Derek William Gibbs died on November 19th 2009. I only found out about his sad passing when Declin gave me the latest issue of the excellent football retro magazine, ‘Backpass’. He was born in Fulham on 22nd December, 1934 and featured in the ‘Meet The Newcomer’ programme series in 1963:
‘The signing of Derek Gibbs, 28-year-old wing-half from Leyton Orient and Dick Whittaker from Peterborough has renewed a partnership which existed at Chelsea for many years. Both arrived at Chelsea together, young, raw and untried, and departed within a few months of each other after nine years.¬† Born in Fulham, Derek started his career with South Ruislip and then Ruislip Manor before being spotted by Chelsea. He was then a centre-half and aged 15 when asked to visit Stamford Bridge for a trial. He only just made it. An accident at work crushed a foot and at first it was thought he would never play again. At Chelsea, he was switched to wing-half and then to inside-forward after scoring nine goals in two reserve games when tried at inside-right in an emergency. He moved to Leyton Orient as an inside-forward four years ago where he was later switched to right-half in which position he joined us. Married, he has a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter.’
In the same programme, there is a report of a car accident which could of easily cost him his life:
‘Lucky escape for wing half Derek Gibbs after the Watford match. Driving home along the Western Avenue, the steering locked on his car and it overturned. The car was a write-off and Derek had to be cut out but escaped with a few cuts and bruises.’
Derek Gibbs made his R’s debut at Oldham on 24th August, 1963 and according to ‘Heroes In Hoops’, QPR forgot to register him and were fined ¬£40.00 ! He made 25 League appearances and also two in the Cup that season. He also turned out 18 times for the Reserves, scoring 3 goals. The following season he moved on to Romford after just 2 further League appearances in the Hoops and 12 for the Reserves, again hitting the net 3 times. He also featured in the London Challenge Cup and scored against Tooting & Mitcham.
Bernard Lambert (Kerrins) recalls: ‘It was sad to hear about the death of ex-QPR wing-half Derek Gibbs. Derek joined the R’s from Leyton Orient for a fee of ¬£5,000 at the start of the 1963/64 season and played 29 1st team games before quitting League football and moving on to Romford FC at the end of his Loftus Road spell circa December 1965. In his prime, he was quite a class midfield player and formed part of that very successful Leyton Orient team that won promotion in 1962. Perhaps the high spot of his stay there was his goal against Arsenal on the opening day of the 1962-63 season.’
He made 83 appearances for his three League clubs and notched nine goals.
Rest in Peace.