THURSDAY 30TH SEPTEMBER, 1954
DIVISION THREE SOUTH AT FELLOWS PARK, WALSALL
WALSALL 1 (Davis) BRISTOL CITY 3 (Atyeo 2, Rodgers) Attendance 8,911
McBride; Fort, Vinall; Morris, McPherson, Ferriday;
Myerscough, Davis, Richards, Tarrant (capt), Meek;
Cook; Guy, Bailey; Regan, Peacock, White;
Rogers, Atyeo, Rodgers, Williams, Boxley;
It has been an ominously bad start to the season yet again for Walsall. Before their draw at Coventry last Saturday they had only two points from their first ten games. This was their worst start than in the last three seasons, in each of which they had to apply for re-election. The figures speak for themselves -
This season - P10 W0 L8 D2 Goals for 9 Against 23 Points 2
1953-54 - P10 W1 L7 D2 Goals for 6 Against 21 Points 4
1952-53 - P10 W1 L7 D2 Goals for 13 Against 29 Points 4
1951-52 - P10 W4 L6 D0 Goals for 10 Against 18 Points 8
One glimmer of hope has been the form of a trialist centre forward Tony Richards, released by Birmingham City some time ago. He has been scoring regularly for the reserves during a month's trial and today had been given his first team debut. (See below for more details of the career of Tony Richards)
Walsall held their own with the only unbeaten team in the league for half an hour, then Bristol scored three goals in twelve minutes and eased up very wisely with further games in view. Atyeo was the star performer, playing a double centre forward role with former Huddersfield Town player Arnold Rodgers. Atyeo put the ball out to Boxley who ran on and put in a perfect centre for the inside right to head the first goal despite the frantic efforts of Vinall on the goal line.
Five minutes later Atyeo ran through and neatly placed the ball in the corner of the net as McBride came out to meet him. Just before the interval Atyeo put Williams through and his shot truck McPherson, playing Rodgers on side, and the centre forward scored the third goal for Bristol. McPherson, deputising for Bridgett, played very well considering that he was faced with job of coping with both Rodgers and Atyro for much of the time. Half-time 0-3.
Richards and Meek were both trying hard in the Walsall attack but they could make little headway against the solid Bristol defence. Tarrant went near with a speculative shot and then with only a minute left to play Davis, the former Arsenal reserve, was put clean through the centre, his shot went straight at Cook , but Davis followed up and was able to head the rebound into the net.
WEDNESDAY 13TH OCTOBER, 1954
FLOODLIT FRIENDLY MATCH AT MOLINEUX, WOLVERHAMPTON
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 0 FIRST VIENNA (AUSTRIA) 0
Williams; Stuart, Shorthouse; Flowers, Wright (capt), Clamp;
Hancocks, Broadbent, Slater, Deeley, Mullen;
Scmied; Umghaler, Nicherl; Koller (capt), Roeckl, Schweiger;
Manasse, Walzhofer, Jericho, Sueho, Payerl;
Referee:- Mr B.M. Griffiths, Newport, Mon.
Slater played his first game as a centre forward for Wolves as Swinbourne was injured. The Austrians, who had trained on the Goodyear Sports Ground, Wolverhampton played in white shirts. The right back was numbered four, the centre half two and the right half five.
Again, as in the Charity Shield match, this game was one of contrasting styles, Vienna's wonderful precision passing and ball control was lovely to watch, but they only got in one real shot throughout the match. This was a long first time shot from skipper Koller which went wide. The Austrians were half hearted in going for the ball in comparison with Wolves and they never appeared likely to score.
On the other hand the defence performed very well and Schmied, the goalkeeper, with a continental display of acrobatics almost equalled Wright as the outstanding figure of the game. The backs were very sound and often found their men with overhead clearances. Nickerl was the outstanding defender whereas Roeckl mainly kicked the ball good and hard first time, more in the Wolves manner. Schweiger was prominent for goal line clearances, a position he took up for corners on either flank. Manasse was the most dangerous forward, twice breaking through in the second half.
Slater lead the Wolves line thoughtfully as one would expect from such a cultured wing half and provided the other forwards of whom Deeley and Mullen were the best, with many chances. Although perhaps it was the absence of the dashing Swinbourne which made the line lack penetration. Wright was brilliant in defence , on several occasions the Austrians broke through but every time there was Wright never to be beaten in the final, decisive tackle. During the first half the Austrians couldn't work out the Wolves off side trap and fell into it time after time, which rather spoiled the game as a spectacle.
SATURDAY 30TH OCTOBER, 1954
DIVISION THREE SOUTH AT FELLOWS PARK, WALSALL Attendance 11,117
WALSALL 3 (Richards 2, Meek) COLCHESTER UNITED 1 (McKim)
Baldwin; Ferriday, Vinall; Crook (capt), Bridgett, Tarrant;
Morris, Dorman, Richards, Myerscough, Meek;
Kirk; Harison, Lewis; Hill, Stewart (capt), Hunt;
Grice, Leonard, McCourt, McKim, Wright (P);
Referee:- G.W. Pullin, Bristol
Walsall were captained by their recent signing from Wolves, Billy Crook, who was making his home debut. Another recent signing has been that of Don Dorman, from Coventry, previously with Birmingham City. He is a very experienced player and should help improve things at Fellows Park. Grice the Colchester outside right in whom several clubs, including West Bromwich Albion, are said to be interested, soon troubled Vinall, but the Walsall left back soon settled down to give his best performance since joining the club. Ferriday also did well at right back. He has now played at back, at wing half and at inside forward already this season. Baldwin was always safe in goal.
Crook and Tarrant both did well at wing half, giving fine support to their forwards Bridgett controlled Eire international wing half, Frank McCourt, playing out of position with ease. Dorman and Myerscough schemed effectively at times, Richards took his chances well and often had the beating of the taller Stewart in the air. Meek was very tricky and Morris, who beat Lewis almost at will did not centre enough. Altogether a much improved Walsall side.
Walsall took the lead after twenty one minutes, following a quickly taken free kick by Tarrant. Richards went straight through the centre to score. After thirty minutes a fine run by rook down the right wing ended with Richards heading his centre into the net for the second goal. Seven minutes later Colchester's methodical forwards gained reward when Wright and McCourt combined to give McKim the ball on the edge of the area and he scored with a fine shot. Half time 2-1.
Morris barged his way through but with only Kirk to beat pushed the ball outsode/ Walsall continued to pile on the pressure for the remainder of the game, but they did not get the ball in the net again until the eighty second minute. Kirk punched out a close range shot from Dorman and Meek running in shot the ball between the two full backs as they stood on the goal line.
SATURDAY 13TH NOVEMBER 1954
LEAGUE DIVISION ONE AT THE HAWTHORNS, WEST BROMWICH
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0 BOLTON WANDERERS 0
Sanders; Rickaby, Millard (capt); Dudley, Kennedy, Williams;
Griffin, Ryan, Allen, Jackson, Lee;
Hanson; Ball, Banks; Bell, Barrass, Edwards;
Holden, Moir (capt), Lofthouse, Hassall, Parry;
Referee:- A. Vickers, Crewe
Albion were without Barlow and Nicholls. Seventeen year old Alec Jackson who scored after only three minutes of his first game at Charlton last week, continued at inside left. Bolton were without right half Wheeler and switched Bell to that position bringing in Edwards at left half. In Albion's first attack Barrass headed away, then Ryan taking a pass from Dudley sent in a fierce shot which Hanson managed to turn over the bar.
Allen then forced the portly Bolton custodian to repeat the performance with a hard drive. It was very nearly all Albion with Ryan shooting only inches wide. In a rare Bolton attack Parry put Moir through but Sanders dives to save the Scot's twenty five yard shot. Kennedy was keeping a firm grip on the dashing Lofthouse. Griffin got in a great run for Albion beating two men with ease but Lee headed his centre across the goal and the danger was easily averted. During a boring second half Rickaby twice came upfield to shoot wide and despite all Allen's prompting Albion's attacks came to nothing against the rock like Barrass. Young Jackson showed great promise for Albion.
So a disappointing goal-less draw and when I saw the result from Walsall just up the road I realised I had very much made the wrong decision today. Walsall beat Bournemouth 6-1!
The game at Fellows Park that day saw a turning point in the struggling Saddlers history. They had most of the play in the first half but could not convert their chances until just before the interval when Richards' shot rebounded to Myerscough who scored. Half-time 1-0.
In the second half Walsall scored twice in six minutes. First Morris scored from close range when the goalkeeper pushed out Meek's cross from under the bar, then Richards headed home a Crook cross.
Bournemouth hit back with a penalty but then Walsall got one when Morris was tripped. Tarrant shot wide with his first attempt, but the goalkeeper had moved early and Tarrant scored at the second attempt. A terrific shot from Morris went in off the bar for number five and then a picture goal for number six - Richards to Dorman, a long pass to Morris, a crossfield pass to Meek and there was Richards to head home again. Walsall 6 Bournemouth 1.
Tuesday November 16th 1954 saw another floodlit spectacular from Molineux, Wolverhampton when Wolves took on the might of Spartak Moscow shown live on BBC TV - still in black and white of course. On a cold, misty night the match remained 0-0 until the 80th minute, when Wolves suddenly cut loose and scored four goals in the last ten minutes to achieve a remarkable victory. Hancocks with 2, Swinbourne and Wilshaw were the goalscorers
Leslie Smith retrieves the ball following a Wolves goal
SATURDAY 20TH NOVEMER 1954
F.A.CUP FIRST ROUND AT FELLOWS PARK, WALSALL Attendance 18,311
WALSALL 5 (Meek, Richards 2, Dorman, Morris)
Baldwin; Ferriday, Vinall; Crook (capt), Bridgett, Tarrant;
Morris, Dorman, Richards, Myerscough, Meek;
SHREWSBURY TOWN 2 (Brennan, O'Donnell)
Crossley; Bannister, Parr; Beynon, Atkins, Maloney;
Price, O'Donnell, Hudson, Brennan, McCue (capt);
Referee:- G. Pankhurst, Warwick
Shrewsbury's side contained wuch well known cup fighters as Jack Parr, who won a winner's medal with Derby County and Arthur Atkins, the former Birmingham City centre half, as well as two former liverpool players in Crossley and Maloney. Walsall could also boast a player with a cup winner's medal in Billy Crook, when with Wolves. After their great win last week, and the added boost of three new players in Crook, Dorman and Richards, the Saddlers pulled in their biggest crowd for years to create a real cup tie atmosphere.
Shrewsbury made all the early running and it seemed that their lively forwards would trouble Walsall. Meek, who was to be the man of the match, soon got in a powerful long range shot. After nineteen minutes Crossley diverted a shot from Morris for a corner. Meek took the kick wih his right foot and the ball swung straight into the net despite the frantic efforts of Crossley who practically climbed up the post, as well as Bannister's back, in an effort to save.
Two minutes later, following a mis-kick by a Walsall defender, Hudson shot against the bar and from the rebound Baldwin brilliantly saved a header by O'Donnell. Half time 1-0.
Soon after the re-start Crossley, the Shrewsbury goalkeeper, caught a long clearance from Ferriday and advanced to the edge of his area, he tried to bounce the ball but it stuck in the mud and Richards, challenging as usual, was able to roll the ball into the empty goal to put Walsall two up. Brennan pulled one back almost immediately and soon afterwards almost equalised when he shot just inches wide.
After seventy two minutes a high centre from Morris found Forman and he shot number three from twenty yards. Shrewsbury were not finished however and McCue practically walked through the Walsall defence and gave ODonnell the chance to make it 3-2. Still anybody's game, but it soon swung back Walsall's way with a vengence.
With only five minutes remainiing Morris, full of enthusiasm as usual, charged through on his own, the ball bounced to Richards, ever alert, who made it 4-2. Then two minutes from time little Meek waltzed through the defence, pushed the ball inside to Richards who gave it Morris and the right winger scored Walsall's fifth and the decisive goal of the game.
This game had kept the spectators on edge throughout with both sides giving fine displays. Shrewsbury even got the ball into the net again in the closing seconds through Brennan, but he was given offside. The vast majority of the crowd went home happy, almost delirious in fact. Eleven goals in two successive home games, after all that had gone before for the last three seasons. We must remember they are still bottom of the league with only nine points but perhaps happy days are here at last!
Due to playing commitments I did not see my next match for almost a month during which time Walsall continued to progress. The next home match was against Newport and they included yet another important signing in the experience Wolves reserve full back Bill Guttridge, who was to become a legend at the club. This game ended 3-3 with another goal for Richards, who seemed to be scoring in every match. This was followed by a 1-1 draw at Exeter with Richards again the scorer.
The second round of the cup saw them travel to Wrexham, where they met up with two former players Billy Green and Eric Betts. A 2-1 victory saw them into the third round with two more goals for Richards, who else.
One game I did see but only on TV was the international game between England and Germany at Wembley on 1st December 1954. The game was memorable on several counts, not least the performance of veteran Stanley Matthews on the wing, but those of Len Shackleton and Ronnie Allen at inside forward. Shackleton, the self-styled 'Clown Prince of Soccer' had probably his best game for England but his individualist ability only got a handful of international appearances. Allen, the inspirational force behind the recent successes of West Bromwich Albion was played out of position but fully deserved his chance on the international stage.
SATURDAY 18TH DECEMBER, 1954
DIVISION THREE SOUTH AT FELLOWS PARK, WALSALL Attendance 12,070
WALSALL 4 (Richards 3, Myerscough) READING 0
Baldwin; Guttridge, Vinall; Crook, McPherson, Tarrant;
Morris, Dorman, Richards, Myerscough, Meek;
Jones; Penford, Mansell; Davis, Reeves, Leach;
Hinshelwood, Chung, Campbell, Uphill, Wheeler;
Referee:- J.J. Bean, Porth
Walsall did alll the early attacking, but fell off towards the interval. After two fouls Campbell had his name taken. Half time 0-0.
After fifty five minutes followin a clash with Tarrant and Vinall, Reeves was carried off, with Campbell moving to centre half. This changes the game and eventually after sixty two minutes Crook found Richards with a long through ball and he ran on and shot confidently past Jones. Fifteen minutes later another long pass, this time from Dorman, found Richards again and his shot went in off the post.
Within two more minutes Walsall's newest hero had completed his hat trick. Dorman took the ball to the goal line and centred to Richards who hooked the ball home. In the last minute of the game a free kick from Morris was brilliantly headed into the net by Albert Myerscough to make it four. Albert McPherson, deputising for Jack Bridgett played very well, using the ball out of defence to perfection. Things continue to go well for the Saddlers, who have been drawn away to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the third round of the FA Cup.