DERES' TOP 100 GAMES - No 84

Posted by Mickey Cooper on 2 November 2019

Erith & Belvedere               16        ????????????????

Royal Air Force XI                2        ??         

Friendly, 4 September 1941

 

Continuing the series counting down the 100 most memorable games in our history.  Today, a game we know virtually nothing about.

 

You have to find a place in the top 100 most memorable games of all time for your record win.  The thing is, owing to the circumstances of wartime, nothing is known about this match – not the scorers, not who played for the opposition, not the celebrations afterwards, nothing.  The cost of newsprint meant that newspapers were cut to the minimum and match reports for all but the biggest games were reduced to a few lines.  As someone commented on reading this scoreline in recent years, it’s just a good thing the RAF had greater successes elsewhere at the time!

 

When all the elements are in place, when a set of fine players reaches a peak together, and when a settled side is in a rich vein of form, extraordinary things are possible.  For Erith and Belvedere this is what happened in 1941-42.  Circumstances of history and geography had brought together possibly the best side ever to grace Park View, certainly the most successful.  The Deres had decided to carry on during hostilities when many other local clubs had closed down, and because of the importance of local industry to the war effort, players who worked at locations such as Woolwich Arsenal and Callenders Cables were not called up whereas other teams from leafier areas were greatly affected – at one point Dulwich Hamlet, for instance, had a team averaging 18 years old.

 

For obvious reasons the composition of sides such as the RAF XI was something of a lottery, but this team was presumably rather less strong than the RAF selection for whom Arsenal’s Ted Drake had scored a hat-trick at Park View the previous April.  Indeed RAF teams proved something of a whipping boy for the Deres throughout the war: apart from the Ted Drake match, where the result was not recorded in the paper, we walloped them on a regular basis: 6-1 in January 1941, 5-1 in May 1941,  12-1 in a friendly in October 1942 (with future Leyton Orient defender Stan Aldous scoring four at centre-forward), 9-0 in a Kent Senior Cup tie in January 1943 (with reserve centre-forward Len Bedford scoring 6), and 9-1 in September 1943.  A classic case of “can we play you every week?”

 

This 16-2 win followed a season opening 11-1 win against a team from the Canadian Military HQ, and games against Services teams peppered the season.  Most of these were comfortable wins even though professional players featured in the opposition (Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday, Hearts and Hibs all represented).  Deres met their match in an all-professional team representing the Army’s South East Command in May 1942, which will feature later in this series.

 

Erith & Belvedere: (from) George Barron, L Russell, Ron Bevan, Pat O’Hara, Bob Prescott, Stan Randle, Tom Jenner, Laurie West, Len Scott, R Weller, Bob Collins, Martin Ruddy, Roy Mercer, Harold Gurr, L Clarke, J Fuller.

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