Team: Denoon, Rev. Loney, Draper, Grendon, Mitchell, Broster, Lewis, Hassan, Dale, Whyman, Crossley
This match was played at Kensal Rise on 7th April 1917 and the following match report appeared in the Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle five days later:
‘Luton were fortunate in securing the services of J. W. Nicholas, the Derby County and Swansea Town back, to fill the vacancy at left-back, as neither Taylor, Pugh, nor Rodway was available, and to make matters worse Elvey was out of town.
But the weakness at Kensal Rise was in attack, only two of the five forwards who did so well at Watford the previous day being on the spot at the time of kick-off.
It was known Forsyth and Hoar would not be able to make the journey, but Cummings stayed in Luton overnight, with a view to going with the team, and as a matter of fact was waiting outside the station when the train steamed out.
It appears he expected the team to assemble outside instead of inside. Still, it was curious none of the party passed him on their way to the train.
When he found the party had left he made inquires and decided to travel up by the next train, but this did not stop at Cricklewood, where the team got off, and he could only get to the ground in time by taking a taxi and this he did, but, unfortunately, he was directed to Park Royal instead of Kensal Rise which meant he arrived at the match nearly a quarter of an hour late, and had the cold satisfaction of watching the game.
In Sid Hoar’s place W. Richardson was given a trial; it was known this was not his real position, but he was prepared to do his best. He is an old Herts County comrade of Butcher, Brandham, and Bob Hawkes, but has since been with Leeds City as a professional.
The Rangers have got together a much better side than was the case earlier in the season, as is evident from the fact Chelsea were very lucky to draw with them on Good Friday, and it is no secret the home officials were quite expecting to beat Luton on Saturday.
Therefore the actual result was very creditable considering the handicap the side were at in not having an experienced winger on either side.
It should be mentioned that Bennett came along for the first time for several weeks and has now got back to work, but is still under the doctor’s hands, and dare not trust himself to play. Otherwise Cummings’ mistake would not have been so erroneous.
The gate at Kensal Rise was quite a decent one, and there would be about 3,000 spectators, at least double to the crowd at the opening match of the season, when Luton visited the ground before.
The pitch was in a terrible state and in places was more like a ploughed field than a football pitch. The players very soon were bespattered with black mud, and to some extent reflected the play, for it was about the dirtiest exhibition of football Luton have taken part in this season.
Naturally, the fouls were not all on one side, but the chief culprits were one or two of the home team, and it would have caused no surprise if at least one of the Rangers had been given marching orders.
Undoubtedly, the Rangers were the cleverer set of forwards, but they made very poor use of their chances, and after they had set up a series of onslaughts on Mitchell the Luton line were more successful.
Brown forced the game, drawing Denoon out of his goal, and before he could recover, the ball travelled across to Simms, who had quite an easy task to score.
In some reports his effort was classed as a “great” goal, but how he could miss scoring would want some explanation as he had an absolutely open goal to shoot at. On the run of the game the lead was scarcely deserved, and it was nothing more than justice when Dale equalised, although the ball came to Dale very luckily in midfield.
The old Notts County forward ran through in clever style. Mitchell seemed to cover the shot, but in trying to fist it away he knocked the ball into the net; evidently there was more spin on the ball than appeared.
Just before the interval Luton seemed likely to get the lead, Butcher making a fine burst through, but just as he was about to take his shot, Loney tripped him up, and although it is quite possible Simms would have netted when the ball flew towards the centre, the referee awarded a penalty kick.
Simms was given a further chance to add to his goal record by taking this, and he drove the ball well home, and thus Luton crossed over with a goal lead, rather to the surprise of the locals, who were not expecting such a result.
The roughness developed as the game progressed, and twice the referee gave a general caution, which he followed up by stopping the game altogether and reading the Riot Act in style, Mitchell being called up from goal to join the bunch of players in the centre of the field. But even this had little effect, and the bad feeling was manifest right up to the final whistle.
The only goal in the second-half was another penalty, but it was not for foul play, as it happened. Brandham was quite as surprised as the Luton officials when he was judged to have handled, and after the match stated he had no idea of handling, indeed, the ball simply hit his arm accidentally before he knew anything about it.
Dale made no mistake with the kick off the spot, and thus provided his side with the first point the Rangers have taken from Luton as the result of four matches this season, for by this time the heavy going had taken a lot out of both teams, and the final whistle was undoubtedly a relief to the majority.’
(I have omitted the final, post-match paragraph of the report).
The London Combination (Principal) League had been changed from the previous season and it now comprised of fourteen clubs who were set to play each other either twice or four times.
However, Rangers’ first scheduled home game against Watford in December had been postponed and was never played.
The Reverend Basil Loney must have been an interesting character. He had made his debut at the end of the 1914-15 season, culminating with his final appearance in February 1918. I wonder what happened to him after that?
(The above pic shows Rangers’ half-back John Broster. My thanks to Colin Woodley and Gordon Macey for their assistance)