1964/5 in photos
Bedford started the 1964/5 season with a 3-2 home win against Nuneaton on 22 August. David Sturrock watches here as the visiting keeper Les Green, who would later win a First Division championship medal for Derby County under Brian Clough, takes a high cross, watched by Norman Cooley in the background and his own defenders Birch (4) and Watts (5). The crowd of 2,800 was a slight increase on the corresponding day a year earlier but the team still struggled to reach the 3,000 mark that was regarded as the minimum for a club with serious aspirations.
David Sturrock was a steady goalscorer who had played for Reg Smith at Dundee United and was re-signed by him from Accrington in autumn 1961, shortly before the Lancashire club’s demise. He continued to be a regular choice under Smith’s successors, Basil Hayward and Ron Burgess, and eventually clocked up five seasons of wholehearted effort. Here he has beaten Cambridge City’s centre half, Alf Craig, to the ball in a Southern League cup tie at the Eyrie on 31 August 1964, but although goalkeeper Bill Heath saved this effort, Sturrock scored all three goals in Bedford’s 3-2 success.
Bedford seemed to be heading for a win against manager Basil Hayward’s former club, Yeovil, at The Eyrie on 5 September 1964 when visiting player-manager Glyn Davies equalized with three minutes to go, and here we see home keeper Derek Bellotti diving too late and Mick Collins (right) powerless to help. Bellotti had been drafted into the side just before the start of the season after the manager decided that the veteran Tony Hawksworth would be unable to fill the gap left by Jock Wallace’s decision to move to Hereford.
Sturrock (far left) scored again this time, a few weeks later, beating Wellington goalkeeper Mike Brown for the second goal of another hat-trick in a 3-1 win on 19 September 1964. Steve Miles is on the far right. By the time he moved to Corby in 1967, Sturrock had notched up 122 senior goals in 274 appearances, making him the leading scorer in the “old” Eagles’ postwar history. Although Ronnie Rooke, Len Duquemin and Arthur Hukin had better strike rates, they were all conventional strikers whereas Sturrock started his career on the wing or inside forward and latterly operated in midfield.
A reasonable start to the 1964/5 season was dented in October when in successive weeks the Eagles went down 0-2 at home to the eventual champions, Weymouth, and then speedily departed from the FA Cup. In the Weymouth game, on 10 October, Norman Cooley challenges visiting keeper Andy Donnelly, watched by Alan Wright, who had joined Bedford from Weymouth the previous summer.
Bedford’s FA Cup run in 1964/5 lasted just 90 minutes, with a humiliating 1-4 home defeat by Cambridge United on 17 October. Three of the goals came from United’s centre-forward Peter Hobbs, seen here challenging Bedford keeper Derek Bellotti, who had been signed from QPR on the eve of the season. He was only 19 and prone to occasional embarrassing errors, but was unlucky to lose his place through injury to Alan Collier early the following season. Basil Hayward, however, took Bellotti with him to Gillingham a few months later and he enjoyed a reasonable League career there, and at Charlton and Swansea, before moving to the west country and playing for numerous non-league clubs there. Mick Collins is to Hobbs’s left and on the line is Bob Davis (2), who was dropped after this match and eventually found an alternative career as the club’s pools salesman!
The gaps on the Long Shelter terrace tell their own tale here. In those days the FA Cup was always regarded as special, but from just over 5,000 for the Cambridge United tie the previous week, the attendance plummeted to barely 1,800 when Romford visited on 24 October 1964. They went home with slightly less cause for grumbling as Bedford won 2-1, though without a lot of conviction since their goals came from a Sturrock penalty and an own goal. Here Mike Benning (on ground) has beaten visiting keeper Bill Dunbar, watched by Ron Heckman and left-back Terry Tapping, but the ball hit the side netting. Benning had moved from Cambridge City the previous summer and was still settling in at this stage, but he became a very effective conventional right-winger over the next three seasons-while in the wider game this type of player was rapidly becoming extinct under Alf Ramsey’s tactical influence.
Norman Cooley’s many years of service to the club started at centre-forward and ended at full-back. In his early phase here, in a 2-1 win against Bath City on 7 November 1964, he challenges Bath keeper Ian Bearpark for a high ball, watched by Alan Wright (far left), Charlie Rowland (partly hidden) and Bath defenders Len Phillips (left, once of Portsmouth and England) and Ian Macfarlane. This match created a stir at the time when the referee called both teams together to warn them about repeated fouls, although nobody was sent off and only one player was booked.
The smallest crowd of the season, 1,423, turned up at The Eyrie on 5 December 1964 to see a second defeat by Cambridge United in two months, this time 1-3 in the league. The faithful few have been driven to the back of the Long Shelter by the wind and rain and may not have been too enthused by Bedford’s solitary goal, headed past his own keeper, Rodney Slack, by Cambridge defender Bill Finch (on ground). David Sturrock (8) tries to celebrate while the old campaigner Ron Heckman (far right) trudges back to the middle unimpressed. This result put Bedford uncomfortably close to the relegation zone, though their stay was only temporary.
Ray Bailey (centre) is foiled by Tonbridge goalkeeper Fred Crump in the 2-2 draw at The Eyrie on Boxing Day, 1964, with Ron Heckman in the right distance. Bailey was really a midfield player but his size and aggressive instincts persuaded Basil Hayward to give him a run as a striker. He accompanied the manager to Gillingham the following year and made over 150 appearances for the Kent club. A second sporting career as a fast bowler for Northamptonshire was less successful, although he later became a groundsman at Wantage Road.
Bedford started 1965 with a fighting 3-2 win on a frosty afternoon at Milton Road against Cambridge City, coming back from a goal down. Here Norman Cooley (centre) chases a pass against City’s keeper Bill Heath, with David Lovell backing up. In the background is Danny Paton, just signed from Oxford United, who marked his debut with the equalizer that put the Eagles back into the game just after half-time.
The caption here states the obvious as Paton is about to complete an excellent move by beating Heath to equalize at Milton Road on 2 January 1965, with City’s former Luton and Ireland defender Brendan McNally in vain pursuit.
Even though the results tended to disappoint again, several younger players, such as Norman Cooley, Ray Bailey and David Skinn, visibly improved their contributions and cemented regular places. Skinn was still alternating between inside forward and wing-half, although he was soon to settle down to his long-term place as a left sided “wing back” as such a tactical role started to emerge. Here he is operating up front in the 2-1 win against Rugby at The Eyrie on 30 January 1965, beating goalkeeper Leckie in the air. He later scored the first goal and was still on the team sheet, with Norman Cooley, 13 years later. The players are wearing black armbands in memory of Sir Winston Churchill, whose funeral was in progress in London at that moment.
Despite being a man short for much of the match after an early injury to a defender, Hastings, who were relegated at the end of the season, held Bedford to a 1-1 draw at The Eyrie on 27 February 1965 in an unenthralling match. David Sturrock (left) gets in a header here watched by David Skinn and Danny Paton, but it was saved by keeper Ian Agate.
Bedford took only two points from their three Easter matches, and the additional supporters who had swelled the Good Friday crowd to just over 3,000 on a sunny 16 April 1965 were sent back home again for the season by a poor display against Wisbech. Already almost doomed to relegation, the Fenmen won comfortably 3-0, and did it again, this time 3-1, in the return match on Easter Monday. Here Danny Paton is tackled in the home game by Wisbech’s Bill Clarkson. Playing as a makeshift centre-forward did not suit Paton and his battles with the robust Clarkson ended in his being sent off in the second match.
The 1964/5 season was another moderate one, but a consolation prize came at Kenilworth Road in April when Luton were defeated 2-1 in the Bedfordshire Professional Cup. Here George Cleary (dark shirt, left) beats goalkeeper Morris Emmerson for Bedford’s first goal. David Sturrock (left) and Danny Paton are the other Bedford players in shot. This was one of Cleary’s first appearances in a long career that would include a Southern League winner’s medal at Kettering and a brief spell in League football at Cambridge United.