QPR (2) – West Croydon (1) – ‘After the Match the Visitors were Handed Tea & Cake’

London League (Division 2)

Team; Hunt, Hughes (F), Tyler, Walburn, Teagle, McKenzie, Wallington, Ward, Hounsell, Hughes (R), Davies

Attendance: Between 1,500 & 2,000

On 3rd April 1897, Rangers took on West Croydon at the Kensal Rise Athletic Ground in a London League (Division 2) match. The Croydon Times filed the following match report a week later:

‘On Saturday, West Croydon journeyed to Kensal Rise to play their return match with Queen’s Park Rangers, and a most interesting game ended in a win for the latter.

The visitors lacked the services of Butt and Bellamy (the right-wing pair), which, needless to say, handicapped their team considerably, Bob Mulford and Edgar Elliott playing in their stead. While the Rangers were at full-strength.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 persons assembled to witness the game and were rewarded by a good display from both teams.

Titch won the spin of the coin, and Hounsell kicked-off against the wind. “West” started without Inkson, who arrived five minutes after the kick-off.

The visitors started off with a rush towards Hunt, but an accident to R. Hughes caused a delay. On resuming, the defence on both sides was tried, but found to be equal to the attacks.

Midfield play was the order for the next five minutes, after which “West” attacked strongly. A foul against Edwards gave the homesters temporary relief, but the visiting forwards again returned and forced a corner, which proved fruitless.

The Rangers’ left-wing then had a neat run, but Wallington was robbed by Stagg when about to centre.

The Rangers again got possession and gained a fruitless corner, the ball going behind. From the kick-out, the visitors carried the play into the Rangers’ half, but an injury to Fred Hughes caused another delay.

On resuming, the home team, by means of some neat combination, got within easy distance, but Hounsell spoiled a good opening by shooting erratically, the ball going yards over the bar.

“West” transferred the play to the other end and had hard lines, but the Rangers quickly retaliated, and Edwards stopped a dangerous rush.

The visitors then tested the Rangers’ defence, and Mulford shot behind after a good run on his own. “West” still continued to press, the left-wing causing the opposing backs a deal of trouble.

After Songhurst had shot behind, he again got possession and passed to Titch. The latter accepted the pass, and, seeing Anley waiting in a good position, centred the ball, and the last-named player had no difficulty in beating Hunt. I think this was the prettiest bit of work throughout the game.

This reverse put the Rangers on their mettle, and on resuming Davies tested Moss with a couple of beauties, both of which Freddy saved in grand style.

The visitors then had a turn at the other end, but a foul brought relief to the Rangers. Woodlands subsequently robbed the right-wing pair, but shortly afterwards another foul for the homesters looked dangerous.

However, nothing came of it, although Davies experienced hard lines in not scoring, his shot missing by inches.

From the kick-out, Wallington forced a corner, which was well placed, but Moss appeared to be invincible.

The play was eventually transferred to the other end, where it remained until half-time was announced, but as no further points were added the visitors crossed over with a lead of one-goal to nil.

On resuming, the Rangers, aided by the wind, at once attacked and F. Hughes shot behind.

Give and take play was the order for about five minutes, after which the referee awarded a penalty for the Rangers, although I am at a loss to know on what grounds he gave it, as there was certainly no foul.

One of the visitors fell over the ball, and the referee was under the erroneous impression that Titch pushed him over and ruled accordingly. McKenzie was entrusted with the kick and gave Moss no earthly chance of saving the shot, thus equalising amid deafening cheers.

Shortly after resuming, while the play was in midfield, Titch met with a bad injury, the ball striking him in a very dangerous part. He was carried off the field into the pavilion, where he remained for about 20 minutes, but he received good attention at the hands of the Rangers’ trainer.

The loss of their captain appeared to demoralise “West”, and the homesters had all the play for about ten minutes.

After Wallington had twice shot behind and Hounsell headed over, a corner was awarded to the Rangers, from which Hounsell headed the second goal, a feat which was greeted with the waving of hats, umbrellas, and enthusiastic cheering by the home supporters.

On the ball being again set in motion, the Rangers returned to the attack, and Davies was conspicuous for his grand centres from the corner flag. In endeavouring to prevent the ball going behind, this player laid himself out by over-reaching, and another delay occurred.

On resuming, “hands” relieved “West”, and Songhurst was enabled to have a shot, but it went wide of the mark. From the kick-out Hook was fouled, but the free kick brought his side no material advantage.

Titch now returned and was accorded a hearty cheer on taking his place on the field. The play continued in “West’s” half, and F. Hughes hit the bar with a good shot, a corner following, but to no advantage.

At this period Moss received quite an ovation for a series of clever saves, some of which were really brilliant.

Time was rapidly approaching, and the Rangers made strenuous efforts to increase their lead, but Moss and the backs, gave a sound display, and prevented anything further being scored.

Just before the whistle announced time, Inkson and Hook each received injuries, and before either had recovered a most interesting game ended in a win for the Rangers by two goals to one.

As will be gleamed from the above notes, several players on both sides were “laid out”, but in the majority of cases the ball was responsible for the injuries inflicted. It was not by any means a rough game, and the referee need not have given more than half the fouls he awarded.

It seemed to be almost a general opinion among the spectators that the penalty he gave was not a fair decision, and he was a long way from being satisfactory to either side. As a rule, whatever the spectators “yelled” he gave, whether right or wrong.

Of the whole 22 players one stood distinctly alone, and that was Freddy Moss. I have seldom seen a better display of goal-keeping than he gave on Saturday, and I am inclined to think that he surprised himself as much as he did the onlookers.

He gave a masterly exposition, and time after time he cleared when a goal seemed almost certain. But for his display “West” would not have got off quite so lightly.

The homesters all played a splendid game, and it would be difficult to point out a weak spot in the whole team.

Hunt was very reliable, and F. Hughes figured most prominently of the backs. The halves also gave a superb exhibition, and McKenzie was, perhaps, the most conspicuous of that trio.

Wallington, Davies and R. Hughes were the pick of an exceptionally smart attack, while Hounsell and Ward did good work at times. And the only drawback to a very pleasant and interesting game was the manner in which Mr Sans officiated.

After the match the visitors were handed tea and cake, and I cannot leave the report of the match without making brief reference to the hospitable manner in which the visiting team were received by the Rangers’ management.’

Steve Russell