The following snippet comes from an article titled, ‘Keeping a Sharp Look-Out’, by “Ranger”, which appeared in a 1950 home programme:
‘The trials and tribulations of a scout are often not appreciated by the average supporter who is inclined to think in terms of the talent the scout produces.
It is very rarely that a “tip” is not followed up however little known the source because you never can be sure whether or not you’re passing over a future international, but it is often an exasperating business.
Len McCarthy, for example, recently travelled miles in shocking weather to watch a match only to find it had been cancelled some days previously.
Speak to Chief Scout Alf Ridyard about infamous journeys, however, and he will top the lot with a tale of travel in Scotland that brought nothing to the club except a big expense bill and a few weeks in the local hospital for Alf himself.
The club received a tip from a man in Scotland that a good centre-forward was available in Stranraer. After waiting several weeks for him to recover from an injury, word was received that he would be playing on a certain Saturday and Alf went up on the Friday train, accompanied by one of the Directors, Mr Turner.
It was raining when they arrived after travelling for over 11 hours and the rain kept coming down for almost the entire length of their stay.
On the Saturday morning they set off by car to watch the game, accompanied by a “guide”. They found the pitch situated at the back of a farmyard. They had to walk through yards of almost ankle deep mud to reach the field and borrowed a piece of corrugated iron to stand on because the field of play was covered in very long grass.
The teams came out and the player the two were watching trotted around in fine style. As soon as they kicked off however it was obvious that he was far from fit. In fact that first time he touched the ball he broke down and was as good as a passenger for the rest of the match.
“We hadn’t been there two minutes before we realised our journey had been fruitless”, said Alf. That soaking put him in hospital a few days later. The player concerned did eventually arrive at Loftus Road for a trial but did not come up to standard.’
The article also states that the club’s “spotters” at the time included ex-player Johnny Barr, who operated in Scotland, and Neil Harris in Wales.
Recently appointed at the time was Harry Raw who covered N.E. England. He had played for Huddersfield Town in the 1930 FA Cup Final. Also involved was Dave Mangnall’s uncle in Yorkshire, a Mr Winstanley.
(Shown above are Coach and Chief Scout, Alf Ridyard, and also Club Director, W.F. Turner)