Team: Springett, Whittaker, Angell, Keen, R. Brady, Gibbs, Lazarus, Bedford, Leary, Collins, Vafiadis
On 30th September 1963, the R’s took on Bristol Rovers at Loftus Road. This, a fixture that has been well lodged in my memory mainly because of my own personal circumstances prior to kick-off. Let me explain…
I was tasked that Monday night with Geography homework from Henry Compton School to be handed in first thing on Tuesday morning. There was simply not enough time to complete the lengthy studies if I was to go and watch the game.
End result: Loftus Road (1) – Map of Scandinavia (0)! Parents and Geography teacher not happy with the decision, but there was no appeal to VAR back in those days! You can’t please all the people all of the time!
New signings, centre-half Ray Brady, full-back Dick Whittaker from Peterborough and wing-half Derek Gibbs from Leyton Orient were on display that night.
Ray Brady had been recently selected for Eire and was the R’s first full international since Ivor Powell for Wales in 1948.
I have to be honest and say that Rangers were not really tested by a lowly Bristol Rovers side and hence did not make much of an impression on me. I am sure there was not much of a serious threat to our goal and the scrambled goal by Mark Lazarus was enough to win it.
I had always thought that it was Stuart Leary who scored but that’s the error you can make in the crowd when you are only a five-foot schoolboy!
The match referee Tom Dawes stood out. In the late 1950’s/early 1960’s era he was rated as one of the best ref’s in the country. This night however, he had trouble with an off-field incident.
Someone in the crowd was blowing a whistle and he had to halt the game briefly to deal with the problem. I did not know much about what happened at the time because the culprit in question was on the far side of the ground and a long way from my own School End terrace position. I was informed about the event in more detail after the match had ended.
I think the narrow 1-0 victory put us into fourth position, but that placing sadly was not to last.’
Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)
The following match report appeared in the local Gazette later that week:
‘Long-serving Ranger Peter Angell tricked Bristol Rovers’ stonewall defence into conceding the only goal of an all-action match at Loftus Road on Monday evening. The QPR club captain who is renowned for his long hurls into the goalmouth, moved up to take a thrown-in near the left-corner flag.
But instead of using his powerful arms to gain the extra distance, Peter Angell bowled a bouncer. The ball dropped just inside the penalty area and jumped up over the heads of the Rovers’ defenders and the Rangers’ forwards for Mark Lazarus, unmarked in the centre-forward spot, to lash in a left-footed drive past Rovers’ brilliant young keeper Bernard Hall.
Thus, after 62 minutes of fast and furious football, Rangers had finally got the ball in the net and this one goal was sufficient to give them their third successive home win. And they have won these three matches without conceding a goal.
Although Rovers also played some fine football and had some near misses, they never looked quite such a dangerous combination as the Rangers, who were foiled time and again by the 19-year-old Hill who pulled off some magnificent saves in the visitors’ goal.
The football was fast and open throughout with both teams throwing everything into attack, yet it was defences who came out on top. There was little to choose between the two rearguards, in which the respective centre-halves, Ray Brady and Joe Davis hardly got a foot wrong.
Mark Lazarus on the right-wing brought back the speed and sparkle which had been missing against Millwall on Saturday and young Seth Vafiadis on the left-wing, outshone his own impressive debut display.
Leary and Collins completely filled the roles of link-men without ever really getting the better of the Rovers’ half-backs, but Brian Bedford was here, there and everywhere.
I have never seen him cover so much ground in 90 minutes or have so many near misses. How he didn’t collect at least a hat-trick I’ll never know?
Making the running from the start, Rangers had half-a-dozen hair-line misses in the first 20 minutes. Vafiadis fighting for every ball, figured prominently in the early raids.
First, he drove in a 30-yard shot which was only inches wide, then laid on two centres, from either of which Bedford might have scored. One was a high hook into the middle, but just a bit too high for either Brian or the keeper to reach, the other, knee high, Bedford hooked left-footed and a defender luckily blocked.
The next near miss came from the other wing. Lazarus swept down the touch-line, beating two men, and driving the ball low across the centre. Opportunist Brian Bedford reached it first and it seemed a certain goal, but the ball hurtled off his foot, right across the goalmouth, and wide of the left-hand post.
Rovers had another let-off when a brilliant move between Vafiadis and Leary saw the centre-forward collect the return pass right in front of the goal, but Hall blocked his shot, more by luck than judgement.
In the 32nd minute Rovers went close. Right-winger Jarman picked up a cross from the left, beat Angell and shot first time, but Springett made a fine save to turn it round the post.
Back came Rangers in the shape of Bedford. Racing through he was inches wide again as he met a Lazarus centre then watched bewildered at his bad luck as Hall clutched his header from Angell’s throw on the line.
The second-half opened in the same pattern with the ball swinging backwards and forwards across the Rovers’ goalmouth and Hall making another fine save to stop a Bedford header from Keen’s free kick.
It was left to full-back Peter Angell to finally fool the Rovers’ defence, but minutes after Lazarus had given Rangers the lead, Rovers almost equalised. Only a cat-like leap by Springett stopped left-winger Bobby Jones’ fierce drive from the inside-right position, following a goalmouth melee.
But Springett had a quiet night in comparison to Hall, who was soon back in action, making a brilliant effort to block Bedford’s bullet drive from Vafiadis’ centre and recovering brilliantly to stop Lazarus scoring from the rebound.
Angell hammered a 35-yard free kick through the crowded penalty area and Keen tried the same tactics following a goalmouth scramble. But, on both occasions Hall, unsighted until the last moment, kept them out, tipping Angell’s shot over the bar and taking Keen’s cleanly to his chest.
Just to add to the unending incidents in the second-half, the referee had to hold up play twice. Once when a whistle in the crowd was interfering with play and then when a spectator had to receive treatment from the trainer after being hit in the nose by the ball.’
Elsewhere, Harry Miller wrote in the Mirror: ‘But even with this Loftus Road crowd on their best behaviour there had to be some sort of incident.
It came ten minutes from time, when Norwich referee Tom Dawes halted the game because a whistle was being blown. A loudspeaker announcement went out that Mr Dawes would call the game off if the whistling continued.’
(Thanks to Colin Woodley for his assistance)