Welcome to the Private memorabilia collection of 'theyflysohigh'
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The full Q.P.R. team was not reported in the West London Observer or the Stratford Express. Bert Hawkins was not the only ex-Hammer in Q.P.R’s side that evening. One of his team mates was George Petchey who appeared in the Hammers’ league side a couple of times in September 1952. George and Bert both joined the Loftus Road club in the summer of 1953. But there the similarities of their Q.P.R. careers stopped. Bert’s time in the blue and white hoops shirt was extremely short as he only played eight league games (scoring three goals). In contrast George stayed with the club for seven years and made 255 league appearances (22 goals) before moving onto Crystal Palace and notching up a further 143 league games with the Glaziers.
The First and Latest Floodlit Wins at Loftus Road
West Ham’s scintillating Premiership away victory on Monday October 1, 2012 was the very latest win under the Loftus Road floodlights. First half goals from Matt Jarvis and Vaz Te gave the Hammers a 2-1 win over West London neighbours Queens Park Rangers (Q.P.R). This latest floodlit away win at the Rangers Stadium is a reminder of another Loftus Road fixture played fifty nine years earlier.
West Ham’s First Ever Floodlit Away Game
On Monday November 2, 1953 the Hammers played their first ever away match under floodlights. The fixture was a friendly at Loftus Road against Q.P.R. West Ham marked this significant occasion with their first win under lights away from home. It turned out to be a comfortable 4-2 triumph by the mid table Division II Hammers over the West Londoners who played their league soccer a division lower in Division III South.
Queens Park Rangers floodlights came into action in the beginning of 1953-54 season. Their inaugural lit game had been a few weeks earlier in October against Arsenal. The West Ham game was Q.P.R’s second evening venture.
Upton Park’s floodlights were installed in early 1953 and first switched on in anger for a friendly fixture against First Division Tottenham Hotspur in April 1953. More floodlit friendlies soon followed and the opposition included several top European club sides.
Queens Park Rangers 2 – 4 West Ham United
Monday November 2, 1953
Back to West Ham’s first away game under lights. The match report in the West London Observer summed up the game very succinctly: “Two goals in the last five minutes gave West Ham a well deserved victory over Queens Park Rangers, at Loftus Road, on Monday evening.”
The report also explained that West Ham continued to have more of the game and several times they looked certain to score, but bad shooting cost them goals.
West Ham’s goal scorers were Derek Parker (7 mins), Dave Sexton (14 & 86 mins or later) and John Dick (85 mins).
Derek Parker started the goal rush after seven minutes by beating three men before crashing a shot past the home keeper. Seven minutes later Dave Sexton doubled the lead when he ran through giving the goalkeeper no chance with his shot. Q.P.R. fought back a minute later to reduce the arrears with a goal from ex-Hammer, Bert Hawkins. Bert headed home a high lob from the right wing. At half-time the Hammers led 2-1.
The match report sung Derek Parker’s praises with the compliment “Parker played well both in defence and attack and the home defence was uncertain under pressure”. Parker had a further chance to score but his point-blank shot was saved by the Ranger's goalie.
Dave Sexton’s “Best Ever Goal”
West Ham United team:
Ernie Gregory, George Wright, Noel Cantwell, Derek Parker, Malcolm Allison, Frank O’Farrell, Tommy Southren, Terry Woodgate, Dave Sexton, John Dick, Jimmy Andrews.
Six minutes into the 2nd half and Q.P.R. drew level. Fortunately for West Ham it was reported that Bert Hawkins was having an off-day though he had poor support from his inside forwards and wing halves. West Ham’s 3rd and 4th goals arrived in the last five minutes. First John Dick was “allowed to run on and give the Hammers the lead five minutes from time”. Finally Dave Sexton completed his brace with a goal he described in the Stratford Express as the “best I have ever scored”. The goal was created by “Jimmy Andrews when he swung a cross over and Dave Sexton hit a dropping shot on the half volley with terrific force into the rigging”.
This friendly win was the start of a good week for Dick and Sexton. On the following Saturday John Dick scored a hat-trick and Dave Sexton a single goal in the Hammers’ 5-0 league win at home over Bury.
Terry Woodgate’s Last First XI Game?
West Ham fielded a strong line up. The Loftus Road eleven was the same, with a single exception, as had appeared in the league games leading up to and following the Q.P.R. friendly. Centre forward Tommy Dixon was missing and the team was reshuffled by moving Dave Sexton to centre forward and introducing Terry Woodgate at inside right. Terry was close to the end of his West Ham career and this Q.P.R. friendly would have been one of his very last games in the first XI. In the 1953-54 league season, Terry did not play any Division II games. His last league appearance had been in March 1953 in the 3-1 home defeat to Doncaster Rovers. After a claret and blue career spanning 15 years and 259 league appearances Terry was struggling to find a first team place and in the following summer joined Peterborough United.
Ex-Hammers in Q.P.R. Team –
Bert Hawkins & George Petchey
Back in the early 1950s
floodlit football was in its
embryonic stage. Clubs were
starting to install lights though the
Football Association and the Football
League were a few years away from sanctioning
floodlit league and cup games. Evening floodlit games
were restricted to friendlies. One of the very first clubs to
install lights included Arsenal who held their first official floodlit
game in September 1951. Tottenham Hotspur’s first was in September
1953, three and a half years before Chelsea and Manchester United. Another
top team from this era was Wolverhampton Wanderers who followed five months
after the Hammers. The introduction of floodlights was described at the time as the best
innovation in the game since the introduction of the white ball. Though the early floodlight
systems were not as powerful as those installed in the following decades. The West London Observer’s
report on the QPR / West Ham friendly explained “this will be the last floodlight match for some months, as
fog and other conditions would only make these games farcical.” Back in the 1950s the infamous London smog was a hazard inflicted on all aspects of London life. Today the London smog has long disappeared and vastly improved floodlit conditions have made evening games an important part of today’s competitions.
1953 Friendlies at Neutral Venues
As an aside in the same edition of the West London Observer it was reported that Q.P.R. had played Brighton in another friendly the previous Saturday. The interest is that the game was played on a neutral ground at Eastbourne, which is a reminder of when West Ham too played a friendly against league opposition at a neutral venue in the same year. Again the match was on the south coast as West Ham travelled to Penzance in Cornwall for a mid-week friendly against Swansea Town on Tuesday April 28, 1953. A long trip but their 3-2 win would have made the journey home seem shorter.
History of Early Floodlit Games
Queens Park Rangers 1 – 2 West Ham United
Monday October 1, 2012
West Ham United team:
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Guy Demel, Winston Reid, (James Tomkins), James Collins, Joey O'Brien, (George McCartney), Mark Noble, Mohammed Diame, Ricardo Vaz Te, Kevin Nolan, Matt Jarvis, Carlton Cole (Andy Carroll)