Memories Of QPR 1941 – 1947

The following article is from Steve Zico’s Uncle, Robert Sanders. He was born in Paddington in 1929 and is based on his recollections of the period with a few snippets of additional information from John Marks’s excellent book, ‘Heroes In Hoops’ – Steve Russell

My first game was either late 1941 or possibly1942. I don’t remember who the opponents were but I do recall that the Ground was nearly empty and being very cold. There was an entrance fee for anywhere in the Ground except the centre part of the Main Stand. (I believe that I paid the boys rate of 3d which is now 1.25 pence) The Main Stand was a steel framed structure with a corrugated iron roof which ran the full length of the Ellerslie Road side. Opposite was a low bank of terracing formed of cinder finished steps.There was similar terracing somewhat higher, along the Bloemfontein Road end. Behind the goal at the Loftus Road end was concrete terracing with a steel, framed asbestos roofed cover.

Competition consisted of the Football Leagues, North and South. There were no divisions, presumably the teams not in either of these had either ‘closed for the duration’ or played in other groupings. Some of the teams I remember were…Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Watford, Crystal Palace, Reading (who I think played in green and white hoops), Aldershot and Clapton Orient. Clubs were allowed to play guest players. It was a rotation system before it had been devised. Rangers players at the time included the following:-

Alf Ridyard was a tall, gaunt man who was the centre half and captain. In one game when the teams were about to kick off, he shouted, “Hold it Ref” and beckoned on the Trainer to give him his false teeth for safekeeping. According to John Marks’s book, ‘Heroes In Hoops’, Alf was milking a cow on his Handsworth farm when a club representative signed him on transfer deadline day in 1938.

Jack Rose was the right back and very dapper but three cartilage operations forced him to quit the game in 1948.
Arthur Jefferson was a left back and a terrier. No matter what the angle the ball came at him….whack…it was volleyed back up field.

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Joe Mallett played at inside right and wing half. He was a very clever player who joined Southampton in 1947 for a large fee after two spells with the R’s.

Wilf Heathcote was a very athletic centre forward. ‘Heroes In Hoops’ states that he was a school teacher by profession and became the top scorer during the War Years, scoring 90 goals in approx 105 appearances.

With Reg Allen in the Army, Harry Brown took over in goal. He was the one who mysteriously filled in for the Arsenal keeper in the 2nd half of the Moscow Dynamo match at a foggy White Hart Lane.

Frank Neary played right wing/centre forward and was a prototype for Arnie Schwarzenegger ! He was a powerful runner, usually in a straight line and could kick like a mule and along the ground. His left foot was only to stop him falling over. Many of his goals came from corner in-offs. He played his early football in Northern Ireland and later joined Millwall in 1950.

Don Mills was a skinny, pallid youth from Yorkshire and played at inside left. He was an extremely promising player and also a very incisive passer of the ball. He was loaned to Torquay for health reasons.

There was also a forward usually known as ‘Sibley of Southend’

Ted Vizard was the Manager from 1939 until 1944 when Dave Mangnall took over.
Because of Chelsea’s location, they seemed to attract ‘big name’ guest players on weekend leave. These included Tommy Lawton the England centre forward and others of similar standard. There was a memorable match when Chelsea had all their star players available and Rangers were two outfielders plus a goalkeeper short. An appeal was made to the crowd which produced the three volunteers. The wing half was middle aged and breathless. Ginger Smith was a 15 year old winger who I knew as a schoolboy playing in kick-abouts in Queen’s Park. He was a junior with Rangers and eventually was on Chelsea’s books for some years. In goal was George Farmer, a pre-War Rangers player. Unfortunately, expecting only to watch the game, he began his ‘leave’ celebrations somewhat early ! Final score: QPR 0……….Chelsea 13 (yes, thirteen)

A player who became a professional with the R’s was Bert Addinall, who used to play for Paddington ARP (Air Raid Precautions) in Paddington Recreation Ground. I saw him play in a Cup Final at Wembley, Paddington ARP against Greenwich ARP (I think). Several of the Greenwich players were professionals with Charlton Athletic..The end of the war saw the return of various players from the Services including Reg Allen, Ivor Powell, a Welsh International who was later transferred to Aston Villa and Alec Stock who was to become Manager in 1959.

When League football resumed post war, Rangers were back in the Third Division South. The first season was1946-47 and they finished second to Cardiff City but only one team was promoted in those days. The following season I saw just one game as I was doing my National Service in the Army. However, it was a crucial promotion match in Spring1948, a 0-0 mid-week evening game against Bournemouth. That was the last time I saw the R’s for a while, as playing myself on Saturdays made it impossible. In those days, clubs affiliated to the FA were not allowed to play on Sundays. I still attend a couple of games a season with my Nephew Steve Zico, as he gamely tries to convince me that I’m watching a team of world beaters !

Robert E Sanders

19 thoughts on “Memories Of QPR 1941 – 1947

  1. A very interesting insight re 1940’s R’s history.

    I can just about remember seeing Don Mills play for Torquay United at Loftus Rd in the late 1950’s when at the very end of his playing career.. I understand the famous boxer Freddie Mills was his brother.

    ps and Ivor Powell is still going strong!

  2. Thank you for the article. Very interesting reading.

    The player referred to as “Sibley of Southend” was Albert “Joe” Sibley, played for Southend.

    The Chelsea game referred to was played on November 27th, 1943. Ginger Smith was Eddie “Ginger” Smith who later played for the R’s in 1957/58. According to current information there were 13 goals scored, although the score is given as 2-11 with Swinfen and Pearson scoring for the R’s.

    It was also interesting to see a copy of a programme from this period with markings on it. These notes are often the best source to correct information about scorers and the line-up as information from the war years is many times difficult to come by.
    Should anyone have copies of these old programmes, I would be most interested to hear from you as I’m trying to compile a complete as possible statistical database on Rangers history, currently available on another website.

    Kenneth Westerberg

  3. I saw my first game in 1949 v Lincln City.
    Still think Reg Allen was the best keeper that the R’s ever had.
    Don Mills was a very skillful inside forward. Against all arguments, I still say that Tommy Best was the first black player to were the hoops, though I remember him also playing in red – away I think.
    Bill Lethorn

  4. ‘Alf Ridyard was a tall gaunt man, who was the centre half and captain. In one game when the teams were about to kick off he shouted, ”Hold it Ref ” and beckoned on the Trainer to give him his false teeth for safekeeping. According to John Marks’s book, ‘Heroes in Hoops’, Alf was milking a cow on his Handsworth farm when a club representative signed him on transfer deadline day in 1938.’

    The beauty of this read is you just couldn’t make it up.

    Top Banana!

  5. Cheers Colin.Thanks for that

    The record books will have to be checked but I think Don Mills played for Torquay in a Div 3 South fixture Dec 14th 1957 at LR against the R’s in a 1-1 draw..and may have scored their goal.

    I can though recall Bob Fry the QPR reserve keeper(Ron Springett was injured) letting the ball through his hands and into the net on that afternoon!..I think that was his one and only first team game.

    I am certain Don Mills must be related in some way to the boxer Freddie Mills..if not his brother.

  6. Kenneth Westerberg

    I had not realised that “Ginger” Smith was the same Eddie Smith that played centre forward for the R’s 57/58.

    He scored goals for Colchester and other clubs that he played for but unfortunately in over 20 first team games for QPR FC I think he failed to hit the target!

    Behind the rear of the boys pen I can recall several of the adult supporters giving him the “bird” despite the fact that he ran around like the proverbial dervish and gave his all.

  7. This has been a fascinating trip down memory lane,I saw most of the players mentioned play,and agree Reg Allen was worthy of England recognition,he was superb.I trained at Willesden FC with Horace Woodward when he was in dispute with the Rangers,he had come from Tottenham where he played in front of Ted Ditchburn who was capped for England several times,he related in his first match, he was told if Reg calls get out of way, during the match he was going to head a ball right on the edge of the area,Reg called my ball John (this was his nick name)Horace thought he wont get this,and went for the ball,next minute he was on the floor Reg was standing over him safely holding the ball and said I did call John.He was a King among goalies,his nick name was The Baron.Ivor Powell has just retired as coach for Team Bath (the university football club) at the age of 93, yes 93.Great site.

  8. I believe that after his days at Man Utd ended Reg Allen having suffered a head injury,suffered deterioration of his mental health,he spent time in a mental sanatorium in surrey but turned up on training nights for young trainees at Loftus Road once to my knowledge and another occasion is reported on another site.On the occasion I know of he said he was making a comeback at centre forward,I saw him in a cup replay against Derby County at the Baseball Ground when he was injured and went up to the right wing (no subs in those days, mid 1940s)and he was very good, the best rangers forward on the day, so I could understand his thinking.Some years later I used to see him directing traffic on the dual carriage way in Hanwell,totally non aggressive,he was at this time in the Hanwell Institution where he sadly died,Still a fine figure of a man, though somewhat heavier than his playing days.He is still my benchmark for Goalkeepers.R.I.P. Reg.

  9. my granddad called Robert Lloyd was a QPR player around this time and i was just wondering if you can remember him or his name being mentioned? me and my dad don’t know exactly when he was playing football but we do know he either played during the 40’s or 50’s


  11. my father was arthur jefferson and he always said reg allen was FEARLESS the best goalkeeper he played with.

  12. I am writing a book on QPR’s 50 greatest games and would appreciate if Colin Jefferson could get in touch, please? Any suggestions to join my games ‘squad’ list would be appreciated.

    • Sarah, Did you manage to read the Indy R’s piece on Stanley ‘Soapy’ Hudson.
      I think it came out about three years ago but you should still be able to track it through here in the History archive section above.

  13. Arther Jefferson had the chippy in blomfontien rd with Albert smith who was signed from Birmingham Albert took the training at the harrow club and at Chris wren . Great man was Albert , arther gave the eulogy at alberts funeral of which I’ve still got .

  14. I remember my Uncle telling me that he used to see ‘Ginger’ on a Bus on his way to training, with his boots tied by the laces and wearing them around his neck.
    That was in his Chelsea days, although I don’t think he did very well for them.

    Stan Hudson was a Fulham lad.
    Played for us in 1948-49 and 49-50.
    23 appearances in total.
    He scored 7 goals.

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