The match against Crystal Palace on 29th October, 1938 marked the opening of the new Stand in the Loftus Road End. The programme notes began with an appreciation from a Shareholder. Seventy years on, we have entered a new era of even greater magnitude:
‘Today will undoubtedly stand out as a red-letter day in the history of our grand old Club, marking as it does the opening of a new era. For many years, ever since adopting the League banner in fact, the Rangers have been content to hide behind a bushel; they were content to look on while their neighbours and contemporaries grew in stature and surrounded themselves in comparative palatial palaces. But now they are up and doing and if tangible evidence is required to convince the sceptic, he need only turn his eyes Loftus Road-wards. There he will find a magnificently built New Stand providing extra accommodation and cover for approximately six thousand spectators and representing a capital expenditure of nearly £7,000. “Nothing to shout about” we may anticipate from the same superficial-minded gentleman, but those of us who claim a life time association with the Rangers realise something of its true significance and the optimism, sentiment and big-heartedness that lie behind its being……”
The programme also stated: ‘The Board are proud and privileged to announce that, some fifteen minutes before the referee takes charge of proceedings, the Right Honourable Herbert Morrison MP, will formally pronounce open the New Stand…’ and then concludes with: The first voice to be heard over the amplifiers will be that of Mr Albert Hittinger, representing the Board, then will follow that of Mr Morrison.’
The Supporters’ Club Notes refers to its formation in December 1935 and ‘it was stated that its policy would be to provide additional comfort for our supporters, and those pioneers, even then, looked forward to the time when a roof would be erected over the popular side of the ground.’ It also mentions that their next Dance would take place at Acton Baths. Eddy Worrall and his Band were to provide the music and tickets were obtainable at 1/6d each from the Clubroom or from Mr M W Steptoe, 11 Lothrop Street, Queen’s Park, W10.
Before a good crowd of 17,440, the R’s lost 2-1 with Arthur Fitzgerald scoring our goal. The team that day was: Mason, Swinfen, Smith, Lowe, James, March, Pearson, Warburton, Cheetham, Fitzgerald and Cape. According to John Marks’s excellent book, ‘Heroes In Hoops’, Harry Lowe had the distinction of scoring a goal for Watford on his wedding day ! Dicky March later became the Catering Manager at Loftus Road. The most famous player in that side was probably Tommy Cheetham. The record books show that he scored an amazing 91 goals for Rangers in just 125 league and Cup appearances. Due to another financial crisis at the time, he was sold to Brentford for £5,000 (a very large sum in those days) John Marks’s also wrote that he was wounded but rescued at Dunkirk and went on to continue playing football.
Talking of the legendary Tommy Cheetham, a report on the previous match against Torquay titled ‘Glorious Devon’ describes in detail the first R’s goal: ‘At the end of 25 minutes, Cheet opened the scoring with as creditable an effort as he is ever likely to give us. He converged into a dropping ball along with both full backs and the advancing keeper at a point just inside the box and facing the odds, he resolutely went for the ball after bouncing, beating all three to nod it into the vacant goal. His courage was rewarded by a full-blooded right-hander to the nose…’ It was also noted that an inspired official of their Supporters’ Club had come up with the idea of issuing rattles and whistles…’ad lib to spectators which partly accounted for the pandemonium that was let loose when they scored. We witnessed a fine exhibition of enthusiasm bordering on mob hysteria…’
Finally, mention must also be made of one of the programme adverts which is a real period piece:
WAKE UP YOUR LIVER BILE…..without Calomel – and you’ll jump out of bed in the morning full of vim and vigour.
YOUR LIVER should pour out two pints of liquid bile into your system daily.
If this bile is not flowing freely, your food doesn’t digest.
It just decays inside you. Gas bloats up your stomach.
You get constipated. Your whole system is poisoned and you feel sour, sunk and the whole world looks punk.
Laxatives help a little, but a mere bowel movement doesn’t get at the cause.
It takes those good old Carters Brand Little Liver Pills to get these two pints of bile flowing freely and makes you feel “up and up”
Harmless, gentle, yet amazing in making bile flow freely. Ask for Carters Brand Little Liver Pills.
Stubbornly refuse anything else. 1/3 and 3/- at all chemists.
(Thanks to Steve Bacon for lending me the programme)