Saturday, 11 November 2017

1963-64 - Part five (Blues & Walsall escape the drop)

Posted by Tony Hutton




Potter; Howe, Williams G.; Fraser, Jones, Simpson;
Foggo, Fenton, Kaye, Jackson, Clar;

Dickie; Kirkup, Burkitt; Peters, Brown, Moore;
Brabrook, Boyce, Byrne, Hugo, Sealey;

Referee:- V.J. Batty, Cheshire

An unfamiliar West Ham team possibly with the forthcoming cup final with Preston in mind, included Dickie in goal, Kirkup a late replacement for Bond at right half, Martin Peters in for Bovington and Hugo replaced Geoff Hurst at inside left.

Clive Clark was Albion's danger man during the first half with several speedy runs down the left gave Kirkup quite a bit of trouble, but Albion could not find the final killer touch. 'Budgie' Byrne the clever West Ham centre forward, who is being talked up as a possible for England v Scotland, was also prominent with some nice touches but again the finishing did not really challenge goalkeeper Ray Potter.

Albion perhaps came the closest to scoring in the first half when Dickie missed a cross from Kaye and Fenton pushed it towards the empty net only for Kirkup to appear from nowhere to clear off the line. Half time 0-0.

The second half became a mid-field battle with little forward momentum, despite the efforts of Bobby Moore for West Ham and the energetic Fraser for Albion. The deadlock was eventually broken after 72 minutes when a Hammers breakaway ended with young Hugo pushing the ball home from close range for what proved to be the winning goal. Albion despite having most of the play could not break down the visitors' defence.

Albion were already secure in mid-table in contrast to their other West Midlands rivals, Wolves, Villa and Blues, who were all struggling in the bottom half.



WALSALL 2 (Foster, Palin pen.) CRYSTAL PALACE 2 (Whitehouse, Holton)

Tennant; Palin, Kletzenbauer; Bennett, McPherson, Dudley;
Foster, Matthews, Llewellyn, Hodgkisson, Meek;

Glazier; Long, Townsend; Stephenson, Wood, Howe;
Kellard, Whitehouse, Holton, Burridge, Imlach;

Referee:- F. Cowen, Manchester

Crystal Palace top of the table before tonight and heading for promotion faced a Walsall side still trying to avoid relegation to the Fourth Division. Walsall had 34 points from 39 games and were seven points clear of the relegation zone. However they had played more games than all the seven teams below them and could still be in danger. The Saddlers had a much changed side due to injuries and were soon up against it when Kellard crossed from the right for former Albion man, Brian Whitehouse, to head the visitors into the lead. Cliff Holton, the former Arsenal player, was always in the action and his powerful shooting threatened further goals.

Palace were well on top at this stage although Meek had Walsall's best effort with a long range shot comfortably held by the impressive Palace keeper Bill Glazier. He was back in action just before the interval when he came out to punch clear a high lob by Jimmy Dudley. Half time 0-1.

Walsall began the second half with more enthusiasm and Glazier was constantly in action for a while diving at Dudley's feet and then more fortunately deflecting a hard drive from Meek with an outstretched leg. Palace, rather against the run of play, went two up after 59 minutes. Imlach, the former Forest man, took a corner on the left and Stephenson headed it on for Holton to make no mistake from close range.

Palace rather sat back at this stage confident they had the two points in the bag and must have been rather surprised, as were most of the smallish crowd, by Walsall's grandstand finish. With only five minutes remaining Hodgkisson took a corner on the left and Foster running in headed a splendid goal.
Walsall now piled on the pressure and Stan Bennett, despite an injury, came close with a header from another Hodgkisson cross.

Into injury time and Palace were panicking now and Stephenson handled the ball inside the penalty area. Referee Cowen had no doubt and pointed to the penalty spot. With the crowd roaring the home side on, up stepped Granville Palin who had been playing in the reserves for the last eight weeks.
He made no mistake and crashed the ball past Glazier with the last kick of the match, to earn a valuable point for the Saddlers.



WALSALL 1 (Matthews)  HULL CITY 1 (Rafferty)

Tennant; Palin, Kletzenbauer; Bennett, McPherson, Dudley;
Matthews, Foster, Clarke, Hodgkisson, Meek;

Swan; Davidson, Butler; Garvey, Milner, Simpkin;
Rafferty, Sharpe, Chilton, Henderson, McSeveney;

Referee:- J.W. Bullough, Bolton

Walsall were without recent signing from Northampton Bert Llewellyn and his place at centre forward was taken by teenager Alan Clarke, who has scored sixteen goals for the Reserves in eighteen appearances. The home side got another point last weekend in a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth but the relegation spots are unlikely to be decided until the very last match.

Both sides nearly scored in the opening minutes when Tennant did well to stop Henderson's effort and then Clarke was just wide at the other end. Clarke continued to be well in the action as did the dangerous Chris Chilton for Hull. Walsall certainly had most of the play but could not take their chances particularly a glaring miss from Matthews who failed to connect after Clarke's shot beat the keeper.

Hull got the ball in the net just before half time with a header from McSeveney, but the referee had blown for off side. In what had been a lack lustre half Walsall had another chance but the final pass went astray which had been a regular problem for both sides. Half time 0-0.

The mistake ridden game continued in the second half and the crowd became even more restless over the continuing mistakes. Walsall tried to re-shuffle the forward line with Foster on the right wing and Matthews moving inside to his more regular position. Meek was troubled by an injury and was never really in the picture.

After Henderson had gone close for Hull, Walsall to everyone's surprise suddently found themselves in front. in the 66th minute Clarke passed to Matthews on the edge of the area and his left foot shot sailed into the far corner of the net for his fourteenth goal of the season for the club's leading goalscorer.

It was too good to last however and seven minutes later Hull equalised following a McSeveney corner on the right. Milner headed the ball on and Rafferty nodded it into the net. Despite a frantic finish neither side could get the winner and Walsall hung on for another point by the skin of their teeth.



BIRMINGHAM CITY 3 (Lynn pen., Leek, Hellawell) LIVERPOOL 1 (Hunt)

Withers; Lynn, Martin; Hennessey, Smith, Foster;
Hellawell, Bloomfield, Thomson, Leek, Auld;

Lawrence; Byrne, Moran; Milne, Yeats, Stevenson;
Callaghan, Hunt, St John, Arrowsmith, Thompson;

Liverpool have already been crowned as League Champions with a five point lead over Manchester United whereas the Blues are deeply involved in a relegation battle. Ipswich are already down but it is now between Blues and Bolton for the other relegation position. Bolton entertain Wolves on Friday night and Birmingham are at home to Sheffield United on Saturday in their last games.

Birmingham came out all guns blazing in front of an enthusiastic crowd urging them on with the club song 'Keep right on to the end of the road'. It took only six minutes for them to go ahead when after Moran appeared to handle, Leek's shot beat keeper Lawrence only for full back Byrne to push it clear of goal with his hand. 'Stan the Wham' Lynn made no mistake with the penalty as usual.

In seventeen minutes Blues went two up when Lawrence saved from Thomson, but could only push it out and Leek scored from the rebound. The third goal came five minutes before half time when right winger Mike Hellawell raced seventy yards down the right wing. The ball came back to him from Thompson and he cracked it home. The crowd were in ecstasy by now and invaded the pitch only to receive a stern warning over the public address that the game would be abandoned if this happened again.  The poor league champions did not know what to make of this all action Birmingham side. Half time 3-0.

Liverpool did not give up after this avalanche of goals and fought back strongly in the second half. They had the ball in the net on two occasions but each time off side was the decision. Hunt hit the bar with a powerful shot and centre half Ron Yeats came up in attack at regular intervals. It took them until the 75th minute to get a goal and Roger Hunt who had been in the thick of the action got it. He headed against the bar, then shot against the goalkeeper and headed the goal from the resulting corner.

Eight minutes from the end the Birmingham winger Bertie Auld was sent from the field following a clash with fellow Scot Ron Yeats. It was an isolated incident in the game, but despite pleas for leniency from both sides he had to go.

Gilbert Merrick, former international goalkeeper, now the Blues manager who has often been under fire this season, got full praise in the local press. His tactics of playing two centre halves, Smith and Foster, was a novelty in those days and he also switched the forward line around to good effect.

The league table now looks like this:-

Bolton                      P41   W10  D8  L23  PTS28

Birmingham               41       10     7    24         27

Ipswich                       41         8     7    26         23

(As it happened Wolves won 4-0 at Bolton and Birmingham managed to stay up by just one point after beating Sheffield United 3-0)



WALSALL 2 (Matthews, Meek) PETERBOROUGH UNITED 0             Attendance 5,611

Tennant; Palin, Kletzenbauer; Bennett, McPherson, Dudley;
Meek, Matthews, Foster, Hodgkisson, Wills;

Duff; Hopkins, Singleton; Wright, Rankmore, Jackson;
Thompson, Moulden, Dougan, Smith, McNamee;

Referee:- S.J. Kayley, Preston

After losing four games in a row during March put themselves deep into relegation trouble, a mini revival of four successive draws had given the Saddlers a chance of safety and today's last home match of the season was crucial. Top scorer Matthews was welcomed back after injury and Foster moved to centre forward to the exclusion of Alan Clarke. Peterborough had the experienced Scotsman Willie Duff in goal. He started with Hearts where he won an under 23 cap, Scottish cup medal and Scottish league champions medal before he was 20. He then had five good seasons with Charlton before joining Peterborough.

Walsall started off in lively fashion but could not get that valuable early goal. Several chances went begging due to poor finishing. The former Villa veteran Derek Dougan tried to get the 'Posh' going but did not get much support. After a period of concerted pressure Walsall eventually took the lead after 22 minutes. Foster, who is now playing with much confidence, beat his man, drew the defence and made a perfect pass for Matthews to beat the off side trap and hit the ball into the net.

Matthews has now scored fifteen goals this season and this one was greeted with a great roar from the home supporters who were already beginning to believe that the great escape was a fact. They had a let off when Graham went close from the visitors but just before half time the home side were two up.
It was Foster again who made it, this time beating two men before laying on a perfect pass for little George Meek to side foot home from close range. Half time 2-0.

Peterborough nearly got back in the act early in the second half, but Bennett blocked Jackson's shot proving that he is another of the younger brigade who has come on a lot. Foster, who could do no wrong, jumped high to head just over the bar in the next Walsall attack. Soon afterwards Foster was in the action again when he deflected a powerful shot from Matthews towards goal only for Duff to save well.

Peterborough rallied towards the end of the game and had several good opportunities to score but the former Coventry man, Kletzenbauer, cleared off the line with Tennant beaten. Further efforts were blocked by defenders and Tennant dived full length to save an effort from Graham. By then though the Saddlers were home and dry and good value for those essential two points.

(Walsall had one remaining fixture to play - away at Queens Park Rangers on 1st May. The original game had been abandoned after 26 minutes due to a power cut which meant no floodlights were available. However by the time of the replay Walsall were already safe and the 3-0 defeat was irrelevant).



WALSALL PAST & PRESENT 4 (Myerscough 2, Richards, Guttridge)
ALL STAR XI 4 (Kevan 2, Pace 2)                                        Attendance 6,419

Boswell (Shrewsbury); Jones (WBA), Guttridge (Macclesfield); Hill (Norwich City), McPherson (Walsall), Rawlings (Port Vale); B. Taylor (Shrewsbury), Hodgkisson (Walsall), Richards (Port Vale), Myerscough (Wrexham), C. Taylor (Newcastle United);

Matthews (Derby County); Saward (Coventry), Thomson (Wolves); Tindall (Aston Villa), Flowers (Wolves), Robson (Fulham); Hellawell (Birmingham City), Kevan (Man. City), Pace (Sheffield Utd),
Haynes (Fulham), Burrows (Aston Villa);

This was a well deserved testimonial match for Walsall's skipper and centre half Albert McPherson, who has been such a faithful servant for ten years, including the two glory years of successive promotions. All the old favourites turned up from clubs all over the Midlands, together with a host of big names including Haynes and Robson from Fulham, Ron Flowers from Wolves and Derek Kevan, formerly of West Brom. but now at Manchester City.

  (Cartoon by the brilliant Norman Edwards of the Birmingham Sports Argos)

The All Stars took the lead in the 13th minute when Kevan, despite mishitting his shot, found the net.
Four minutes later the speedy Derek Pace of Villa scored the second, but Albert Myerscough  reduced the lead with a header almost immediately. The same player made it all square with a fine shot from a Tony Richards pass, but Pace again put the visitors in front with a good header from Hellawell's cross. Half time 2-3.

Goals by two all time favourites Bill Guttridge and Tony Richards put the icing on the cake for the supporters to put Walsall in front 4-3. However ten minutes from the end big Derek Kevan, with a powerful shot, put the All Stars level.

So honours even and a great occasion which paid a fitting tribute not only to an exceptional player but a real gentleman who has been a credit to the game and his club.

Finally for the 1963-64 season here are the two goals scored by Preston North End in the FA Cup Final which was won 3-2 by West Ham United.

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