1965/6 in photos

The professional staff at the start of the 1965/6 season.

Back row: Basil Hayward (manager), Alan Wright, Danny Paton, Peter Hall, David Sturrock, Bill Brown, David Lovell, Peter Morgan, Norman Cooley, Vernon Avis, Alan Collier, David Skinn, Derek Bellotti, Ray Bailey, Mike Benning, Steve Miles, George Cleary, Joe Campbell (trainer), Charles Gallie (director).

Front row: Bill Manning (director), Dr Jim Boyde (medical officer), Charlie Rowland, Mick Collins, Harry Collins (vice-chairman), George Senior (chairman), Trevor Marriott, Gerry Kavanagh*, Gordon Bruce and Jim House (directors).

*Never made a first team appearance.

The large trophies are the Hunts Premier Cup and the Beds Professional Cup.

David Skinn was, along with Norman Cooley, a mainstay of the club from the early 60s to the late 70s, starting as an inside forward and ending as a defender. Here he shakes hands with the Mayor, Councillor Ronald Whittingham, before the start of the opening home match of the 1965/6 season on 23 August against Hereford, flanked by new signings Bill Brown (left) and Peter Hall, and watched by the recently elected chairman, George Senior-who was to remain a central and sometimes controversial figure for most of the club’s existence.

Bill Brown beats defender Tony Hobson to the ball to score the second goal in the 2-2 draw with Weymouth at The Eyrie on 28 August 1965, with Mike Benning and Peter Hall in the background. Brown was a talented and tall striker whose languid opportunism annoyed and impressed in equal measure-he had only just started to win more admirers than critics when he joined Basil Hayward at Gillingham in February 1966 after only a few months at Bedford. The team ended the season in a creditable fourth place but Weymouth, managed by Frank O’Farrell, won the title for the second year in a row.

Peter Hall scoring the last of his hat-trick of goals at the Eyrie in the 6-0 defeat of Margate, 11 September 1965.

Danny Paton is foiled by Corby goalkeeper Alan Alexander-who played for Bedford himself in the early 70s-in the 2-1 victory on 4 September 1965. Paton had played for Basil Hayward at Yeovil while on loan from Hearts during his National Service in the west country, and rejoined his old manager at the Eyrie in January 1965. A skilful scheming midfield player who could also score goals, he was often the victim of the kind of tackle that has been outlawed from modern football but in those days sometimes meant that when he retaliated, the referee only saw the second “offence” and not the first, resulting in several suspensions.

Norman Cooley hammers a shot past the Cheltenham defenders at The Eyrie on 11 October 1965. This one didn’t go in but seven other attempts on goal did, in Bedford’s best league performance of the season. Peter Hall, on the ground (left), hit three of the goals and this win was all the more bizarre coming as it did three days after the worst league effort of the year, a 1-6 thumping at Wellington. “Just one of those things”, was Basil Hayward’s press comment, rather typical of his taciturn demeanour.

The Bedford Record sub-editors created this montage to show Ray Bailey’s superb 25-yard equalizer in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round match against Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium on 16 October 1965; in the upper view he hits the ball and below, goalkeeper Rodney Slack and two defenders, with Bill Brown sandwiched between them, watch it hurtle into the top of the net. Bailey also scored the winner eight minutes from the end after Peter Morgan had created an opening on the right wing, to secure a win which had looked very unlikely when the Eagles were overrun in the first half and were lucky to cross over only a goal down. Crossing Cambridge by car took an hour due to jams caused by the many Bedford followers in the 5,580 crowd, and most of them had to cram into three sides of the ground since, as the picture shows, United were building a new stand on the other side.

Mike Benning (left) helps Peter Hall out from the Exeter net where Hall has just directed a header to put Bedford a goal up in their 2-1 FA Cup first round victory at St James’s Park on 13 November 1965. Exeter’s Bryce Fulton is the man on the ground and Norman Cooley is haring away in the left distance to start the celebrations.

Danny Paton appears to have been felled inside the penalty area by Exeter centre half Keith Harvey in the first round tie on 13 November 1965, but the referee’s position suggests he was probably unsighted even if a penalty was justified. Bryce Fulton and George Ley are the other defenders.

Brighton keeper Brian Powney is beaten by a flying header from Bill Brown (out of shot) soon after half time in the second round tie against Brighton at the old Goldstone Ground on 4 December 1965. Peter Hall looks on, right. This goal soon after the interval looked like taking Bedford through until Wally Gould’s injury time equalizer. The match was played in pouring rain and many umbrellas can be seen on the sparsely filled open terraces, although nearly 17,000 saw it, mainly squashed in under cover.

Peter Hall (far right) appeared to have settled matters with a second goal against Brighton but as his shot rolls into the net past Powney and full-back Magill, the linesman is indicating offside. Soon after this came Brighton’s equaliser.

Brighton had scored ten in the previous round against Wisbech, and nine against Southend in their last home League match, so Bedford were not expected to cause them much trouble. If their centre-forward Charlie Livesey (right) had taken this early chance, another goal glut might have followed, but he shot wide, perhaps distracted by goalkeeper Alan Collier (diving, left) and Ray Bailey (centre), with Alan Wright and David Skinn in the background.

There aren’t many extant action photographs from Bedford’s exciting 2-1 win, after coming from behind, in the replay at the Eyrie against Brighton on 6 December 1965, watched by 11,241. This one shows Bill Brown (left) and Norman Cooley challenging the white-shirted defenders in the first half. The Eagles went a goal down to an unlucky deflection from a shot by Turner round about the time this picture was taken, but enormous second half pressure saw Hall equalize in the 72nd minute from a melee after a Benning corner, and then Danny Paton was put through by Brown to jink past Powney for the winner eight minutes from the end. The match was, however, close to being abandoned after prolonged pitch invasions from youngsters at the River End after both Bedford goals.

Photograph by kind permission of the Daily Mail

The quality of action photographs under lights in the mid 60s was indifferent and becomes even worse when reproduced from microfilm, but here we can (just about) see Peter Hall about to celebrate his scrambled equalizer, watched by right back Jimmy Magill and sprawling keeper Powney.

The unusual light angles tell us that this is a morning scene, from the 11.30 am kick off on a frosty 27 December 1965 against Cambridge United, when 4,686 saw an excellent derby which ended in a 2-1 win for the Eagles thanks to a late winner by Peter Hall. Here Bill Brown heads for goal with goalkeeper Rodney Slack, tracksuited on the hard ground, about to save. A 4-2 win in the return fixture the following evening put Bedford into second place.

In the third round on 22 January 1966, Bedford met their Southern League rivals Hereford on a snow-covered surface at the Eyrie-the match was in doubt until a few hours before the start and would almost certainly have been postponed today. They were give an early boost when Peter Hall headed home a cross from Bill Brown, watched by Hereford full-back Selwyn Vale and David Sturrock (right).

Peter Hall as supporters of the mid- 60s will remember him, all whole hearted effort and cheerful endeavour. Here he has outpaced Hereford’s captain and centre-half Ray Daniel, the former Welsh international (background), but the ball won in the end. In the second half he scored a magnificent solo second goal to send his team into the fourth round. Hall had a miserable time the following season with injuries and his absences had a lot to do with the team’s dismal run ending with relegation, so that one excellent season in 1965/6 was all he really had with the club.

Ray Bailey brings the ball under control as the Eagles attack in the first half of the Hereford cup tie on 22 January 1966. He was one of those sold to Gillingham at the end of the season as he rejoined Basil Hayward.

Alan Wright scurries across the snowy surface, watched by Alan Collier (left), Mick Collins and Peter Morgan (background) to counter Hereford striker Albert Derrick in the third round FA Cup encounter in January 1966. Jammed in at the River End are some of the sell-out crowd, officially recorded as 14,232 but probably much bigger.

One of the familiar features of the 50s and 60s was this montage on the back page of the "Pink 'Un", the Saturday evening edition of the Northants Evening Telegraph. It told supporters at a glance how their team had fared by the expression adopted by their symbolic figure as he hears the telephoned score. From left to right here we see the Cobbler (Northampton), a somewhat battered looking Scottish steelman (Corby), Mr Posh with his topper and monocle (Peterborough), the Friar (Kettering), the Eagle of Bedford, the Fenman (Wisbech), the Tulip (Spalding), the Doughboy in his chef's hat (Wellingborough), the Hatter (Luton), the Tiger (Holbeach) and the fierce looking Russian cossack (Rushden), On this day-29 January 1966-the Eagles had beaten Poole 3-1 at home. Northampton, in their one and only season in the old First Division, had lost 0-2 at home to Everton, who would knock the Eagles out of the FA Cup a fortnight later.

Before a record crowd of 18,407, Bedford’s cup run ended against Everton at the Eyrie on 12 February 1966. Alex Young, one of their most expensive stars, shoots, but Alan Collier has it covered, helped by David Skinn (left) and Peter Morgan, with Mick Collins bringing up the rear and Danny Paton in the distance.

Fred Pickering heads Everton’s third goal past Alan Collier in the final minutes of the fourth round tie at the Eyrie, on 12 February 1966, watched by Mick Collins and Peter Morgan, with his colleague Alex Scott in between. Pickering was at the time a contender for the centre-forward spot in the England side for the forthcoming World Cup, but he was effectively controlled by Collins for most of the match.

Fred Pickering beats Alan Collier, but also the post, with this header in the first half against Everton, watched by Peter Morgan.

David Skinn attempts to stop Everton’s right winger Alex Scott. In the background are some of the many extra spectators who were crammed in along the walkway at the bottom of the main stand.

After the FA Cup exit Bedford redoubled their assault on the league title and started with a 1-0 win against Guildford on 19 February 1966. Peter Hall scored the only goal but he is out of luck here as he watches visiting left-back Nicholas clear the ball off the line in this unusual view from behind the net. Attendances held up well and over 3,200 saw this match.

(Above) Photograph by kind permission of the Thanet Times

On 26 February 1966 Bedford maintained their league challenge with a 3-1 win against Margate at Hartsdown Park. Here Alan Collier cuts out a cross under challenge from Margate’s Arthur Blackley, watched by David Skinn with Mick Collins in the background. The home programme notes said: “We welcome the players and officials from Bedford and hope that perhaps this may be the last time we see them here…they are eager to obtain Football League status, and due to their recent exploits in the FA Cup, they have already been promised many votes in their efforts to achieve this next summer….”

(Below) photograph by kind permission of Jeff Trice

Mick Collins (centre) thwarts a Margate attack led by Arthur Blackley (striped shirt) in the same match. Watching are Ray Bailey (left) and Peter Morgan (2)

The prolonged pursuit of the League title lasted until the last week of action. One of Bedford’s main rivals were Wimbledon, who were beaten 2-0 at The Eyrie on 12 March 1966 before a 4,108 crowd. Ray Bailey (left) joins the attack against Wimbledon captain Roy Law (5) with David Sturrock waiting for any opportunities. After this Bedford were top of the table briefly, but Weymouth, who had a backlog of fixtures in hand after several postponements, were to overhaul them in the final month.

One of the points dropped in the run-in that may have cost Bedford the title was in this 1-1 draw against lowly Corby at Occupation Road on 15 March 1966. Here David Skinn (right) and Mick Collins combine to thwart former Eagles winger Alex Stenhouse (7).

Another costly lapse against lowly opposition came at Whaddon Road, Cheltenham, on 22 March 1966 with a 0-2 defeat. Here Peter Hall seems to have beaten keeper Ron Nicholls but a defender had the last word. One of Cheltenham’s goals came from Alex Carson, who had been given a trial for Bedford in the pre-season friendlies but then released.

Bedford still had a chance of the title when they beat Folkestone 1-0 at Cheriton Park on Easter Monday, 11 April 1966, completing a double after a 5-0 victory against the Kent side at home on Good Friday. The only goal came when David Sturrock scored from a penalty awarded for a foul by right-back Russell (2) on David Lovell, seen here about to hit the deck. Lovell was a former Luton Town junior who was given his chance by Reg Smith and featured notably in the 1963/4 cup run, but he never found the same favour with Basil Hayward and didn’t often get a chance in the senior side under his managership. Bedford’s last chance went, however, a week later with a single goal defeat at Weymouth by the eventual champions, though they might have been runners-up had Hereford not won their last match. The final placing of fourth, however, was the best finish for six seasons and, with the FA Cup successes, prompted hopes that 1966/7 would see even better things…..

Autographs by kind permission of Clive Paish

Some autographs from a successful season-roughly clockwise from top left, they are Mick Collins, Peter Morgan, Alan Collier, Billy Brown, David Skinn, Alan Wright, Ray Bailey, Vernon Avis, (and in the centre) Derek Bellotti, Danny Paton, and David Sturrock.