The Formation of Queen’s Park Old Boys by ‘Old Johnny’ Wrightson and his naming of the ‘Rangers‚’

Gordon Macey and Peter Lupson are among those that have uncovered fascinating information on the origins of our club; Christ Church Rangers, Droop Street School, St Jude’s Institute and also the likes of the Rev. Sidney Bott and the Rev. Charles Gordon Young.

Whilst re-reading through my 1973/74 home programmes recently another name jumped out at me from one of the ‘Ranger To Ranger’ letters page. Former Droop Street School pupil, C. J. Young of North Wembley, wrote the following letter to Ron Phillips which appeared in the West Ham programme on 4th September 1973:

‘Dear Mr Phillips,

I understand that you are seeking information of the origin of your club and I append information which to my knowledge and memory is correct since I attended as a boy Droop Street Board School in the Queen’s Park Estate where I was born.

The “Rangers”, as we used to call the club, was actually founded by Mr A Wrightson, a teacher at Droop Street School. He was a modest, unassuming, popular man so that most lads could, in those days of strict schoolmasters, take their problems and ideas to him.

Therefore when a number of pupils in Droop Street and surrounding streets tried to form an old boys club they approached Mr Wrightson (who was known as “Old Johnny”). He suggested that they should call themselves the “Droop Street Old Boys” and form an athletic club.

The school authorities refused Mr Wrightson permission to use the school after hours to discuss policy, finding a suitable ground etc. so he approached St Jude’s Church in Lancefield Street which, though adjacent, was not on the Queen’s Park Estate.


The curate at the church obtained permission for initial meetings to be held at St. Jude’s Institute Hall in Fourth Avenue/Ilbert Street. These streets were on the Queen’s Park Estate, but he wanted some of his boys to belong to the club, so Mr Wrightson suggested the name “Queen’s Park Old Boys”.

He also refereed the first few football matches which were played on Wormwood Scrubs, but this venue was not too popular so Mr Wrightson then got permission for games to be played at the top of Chamberlayne Road, Kensal Rise, on fields that were vacant.

At this point some lads wanted to play football and others to run, and often the football matches were accompanied by runners practising on the outside perimeter which caused some chaos. Eventually the runners found another field and the famous Queen’s Park Harriers were born.

In the meantime due to the mixed activities, the Queen’s Park Old Boys was now the Queen’s Park Athletic and Mr Wrightson and the curate were now trying to supervise two rival activities. Both of these factions playing off each other, as it were but mainly with Mr Wrightson. So the curate decided to help more with the football.

This was not to the footballers liking. They didn’t like their Chamberlayne Road field and Mr Wrightson told them that they were changing their minds too often and ranging about too much and that was how “Rangers” were named.

The curate found the football club another ground which was, I think, at Welford’s Dairy and the Queen’s Park Harriers returned to Chamberlayne Road fields for practice, although they had to contend with allotments in the middle of their running track.

So really, Mr Wrightson, can, I suppose, be called the founder of the Queen’s Park Rangers. I do know that if we won a school match we were, on rare occasions, allowed to see the Rangers play, for it seemed Mr Wrightson was allowed free entrance plus certain of us school lads.

Indeed when he retired the headmaster in his farewell speech, at which I was present, referred to Mr Wrightson as “Good Old Johnny”, the founder of Queen’s Park Rangers.

It may well be that some people will quarrel over the founder but this foregoing information should clear the matter up. I am sir,

Yours Sincerely,

C.J. Young’

I found this letter (which thankfully was published in full), a wonderful insight into the very earliest days of our club.

Steve Russell

3 thoughts on “The Formation of Queen’s Park Old Boys by ‘Old Johnny’ Wrightson and his naming of the ‘Rangers‚’

  1. Brilliant letter with wonderful detail of our formative years.
    Pleased to see that Wormwood Scrubs was not liked for football in the early days. When at St Clement Danes our weekly football periods were usually transferred to the Scrubs when the school field was not available. Conditions were so bad on the Scrubs we actually refused to play one week and a mass detention followed!

  2. Some time ago I visit the London Metropolitan Archive and read ¬†the minutes ¬†of ¬†Manager from D Street School. ¬†John Wrightson¬†was appointed as a teacher to D Street School in february 1881. ¬†Before his employment the School had poor results but after the results was improved and John Wrightson got a special note “excellent work” by the School inspection. Obvious he was a charismatic and popular which supports the letter to the editor that he¬†¬†has inspired the pupils to form a football team.

    In june 1882 there was disturbances in drill hour when outsiders got into the School Yard. Could it had been footballer? The origin of the football was a mixture of School pupils and others.

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