Team: Gregory, Rose, Dawes, Daniels, Ridyard, Attwell, Sibley, Shaw, Heathcote, Mallett, Darragon
The previous Saturday Rangers had recorded a 5-4 win at Southampton which amazingly was a reversal of a 4-5 defeat in September ! This line-up against Fulham included a number of guest players which was common practice during the War years. The match report in the Willesden Chronicle by “Bird’s Eye” the following Friday was as follows:
‘Twice in the match at Loftus Road on Saturday Rangers held a two-goal lead. Each time Fulham staged a fighting come-back to draw level. In the end they shared the points and even the most ardent Rangers supporter will admit that a draw was a fair result. Either side would have been unlucky had they lost.
Like most games between these West London rivals, the match was crammed with thrills often to the detriment of the football. Where Fulham had the advantage was in staying power. Their most experienced players lasted the hot pace better than the Rangers, who included besides young Daniels, two other recruits from the Junior side in Shaw and Darragon. These youngsters made a promising showing, but, naturally enough, were very tired indeed in the closing minutes. In that period Fulham were at their best and had the game lasted a few minutes longer I believe they would have won.
Late changes deprived the Rangers of the services of Gillies, who had hurt himself in an accident, and Burley, still on the injured list, while Fulham underwent a general reshuffle that brought in Joe Bacuzzi, their international fullback, who recently arrived back in this country after service overseas. Rangers undoubtedly missed Gillies. Though Daniels is one of the most promising discoveries the Rangers have made for years, he is not at his happiest in the half-back line and I should have preferred to have seen him in his proper place at inside-right.
Shaw did well until he tired in the second-half, when he changed places with Sibley, while the very youthful Darragon made a good impression on the left wing. Although up against the redoubtable Bacuzzi, Darragon showed a good turn of speed and a pleasing ability to get over his centres. He is yet another of the Rangers’ youngsters of whom we shall certainly hear more.
Rangers’ shining star was centre-forward Heathcote. Back to the form that made him so feared last season, Heathcote scored three fine opportunist goals. The first was the pick of the bunch. The movement that led to it started in the Rangers’ penalty area with a neat pass from Daniels, the ball was sent forward with ground passes and it finally came to Heathcote who netted with a splendid shot from a seemingly impossible angle. Rangers’ second goal was scored by young Darragon, and then in the second-half Heathcote completed a good afternoon’s work by scoring two more. Both were snap goals, and on both occasions his speed seemed to take the Fulham defenders by surprise.
Fulham had a centre-forward star too, in the burly Dodds of Blackpool and Scotland fame. Though Ridyard gave him little rope, he was often in the picture with some clever touches and he had the satisfaction of scoring two goals. One was a clever flick over Gregory’s head and the second came from a penalty, awarded for a foul on himself by Ridyard. Man who caught the eye most in the Fulham attack, however, was Lowes, Sheffield Wednesday player, who last season played for the Rangers. Playing a better game than ever he did for the Rangers, Lowes scored a nice goal and went near to scoring more than once. Watson, Fulham’s tall centre-half scored his side’s fourth goal with a well directed header from a corner towards the end.’
Wilf Heathcote was a school teacher, but he certainly enjoyed playing football. He started his career with Millwall and signed for the R’s in February 1943. In Gordon Macey’s excellent book: ‘The Complete Record’, his record shows that he scored 89 goals in 102 appearances whilst at Loftus Road. He returned to Millwall in exchange for Reg Dudley in December 1946.