Team: Clutterbuck, Knowles, McConnell, Crawford (capt), Tennant, Keech, Smith (T), Haywood, Bedingfield, Turnbull, Cowie
QPR’s eagerly awaited opening match in the Southern League (Division 1) took place against Brighton United at Kensal Rise on 2nd September 1899.
The Kilburn Times reported on the game the following week:
‘Last Saturday’s match between Queen’s Park Rangers and Brighton United may be summarised thus (says our reporter):
3.42, Queen’s Park Rangers entered the arena; 3.43, Brighton United following; 3.48, ball kicked off by Hill; 4.00, rain began a steady downpour; 4.5, Bedingfield kicked fine goal; 4.8, Cowie followed suit, scoring No.2; 4.12, rain descending in torrents;
4.17, first corner to the Rangers; 4.18, ditto to Brighton; 4.20, another goal to Rangers’ score kicked by Turnbull; 4.25, second corner to Brighton; 4.26, third corner to Brighton; 4.30, second corner to the Rangers; 4.32, Cowie scored the fourth goal for Rangers; 4.33, half-time;
4.49, Bedingfield kicked off; 5.5, Keech scored goal No.5; 5.8, Brighton pressing for first time; 5.23, Cowie shot goal No.6; 5.24, Brighton pressing, Clutterbuck saving two fine shots; 5.30, third corner to Rangers; 5.34, Brighton still pressing, and whistle sounding for time.
The Rangers made a successful debut in their first Southern League engagement, beating Brighton United decisively by 6 goals to nil.
Some such result was anticipated when we considered the strength of the newly formed combination of the North-West, but even the most sanguine supporters could scarcely hope for so large a margin.
It is satisfactory to be able to record a good attendance, despite the angry appearance of the weather, which fortunately cleared for an interval before the commencement of the game.
But though the heavy rain, which fell during the game somewhat hampered the visiting team, there can be no doubt as to the superiority of the Rangers, on the day’s play at least.
A more unselfish game, or one in which combination proved more effective, has seldom been my lot to witness, says our reporter, particularly in an opening match, when possibly players may be pardoned if in their anxiety to “catch the eye” they should unconsciously play the individual rather than the combined game.
It might be invidious to select one player above another for special notice, nevertheless, my attention was particularly drawn to Knowles, whose work as full back (right) was beyond reproach. Smith (outside right) and Cowie (outside left) also deserve special mention.
There were quite 4,000 persons present, when at 3.48, Brighton United having lost the toss, kicked off against a strong wind blowing from goal to goal.
The visitors were seen to considerable advantage during the first ten minutes, and flutterings were felt in the breasts of the Rangers’ supporters, as Brighton were seen to be making headway against the wind, Clutterbuck being called upon to “save” on more than one occasion.
After a brief spell, Mallock shot well in, but Knowles interposed and passed to Tom Smith, who after a fine run, centred to Bedingfield, who scored the first goal for the Rangers, seventeen minutes from the start.
The ball having again been put into play, the Rangers at once secured, made straight for goal and to the surprise of the defenders Cowie put through, and thus registered his first point for the team, being the second goal of the match.
Rain now descended in torrents, rendering the ground in a very slippery condition, to the evident distress of the players, falls being numerous and the play suffering in consequence. Brighton’s right tried gamely, but in vain to get home.
A dashing run by Malloch being intercepted by Gavin Crawford, who passed to Turnbull, the latter, after a tricky run down, shot goal number three for the Rangers, amid cries of, “Well played, Rangers.”
Hill, in again “kicking off”, failed to send the ball forward over the half-way line, and the referee gave a free kick to the Rangers, which was taken by McConnell.
McAvoy was playing a fine game for Brighton. The next point was registered by Cowie for the Rangers, but the referee apparently was in doubt at first as to the legitimacy of the goal. Cowie seemed clearly off-side from my point of view.
Subsequent enquiry, however, served to show that the linesman had seen the ball glance from one of the Brighton players. One had no doubt, therefore, that the referee’s decision was correct.
Half-time arrived, and the players left the field, some amusement being provoked by the appearance of the Brighton team, whose “incorruptible” sea green jerseys ran away in streams of corresponding dye and decorated their white knickers with the same hue.
An interval of sixteen minutes was taken advantage of by the players to don dry clothing, Brighton appearing in white clothes, but with traces of the original green upon their necks and arms.
The wind had dropped and the rain had somewhat ceased its steady downpour, when Bedingfield kicked off, the well-known cry of “Buck up Rangers,” resounding through the air.
McAvoy having obtained possession, passed to outside, Bedingfield was penalised for holding, and the free kick awarded was taken by Ashby; Haywood secured and shot in, but a good save by Howes returned the ball to mid-field where Keech secured and by a long low shot, “a perfect daisy-cutter,” scored goal number five.
Up till this time Brighton had not showed too much advantage, but now began to press, and the defence of the home side was severely taxed, Clutterbuck especially distinguishing himself by good work in goal. They could not score, however, for Knowles, always in evidence, frustrated their best intentions.
Goal No.6 for the Rangers was forthcoming from Cowie, who received from Turnbull, and shot when close in.
Brighton was again pressing when the referee blew the whistle for the close, the final scores reading, as above stated – 6 to 0 in favour of Rangers.
“One swallow does not make a summer,” so runs the old adage, and one victory in the League tourney does not mean the championship; nevertheless, I am very well satisfied with the display of the Rangers, who will, however, be put to a severer test tomorrow, when meeting the Spurs on the new Tottenham ground.
Of this I am sure, we have as good a team as can be desired, and if it will continue the same unselfish methods, and receives the promised enthusiastic support from the public, the Rangers will command respect from their strongest opponents.
I ought not to close without reference to the almost entire absence of fouls on both sides. Brighton, though being so outplayed, keeping their heads admirably.
A capital handbook relative to the history of the Rangers’ club, the performances of the men, and list of fixtures have been prepared, and will be found most interesting to all followers of the game. Copies may be obtained on the ground.’
Brighton United, and also Cowes, withdrew from the League before the end of the season, which resulted in all their results being expunged.
(Thanks to Colin Woodley & Gordon Macey for their assistance)