Retro Red Devils 9 – Barrow (nearly!), Exhibition, Best Team ever at Town Meadow and Harrogate(nearly!)

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24th November 2023

After booking a weekend trip for the match at Morecambe only for it to be postponed rather late in the day due to International U21 commitments for our opponents (really!), I felt on safer ground booking an extended trip to the southern Lake District for the Barrow game. And we nearly got there – until our stop at Lancaster services the day before was interrupted by a phone call which necessitated a hasty diversion to Newcastle for a family emergency. All that meant a wasted hotel booking (memo to self: always book the flexible refund option in future and buy the match ticket on arrival!) and watching the game on ifollow on a laptop instead. However, I was at least warmer and drier than the 65 hardy souls who made it in person. Won’t it be nice when we get the odd away game that doesn’t mean getting up before the milkman (many will not understand that reference – look it up!).

This trip and the museum work mentioned below mean this article is rather last-minute and less Crawley Town-focused than normal, but normal service will resume shortly!

As I have mentioned before in these articles, I have been working on display material for a Crawley FC exhibition at the Crawley Museum. The exhibition opens on Thursday 7th December and runs until Thursday 25th January, with a break for Christmas and New Year. I have volunteered for several of the topics it covers as I have a wealth of photos, cuttings and other material from my 60-odd years of supporting the Red Devils, as well as items loaned by others. 

Also working hard on material for the exhibition is Steve Leake, as well as representatives of the COGS, Disabled Supporters Association, The Community Foundation, GH Travel, CTSA and various other people. So do make a note in your diary to get along. It won’t all be antiquated stuff but will range across our whole history, from the 1890s to recent times. The Crawley Museum is located in the building known as The Tree (at one time there was a dwelling within a large tree outside this old building, see photos) on the High Street, on the corner of The Boulevard opposite what was once Morrisons supermarket.

PIC 1 & 2 – The Tree with Tree and Rectory Lodge (now Boulevard entrance)

As well as stirring up a few memories, I am sure the display will elicit comments about why such and such a player or event hasn’t been included! And if you happen to feel that someone or something is missing, do let me know as I might even be able to add the odd extra photo. There will be old team photos, images of Town Meadow through the decades, Broadfield pictures, displays on supporters (photos, fanzines and other memorabilia), giant killings, promotion years, our Manchester United game, as well as various boards on club “legends”, and notable characters and figures from our past. 

Talking of figures from our past, this week the museum hosted a fundraiser relating to this forthcoming exhibition, and I enclose a photo of four ex-players in attendance. From the left, they are Ali West, Vic Bragg, Dennis Moore and Clinton Moore, and between them, they span four decades of our history. Vic was not only a member of our 1968/69 promotion-winning side but still playing into the 1980s! We are expecting many other ex-players (and hopefully some current ones) to pop along when the exhibition officially opens.

Four Oldies

On the subject of Manchester United, I was asked recently by Ian Mulcahy, the compiler of the excellent site (a work in progress but already containing a mass of statistics, photos and more from our club’s history), to comment on a remark from a fan that he had watched us play Manchester United in the 1960s in a friendly at Town Meadow.

I certainly had no record of this and, like Ian, thought that the FA Cup fifth-round tie at Old Trafford in 2011 was our one and only meeting with those other Red Devils. But aware that memory is not always that reliable (it’s certainly caught me out on several occasions), I thought I would check with Crawley Town history “supremo” Tony Pope.

Like Ian and myself, Tony did not think this game had taken place, but he did come up with a press cutting which might explain the memory. It tells of a game I mentioned a while back between an International Club XI and TV Entertainers which involved Jackie Milburn, a famous FA Cup winner with Newcastle United in the 1950s. I read the cutting and thought it worth sharing more detail on the game and players involved, even if many may not recognise most of the names, being that the match took place 62 years ago at Town Meadow on Sunday 15th October 1961.

International Club Prog Cover

International Club XI – George Swindin (Arsenal manager at the time and ex-Arsenal goalkeeper), Jim Taylor (Fulham and England), Johnny Carey (Manchester United 400+ games and Ireland), Derek Saunders (200+ games for Chelsea), Derek Ufton (270+ games for Charlton Athletic and Kent county cricketer), Ron Burgess (290+ games for Spurs, Welsh International), Jackie Milburn (350+ games for Newcastle United and England International), Billy Wright (490 games for Wolves, 105 caps for England), Bedford Jezzard (306 games for Fulham, 154 goals, also England International), Eddie Baily (290+ games for Spurs, England World Cup international 1950) and Tommy Docherty (Preston North End 320+ games, also Arsenal and Scottish International and later manager of many clubs including Manchester United as well as the Scottish national team).

Best Team Ever at Town Meadow Line Ups

As can be seen from the brief mention of just parts of these players’ careers, this team were footballing royalty and certainly the most illustrious side to ever play at Town Meadow, although there was an International Managers XI that played a charity match at the ground on 28th October 1971 which included Johnny Haynes (Fulham and England) and some other well-known footballing celebrities of the time. 

In fact, one of the players in that 1971 side, Jimmy Hill (Fulham 270+ games and successful and innovative manager of Coventry City in the 1960s, also a TV celebrity and one of the architects of the abolition of the minimum wage for footballers), was founder and manager of the International X1 in 1961, although with that talent on show, I am not sure how much “managing” was actually carried out?

Even the TV Entertainers side had some impressive footballing talent along with the “celebrities”, with Jimmy Logie (290+ games for Arsenal, Scottish International), Trevor Ford (Aston Villa, Sunderland, Cardiff and Welsh International, also 50+ games for PSV Eindhoven) and Malcolm Allison (230+ games for West Ham, later and more famously the flamboyant manager of Manchester City, Crystal Palace and many other clubs across the globe).

The final score – though not hugely important in a charity game – was International Club XI, 11, TV Entertainers, 6, with notable scorers Jackie Milburn (4), Trevor Ford (5) and a pile-driver of a goal from Tommy Docherty, who only weeks before had been playing for Chelsea first team!

While checking through the playing careers of some of these star players, it was interesting to see that many ended their playing (and sometimes management) careers in non-league. These were the days when players did not make fortunes in their playing careers to see them into a comfortable retirement.

I noted, for example, that Malcolm Allison had Fisher Athletic, Yeovil and Willington in his resumé, while Trevor Ford went from PSV to Newport County (albeit they were a league club then) in 1960 before ending his career at Romford. Swindin ended up managing Corby Town, Ron Burgess was managing Hendon, Bedford Town and Harrow Borough, Jackie Milburn was player-manager of Yiewsley (shortly to be renamed Hillingdon Borough) and Jimmy Logie went from Arsenal to Gravesend and Northfleet (now Ebbsfleet) in 1955, spending five years as their player-manager.

Sadly, this footballing talent plus a smattering of fairly minor TV celebrities saw a disappointing crowd of only about 1,000. As the rules at the time didn’t allow for paid admission on Sundays, people gained entry through the purchase of a 2/- (10p today) match programme, with all proceeds going to local charities. I say “disappointing” as a “celebrity” match played at APC Jordans around that time saw a crowd of over 4,000, although stars such as Sean Connery, Tommy Steele and Des O’Connor (!) did at least justify the celebrities’ label. Billy Wright, seemingly with an inexhaustible appetite for playing football, would also appear in this game which was played at APV Jordans.

Some of the players had travelled from as far away as Wales, and the report of the game concludes that after the game, “The players got stuck in on the cigarettes in the dressing room and swopped many stories”.

Crawley Cubs Team 1981

None of the football talent from that charity match in 1961 provided me with a link to Harrogate Town, but I did remember a tenuous link from an item I have used before – which has an equally tenuous link to the previous topic of famous players! It is a photo of a Crawley Cubs team line-up from April 1981, 20 years after that charity game, and shows a “famous” goalkeeper in Frank Swift and defender in Paul Power – though these lads just share a name with Manchester City players Frank Swift (400+ games as goalkeeper and England International) and Paul Power (360+ games for Manchester City). 

We also have Darren Hinton, who I believe is the son of ex Chelsea and Crawley Town player Marvin Hinton, and Ashley Cook, who went on to play for Crawley Town. The midfield combination was also fairly strong with a lad called Gareth Southgate (ex Hazelwick schoolboy made good and the link with Harrogate, as he lives locally) and Darren Hands (son of the late Ian Hands), who was seen with the next generation of the Crawley-supporting Hands family at the recent Wrexham game.

That’s it for now, but if anybody comes up with anything they feel should be in the forthcoming exhibition, let me know and we will see if it can be fitted in.

Mick Fox –


Mick Fox

Mick Fox

Mick has been a lifelong fan since being taken to games as a young boy by his Dad (an ex Crawley keeper) in the 1950s and today is a season ticket holder in the East Stand. Over that time Mick have been involved in the Supporters Club, Social Clubs (including the Broken Flag Club) and also sat on the Football Club board. He has seen many regimes and fans come and go but never been able to shake the bug. Big fan of "proper" football - definitely not the Premier League!