First team honours, pre-1940
Northants League Championship winners, 1930/1, 1932/3, 1933/4
Northants League runners-up, 1911/12, 1912/13, 1913/14, 1929/30, 1931/2
United Counties League runners-up, 1934/5, 1936/7
United Counties League KO Cup finalists, 1938/9
East Midlands League Championship winners, 1934/5
United Counties (War Period) League Championship winners, 1939/40
North Beds Charity Cup winners, 1910/11
Northants Senior Cup Winners, 1912/13
Beds Premier Cup winners, 1924/5, 1926/7, 1928/9
Beds Invitation Cup winners, 1938/9
First Team honours, 1945 onwards
Southern League Championship winners, 1958/9
Southern League runners-up, 1956/7 and 1957/8
Southern League First Division champions, 1969/70
Southern League First Division North champions, 1974/5
Southern League First Division promotion winners, 1967/8
Southern League Midland Division runners-up, 1980/1
Southern League Cup winners, 1980/1
Eastern Professional Floodlit Competition champions, 1970/1
Bedfordshire Invitation Cup winners, 1953/4
Bedfordshire Professional Cup winners, 1962/3, 1963/4, 1964/5, 1965/6
Huntingdonshire Premier Cup winners, 1951/2, 1958/9, 1959/60, 1963/4, 1966/7
Reserve team honours
Biggleswade League championship winners, 1910/11
Bedford and District League joint championship winners, 1926/7 (shared with Bedford Queen's Park Rangers)
South Midlands League championship winners, 1934/5
London League Cup finalists, 1948/9 and 1950/1
United Counties League Championship winners, 1952/3
United Counties League Knock-Out Cup winners, 1952/3
United Counties League Division One Knock-Out Cup winners, 1972/3
Metropolitan League Challenge Cup winners, 1955/6, 1962/3
Metropolitan League Challenge Cup finalists, 1956/7
Metropolitan League Professional Cup winners, 1970/1
Metropolitan League Professional Cup finalists, 1963/4, 1966/7, 1969/70
Metropolitan League runners-up, 1956/7
Southern League Reserve Section championship winners, 1972/3
For reasons explained elsewhere on this site (see The Later Years (1967-82)), appearance records for the 1967 to 1982 period are incomplete and sadly, likely to remain so, because of dwindling press coverage. However, the appearance records are, very roughly speaking, about 90% complete and the goalscoring records are very much closer to 100%. The figures quoted below are taken from the records on this site (which will not agree precisely with those published in the local press because I have compiled them myself from a count of known lineups and scorers).
We can, however, be certain about one thing- the all-time club record for appearances for the original BTFC is held by David Skinn, followed by Norman Cooley. Both their careers spanned most of the 60s and the 70s down to their simultaneous retirements at the end of 1977/8. Skinn heads the list by a distance because although Cooley made his debut before him, Skinn became a regular a season or so before Cooley. Skinn's recorded appearances total 894, so bearing in mind the number of unrecorded lineups in his time (59), it's likely that his actual total was well over 900. Similarly Cooley's recorded total is 738, but is really likely to be more than 750.
Next comes a player from before World War 2, Bert Rogers (464). Again this is the total of his also known appearances, and the actual total would be greater if known.
Trevor Gould, the old club’s last player-manager, comes next , with 457 recorded appearances from 1973/4 to the end in 1981/2. Next is Norman "Paddy" Watson from before the War (444), followed by his long time colleague Jack Chester, and Bobby Folds from the club's last years with 420 each, closely followed by George Cleary with 414, albeit thanks to a second short spell in 1979/80. These all comfortably beat the leading appearance makers whose careers fell wholly into the "Best Years" (1950-67) who are led by David Sturrock with 274.
In the 1945/6 to 1949/50 period (see Into the Southern League (1945-50)), only "Jock" Boyle (103 appearances) topped the 100 mark. Nor of course should any of these figures detract from the remarkable record of Eddie Lawley for the present BTFC, with 746 appearances between 1996 and his retirement at the end of the 2010/11 season.
The 200 Club
Bearing in mind the rapidly changing scene of non-League football with its comings and goings of managers and players, 200 appearances seems a fair benchmark of consistency, so here are the members of the "200 Club" from 1945 to 1982, in matches other than friendlies:
David Skinn (62-77) 894
Norman Cooley (61-77) 738
Trevor Gould (73-81) 457
Bobby Folds (72-79) 420
George Cleary (64-72 and
Alan Wright (64-71) 288
Jackie Scurr (68-73) 288
David Sturrock (61-66) 274
Bob Craig (55-60) 271
Ken Goodeve (77-81) 252
Gary Sargent (73-76) 234
David Earl (71-77) 230
Terry Murray (56-60) 230
Mick Collins (63-66) 225
Ray Peacock (74-77) 221
David Coney (60-64) 220
Kevin Dove (73-76) 214
Dennis Roach (68-71) 211
Lou Adams (66-69, 72, 78) 202
Billy Best (78-81) 201
One tends to think of player loyalty as something from the distant past, so it's interesting to see how many of the above played wholly in the final years of the club. But that to some extent reflects the fact that in those last years the club couldn't afford anything like the size of playing staff it had in the prosperous 50s and 60s-meaning that it must often have been a case of those who were fit, were picked. Also, players like Bob Craig and Terry Murray played at a period when the Southern League and League Cup, plus the FA and county cups, were the only competitions, whereas by the time some of the leaders in the above table came along there were also the Floodlit Leagues and the FA Trophy.
Also very close to 200 known appearances, and probably exceeding that figure if the full facts were available, are Barry Fry (68/9 to 71/2 and 77/8) with 199, and Alan Davies (68/9 to 71/2) with 187.
Before 1940, as well as the three who topped 400 appearances, several more topped 200-Tommy Cummings (289), Ralph Chapman (276), Dickie Gunnell (238) and Herbert Jephson (221). These are known appearances and their actual figures will be somewhat higher. Three others would doubtless top 200 if all their appearances had been recorded-Len Potter (198), Freddie Garratt (190), and Fred C Smith (187). For more details see Player List, 1908-39 .
The following are known to have scored more than 60 goals in matches other than friendlies in the post war seasons 1945-82 (appearances in brackets, followed by the strike rate. Here, the "oldies" are more strongly represented:
George Cleary (64-72 and 79) 158 (414) -38.2%
David Sturrock (61-66) 122 (274) -44.5%
Arthur Hukin (59-62) 108 (146) -73.9%
Ronnie Rooke (50-53 and 59-60) 98 (138) -71%
Gary Sargent (73-76) 92 (234)-39.5%
Harry Yates (55-57) 90 (134) -67.1%
Lou Adams (66-69, 72, 78) 82 (202) -40.6%
Andy Easton (57-59) 76 (111) -68.4%
Len Duquemin (58-59) 74 (84) -88.1%
Norman Cooley (61-77) 73 (737)-9.9%
Ted Duggan (53-55) 62 (89) -69.6%
Vivian Woodward (50-54) 62 (149)-41.6%
Alan Davies (68-71) 62 (187)-33.1%
Cliff Campbell (79-81) 61 (122)-50%
It can be seen that Len Duquemin was easily the most dangerous of these goalscorers in terms of goals per game, although it’s perhaps surprising that Hukin had a better strike rate than Rooke. Cleary, however, is the clear winner in terms of goals scored, although his strike rate is much lower, as are those of most of those who played in the later more defensively minded years. Sturrock's relatively low strike rate reflects the fact that he started as a winger and operated in midfield for the last two seasons of his career, and Cooley's goals were mostly scored in his earliest seasons when he played as a striker before moving into midfield and then defence.
The club supplied a summary of its history and records for publication in away programmes for a while in the late 60s and 70s in which it was claimed that Hukin was the all-time record scorer with over 200 goals, which would put him ahead of this field by a long way. Where this figure came from I have no idea, but even if one includes the relatively few reserve matches that he played it’s impossible to get anywhere near such a figure.
Before World War 2 scoring was generally much heavier in the Northants and United Counties Leagues and it is perhaps unfair to compare the figures from that era with those from the postwar years. Eleven players are known to have scored more than 60 goals in this period and there are some enormously high strike rates:
Maurice Carr 188 (145)-129.6% (easily the all-time record)
Len Potter 134 (198)-67.6%
Dickie Gunnell 127 (238)-53.3%
Jack Chester 113 (420)-26.9%
Herbert Toseland 109 (137)-79.5%
Freddie Garratt 107(190)-56.3%
Harry Brown 99 (138)-71.7%
Tommy Irvine 89 (164)-54.2%
George Watson 78 (74)-105.4%
Harry Mardle 70 (90)-77.7%
Norman Watson 61 (444)-13.74%
Potter, Garratt and Chester's totals would have been higher if they had not played for part of their careers in defensive or midfield roles. These are known scoring and appearance figures and the actual numbers would be higher if known.
In the immediate postwar period (see Into the Southern League (1945-50), a period of almost total lack of success, the leading scorer was Ken Flint with just 24 goals in 56 appearances in 1945/6 and 1946/7.
The following BTFC players won professional or amateur international caps in their careers. All did so before they played for BTFC except those marked with an asterisk, who did so later. Details can be seen on the Players' Lists pages (Bob Hawkes and FWH Nicholas's details in the 1908-39 section). Hawkes is unique in having won full, amateur and Olympic honours while with Luton.
Full (peacetime) caps
Chow Chee Keong (Malaysia)*
Mike Denton (Australia)*
Jimmy Dunne (Republic of Ireland)
Doug Farquhar (USA)*
Bob Hawkes (England)
Cliff Jones (Wales)
Billy McCullough (Northern Ireland)
Terry Murray (Republic of Ireland)
Harry Kinsell (England)
Ronnie Rooke (England)
Vivian Woodward (Wales)
Max Dougan (Scotland)
Joe Dubois (Northern Ireland)
Roger Figg (England)
Bob Hawkes (England and Great Britain)
Ron Heckman (England)
F W H Nicholas (England and Great Britain)*
Peter Phillips (England)
Roger Simmonds (Wales)*
Maurice Walby (England)*
Trevor Williams (Wales)
Four of the club's managers also won full caps-Alf Strange and Reg Smith (England), and Fred Stansfield and Ron Burgess (Wales), while Tim Kelly won amateur caps with Ireland and Ron Heckman likewise for England.
Some reports during their time at the club claimed that Roy Davies and Felix Staroscik had been capped by South Africa and Poland respectively, but this appears not to have been the case. Likewise, Bill Greygoose, who played in the late 1940s, was said to have been an England amateur international, but does not seem to have been capped.
(Thanks to Brian McColl's Amateur International Database for some of the above information)
Miscellaneous other records
Most individual goals in a match
The all-time record for most goals in a match appears to belong to Joe Chamberlain, who scored 9 of the 12 goals at Rushden Fosse in the Northants League in December 1911. There were 12 other instances of players scoring 5 or more in a competitive match between 1908 and 1939, and details appear below**.
The following are the best performances in post-World War 2 matches-
Len Duquemin scored 6 v Poole (H) in 58/9
Ted Duggan scored 5 v Cheltenham (H) in 53/4
(These were both Southern League matches)
Dai Ridley scored 5 v Eynesbury (H) in the FA Cup, 47/8
Roy Parsons scored 5 v Kempston (H) in the FA Cup, 48/9
None of these included any penalties.
[Vivian Woodward scored 6 (including a penalty) for the Reserves v Rushden (H), 1951/2. John Fahy hit 6 of the Eaglets' eleven goals at home to Metropolitan Police in 62/3. David Parratt also scored 6 in a reserve match v Timken in 73/4. Brian Kirkup scored 5 for the Reserves v Biggleswade (H) in 53/4-all the goals coming in the second half. George Cleary scored 5 in a reserve match v Chertsey (H) in 63/4. Bobby Gilmour also scored 5 for the reserves away to Gravesend Reserves in the same season]]
**The following scored 5 or more in prewar matches-all Northants League or UCL unless stated: Percy Chapman 5 v Wolverton (H) 1912/13, Harold Crockford 5 v Peterborough & Fletton Res (H), 28/9, Joe Edwards 7 v Peterborough & Fletton Res, 29/30, Freddie Garratt 6 v Kettering Res (H) and 5 v Rothwell (H), both 30/1, Len Potter 5 v Langford (FAC) (H) 31/2 and 5 v Wolverton (H) 32/3, Cyril Foster 5 v Higham (A), 31/2, Maurice Carr 5 v Peterborough & Fletton (East Midlands League) (H), and v Wolverton (H), both 32/3, and 5 v Arlesey (H), 33/4, and Alf Caves 5 v Northampton Nomads (A), 34/5.
Two opposing players scored five against Bedford, coincidentally both in Wales: Bill Hullett scored five of his team's ten at Merthyr in 1950/1, and Chris Williams scored all five of Bridgend's goals in 1981/2, although two of them were penalties.
9-0 v Weymouth (SLC) (H) in 54/5
9-0 v Poole (H) in 58/9
9-1 v Hastings (H) in 57/8
8-0 v Letchworth (FAC) (H) in 61/2
8-0 v Wolverton (FAC) (H) in 62/3
8-1 v Exeter City Reserves (H) in 46/7
8-1 v Bath (H) in 54/5
8-2 v Torquay United Reserves (H) in 47/8
8-2 v LeightonTown (FAC)(A) in 50/1
8-2 v Gravesend (H) in 58/9
8-0 v Merthyr Tydfil (H) in 67/8
8-0 v Cheltenham Town (H) in 69/70
The biggest away win in SL football appears to be 7-0 at Milton Keynes City in 74/5.
0-10 v Merthyr Tydfil (A) in 50/1
0-10 v Yeovil (A) in 60/1
0-8 v Barry Town (A) in 53/4
1-9 v Peterborough (MFC) (A) in 61/2
2-9 v Worcester (A) in 1959/60
The heaviest home defeat in SL football seems to be 1-7 v Guildford in 63/4
Biggest match aggregates
11: 7-4 v Eynesbury Rovers (FAC) (H) in 47/8
5-6 v Boston United (SLC) (H) in 58/9, though the last goal came in extra time
2-9 v Worcester (A) in 59/60
10: 8-2 v Torquay United Reserves (H) in 47/8
0-10 v Merthyr Tydfil (A) in 50/1
8-2 v Gravesend (H) in 58/9
6-4 v Cambridge United (SLC) (H) in 59/60
5-5 v Romford (A) in 60/1
0-10 v Yeovil (A) in 60/1
6-4 v Cambridge City (H) in 60/1
1-9 v Peterborough (MFC)(A) in 61/2
9: 8-1 v Exeter City Reserves in 46/7
3-6 v Kidderminster (A) in 54/5
3-6 v Hastings (A) in 54/5
2-7 v Cheltenham (A) in 57/8
5-4 v Poole (H) in 57/8
9-0 v Poole (H) in 58/9
6-3 v Poole (H) in 59/60
6-3 v Boston (H) in 60/1
Overall-55,178 v Arsenal at Highbury in the FA Cup, 55/6, was the biggest crowd to watch BTFC in any form of football, followed by 33,820 v Newcastle in the same competition at St James’s Park, 63/4.
Home-18,407 v Everton in the FA Cup, 65/6 was the biggest home crowd in any form of football, followed by 17,858 v Carlisle in the same competition, 63/4.
Before the capacity was enlarged by some 3,000 by the building of the new main stand in 56/7, the biggest crowd was 15,306 for the replay v Arsenal in 55/6.
Other home FA Cup crowds above 8,000 were:
14,232 v Hereford, 65/6 [widely believed to be understated]
14,083 v Peterborough, 66/7
13,150 v Watford, 55/6
11,913 v Oxford Utd (replay), 66/7
11,241 v Brighton (replay), 65/6
9,078 v Walthamstow Avenue, 57/8
8,105 v Wycombe (3rd replay), 66/7
8,041 v Wisbech, 58/9
In non-FA Cup matches, the biggest home crowd was 10,184 v Kettering (SL) in 52/3. Other crowds of over 8,000 were (all SL unless stated) :
9,203 v Kettering, 55/6
8,522 v Kettering, 57/8
8,728 v Kettering, 56/7
8,136 v Hastings, 51/2
8,115 v Kettering (SL Cup), 52/3
The attendance for a "Showbiz XI" charity match v Ronnie Rooke's XI in April 1960 was reported to be 10,000, larger than any competitive attendance between the Arsenal FA Cup replay in 1955/6 and the Carlisle tie eight years later
Away-the Arsenal and Newcastle crowds mentioned above were the biggest away attendances in the club’s history.
The next biggest away crowds were also in the FA Cup:
22,895 at Reading, 56/7
16,967 at Brighton, 65/6
15,899 at Swindon, 51/2
15,327 at Peterborough, 52/3
14,530 at Norwich, 56/7
12,097 at Gillingham, 62/3
11,949 at Oxford Utd, 66/7
There were two other away FA Cup crowds above 8,000:
9,017 at Chelmsford, 63/4
8,821 at Wycombe (2nd replay), 66/7
In non- FA Cup matches the following exceeded 8,000:
9,200 at Peterborough (Hunts Cup), 57/8
9,158 at Luton (Beds Professional Cup), 55/6
8,717 at Kettering (SL), 56/7
8,050 at Kettering (SL Cup), 52/3
It’s harder to be certain about very low crowds because of the fairly large number of matches for which no attendance can be traced. Exactly how many people made up the crowd described as “rather small” at Gravesend in 1950/1, for example, is anyone’s guess. In the latter years, especially from the early 70s, there were so many very small crowds, both home and away, that a list would be meaningless. Also in the last seasons before the end of the club many attendance figures don't seem to have been reported.
The smallest attendance in any competitive home match of which I have a record is 43 (fourty three!) v Burton in the Midland Floodlit Competition in 71/2.
The smallest SL home crowd on the same basis is 154 v AP Leamington in 77/8, closely followed by 156 v Bromsgrove in 81/2.
By contrast in the "Best Years" 1950-67 the only recorded home attendances to fall below 1,000 were 705 v Boston in 59/60 and 743 v Cambridge City in 62/3-both in the SL Cup. In mitigation, the first match was on a weekday afternoon, before the floodlights were built, and the second, also in midweek but in the evening, was in the middle of the worst winter on record.
Away from home, the lowest were a "crowd" of 100 recorded at Bedworth in 74/5 and at Wellingborough in 78/9, though these are both likely to be estimates.
There were also some very small away attendances in the "Best Years", 1950-67: 227 at Kidderminster, in 57/8 was easily the smallest recorded in the "Best Years", although the attendance for the match with Chingford at the West Ham Greyhound Stadium in 1949/50 was described as "a few" and may have been smaller (the smallest attendance at any SL match anywhere up to the end of the 1968/9 season, according to Lionel Francis's Seventy Five Years of Southern League Football (Pelham Books 1969) was 64, for Lovell's Athletic v Weymouth in 1950/1).