Tuesday, 7 February 2017

1958-59 - Part five (Walsall's winning run)

Posted by Tony Hutton

SATURDAY 14TH MARCH, 1959                        Attendance 35,000


WEST BROMWICH ALBION 1 (Kevan) MANCHESTER UNITED 3 (Violett, Scanlon, Bradley)

Potter; Howe, Williams; Setters, Barlow (capt), Kennedy;
Allen, Robson, Burnside, Kevan, Hogg;

Gregg; Greaves, Carolan; Goodwin, Cope, McGuinness;
Bradley, Quixall, Violett (capt), Charlton, Scanlon;

Referee:- P.G. Smyth, London

Albion are proving to be one of soccer's mystery teams this season. They just cannot do well on their own ground and their away record is much better than the results at home. They have not won a league match at home since December 13th and last Wednesday night were beaten at home by Burnley 4-2. As a result Setters and Kennedy, normally a centre half, switched positions and Burnside replaced Jackson in the forward line.

Today's opposition, Manchester United, having won thirteen of their last fifteen matches understandably made no changes. Indeed United, just over twelve months since the Munich air crash, could easily claim that they have regained the proud position they held in the football world before the tragic accident. They are second in the First Division table, only one point behind Wolves, they attract an average home gate of approximately 55,000 and their inside trio of Quixall, Violett and Charlton are being widely tipped for a place in the next England team.

I last saw United at Wolverhampton earlier in the season when they were beaten 4-0 while fielding several reserves. The most significant change in their line up since then has been the switching of Dennis Violett to centre forward where his clever football brain has brought the best out of the two talented players alongside him. Another important change was the introduction of Warren Bradley , the former Bishop Auckland and England amateur international at outside right. The most recent change has been the dropping of last season's cup final skipper, Bill Foulkes, who has been replaced by a young Irishman, Joe Carolan.

After Hogg had made the first attack for Albion, Manchester went straight upfield and scored. Quixall collected the ball in the centre circle and pushed it to his left to Charlton, who drew Barlow from the middle before pushing it through to Violett who had a clear run down the middle. Potter dashed out from his goal but Violett coolly swerved round him and side-footed the ball into the empty net. So Albion had an uphill fight from the start but they attacked well immediately, Robson heading in a Hogg centre and Burnside shooting from twenty yards, but both efforts were confidently taken by Harry Gregg in the United goal.

Howe unusually for him and Setters as normal got stuck into the opposition with the result that Scanlon had his shorts ripped right up the seam after a clash with Howe. Then Quixall had to receive attention from the trainer after a heavy tackle by Setters. After fourteen minutes, in what was almost their second attack, United scored another. This was a present from Howe, who quite unlike his normal, calm self, completely muffed a clearance and sliced the ball to Scanlon who had a clear run at goal and gave Potter no chance with a fierce shot.

Kennedy was doing well at left half for Albion  and provided Hogg with some good passes on the left wing. From one such move Hogg went round Greaves with ease and centred to Derek Kevan whose powerful drive was only just wide. Although Albion seemed to be doing most of the attacking, United scored their third after only twenty six minutes play. This time full back Carolan brought the ball down the left and saw that the Albion defence had moved into the penalty area leaving Bradley totally unmarked. The Irishman  swung a perfect ball right across the field to the little winger, who immediately unleashed a terrific shot from the narrowest of angles which flew into the far corner of the net.

United very nearly got a fourth goal when Scanlon burst through on his own with the entire Albion defence appealing for offside, but Potter raced out and dived at his feet to save well. A similar save by Potter, a few minutes later, prevented Charlton adding to the score. Half-time 0-3.

After the interval it was a totally different story with the Albion bombarding the United goal and after only five minutes play they scored in a most unusual manner. An Allen centre was punched out to Hogg, who pushed it back to Robson. His scoring effort appeared to be handled by United centre half Cope, who thus deflected it to Kevan only a yard from goal, but in an offside position. Kevan promptly banged the ball into the net. The referee appeared to award a free kick to United as the linesman had raised his flag, whether for handball or offside we shall never know. The referee was then surrounded by protesting Albion players and after a while he pointed towards the centre indicating the award of a goal.

This was the signal for the United team to protest, which they did vehemently for some time. During this long period of controversy Gregg had calmly placed the ball for a free kick to United and stood innocently waiting for the referee's signal to take it. However the referee, Mr Smyth, stuck to his original decision of a goal with consulting the linesman and Gregg reluctantly gave him his ball back.

For the rest of the game Albion attacked persistently and only their miserable shooting prevented them from getting a draw if not a victory. The main culprits were Robson and Burnside, who each missed at least two simple scoring chances. Although inclined to panic at times the United defence stood firm, with Greaves taming Hogg in the second half and both Cope and hard tackling McGuiness were outstanding.

MONDAY 16TH MARCH 1959                                        Attendance 15,879



Brown; Whitehouse, Cockroft; Kirkham (capt), Donaghy, Jones;
Read, Clark, Bridges, Perry, Hinton;

Gaskell; Smith B. (capt), Ackerley; Stiles, Haydock, Nicholson;
Moir, Giles, Chisnall, Spratt, Elms;

Referee:- W. Clements, West Bromwich

Wolves were without two of their regular defenders right back Royle and centre half Corbett. Only Kirkham, Read and Perry of last season's youth cup winning side remained. United who played in their all white strip, included David Gaskell, a goalkeeper who has had first division experience, also Smith, Giles and Spratt have played for the United Central League side.

The first half was goal-less, although Manchester showed that they were obviously the better footballing side. Both teams played to their right wingers and although Moir gave Cockroft, Wolves outstanding defender, little trouble Read, hugging the touchline slipped past Ackerley on several occasions, but got poor support from the other Wolves forwards. Ackerley obviously sensed the danger and went in hard for the ball every time Read got it. This prompted a section of the crowd to boo the left back continuously. Half time 0-0.

The visitors confirmed their undoubted superiority in a fourteen minute spell between the fifty ninth and seventy third minutes in which they scored three times. The first goal came when Stiles sent a beautiful pass inside Cockroft for Moir to run clear of the left back for the first time. He centred to the far post where Spratt hooked it back into the middle for Giles to head into the net off the crossbar. Ten minutes later Elms ran into the centre following a free kick and scored with a splendid drive. Within four minutes Moir again got clear of Cockroft and placed his centre perfectly for Spratt, running in at speed to score with a grand header.

The only occasion when Wolves looked likely to score was following a corner by Read late in the game. Gaskell came much too far out of goal in an attempt to gather the winger's kick and Perry got in a header which rolled about a foot wide of the vacant net. On the whole the Wolves forward line was a big disappointment, especially the former Grimsby grammar school boy, Bridges, and youth international Alan Hinton. In fact Wolves only seem to have one first team prospect this year in Cockroft, although goalkeeper Brown should not be written off. He made one tremendous save during the first half, diving full length to catch a Chisnall header in mid-air.

Unite have won the Youth Cup every season since it's inception in 1953, except for last season when Wolves were the winners. On tonight's form it seems likely that the cup will again go to Old Trafford.

In fact the competition was won by Blackburn Rovers who beat West Ham United in the final.



WALSALL 3 (Davies, Faulkner, Taylor) EXETER CITY 0                 Attendance 5,500

Ball; Haddington, Guttridge (capt); Billingham, Walker, Rawlings;
Davies, Faulkner, Richards, Hodgkisson, Taylor;

Hunter; Foley, McDonald; Mitchell, Oliver, Thompson;
Stiffle, Nicholls, Calland, Birch, Dale;

Referee:- R.H. Chandler, Chester

Walsall had eighteen year old Keith Ball making his first league appearance in goal and Arnold Walker, signed as a wing half from Grimsby during the close season, made his first appearance for Walsall at centre half in place of the injured McPherson. Haddington, on the transfer list at his own request, returned to the side as Jones was needed by his Army unit. The inside forward positions also showed changes, with Kelly omitted and Faulkner restored to the side.

The visitors Exeter, fifth in the table with games in hand are strong challengers for promotion and include ten players who have played for other league clubs. Notable figures being outside left Gordon Dale, from Portsmouth, Johnny Nicholls former West Bromwich and England goal poacher and Brian Birch one of the original Busby Babes.

Exeter had the advantage of a strong, cold wind during the first half. This made ball control very difficult and gave young Ball a hard time with his kicking. Walsall suffered a heavy blow in the eighteenth minute when skipper Bill Guttridge pulled a thigh muscle and had to limp along on the right wing for the remainder of the game. The Walsall team was consequently re-shuffled with  Peter Billingham at left back and Ken Hodgkisson at right half. Davies moved to inside right and Faulkner to inside left.

In spite of this disadvantage it was Walsall who opened the score after thirty one minutes. Richards, lying deep in the inside left position, sent a beautiful pass through the Exeter defence which left Davies running clear in the inside right position to beat Hunter with a powerful shot. Half time 1-0.

It was noticeable that Haddington, who was playing well, was heartily cheered by the crowd he had accused of barracking him. Billingham played the part of emergency full back wonderfully well and Hodgkisson, as we have seen on previous occasions proved his ability as a wing half. Walsall crowned a grand fighting performance with two further goals in the eighty third and eighty fifth minutes. Faulkner got the first when he calmly side footed the ball past the advancing goalkeeper after being put through by Richards. Taylor scored the second two minutes later when he crashed the ball off a defender and the crossbar while the Exeter defenders appealed for offside. Richards striving hard for his 100th goal for Walsall got the ball in the net near the end but was given offside.



WALSALL 2 (Richards 2) NORTHAMPTON TOWN 1 (English)          Attendance 5,991

Savage; Haddington, Guttridge (capt); Billingham, McPherson, Rawlings;
Davies, Faulkner, Richards, Hodgkisson, Taylor;

Brwere; Claypole, Patterson; Phillips, Gale, Mills;
English, O'Neill, Tebbutt, Woan (capt), Fowler;

Referee:- F. Collinge, Rochdale

Walsall were back to full strength after their 5-3 defeat at Crewe last week. So young Alan Wright,
 who scored in his first league game, was not given a further chance to show his ability. Walsall's early attacks were all down the left wing and from one of these Tony Richards at last got his one hundredth goal for the Saddlers after only seven minutes play. Taylor's accurate centre was headed down by Davies straight to the centre forward's feet and Richards had ample time to control the ball and beat Brewer from ten yards.

Richards was soon threatening to add to his goal total with a great drive passing just wide of the past and then Brewer dived full length to push another grand effort round the post. Walsall continually dominated the game and the only excitement at the other end was when Haddington breasted the ball clear off the goal line.
Half time 1-0.

Walsall's defence got themselves in a tangle right from the start of the second half. Savage and McPherson left the ball to each other and the giant goalkeeper had to fling himself desperately to save from Woan. Savage again did well a moment later when he ran out to kick the ball off Tebbutt's toe when the centre forward was clean through. After fifty six minutes Northampton equalised through a combined movement of their two veteran wingers. Fowler took a corner on the left and English, completely unmarked on the far side of the ruck of players in the centre, drove it first time into the net.

This goal spurred Walsall on to great effort and eventually after seventy six minutes they took the lead again. Davies centred from the right and Colin Taylor headed it down to the waiting Richards who hit it first time into the net for goal number 101. A minute later Brewer raced out of his goal to kick clear and rob Richards of a hat trick. Woan, the Northampton captain, who had disputed the referee's decisions throughout the game finally had his name taken just before the end.

MONDAY 30TH MARCH, 1959                             Attendance 10,949


WALSALL 3 (Taylor, Hodgkisson, Rawlings) COVENTRY CITY 0 

Savage; Haddington, Guttridge (capt); Billingham, McPherson, Rawlings;
Davies, Faulkner, Kelly, Hodgkisson, Taylor;

Lightening; Kirk (capt), Harvey; Austin, Curtis, Farmer;
Wyer, Nicholas, Stewart, Kearns, Daley.

Referee:- H. Webb, Leeds

For the second of the Easter matches both sides were without their leading goalscorers, Richards for Walsall and Straw for Coventry, who were also without their other inside forward and captain Ryan. The visitors, lying second in the table, tried two wing halves, Kearns and the former Chelsea player Nicholas, in the inside forward positions. Kelly again deputised for Richards despite his previous failures and one thought that young Thurstans might have been given a chance.

Walsall were on top from the start and the large contingent of Coventry supporters must have been disappointed with their team's performance. The home side played with much greater determination and were never troubled by the opposing forwards. The first of three rather odd goals came in the twenty second minute. Taylor shot from well outside the penalty area, the ball struck a defender, hit Lightening the goalkeeper in the back and rolled slowly over the line.

With Davies taking over as the inspiration of the forward line Walsall attacked persistently and added to their lead five minutes before the interval. Kelly pushed the ball to Hodgkisson who crashed the ball against the crossbar from which it bounced down into the goal only to be kicked clear. The referee was well positioned however and rightly awarded a goal. Half time 2-0.

Coventry did more attacking in the second half with some clever dribbles by Wyer and energetic chasing by the lively Daley, but their best opportunities were wasted by Kearns, who twice shot wide from good positions. Haddington continued in the same happy vein as on Saturday and Guttridge's enthusiasm seemed to be passed on to the rest of his side. This enthusiasm and determination brought it's reward in the sixty ninth minute when left half Tim Rawlings came up in attack and was tackled, quite fairly, by Harvey just inside the area. The ball ran loose and Rawlings, although still lying on the ground, swung his foot at it and before Lightening sensed what had happened the ball was nestling in the corner of the net. This was Rawlings' first goal of the season, which indicates that he plays a very successful defensive role.

On this performance Coventry might yet miss promotion despite their high position in the table. The never once showed the combination of a successful side. Walsall's showing was much more like promotion form and but for their sad lapses in the past two months, they would been up at the top with Coventry.


LEAGUE DIVISION ONE AT ST ANDREWS, BIRMINGHAM                 Attendance 24,600

BIRMINGHAM CITY 1 (Stubbs) BOLTON WANDERERS 3 (Lofthouse, Riley, Birch)

Merrick (capt); Farmer, Allen; Watts, Smith, Neal;
Astall, Gordon, Stubbs, Larkin, Taylor;

Dean; Hartle, Banks; Hennin, Edwards (B), Stanley;
Birch, Stevens, Lofthouse (capt). Parry, Riley;

Referee:- J.J. Baxter, Herts

This game was Birmingham City's first since March 21st. The long break was caused by the sudden illnes of Jeff Hall, their England internation full back, struck down by polio from which cause his tragic death occured on Saturday April 4th. The world of football mourns Jeff Hall and tonight before the game his team-mates and supporters, together with the visitors, stood for one minutes's silence in homage to a fine sportsman.

Not unnaturally the psychological impact and break from training influenced Birmingham's performance and although Bolton were without both Hopkinson and Holden, who are playing for England against Scotland on Saturday, there was only one team in it right from the start. Bolton were ahead after only four minutes with a grand Lofthouse goal. Stevens pushed a perfect, precision pass through the middle for the centre forward to run on to and taking his time steer it clear of Merrick.

However the Blues hit back, their attack springing mainly from Hooper on the left wing, who was in dazzling form. Time after time he dribbled down the wing only for his openings to be wasted by the inside men. The best effort came from Astall who met a Hooper centre with his head only for the young goalkeeper Joe Dean to throw himself across goal to catch the ball in mid air. After twenty five minutes Bolton scored again.

It was a simple goal, Parry floating a left wing corner to the near post and Riley, making his first appearance for Bolton jumped with joy when he saw his header go into the top corner of the net while Merrick stood flat footed. Half time 0-2.

The home side attacked with more determination at the start of the second half and only superbly save by Dean prevented them opening their account. Gordon fired in a grand shot which seemed likely to enter the top corner of the net, but Dean flung himself across the goal and finger tipped the ball round the post for a corner.

After fifty seven minutes however Watts making ground down the right centred for Stubbs to score although Dean got a hand to the ball and pushed it against the bar before it entered the net. Both sides were unlucky not to have penalties awarded, before Birch who had moved into the middle, scored Bolton's third with a first time shot from Parry's right wing centre.



WALSALL 3 (Richards, Faulkner, Billingham pen) WORKINGTON 0

Savage; Billingham, Guttridge (capt); Walker, McPherson, Rawlings;
Davies, Faulkner, Richards, Hodgkisson, Taylor;

Newlands; Brown, Rollo; Finley, Aitken (capt), Davidson;
Tennant, Blakeman, Gordon, Dixon, Thompson;

Referee:- R. Ryalls, Sheffield

Walsall were without full back Harry Haddington, who broke his nose at Coventry last Tuesday, Billingham moved to right back and Arnold Walker once again came in at right half. Workington, a struggling side, made eight changes to the team printed in the programme following the hectic Easter weekend. The only players retaining their positions were goalkeeper Malcolm Newlands, formerly with Preston North End, and full back Bobby Brown and Alex Rollo, both Scots. Skipper George Aitken, formerly with Middlesborough moved from wing half to centre half and centre half Tennant moved to outside right of all places. Bobby Dixon, the young winger signed from Arsenal a few weeks ago, moved to inside left.

Within five minutes Walsall were a goal up thanks to outside right John Davies, whose recent form has confounded the critics who objected to his signing. He flashed round Rollo at terrific speed and centred to Richards, who hooked the ball from the right hand corner of the six yard box into the far corner of the net.
A grand goal. Within minutes Walsall were further ahead with a fierce shot from Faulkner.

The Walsall attack was causing great confusion in the Workington defence and when two of the defenders brought down Richards as he was about to shoot, the referee quite rightly awarded a penalty. Workington, and particularly goalkeeper Newlands protested vigourously, but Billingham strolled up and crashed a terrific shot into the roof of the net to put Walsall three up after only twenty minutes play. Half time 3-0.

Workington switched their team about considerably at half time and these re-arrangements proved more effective than their efforts in the first half. Although Walsall continued to dominate the game they were unable to add to their score against a defence in which Aitken, at centre half, was outstanding. Billingham had another excellent game at full back and Walker improved upon his previous showings.

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