1966/7 in photos

This team group from 1966/67 appeared on the programme cover for the FA Cup tie v Peterborough in January 1967.

Back row: Vernon Avis (trainer), David Skinn, Ron Fogg, Alan Wright, Alan Collier, Peter Morgan, Norman Cooley, David Corbett.

Front row: Mike Benning, David Sturrock, Mick Collins, Danny Paton, David Lovell.

Inset: David Pygall.

Alan Wright (left) and David Sturrock, two mainstays of the club in the 60s, in pre-season training, summer 1966. Vernon Avis, by then first team trainer, is lurking behind them.

On the opening day of the 1966/7 season, 20 August, Bedford crashed 1-5 to Hereford at Edgar Street. Two of Ron Burgess’s new signings are on view here-Ron Fogg (left), a hitherto prolific striker playing against his previous club, and Steve Hyde, a winger from Oxford United. The Hereford defenders are Ray Daniel (5) and Selwyn Vale. Fogg failed to score until October and Hyde faded after an encouraging start, handicapped by injuries. The defeat set a grim tone for what was to be a season of dismal events on and off the field.

Mike Benning slots Bedford’s second goal past Dave Meeson, Cheltenham Town’s goalkeeper, in the 2-0 defeat of the Gloucestershire club at The Eyrie on 27 August 1966, with Ron Fogg to his left. An undistinguished match was overshadowed by members of the Supporters’ Club who hurled abuse at the chairman, George Senior, afterwards-his board had just decided to evict the club from the ground in a bitter dispute about contributions to the football club’s finances.

Danny Paton beats goalkeeper Andy Smith with the second half equaliser that enabled Bedford to draw 1-1 with Romford in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie at The Eyrie on 15 October 1966. George Cleary and David Sturrock (in distance) look on.

George Cleary, who was starting to find a regular place in the first team, puts Bedford ahead in the replay with Romford at Brooklands in front of a 5,500 crowd on 19 October 1966. A Sturrock penalty later ensured a 2-1 passage into the competition proper, as the team continued to struggle in the league.

There was some encouragement amid the league failures in a 4-0 success against Cambridge City at The Eyrie on 5 November 1966. A welcome feature of this was a brace of goals by Ron Fogg, here seen tussling with City keeper Eddie Smith and full back Bill Dennis. George Cleary is in the background. But it would be 17 December before the team collected another league win.

Norman Cooley, one of the club’s longest serving players, shoots for goal past right back John Beck in the first instalment of the four-match FA Cup first round marathon against Wycombe Wanderers (then amateurs) at their old Loakes Park ground, which sloped steeply from one touchline to the other, on 26 November 1966. Bedford eventually won the third replay at The Eyrie.

Wycombe’s goalkeeper John Maskell was a key figure in all four matches, and here goes up for a corner in the first match with David Sturrock (right) and Mick Collins, coming up for the set piece.

David Skinn (far left) equalizes in the 88th minute of normal time in the first replay against Wycombe at The Eyrie on 30 November 1966 to make the score 2-2, with defenders Ian Rundle (left) and Brian Baker, with goalkeeper John Maskell (on line), looking helplessly on.

With two minutes of extra time left in the first replay against Wycombe, who were leading 3-2, visiting defender Ian Rundle was adjudged to have handled in the penalty area and David Sturrock scored from the spot to take the game to a second replay (there were no shootouts in those days). Here, referee Malcolm Sinclair is booking Rundle for dissent as his colleagues commiserate and David Corbett, hands on hips, looks on without much overt sympathy, perhaps knowing that his team have been thrown a largely undeserved lifeline. David Skinn and Norman Cooley are in the background.

In torrential rain, the teams met again at Loakes Park for the second replay on 5 December 1966 (Wycombe had won home advantage by the toss of a coin), but with the score 1-1 at the end of normal time the conditions were judged unfit for extra time and it was back to Bedford for a third replay. Here Wycombe captain and centre-forward Paul Bates beats Graham Willis in the air, with Alan Collier looking on.

The end of the Wycombe saga approaches at last, as the unfortunate Rundle (on ground) heads past his own goalkeeper, Maskell to give Bedford an early lead in the third replay at The Eyrie on 8 December 1966, with Ron Fogg following up and David Sturrock in the background. Despite soon afterwards being two down, Wycombe fought back to 2-2 before Fogg scored a 75th minute winner. Nine years later, Wycombe got their revenge when the teams met again at the same stage, in a tie that again went to a second replay.

One of the few bright spots in a terrible league season was the 3-1 defeat of Hereford at The Eyrie on 17 December 1966, soon after the end of the Wycombe cup marathon. Here visiting keeper Peter Isaac punches away from David Sturrock, flanked by George Cleary (left) and Chris Riley. Griffiths and McCall (5) are the other defenders. Riley, a former Crewe striker on Tranmere’s books who was a regular officer in the RAF, stationed at Henlow, was loaned to Bedford at the start of December for the rest of the season and turned in some useful efforts. These two good results were to prove a false dawn.

In the FA Cup second round on 11 January 1967, Bedford traveled to the Manor Ground, Oxford to face old Southern League opponents. The match had been postponed from its original Saturday slot because of snow and in the following midweek in front of a crowd of almost 12,000, they secured a replay with a 65th minute equalizer from Ron Fogg, seen here ending a solo run, with Oxford defenders Pat Quartermain (left) and Cyril Beavon in pursuit, by stroking the ball past Oxford’s goalkeeper Brian Sherratt, who claimed that he had been distracted by a toilet roll thrown from behind the goal the instant before Fogg shot. It looks from this excellent photograph (by Anthony Woodcock of the Bedfordshire Times) that he saved the loo roll while missing the ball…..

As Oxford battle for a winner at the Manor Ground, Alan Collier punches clear from Oxford’s Graham Atkinson-brother of the more famous Ron, later a very high profile manager, who played in the replay but not the first match-watched by Alan Wright (left), Peter Morgan and Mick Collins, with Buck and Shuker in pursuit for Oxford.

On 16 January 1967 11,900 saw the replay at The Eyrie, decided by a third minute goal from a free kick. Danny Paton, extreme left, has just rolled his kick to David Sturrock, partly hidden by Oxford’s Tony Jones (10), who drove past the wall and scored via a rebound off the post.

David Skinn (left), Alan Collier and Norman Cooley can only watch as Peterborough’s Tommy Watson hits the first of their six goals (and the first of his hat-trick) in the third round tie at The Eyrie on 28 January 1967, watched by just over 14,000-the last of the really big crowds.

Spirits rose when Norman Cooley hit a superb equalizer in the 29th minute, despite the attentions of Peterborough’s defenders, but the visitors soon took the game far away from Bedford.

Mick Collins heads clear while challenged by Peterborough’s Ollie Conmy in the six goal FA Cup defeat on 28 January 1967, the end of the club’s last good FA Cup run. Also in the picture are Mike Benning (in distance), Peter Morgan and Alan Wright. Peterborough conceded seven themselves in the next round, at Sunderland.

After their FA Cup defeat the Eagles won only two league matches between 28 January and 24 April as they sunk deeper and deeper into the relegation mire. They should have had at least a point from this visit by Cambridge United on 18 February, but this penalty taken by Danny Paton was saved by visiting keeper Haggis, and Bedford went down 1-2, both United goals also coming from penalties, hotly disputed.

As Bedford’s chances of escaping relegation became ever slimmer, Ron Burgess, desperate for goals, made his final signing, Mike Denton, a striker from Bath City, but he failed to work any miraculous transformations. Here Denton tangles with Weymouth’s goalkeeper, John Clarke, in Bedford’s 0-1 Good Friday defeat at The Eyrie on 24 March 1967. The loss of all three Easter games virtually sealed the club’s fate and was swiftly followed by the dismissal of Burgess. Denton moved on to Cambridge City early the following season. He later emigrated to Australia and was capped 14 times by his adopted country.

Another nail in Bedford’s relegation coffin was a 0-1 home defeat by Wimbledon on 8 April 1967-Ron Heckman’s first league game after his return as manager. Ron Fogg, who was on as substitute for George Cleary, is here thwarted by Wimbledon’s keeper Frank Smith. In the left background is John Fahy, who had rejoined from Cambridge United a few weeks earlier, but could not rediscover his form of three years earlier.