On 21st January 1905, Rangers recorded an emphatic victory over Bristol Rovers at Park Royal. Two days later the Western Daily Press filed the following comprehensive match report:
‘The Rovers did not look upon their visit to Park Royal with any degree of confidence. Their dismay was justified, for they sustained the heaviest defeat of the season from Queen’s Park Rangers.
There were 11,000 spectators, and the ground was very treacherous. The players were: Queen’s Park Rangers: Collins, goal; Lyon and Newlands, backs; Bowman, Hitch and J. Cross, half-backs; W. Cross, Milward, P.G. Skilton, Murphy and Edwards, forwards.
Bristol Rovers: Cartlidge, goal; Dunn and Pudan, backs; Tait, Appleby, and Hales half-backs; Clark, Lewis, Beats, Smith and Dunkley, forwards.
The Rangers kicked off, and for a few minutes, their forwards kept up a rather fierce communication with Cartlidge, and Milward came very close to getting the ball into the net from a pass from Cross, but Pudan tackled at the critical moment, and saved cleverly in the goal mouth.
At last the Rovers cleared their lines, and Dunkley became conspicuous in a rapid sprint towards Collins, but his centre was taken by Lyon, who cleared. Smith, however, returned the ball over the goal line.
The ground was in a very treacherous and slippery condition, and the players could not get a firm footing, but Beats and Smith controlled the ball well in a pretty run, which Lyon negotiated with a smart piece of tackling.
Appleby at the other end saved a certain goal with a clever overhead kick, and Beats getting away from Hitch, sent the ball hard over the Rangers’ crossbar.
Murphy had a good try to beat Cartlidge, but only an unproductive corner resulted. Following some exciting work in front of the Rovers’ goal, Smith broke away from the Rangers’ defence and raced towards Collins in threatening style, but his final shot was very wide.
A moment later, Murphy repeated a similar feat when clear of the Rovers’ backs, and then Edwards and Murphy became conspicuous in a pretty movement down the left, which beat Dunn, and led to Edwards picking up Murphy’s centre and beating Cartlidge with a cross shot. It was a capital goal, well worked for and neatly scored, and the Londoners’ success occurred twenty-eight minutes after the start.
Although the Rovers’ forwards did not keep their feet so well as the Rangers, they were always dangerous when they got near Collins, and when Lyon missed his kick there was an exciting scene in the Rangers’ goal mouth, until Beats missed. Half-time: Rangers, 1 goal: Rovers, nil.
Referee Hines wisely made the men re-start the second half without any interval, and, following Beats’ pass to Smith, Hitch robbed the inside left, and passed across to Murphy, who raced passed Dunn, and gave Cartlidge a hot drive to deal with, which the Rovers’ custodian saved cleverly.
Dunkley was next conspicuous with a nice dribble along the touch-line, but his centre lacked accuracy, and Newlands easily cleared. Pretty passing between Edwards and Murphy troubled Dunn, but Murphy’s centre was wickedly weak, and Purdan, with a long kick, put his forwards into an attacking position, and Beats made a gallant attempt to equalise.
Beating Hitch, he negotiated Newlands finely, and finished up a grand run with a terrific shot, which Collins saved in fine style.
After some midfield play, the right wing rushed away, and Skilton, shooting in a hurry, sent wide. Another right-footed shot by Murphy came to grief, and then Hitch pressed forward; the ball was taken up by Milward, who, with a grand drive, beat Cartlidge out and out.
Bristol now began to wake up, and to show that the forwards were capable of something they obtained two corners in quick succession, Bowman ultimately getting the ball away.
It seemed that the insistence of the visitors must have result, and when a misunderstanding arose between Newlands and Collins so that Clark found an open goal only three yards away, all thought that their time had come. Clark headed goalwards, but the ball rolled just wide.
This was compensation for a similar incident, in exactly the same place, in the first half. Some excellent work now resulted in a third goal for the Rangers. Cross was on the wing; he centred smartly to Hitch, who was up before goal, but he headed the ball just out of Cartlidge’s reach.
The Rangers were now all over their opponents’ defence, in spite of excellent work put in by Tait, Appleby and Hales. Milward showed up prominently again; he centred across to Edwards, who, in shooting, forced Dunn to concede a corner.
Cross made a fine run, but passed too far across, and then Milward tried an individual effort, but sent wide. Now came Skilton’s turn, and he made the run of the day. Passing one defender after another, he eluded Pudan’s attempt to charge him down, and finally beat Cartlidge with a lovely shot.
Everybody thought that four goals was pretty conclusive, and even the players did not expect more. There were now about three minutes to go, but the tally of goals was not yet complete.
Cartlidge was called upon to save a shot from the wing; he had plenty of time to clear in the usual way, but he preferred to show his fisting powers, with the result that he gave a corner. This was well placed, and Skilton just managed to reach the ball with his head, and into the net it went.
Barely had play started again when the whistle blew, and the Rangers retired with a remarkable victory to their credit.
The result caused blank astonishment in Bristol, and it is the heaviest defeat sustained by the Rovers this season. The Rovers themselves account for it in some measure by admitting that on the day’s play the Rangers were the better team, and they had prepared for the frosty and slippery ground by having india- rubber studs placed on their boots, which enabled them to better keep their balance, while the Rovers had made no such preparation.
With only the usual leather studs on their boots they were slipping about most of the time. This made a wonderful difference.
“Our forwards could do nothing right,” said one of the players to the writer, and the Rangers played a magnificent game.
During the final stages of the match the Rangers were decidedly lucky in three of their goals. Cartlidge had fallen down and injured one of his arms. The injury, while not serious, was very painful. Still, he had no chance to stop the three shots which scored.
On the balance of play, and considering they were so much handicapped, the Rovers did not deserve to lose by such a big margin. Nevertheless, it must be stated frankly that the Rovers’ display was much below their standard, and disappointing to their supporters.
The teams meet again today at Eastville, in the Western League.’
That Western League Game will also be featured one day.
Rovers sat in second place, three points behind Southampton, whilst Rangers were in ninth position on 19 points.
(My thanks to Colin Woodley for uncovering the match report. The pics are from my collection and come from the ‘Black & White Illustrated Budget’ weekly, dated 28th January 1905)