Kenneth Westerberg emailed me the sad news recently that Fred Durrant had died after reading it on the Brentford website. Their Obituary read as follows:-
‘Brentford Football Club are saddened by the news that Fred Durrant passed away Friday afternoon, aged 88. He was the club’s oldest living player. Signed in 1939 by Harry Curtis from Folkestone Town, Fred made four appearances ‚Äì including four goals in six FA Cup appearances in the transitional season of 1945-46. He was transferred to QPR in that season and also played for Exeter City and Dover before running a cafe in the town until his retirement.’
Frederick H. Durrant was born in Dover on 19th June 1921. Manager Dave Mangnall paid Brentford ¬£5,000 for their centre forward. He made his debut against Torquay United on 28th September, 1946. The match programme explained just why he had been brought in:-
‘The Club’s two recognised centre forwards are still in the Army and are likely to be for some time. Thus they are prevented from taking their full part in this team-work. The team has made a splendid start but there was just that something lacking in front of goal. Manager Dave Mangnall had a conference with his chiefs. As ever, he got their full confidence, both moral and financial. There were no half measures. Manager Mangnall knew whom he wanted and was told to get him if he could. With a determination typical of this Yorkshireman, he set about this very difficult task. Finally, after much discussion, agreement was reached with Brentford Football Club and permission was given to interview Fred Durrant.’
‘This meant a car dash to Dover where the player was working. As supporters are probably aware, the player has the final word in a transfer. If he is not willing, then nothing can be done. It was not until late in the second half of our game on Wednesday evening that Fred Durrant finally decided to throw in his lot with us. Manager Mangnall had got his man. On behalf of the Directors, Management, Players and every one of our supporters, we welcome Fred to Loftus Road and wish him every success. His burden will be a heavy one; he is strong enough to carry it. The fee is the highest paid by Queen’s Park Rangers, made possible only by the backing of the Directors.’
I also came across this rather amusing snippet in another programme regarding the weekend of a match at Torquay a year later, in September 1947 – ‘At Paignton, where the team spent last weekend, the party were guests at a Variety Show and during the evening, members of the audience were invited to take part in a competition on the stage. Messrs. Durrant, Allen and Chapman had a go and Fred was voted the winner by the judges ‚Äì prize 10/- (50p). In the hotel afterwards, Fred paid his two stooges, as he calls them, 3/4 each.’
Thanks to Martin Percival for finding the following interesting reference amongst his collection, regarding what Fred and some of the other players got up to during the summer of 1947 ‚Äì ‘He was in charge of the stadium re-painting team with support from Jack Rose and Jimmy Kelly. They worked 12 hours a day and 7 days a week. At the same time Alf Ridyard and Ivor Powell installed 500 new tip-up seats in the Ellerslie Road Stand. ‘
Fred Durrant had a very good goal scoring ratio record, but for whatever reason, he was sold to Exeter City in February 1949 for ¬£4,000.He made 53 League and Cup appearances and scored 26 goals. The above pic shows him walking off the pitch and to his left is Don Mills.
Rest in Peace.