1958 - 1978
ABOUT WALTHAMSTOW RANGERS
Since the 1950’s there have been huge changes to English junior football. At the end of that decade, apart from school and cub and scout teams, club competitive football in many areas started at under fourteen level (girl players were not catered for at all). Compare that situation with today when boys and girls can start to play modified versions of the game from as young as the age of five. Then Sunday league football was not recognised by the Football Association. Sunday clubs played under the umbrella of the Sunday Football Association which was a completely separate body. Registered clubs and players were banned from playing on Sundays although many senior amateur players from the local Isthmian and Athenian league teams did turn out for clubs such as Chatsworth and Pembury in the Hackney and Leyton League and Buxton Athletic (against whom we were later to play) and Carlton in the Forest District League. It was so common that the FA seemed to turn a blind eye to the problem, finally recognising and legitimising Sunday football in the early 1960’s. The transition was a time of much conflict. The Sunday Football Association, having provided Sunday football for many years, was understandably aggrieved at the changes but for clubs like Rangers, who had teams playing in both associations, it meant that all their activities would be legitimately under one organisation.
It was in that climate that the Walthamstow Rangers club was formed. All the players in the club’s earliest teams were from the Sir George Monoux School in Walthamstow although membership expanded quite rapidly (further detail can be found on the 'Acknowledgements' and 'Rangers Teams' pages). The club started life as Walthamstow East. The first ever team joined the South West Essex Junior Football League during the 1959-60 season playing under the name of Monarchs FC. So that the club could continue to use a pitch at the school, it entered under the name 'Monoux' but the league secretary mis-spelt the name hence 'Monarchs', which is how the school name was pronounced. The team bottom of the Under Fourteen division dropped out after six straight defeats and Rangers took over both their record and the remaining fixtures. Within a very few years, the club had several boys teams competing in both Saturday and Sunday leagues.
The 1958-59 season was also notable for establishing gold and black as the club colours for the first time. Wolverhampton Wanderers had been the dominant side in the English First Division in the 1950’s but their fortunes had started to wane and, with the reduced popularity of their strip, the opportunity arose to buy a set of shirts from Arthur Sedgwick's sports shop in Forest Road for a bargain price. By the 1961-62 season, our older team was again reduced to playing friendly matches, but the banner was carried on by a successful under fifteen side which won the club's first trophy when the team beat Upminster 2-1 in the Haines Memorial Cup Final on Leyton FC’s ground at the Hare and Hounds in Lea Bridge Road after a season in the South West Essex Junior League. The Upminster team included Tommy Taylor who went on to become a first team regular at Leyton Orient and then West Ham United.
There were so many other talented players who also played for Rangers. In addition to the four players who reached the top flight of English football mentioned on the Home Page there was a significant number who went on to local senior clubs. Paul Harris and Billy Bragg for example were signed by Leyton Orient. And the following are just some of the players believed to have graduated to non-league senior clubs such as Walthamstow Avenue, Leyton, Leytonstone, Bromley and Dulwich Hamlet. They include Eric Allinson, Peter Cason, Colin Haysman, John Taplin, Garry Meader, David Staines, Keith Newman, Steve Walbey, Mickey Payne, Dave Hannay, Colin Rufus, Graham Kitteridge, Bobby Wiles, Steve Kirby, Colin Shead, Reg Eldridge, George Berryman, George Ferrari, Chris Theodorou and Billy Hadlow (who played for Leytonstone in the 67-68 FA Amateur Cup Final at Wembley) to name just a few.
At about the time the club’s junior sides were making an impact another innovation was taking place. Scouts from Football League clubs regularly watched junior football. The Walthamstow Sunday league games were particularly popular and the Morgan twins Roger (Spurs & QPR) and Ian (QPR), Dennis Bond (Watford), Del Bellotti (QPR), Micky Leach (QPR) and David Webb (Leyton Orient & Chelsea) amongst others, were discovered and graduated to the full time professional ranks. By the early 1960’s, individual junior clubs started to be targeted. To the right is a Walthamstow Guardian press cutting of a match played by our under twelve side at the end of the 1962-63 season.
Over the course of the intervening Summer, Chelsea 'adopted' Senrab and when the two sides met again at the start of the 1963-64 season, the game finished unsurprisingly with a 6-1 win for Senrab. The new Senrab squad included Ray Wilkins, John Sparrow and Tommy Langley. All later became Chelsea first team regulars and Ray Wilkins famously went on to captain England. To a greater or lesser extent, other clubs, such as Mildmay, Angel Sports and Newbury Park all established closer links with Football League sides. It was a development Rangers did not get to enjoy. Even so a number of players did have the opportunity, never the less, to train with or play for professional clubs junior sides. These included Tony Hafford, Bobby Wiles, Billy Hazle, Steve Kirby, (Tottenham) Richard Peacock, (Orient) Peter Cason, Steve Wasmuth, (Fulham) Andy Baugh, and Ian McCormack, (Chelsea).
The club’s first men’s team graduated from the Walthamstow Sunday League Under Eighteen division to play in the London and Essex Border League in season 1964-65. Because of the strength of WSFL they were immediately placed in Division Three instead of the lowest which was Division Six. The junior section went from strength to strength and by 1966 there were eleven club teams competing in the various local junior leagues.
There were so many notable successes as shown in the list of the Club’s honours elsewhere on this website. There is also a separate page acknowledging some of the tremendous contributions made to the club during its existence. One of the more noteworthy achievements was winning the Essex County Andrews Cup in 1968. The Under Sixteen teams had a wonderful season. In addition to the county cup they went on to achieve a league and cup double. The Under Fourteen side similarly had a tremendously successful year as recorded in the local press below.
The Under Sixteen and Under Fourteen teams shown in The Guardian article flourished in no small part because of the skill and commitment of their team managers Colin Arnott and Reg Eldridge. Both Colin and Reg were such an important part of Rangers’ story both as team managers and players. Reference is made to all of the club team managers over the years elsewhere on this site. They made a huge contribution to Rangers and deserve to be acknowledged. Some are singled out because of their efforts and successes over several years. In addition to Colin and Reg, Jim Butler patiently guided one of the junior sides for several years before taking the senior team in the London and Essex Border League from division three to the premier division. During that period,Del Finch's team, which started life in the Under Twelve division of the South West Essex Junior League in 1963, went on to achieve several honours over the next four seasons.
This review of some of the Rangers teams over the years would not be complete without a mention of the club’s Forest and District Sunday League team which, between 1973 and 1978, negotiated all seven divisions to climb from Division Six to the league’s Premier Division where they played alongside two National Sunday Cup winning teams. Their achievements brought an end to Rangers’ story.
On the social side, premises were taken at Marsh Street Youth Centre. An outdoor court was used for football training and indoor facilities such as music, table tennis, board games for general socialising. The available space was not enough to provide a really wide range of facilities however. Attendances eventually dwindled and the venture was later discontinued.
A new innovation came soon after with our first presentation dance in 1966. The local beauty queen, Miss Walthamstow (Kathy Taylor) was kind enough to present the awards. The dance proved very popular and by 1968, it had been extended and our first Presentation Dinner and Dance took place at the Red Lion Hotel Leytonstone in 1968.
We were lucky enough over several years to have some very special celebrity guests who came to present trophies. They included Jimmy Greaves (Spurs and Chelsea) Terry Mancini (Arsenal, QPR and Leyton Orient), David Webb (Chelsea, Leyton Orient and QPR), Ian Morgan (QPR) and our very own Brendan Batson (WBA and Arsenal). Jimmy Greaves has been poorly for a while now and our thoughts and best wishes remain with him.
Jimmy Greaves was our guest of honour at the 1970 Dinner and Dance
Guardian and Gazette article in June 1968 (Note that the picture negatives above were inserted the wrong way round in the newspaper and so the players' names should be read backwards to identify them)
Forest District Sunday Football League Division Three Champions, Rosina King and Division Cup Winners
Back Row: Brian Hardy, George Ferrari, Alan Warren, Les Dyer, Ron Crossley, Roy Fentiman
Front Row: Steve Magill, Frankie Crossley, Garry Meader, Andy Manston, Chris Theodorou.