Richmond Association v QPR in 1898 – Rangers Ground Closed for 14 Days after Referee Attacked

FA Cup Preliminary Round

Team: Leather, Allen, Hughes (F), Knight, Musslewhite (J), Blyth, Wallington (A), Evans, Brooks, Jones, Wallington (E)

QPR’s change from amateur status was most certainly due to the circumstances following various incidents that had occurred during the FA Cup tie at Richmond on 24th September 1898. Sammy Brooks was sent off, the referee was attacked and Rangers went down 3-0!

The Club were fined £4 by the London Football Association and also ordered that their Kensal Rise Athletic Ground was to be closed for 14 days. Club Historian Gordon Macey, wrote the following account in the 2000 edition of his book:

‘Rangers resented the punishment and initially, withdrew from all London FA competitions. This move robbed Rangers of their principal fixtures and caused unrest amongst the better players. Rangers had difficulty in keeping the players from accepting inducements from other teams to join them.

Given this and the fact that the demand for first class football had become apparent in London, the move to become a professional club was raised. After many lengthy committee discussions it was decided to hold a meeting at St Jude’s Institute to form a professional organisation.’
qpr 1898The St. James’s Gazette reported on the 5th October that: ‘At a meeting of the Football Association, held at the offices, Chancery Lane, yesterday, under the presidency of Mr C. W. Alcock, part of the business which occupied the attention of the meeting arose out of the recent Cup tie between Richmond Association and Queen’s Park Rangers, on the Old Deer Park, in which, for misconduct, Mr A. Roston Bourke, the referee, ordered one of the players off the field, and was then himself subjected to a gross assault on the part of one or more of the spectators.

The meeting devoted a considerable time to the investigation of the matter, but eventually they exonerated the Richmond Club of blame, they suspended S. Brooks, the Queen’s Park Rangers’ man who was ordered off the field, for a month from October 4, and ordered that the Rangers’ Club Ground should be closed until October 18 and that during that period the Rangers should not play within a radius of seven miles of their own ground.’

The London Evening Standard article two days later stated that: ‘The Southern Divisional Committee of the Football Association dealt on Tuesday with the case of rowdyism and “referee-baiting” which occurred at Richmond when the Richmond Borough Club met Queen’s Park Rangers in the preliminary round of the Association Cup Competition, and, as we had anticipated, an exemplary punishment was inflicted on the offending parties.

These were – first, the player whose misconduct caused him to be ordered off the field by the referee, and, secondly, the supporters of the Rangers, who showed their objection to the referee’s decision by noisy demonstrations, and, ultimately, by assaulting the referee himself.

There is absolutely no excuse for this sort of thing. Even when a referee has, apparently, made a mistake, it is the duty of all to recognise his authority, and bow to his decision in true sportsmanlike fashion. But when, as in this case, the referee’s action was clearly correct, and his impartiality above suspicion, the offence is unpardonable.

The sentence of the Committee was, in the circumstances, not a bit too severe – suspension for a month for the offending player, the closing of the Queen’s Park Rangers’ ground for a fortnight, and the prohibition of their playing, during that period, within a radius of seven miles of their ground.’

As a result of the meeting at St. Jude’s Institute, a committee was formed which then led to the registration of Queen’s Park Rangers Football and Athletic Club in December.

With a nominal capital of £5,000 on shares of 10/- (50p) each, the directors appointed were: A. Lythaby, Leo Hawkes, A. Devinish, W. Cross, A. Teagle, Jess Saxby, H.E. Cleverly, W. Hiscox, J. Taylor and W.L. Wood with G.H. Mousell as secretary.

Rangers joined the Southern League (Division 1) the following season and the Reserve side successfully became members of the London League.

Steve Russell

(The above pic features John Musslewhite. My thanks to Colin Woodley and Gordon Macey for their assistance)

3 thoughts on “Richmond Association v QPR in 1898 – Rangers Ground Closed for 14 Days after Referee Attacked

  1. I could not find any reports on ‘home games’ during the closure period. It would have possibly added yet another ground to our very long list!

  2. Such player and crowd behaviour was very common in the early days of football. The papers of the time are littered with crowd disturbances and players being banned for in some instances six weeks. Referees also were regularly abused and attacked. It was the Wild West Frontier time for football.

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