed to another £2,000 to help with the summer wage bill.

Tony Hawksworth tips a Peterborough corner over the bar in the East Anglian Cup semi-final at The Eyrie on 15 April 1959, under challenge from Posh's Ray Smith (part concealed to the left of Hawksworth), and watched by Colin Brittan, Bob Craig, Alan Thompson (3) and Ron Smith. A 4-0 defeat by a team who had won the Midland League for four years running and would be elected to the Football League a year later made some doubt Bedford's title credentials, although they gained revenge by a 3-2 win in the Hunts Cup final a couple of weeks later at London Road.

Len Duquemin hurls himself at a cross from Micky Bull to head the first of his six goals in a 9-0 demolition of Poole Town at The Eyrie on 18 April 1959. This feat remained a record (the previous best was five, by Ted Duggan against Cheltenham in 1953/4) until the end of the old club’s existence in 1982, and the winning margin was also never bettered. The second of Duquemin’s two hat-tricks came inside 15 minutes at the start of the second half, and none of them were penalties. In my mind’s eye, this was Duquemin’s “signature” goal, sometimes resembling a human torpedo as he flew at the ball, but the contemporary report highlighted his positional sense as he eluded his marker to meet Bull’s centre. This result clinched the championship of the south-eastern division and set up the play-off with Hereford, who won the north-western section. The attendance, however, was only 4,169, many supporters being put off by a poor display earlier in the week when Peterborough had won 4-0 at The Eyrie in the East Anglian Cup (see previous image).

Desperate defending in the Bedford goalmouth keeps Hereford’s Frank Fidler (centre) at bay in the latter stages of the Southern League Championship play-off match at Edgar Street on 9 May 1959. Goalkeeper Tony Hawksworth punches clear, with Terry Murray (left), Bob Craig (5) and Colin Brittan on hand. Hereford’s Gerald Griffiths had equalized Andy Easton’s 65th minute goal in the 85th minute but with a minute left, Micky Bull capitalized on a misjudgment by Hereford player-manager Joe Wade, and from his centre Len Duquemin crowned his excellent season by cutting in from the left of the box to slide home the winner. It was Hereford’s only home defeat of the season. Maurice Robinson had missed the chance to give supporters a slightly less fraught afternoon when he had missed a penalty shortly before Easton’s opening goal. Bedford had protested about the decision to make this match a one-off, arguing that it should be played over two legs, but the League committee conducted a secret “draw” in which Hereford’s name came out first. Bedford retaliated by refusing to play extra time in the event of a draw-the title would have been shared in that event. As winners of the League Cup, Hereford had some consolation when they won 3-0 at The Eyrie the following August in a “Champions v Cup Winners of 1958/9” match; until quite recently their website claimed that this was the Championship play-off and that Hereford therefore won the title, though this has now (November 2009) been corrected. Sadly, this is the only photograph that appeared in either the Bedford or Hereford papers of this crucial match.

Bob Craig poses with the huge Southern League Championship trophy just after receiving it at Edgar Street after the Hereford play-off. Numerous coachloads of Eagles supporters kept the pubs of Herefordshire and Worcestershire busy on the way home, but neither they nor, presumably, the players knew that this would be Tim Kelly’s last match as manager; later in the summer he accepted a better offer from Hastings United and left the club.

Unfortunately the quality of this photograph, reproduced from a nostalgic article published in the mid-80s, is poor but I’ve had to use it because the British Newspaper Library’s paper copy of the Bedfordshire Times for 1959 is damaged and cannot be used for photography. However, I couldn’t let the only Bedford team to win the Southern League go unrecorded. This is the line-up that won the play-off at Hereford, although the picture was taken at the friendly against Aston Villa the previous week. Hence the only trophy on view at that stage was the runners-up shield that was still held from the previous season.

Back row: Tim Kelly (manager), Andy Easton, Terry Murray, Ron Smith, Tony Hawksworth, Colin Brittan, Alan Thompson, Dougie Gardiner (trainer-coach)

Front row: Micky Bull, Ted Ashdown (chairman), Len Duquemin, Bob Craig, Harry Cosford (vice-chairman), Jimmy Clugston, Maurice Robinson.

All these players can also be seen in the better photograph of the staff at the start of the 1959/60 season (see 1959/60 in photos)