When a QPR Defender Started a League Match in Goal

Team: Nicholas, Woods, Ingham, Petchey, Rutter, Angell, Fidler, Cameron, Clark, Smith, Kerrins

Attendance: 8,257

On 29th November 1954, QPR were knocked out of the FA Cup, at Highbury by Walthamstow Avenue, in a second replay.

As Harry Brown and Stan Gullan were both injured, Alan Silver was called up to take over in goal.

However, Silver sprained his left ankle and was also ruled out for the Third Division clash against Torquay United at Loftus Road the following Saturday.

This crisis meant that defender Brian Nicholas actually donned the goalkeeper’s jersey. The following match report appeared in the West London Observer the following Friday:


‘Nobody thought Rangers would get even one point after their uninspiring first-half display against Torquay at Loftus Road, on Saturday.

Torquay had taken a well deserved two-goal lead and then their defence held the Rangers’ forwards well in hand, to such an extent that only on a few occasions during the first-half did they manage to get in a real shot at goal.

In the second-half they confounded everybody with a grand display that not only cracked the rock-like defence of Torquay but produced four goals.

How often must it be said that the best form of defence is attack? This they carried out during the second-half with all forwards and the wing-halves playing well up, allowing the Torquay defence no time to settle down or get their own forwards going.

With a strong wind behind them Rangers had most of the play, but lack of punch by the inside-forwards gave the Torquay defence little to worry about.

Both Smith and Cameron were playing too deep and the through ball from the defence often went to a Torquay man.

The visitors eventually eased the pressure and came into the game. Using the wingers, they made useful headway, but Nicholas (usually left-half but now playing in goal in place of the injured Brown) had no trouble in dealing with what shots were put at him.

The home side went close. Smith on one occasion hit the crossbar with a terrific shot from 30 yards.

Rangers hadn’t learnt much from their defeat against Walthamstow. They lacked anticipation and thrust, and their positioning was really bad, with everyone bunching together.

And Rangers paid the penalty for this, allowing Torquay to gain control of the game, and in the 39th minute they went ahead with a penalty given against Rutter for pushing.

Collins scored, and five minutes later Bond put the finishing touch to a combined move by Thomas and Lloyd.

Although Torquay had the advantage of the wind, it was Rangers who were the more dangerous and they should have reduced the arrears almost at once after Clark had done some brilliant dribbling and placed the ball bang in front of goal, but Kerrins’ header was much too weak and Jefferies cleared easily.

However, in the 5th minute they were awarded a penalty for some unknown reason and Smith scored.

Rangers continued to play much better against the wind, and they had Torquay penned in their own half for lengthy periods, and in the 15th minute Cameron deflected a hard shot by Fidler to level the scores.

This revival by the home side certainly took the visitors by surprise and before they could recover, Rangers went ahead two minutes later when Cameron, after running from the half-way line, shot and scored from the edge of the penalty area.

Much of the sting had gone out of the Torquay attack and with the Rangers on top they only managed to get in a few spasmodic raids, which caused no undue worry to the defence.

Rangers were playing much better; running to the open space and shooting at every opportunity, and they increased their lead in the 29th minute when Smith hooked the ball into the net first time from Fidler’s centre.

Torquay had gone right out of the picture, and after this goal-rush they never looked like pulling the game out of the fire.

It was all one way for practically the whole of this half, and Rangers coasted along with ease until the final whistle.’

Prior to that Walthamstow FA Cup tie, Harry Brown had been knocked out in the league game against Bristol City and during his absence (for nearly 20 minutes), Brian had taken over in goal.

Steve Russell

(Thanks to Colin Woodley for unearthing the match report)

One thought on “When a QPR Defender Started a League Match in Goal

  1. Steve
    Wow, That was the first game I saw QPR play at home and before the game I met the players in the dressing room. The following week I got a mention in the reserve team programme, a copy of which I still have!!! I was at the match because a close friend of my mothers had a sister in London, who had a friend called Michael Cox who was in the QPR supporters club at that time and arranged the meeting with players. I think 3 of the QPR players were Yorkshire men, Tony Ingham of course, Keith Rutter and Conway Smith. Fantastic match, could have had a better game for my first match, which was only bettered by the League Cup against WBA at Wembley.

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