About the site

DAVID SKINN

All time record appearance holder, 1962-78

Died 23 February 2019

RIP

BEDFORD TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB, 1908 TO 1982

A celebration of the “Old Eagles”

Site Contents, sources and acknowledgements

This site celebrates the "Old Eagles"-the life and times of Bedford Town Football Club, established in 1908 and expired in 1982.

The site was launched in the autumn of 2010 and at first concentrated on what I regard as the club's “Best Years”, the seasons from 1950/1 to 1966/7. However, in December 2012 it was expanded to cover in detail the whole of the club's existence in the Southern League, from 1945/6 to 1981/2. In March 2015, I extended the story with a detailed look at the period from 1908 to 1939, and this account was expanded in March 2017, with further material about the two clubs that played under the name of Bedford Town in the 1880s and 1890s. There is also a general section with records, indeces of players and some photographs of the old Eyrie ground, home of the club from (almost) the beginning to the end.

Here is an outline of the main sections of the site. You can either click on the links below or navigate around the site using the menu accessible at the top left of the screen. Also, if your interest is mainly in a particular player or opposing team, you can enter the relevant name in the "Search this site" box (top right hand corner) to find all mentions on the site.

First Years, 1884-1939-an in depth look at the early years of the club from 1908 to 1939, when it played in the Northants (later United Counties) League. There is also an outline of my research into the two clubs that bore the "Bedford Town" name in the 1880s and 1890s, plus as many of their match details as I can find.

Into the Southern League (1945-50)-a detailed look at the first seasons in the Southern League, 1945/6 to 1949/50, with commentary, photographs, players' details and season-by-season results and team lineups

The Best Years (1950-67)- this is the most detailed part of the site and covers the 1950/1 to 1966/7 seasons-the big-spending Ronnie Rooke era, the successful years of the mid 50s under Tim Kelly featuring the famous FA Cup meeting with Arsenal and the club's only Southern League title, and later FA Cup victories over Newcastle, Exeter and Brighton. Again this includes team lineups, commentary' players' details and photographs

The Later Years (1967-82)- the sadder final seasons from 1967/8 to 1981/2, also covered in detail with commentary, players' details, photos and team lineups

The Rest-All Years Player Index, FA Cup and Trophy Histories, Managers, Records, Reserve team tables, Eyrie Photos. An index of the 500-plus players who appeared for the Eagles in those years (with links to the more detailed players' lists), pen-pictures of the managers, various club records, summaries of the FA Cup and FA Trophy progress of the club, a brief look at the club's reserve elevens, and some photographs of the old Eyrie ground.

Extra photos- some additional photos can be seen on an annex site. To see these just click on https://sites.google.com/site/oldeaglespics/home.

INFORMATION WELCOME!

I don't pretend that this site is 100% accurate. I'd welcome any more information or corrections, eg about team line-ups, results or players' careers, especially for the "Later years" period, when the newspaper sources start to become rather sparse. I'd be particularly interested to hear from players or their families-I've already benefited from several contacts as listed below. Please email me at davidoldeagle@gmail.com.

I try to update the site as often as I find additional information or corrections so please don't hesitate to get in touch.

SOURCES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Apart from the Bedfordshire Times and Citizen Group, my thanks are due for permission to reproduce photographs to the following newspapers, as credited in the respective captions: Bexley Times, Cambridge News, Daily Mail, Essex Chronicle, Johnston Press plc (Peterborough Advertiser), Lynn Advertiser, ncj Media Ltd (Newcastle Evening Chronicle), Northants Evening Telegraph, Southern Daily Echo, Surrey Advertiser, Thanet Times, Worcester News. Thanks also to Paul Nicholson for the reproductions of photographs from The Eyrie Roar, published in 1999 by Bedford Community Arts, and to Brian Webb for reproductions from his site thestrawplaiters.com, devoted to the story of football in 19th century Luton and the origins of Luton Town.

All reasonable efforts have been taken to trace the owners of copyright material but if any person’s copyright has been inadvertently infringed I offer my apologies. Please contact me (davidoldeagle@gmail.com) and a suitable credit will be inserted.

My thanks are also due to the many people who have helped me with information about the period covered on this site. It was a particular pleasure to contact Terry Murray, Colin Morhen and John Plummer, three Eagles players of the golden years of the mid-50s, Peter Harris from the later 60s, Roger Barron, who was in goal in the late 60s and early 70s, and Mick Faulkes, youth team goalkeeper of the mid-60s. Sadly Terry Murray, Colin Morhen and Mick Faulkes have all have passed away since I started on the project.

It is a great pleasure to hear from players' relatives-they have helped me with information and I have been delighted to have played some small part in helping them to discover more about their ancestors. The remotest ancestor so far unearthed is Arthur Matthew Taylor, goalkeeper in the early 20s, via his great great grandson, Daniel Routledge. From the same era, thanks are also due to Jose Tingey regarding her father, Jack Chester, and David Russell regarding his grandfather, Arthur G Russell-remarkably, David is also related by marriage to David Lovell from the team that beat Newcastle in 1964, and played himself in youth football with several players from the last years of the club in 1981/2. David Lovell's daughter, Alex Hall, has also supplied helpful information. Thanks are also due to Sarah Hampshire (for information on her grandfather, George Henson, and great uncle Bill Henson), Martin Hall (on his father-in-law, Albert Capstick), Jonathan Howe (on his uncle, Ted Duggan), Beverley Quinn (on her father, Des Quinn), Justin Whitford (on his grandfather, Walter Francis), Lee Dennis (on his father, Don Filby), Peter Bichener (on his father, Jack Bichener) and Andrew Easton jnr (on his father Andy Easton). I'd be delighted to hear from any other relatives.

Thanks must also go to a number of club historians and message board posters who have answered questions about line-ups, players and officials: especially David Selby (Chelmsford City), Nigel Biddlecombe (Weymouth), “Stuthejag”, “HHH” and Mike David (Yeovil Town), Jeff Trice (Margate), Pete Samson and Steve Belsom (Dartford), Chris Collings (Dover), Neil Harvey (Cambridge City), Martin Jordan (Cambridge United), Paul Cooke and the KTFC Supporters’ Trust (Kettering Town), the Blue and Gold Trust (King's Lynn), David Shadbolt (Banbury United), Timothy Clark (Gloucester), Stephen Crabtree (Wimbledon), Stephen Farmery (Worcester), Chris Bethall and Neil Fissler (Millwall), Steve Parsons (Staines Town), Andy Goldsmith (Northampton Spencer). Jeremy Biggs (Stamford) and Martin Brodetsky (Headington/Oxford United). Supporters Mike Crisp, Bob Lilliman and Ian McMurdy generously helped fill in some gaps and corrected several errors, especially about the Arsenal replay in Mike's case. Martin Goatley also filled in some gaps with useful match stats from the last seasons, especially on attendances, and supplied much of the information about the youth teams of the 60s and 70s which appears on the page about Third elevens-Colts, "A" and Youth teams.

Thanks are also due to those who helped to fill in gaps in my knowledge of players’ careers, especially to Jim Murphy (Dundalk FC, on Terry Murray and Tim Kelly), Alan Edwards (Hampshire Cricket Society, on Jimmy Gray), Andrew Taylor (Newport County, on Terry Pope and Fred Stansfield), “Phil” of the Pompeyrama website at Portsmouth (on Billy Butler), Greger Lindberg (Accrington Stanley, on Joe Hooley), Steve Parsons (on Jimmy Clugston), Paul Plowman (Swindon Town, on several former Swindon players), Kenneth Westerberg (QPR, on Joe Millbank and other ex QPR players), Peter Lane (Peterborough, on Jim Walker), Ralph Morris (Ipswich, on the remarkable later career of Mike Denton), the compilers of Watfordfcarchive.com on various ex-Watford players, Mick Blakeman (who gave a lot of help with the tangled history of the various Floodlit Leagues), and Eric Heath of the excellent yourgrandadsfootball.co.uk site (on Edgar Duffett and Dennis Emery, both of whom he played against). Thanks also go to Clive Paish who donated the autographs reproduced on the 1965/6 "Season in Pictures" page.

A big thank you goes to Peter Holme and his colleagues at the National Football Museum, and Tommy Malcolm of the Scottish Football Museum, for their help with details of players’ registrations. I am also grateful to David Ingham, who was a junior sports reporter on the Bedfordshire Times in the early 60s, for his recollections of that paper and the Saturday night 'Pink 'Un.

Finally my thanks go to the staffs of the British Newspaper Library, originally at Colindale and now at St Pancras, and the Bedford Central Library, especially Barry Stephenson of the latter for his help with some otherwise inaccessible photographs, and to numerous local studies librarians around the country who supplied elusive reports of matches.

Most of the photographs were scanned from original newspapers. I am the first to admit that sometimes the quality is not very good, but I can only point out that the quality of the originals, taken with relatively primitive equipment and often in poor light before being printed on poor quality paper, is often not very good either.

My main source for statistics and reports has been the two Bedford local papers of the years concerned, the Bedfordshire Times and the Bedford Record. They both covered the club’s affairs in increasing detail over the years, but in the 1940s and early 50s the coverage was noticeably smaller, partly because newsprint was still rationed, leading to much smaller editions, and also because the town’s rugby union club, which played at the highest level of its sport, appears to have been given rather more space than the more recently founded Eagles who operated in a lowlier sphere in their own game. Coverage tended to decline again from the mid-70s as the club's fortunes waned. I’ve also consulted numerous local newspapers covering the teams Bedford played against. There is more useful information in Lionel Francis's Seventy Five Years of Southern League Football (Pelham Books, 1969), Leigh Edwards's Official Centenary History of the Southern League 1894-1994 (Paper Plane Publishing, 1993) and Paul Harrison's Southern League Football-the Post-War Years (self-published, second edition 1992). Two other very useful sources have been Dave Twydell’s Defunct FC (Yore Publications, 1990s), and a beautiful little book produced in 1999 by the Bedford Community Arts organisation and written by Paul Nicholson, The Eyrie Roar, which captures the life and times of the club through the voices of former players and supporters.

There are two very big gaps in the sources. The first is the club’s own records; most club historians who are writing about a club that has existed continuously from its foundation to the present can use these records, but in the case of the Eagles they presumably disappeared when the club folded in 1982, if not earlier. It would have been a great help to have access to these, but if any do survive I'm afraid I don't know where they are. The second gap is the Saturday night “Pink ‘Un”, an edition of the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph, published in Kettering, which appeared every week in the season and in a marvel of production in the days before mobile phones, emails or computers, would be on the streets by 6 pm with full reports of all the local teams, including the Eagles. Most of the copies of the Pink 'Un for the prewar years survive in the British Newspaper Library and they have been a major help in covering these prewar seasons, but the Library stopped collecting them after 1939. I have a nearly complete set for 1965/6 and 1966/7, but as far as I know there are no copies of this paper for the post-World War 2 years in record offices or newspaper libraries. I’m sure that if found, this material would fill in many gaps in players’ careers. So if anyone knows of the whereabouts of the much-loved “Pink ‘Un” for 1945 onwards, please let me know!

David Williams (davidoldeagle@gmail.com)

Originally launched September 2010, updated May 2011, May 2012, December 2012, March 2015, March 2017, February 2018. Redesigned September 2018