Remembering Leslie Locke

Leslie Locke was a Queen’s Park Rangers footballer of the 50’s that perhaps has slipped below the memory radar of a lot of older R’s supporters.

Born in Perth, Scotland, in 1934, he joined QPR as an amateur in 1956, turning pro in 1958 and scored 29 goals in 82 games during his spell at Loftus Rad.

He mostly played in the inside-left position (wearing the symbolic R’s No.10 shirt) but on occasions turned out at outside-left or centre-forward.

The era did not produce much on-field success for QPR FC, but in my opinion Leslie Locke was a Rangers forward who more than held his own at Third Division level and his pace and sharpness was often a threat to opposition defences.

I will never forget that midweek League 3 South fixture against Millwall at Loftus Road on the 23rd September 1957 when he ran amok, scoring a hat-trick (and could have scored more) as the R’s thrashed the Lions 3-0.

On that very evening for the first time ever, I watched a game at Loftus Road from the comparative comfort and luxury of the old Ellerslie Road Stand. It was four shillings (20p) for a junior to sit in the wing section, a fortune back then, but that night was worth every penny!

Leslie Locke was also a star on the athletics track. He once reached international status as a runner before deciding to concentrate on football instead.

In those days of the late 1950’s pro-footballers at QPR FC were certainly not paid very much in the way of wages and my childhood impression, rightly or wrongly, was that Leslie Locke was always looking for a more financially rewarding career outside of football.

He was after all a gifted academic and had studied at London University obtaining a BSc degree. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why his professional career in league football was of a relatively short duration.

Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)

Leslie Locke was born in Perth on 24th January 1934. Rangers signed him from Bromley and he made his debut against Plymouth Argyle on 27th August 1956.

In the Palace home programme later that year, the editor commented that the Directors had been forced to reduce the number of professional players. This meant that the club’s playing strength consisted of 20 full-time professionals, 2 part-time, 3 were serving in the Forces, plus “the valued service of the Scottish Amateur, Leslie Locke”.

In early February 1957, he played for a Scottish FA Amateur X1 in a 2-2 draw against Airdrieonians, which essentially was really a trial match ahead of a game in Ireland later that month.

The club announced in March that Leslie had given up the game to concentrate on his studies at University, but later that month it was stated in the Southend home programme that he had changed his mind and had in fact turned out for the Combination team the previous Saturday.

He was also chosen to play for his country in an amateur international against England at Hampden Park.

In August the following year, the Shepherd’s Bush Pie section of the Colchester home programme referred to his pace: “If our left-winger, ex-Scottish international, Leslie Locke, is given a half-inch start by opposing defences they won’t see him for dust. Leslie is a ‘fast merchant’, understandably so when you consider he has matched pace with some of our top runners in international running events.”

The ‘Ranger’ then went on to write: “Incidentally, Harold Bell has probably never had a harder game than he did last Monday against Les. Whew! It fair made me out of breath to watch him chasing our speedy left-winger.”

Sometime in 1958, Leslie signed professional for the R’s, which signalled the end of his international football and athletics career. However, he was also aiming to enter the profession of technical sales engineering one day.

The Tranmere Rovers home programme in February 1960 reported on Leslie’s performance in a recent televised game:

“Showing up extremely well in a televised game a couple of Sunday’s ago was Leslie Locke. This was on the occasion of the Show-Biz v Athletes match. Leslie played for the latter alongside famous names like Ibbotson, Brasher etc. For sheer speed, as can well be imagined, the Athletes had the Show-Biz lads licked. But when it came to goals, experience and, perhaps, a little luck, saw the Show-Biz side score two without reply from their opponents.”

In March it was announced that Leslie had just become engaged to Patricia Calvetti and was contemplating moving to South Africa where he expected to take up an engineering post.

He was transferred to Guildford City in July after making 82 appearances for the R’s and scoring 29 goals. Apparently during this time at Loftus Road he had also played guest matches for Tottenham, but I have no details of this?

Arsenal fan Janice Watkins commented on the Indy R’s Home Page in 2007 that she had been at school in Devon with him.

Then four years later, a further comment was added when Rob Frasher (Fraser?) wrote that Leslie was his grandmother’s brother-in-law.

He also confirmed that Leslie had indeed emigrated to South Africa after getting married, but years later, sometime around 1995 or 1996, he had sadly died following bleeding in the brain.

Steve Russell

4 thoughts on “Remembering Leslie Locke

  1. Thanks for the article. Brings great memories flooding back. I go back to 1953.
    Real characters those days. Harry Brown,Pat WWoods etc

  2. As someone whose first match at QPR was the cup game in 1947? v Brentford I remember Les Locke very well. Also Harry Brown and Pat Woods as mentioned by Brian Tanner. In fact I was in the same class at school as Pat Woods and recall some wag shouting in one game ‘your past it Woods’.Pat was bald headed at the time but would have been the same age as me 23.

  3. Great article guys of one of the first players of the Rs I watched play.
    Incidentally Young Kerrins you don’t often see the words ‘comfort and luxury’ mentioned in the same sentence which contains the words Ellerslie Road Stand!!

  4. Well done Steve with that additional information about Leslie Locke.

    Yes I still remain convinced after all these years that Leslie was always looking for a more financially rewarding career outside of Pro Football and way back then could you blame him?

    I am happy though to have had those childhood memories of him as a QPR Player.

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