The Top of the Table Clash at Dean Court in 1948 with nearly 10,000 Fans Locked Out!

Team: Allen, Powell (G), Jefferson, Powell (I), Smith (G), Smith (A), Hartburn, Hatton, Durrant, Mills, Pattison

Attendance: 25,495

Rangers travelled to Dean Court on Wednesday 14th April 1948, in a Third Division (South), top of the table clash. Leyton Orient had beaten the R’s 1-2 at Loftus Road four days earlier.

The league table as shown in the match programme states that after 36 matches, Rangers were on 53 points whilst Bournemouth were two points behind having played one game more. A match report appeared in the Western Daily Press the following day:

‘A characteristic goal by centre-forward Fred Durrant 15 minutes from the end at Dean Court, Bournemouth, last night, virtually assured Queen’s Park Rangers of promotion from the Third Division (South).

With five games left, Rangers are four points ahead of Bournemouth and with a match in hand. Only a remarkable loss of form can prevent Rangers attaining Second Division status for the first time in their 50 years’ history as a professional club.

Sometime before the start of the game the gates were closed with a record 26,000 inside and nearly 10,000 outside.

In order not to disappoint the thousands of would-be spectators, the Bournemouth secretary, Mr Tom Locks, hastily organised a microphone to broadcast to those waiting outside. He, himself, gave the commentary.

The previous Bournemouth ground record was 23,782 at the FA Cup-tie with Wolverhampton on October 18th last year.

It was typical of football’s curiosities that Durrant should score the all-important goal. After trying seven other centre-forwards, Rangers recalled the ex-Brentford leader because of the late withdrawal of the injured Stewart.

Another old Brentford player took a big part in the goal. Rangers’ captain and centre-half, George Smith, went up for a corner, forced by Hartburn and lobbed the ball forward.

Durrant beat goalkeeper Bird to the bounce and headed over Bird’s head into the net.’

And from another report: ‘The game kicked off at 6pm, as was the norm in the days before floodlights, but it was so tense that good football was at a premium.

The only clear-cut chance of the first-half fell to Bournemouth centre-forward Doug Milligan, whose header was goal-bound when Reg Allen, playing just his second match after his injury at Derby, turned the ball round the post with a miraculous save.

As Bournemouth pushed for the goal they desperately needed, they were forced to leave gaps at the back which Rangers exploited with just 16 minutes left.

From a clearance following a Rangers corner, centre-half George Smith headed the ball back into the penalty area and over the Bournemouth defence who were rushing out to try and catch Rangers players off-side.

Fred Durrant read the ball perfectly and was able to chip the Bournemouth goalkeeper and put his side into the lead.’

Rangers followed this up with a 2-1 win at Exeter three days later, but the week after that they suffered a 2-5 defeat at Carrow Road!

But the R’s got back on track with a 1-0 win at Loftus Road against Newport County and then a goal-less draw in the penultimate game of the season secured promotion for the very first time.

Steve Russell

(Thanks to Colin Woodley for his assistance. The match programme is from my collection)

4 thoughts on “The Top of the Table Clash at Dean Court in 1948 with nearly 10,000 Fans Locked Out!

  1. My dad was at that game. We lived in Southbourne and he walked with the many thousands who wanted to see it. like many others he was extremely disappointed with the defeat.

  2. My Dad was locked out and stood outside listening to the commentary. The next match he was locked out of was Wolves v Liverpool in May 1976!

  3. Kevin Gadd put this up on the Indy’s Facebook page: ‘I am a third generation Ranger, my grandchildren are fifth generation. I remember my late father telling me about this game, he was lucky enough to get in. He was dating a nurse from Bournemouth at the time ( she later became my mum) and I think she wangled tickets’.

  4. Just come across this memory from a T. McGovern in a late 80’s programme….
    ‘I was lucky to be there that evening. I hitch-hiked from Kensal Rise with a soldier friend Gerry Owen who first took me to Rangers whilst on leave from the Middlesex Regt. in 1943. I’ve lost touch with him since I moved to Crawley in 1954.

    We got a lift back home on the team bus because we were stranded. I’ve been a supporter ever since….’

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