When The Referee Threatened To Abandon The Game !

The match against Southend on 7th February 1959 was a lively affair by all accounts and not only did it end in a 1-3 defeat for the R’s but also evoked some crowd trouble. At the end of January, Rangers were in 18th position and the visitors were lying third. January had been a poor month for the R’s, losing the last home game against Bournemouth 0-4 and the previous match at Norwich, 1-5. Pat Welton had been doubtful after cutting his hand in training but still replaced Ray Drinkwater to make his debut in goal.

In his book, ‘Heroes In Hoops’, John Marks wrote that after making nearly 300 appearances for Leyton Orient, Pat Welton was to turn out only three times for the R’s. He later went on to manage St. Albans City then Walthamstow Avenue before becoming the England Youth Team Coach. In 1969 he took over a similar role at Tottenham until 1976. Then he coached abroad for a time before becoming a P.E. Teacher at a Public School.

Team: Welton, Woods, Ingham, Petchey, Rutter, Angell, Dawson, Longbottom, Kerrins, Pearson, Clark.
Attendance: 6,361

Apart from the programme, I also have three newspaper cuttings that report on events, on and off the pitch and the first of which reads as follows:-

‘Queens Park Rangers rowdy fans brought more trouble to Loftus Road with their violent demonstrations. Poor, suffering QPR. They had lost the match in the opening 22 minutes, in which time competent Southend had galloped to a well deserved 3-0 lead. In the 55th minute centre forward Kerrins added to Rangers’ growing troubles when he wrenched a knee and had to be carried off. Wing-halves Petchey and Angell, for so long the strong men of Rangers’ defence, contributed to Southend’s first two goals. Angell allowed himself to be robbed in the 16th minute by McCrory. The inside-right put the ball through the middle for Hollis to round goalkeeper Welton and shoot into an open goal. In the 21st minute a bad headed clearance by Petchey was put back into the Rangers’ goalmouth by Houghton for Price to slam in. Sixty seconds later Hollis headed Southend’s third from Prices’s centre. With Southend resting on their laurels somewhat, Petchey soloed through for Rangers’ goal.’

The second cutting was written by a Roger Malone who writes solely about the trouble:-

Headline: Q.P.R. Ref Warns ‘I’ll Stop Game’ – ‘Queens Park Rangers Secretary George Hurley alleges that referee Ron Warnke of Coventry threatened to abandon the cup-throwing match at Loftus Road, which Southend won 3-1, because a spectator swore at him. “He told one of my Stewards at half-time that he would stop the match if a spectator sitting on a bench in front of the Stand didn’t stop swearing at him,” says Mr Hurley. So I arranged for a policeman to patrol where this spectator was sitting.” Then 10 minutes from time, Mr Warnke gave a free kick against Rangers near the touchline. The fans reckoned he had given it to the wrong side. They hurled cups at Southend centre-half Jim Stirling and at the referee. Mr Alfred Hittinger, the Rangers’ Chairman, said: “We’ve got more than enough Stewards and Police to look after spectators, but it is impossible for them to keep an eye on everyone all the time. We’ve condemned hooliganism among the younger element in our programmes. We’ve warned them. What more can we do ?

The final cutting proclaims: ‘What Now QPR ?’ which also refers to other incidents earlier in the season – ‘There’s trouble again at the old trouble spot – Shepherds Bush, where Queen’s Park Rangers have, said referee Reg Leafe, THE WORST CROWD I KNOW‚ – The Bushrangers , the rowdies on the QPR terraces , yesterday showered cups on the pitch as Southend were only minutes from having their easy win. As referee Ron Warnke of Coventry, walked off the pitch, he was kicked on the leg. For a moment, he staggered then limped to his dressing room.

NO ‘ASSAULT’ COMPLAINT. ‚ am not making any complaint, referee Warnke told the Police. He was barracked repeatedly during the game. Now what ? Will the Bushrangers get away with it again ? For it is the third time this season that there has been bother at the Bush. Remember……

December 27 Police removed a fan who came on the pitch and tried to make it two-against-one when a Rangers player squabbled with a Plymouth Argyle player. Police took stations and dissuaded other spectators about to climb over.

OCTOBER 27 Halifax player Stan Lonsdale had to duck a vicious swing as he went to pick up the ball for a throw in.

And only a month before, Reg Leafe had made his famous remarks about the QPR crowd in the Manchester City programme. For his frankness ‚ and perhaps to protect him ‚ he was taken out of the game he was to have refereed at Shepherds Bush a few days later.

These incidents during the Southend game provoked the following comment by ‘The Editor’ in the next home programme, titled, ‘Unwelcome Fools’:-

‘Some while ago, when a small minority of our supporters ‚ the unintelligent ones‚ embarked on a phase of hooliganism, we successfully appealed for the co-operation of every person to help stamp out such unworthy conduct. Now, I am unhappy to report, that there has been a fresh outbreak of hooliganism. The Directors of this club are seriously concerned over this matter, and I am asked to stress that the consequences may well be extremely serious if there are any further outbreaks. Whilst we have no intention of resorting to the method adopted by one foreign football club who, when their supporters created trouble, charged a deposit plus admission, and returned the deposit – providing everyone behaved themselves during the game, we will take very strong action against any culprits at the ground. Once again we make an appeal to all our supporters to help stamp out childish conduct. Remember that the whole crowd is branded because of the action of a few young hooligans.’

This match against Mansfield Town finished as a 1-1 draw but Rangers went on to win seven of their remaining eight home games and with a further two away victories, this was enough to secure safety for another season.

Steve Russell

9 thoughts on “When The Referee Threatened To Abandon The Game !

  1. I deny being involved in any of the above mentioned unruly spectator behaviour during the Southend match…besides I was otherwise engaged throwing peanut shells at the Southend keeper from the terrace of the Loftus Rd Boys Pen lol

    This was indeed a bleak patch during the 58/59 season We were sliding down the Div 3 league table at a rate of Knots and in relegation trouble..The natives were getting very restless indeed so you could understand the Frustration of the crowd which boiled over into anger as Southend duffed us up good and proper. Looking back I reckon this was the writing on the wall for manager Jack Taylor…Yes we did recover thanks mainly to the signing of George Whitelaw.

    A brilliant read Steve thanks for giving me another chance to re live my QPR childhood.

    PS The centre forward postion was always a Problem in the late 50’s..converting pat Kerrins from winger to main “striker” that day proved unfortunate to say the least. Southend were so much the better team.

    Unlike today there was none of that unenforceable nonsense talk of banning fans for life!

  2. A somewhat feeble denial young Kerrins. I forgot to say a great read Steve and must agree it brings the memories of the early days flooding back.
    It was not only unruly behaviour by the likes of Kerrins! I can recall one game of the period which ended with the visiting goalkeeper dropping his shorts to show his less than attractive backside to the assembled unruly masses at the Loft End. Probably yet another victim of Kerrins peanut shell barrage!You can only take so much!It was also my first experience of an eclipse of the sun!

  3. Colin thats my story and I’m sticking to it

    Yes the Goalkeeper in question was Dave Underwood(ex QPR) in the QPR v Watford fixture of circa Feb 1962.

    Rangers were 2-0 down and throwing everything at Watford during the second half attacking the Loftus Rd end.Jim Towers scored to make it 2-1 but Underwood kept making crucial saves to deny us.

    This did not please the boys pen too much nor the adult R’s supporters at the LR end either. Consequently Dave Underwood got some verbal stick(but no peanut shells)…how very unsporting of us!

    At the final whistle after Watford had won 2-1 Dave Underwood pulled down his shorts bared his backside as if to say…Bum to you lot!

    Such a shock to us sensitive young lads wasn’t it Colin?

  4. PS… Colin I suspect Dave Underwood was spared the Peanut Barrage treatment because after all said and done he WAS Ex QPR…and there are limits Y’know lol

    In the circumstances the boys pen had to show some sort of respect!

  5. Colin when it comes to rear ends of players long ago… I am probably less of an expert but more of a boring old fart!

    Unlike that Southend fixture three years earlier this time the crowd at that Watford game did not allow its frustration to develop into serious missile throwing incidents or assaults on officials …perhaps that was because we had a much better team higher up in the league and well involved in the Div 3 promotion race.

  6. What a great read!!!! My Dad always told me about the golden days of football at Rangers in the 40s and 50s- I didnt realise he was referring to Golden Wonder!!!! [peanuts!
    ] I think they should be handed out gratis to the supporters at our next home game- we.ll show them how we treat f.a. bias!!!!

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