This Tales from The Park feature takes a stroll back to a game between the Saints and one of the former incarnations of Slough Town. The club was formed in 1890 as Slough following a merger involving local sides Swifts, Slough Albion and Young Men's Friendly Society. During the 2nd World War, in 1943 to be precise, Slough merged with Slough Centre to form Slough United. This union was short-lived with the two clubs reverting to their former identities with the original Slough becoming Slough Town in 1947. Our feature looks back to 2nd March 1946 when we visited Slough United at the Slough Social Centre Stadium.
The stadium had opened in 1943 with Slough United’s first visitors on 4th September being none other than ourselves for a wartime fixture in the Herts & Middlesex League against the Berkshire club. Slough cruised to a 7-0 win (C.Walton 2, G.Cox, F.Fisher, J.Thompson, G.Fussell and a Vic Sutterby own goal), but we did gain a measure of revenge on 11th December when two goals from Dave Sayers secured a 2-1 win for the City in the return fixture at Clarence Park . Fussell scored for Slough.
The game between the two clubs in March 1946 was a charity match in aid of the Slough Hospital Fund with the Slough Hospital Cup to be presented to the winners. This was the first season of organised football since the end of the war and charity games in aid of boosting the funds of local hospitals were a familiar event. On 6th May 1946 we entertained the Mid Herts F.A. in a game for the benefit of the St Albans Hospital.
The possibility of playing Slough United was first discussed at a meeting of the St Albans City Committee at Clarence Park on 12th November 1945. The game was referred to as ‘The E.T. Bowyer Cup,’ as mentioned on the font cover of the four-page matchday programme. The invitation from Slough was accepted by those present at the meeting that included Jack Squires (chairman), Sid Hopkins (hon. secretary), Harvey Dockerill (assistant hon. secretary) and Harold Figg who is one of our all-time great players and was serving the club as a committee member at this time.
The 1945-46 season saw Slough United become founder members of the nine-club Corinthian League. United finished the season in second place and repeated the trick a year later. Grays Athletic were champions of that inaugural season, three points clear of Slough (two points for a win).
The cover of the programme for our match at the Slough Centre saw an ode by ‘Southwick’ record the club’s fortunes in the various cup competitions. Southwick mentions Slough’s demise in the 1st Round of the F.A. Cup. In the first season after the war F.A. Cup ties were played over two-legs in the competition proper. To reach this stage Slough had already played nine ties. In the Preliminary Round Hounslow Town were defeated 3-1 after a 4-4 draw while three games were needed to dispose of Yiewsley in the 1st Round of Qualifying. Banbury Spencer (5-2) were seen off at the first attempt before Isthmian League sides Oxford City (3-1) and Leytonstone – after a replay – were removed in the final two qualifying rounds. In the 1st Round, as Southwick states, Bromley ended the run with a 6-2 aggregate victory. The two clubs, in fact, met three times with the first game at Bromley being abandoned after 80 minutes.
Slough enjoyed an impressive start in the Amateur Cup with a 5-1 win at Chippenham Town (then of the Western League) and got the better of Oxford City for a second time with a 3-2 win at the White House Ground. Moor Green, of the Birmingham Combination, ended Slough’s run in the 3rd Round. One week before playing host to us, Slough visited Wycombe Wanderers in the Berks & Bucks Senior Cup and were comprehensively beaten 6-1 by our fellow Isthmian Leaguers. Slough met Wycombe a year later in the same competition, this time in the final but went down to a 2-1 defeat at Maidenhead United’s York Road ground in front of a crowd of 8,237.
The Corinthian League, which was swallowed up by the Athenian League in 1963, ran a Memorial Shield in memory of the crew of a bomber, ‘N for Nan’ that disappeared over Germany in September 1944. Slough’s participation during that first season was brief as they suffered a Preliminary Round defeat away to Maidenhead United.
Reading Southwick’s words and there is an inference that Slough United were not overly optimistic of beating us that spring day. A look at our record that season would suggest that they could have been a tad more optimistic. We took ten games to record our first league win of the season, a 3-1 defeat of Dulwich Hamlet at the Park, and bowed out of the F.A. Cup with a 1st Round Qualifying defeat at Wealdstone after a home draw. We had beaten Finchley in the Preliminary Round but made an even swifter exit from the Amateur Cup with Ilford cruising to a 3-0 win at Clarence Park . We fared a bit better in the county competitions at the expense of lower league opposition. The final was reached in the Herts Charity Cup but we went down 4-0 to Barnet at Underhill in front of a crowd of 3,600. We bowed out of the Herts Senior Cup with a home semi-final reversal against R.E.M.E (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers). Our fortunes were slow to recover after the war and we ended the season just one place off the foot of the Isthmian League table but ourselves and bottom dogs Kingstonian were successful in our appeals for re-election. A week before facing Slough United we went down 3-0 at home to an Oxford City side that Slough had already defeated in two cup competitions.
The City line-up against the Rebels of Slough included one debutant, Rev Johnstone G. Patrick. The programme notes, supplied by City’s hon. secretary Sid Hopkins, suggested that Patrick had recently moved south from Scotland while the St Albans City Minute Book and match report make the point that he was signed from Dulwich Hamlet. Whatever the truth, his time at Clarence Park was brief but productive. City, in the form of Bill Abbott, had expected to hand a debut to a second player but, for whatever reason, Bill never made it to Slough and his debut was put back to September.
The game was described as ‘most exciting’ and a ‘ding-dong tussle.’ Snow fell throughout the afternoon making the going heavy and muddy but this did not hinder the entertainment. Slough opened the scoring with Cyril Nash heading past the City custodian Cyril Longman. City’s reply was swift as Patrick opened his account with the equaliser. The goals flowed up until half time. Patrick put St Albans ahead for the first time but, within seconds, P.McKenzie scored United’s second goal. Angell hit the woodwork for Slough before T.Elliott rounded two defenders and touched the ball wide of Slough goalkeeper C.Wakefield for James Forsyth to hand City a 3-2 lead at the interval.
The Saints were handicapped for much of the second half by the recurrence of a knee injury to full-back Stan Kirkham. Slough drew level soon after the restart when McKenzie scored his second goal and Kirkham’s day got worse when he handled inside the penalty area and E.Clarke scored from the resulting penalty. Back came City once more and scored for a fourth time with Patrick completing his hat-trick and only a cruel rebound away from goal from the underside of the bar denied Tommy O’Connell from putting us back into the lead. Slough regained the upper hand through Nash’s second goal of the day but Patrick scored his fourth of the match to send the tie into extra time.
A.Goodrich joined Kirkham on the walking wounded list during extra time. In spite of this handicap, St Albans pressed hard to save the tie during the second half of extra time but Slough were victorious courtesy of Angell heading home the Rebels sixth goal.
At the close of play the cup and medals were presented by Mr H. Tyson Chambers. The players and officials were then ‘entertained to tea and a sing-song.’ Pictured here is the runner-up medal presented to St Albans City’s Stan Kirkham.
Slough United: C.Wakefield, R.Elderfield, J.Potter, S.Holton, A.Redford, R.Clements, A.Angell, E.Clarke, C.Nash, P.McKenzie, G.Fussell.
St Albans City: Cyril Longman, Jack Smith, Stan Kirkham, Jock Ellison, W. Dusty Miller, Fred Chuck, A.Goodrich, T.Elliott, Rev Johnstone G. Patrick, Tommy O’Connell, James Forsyth.