1958 - 1978
At the end of seasons between 1964-65 and 1970-71 the club ran at least one tour to the continent either at Easter or Whitsun every year. Our most regular opponents were FC Acieres of Hainaut in Belgium. We played them six times over a five year period including the pleasure of hosting them back in England. We were rarely able to field our full senior side but our results were quite respectable. Overall, the balance marginally favoured our Belgian friends.
There were also tours by the junior teams, and, on at least one tour, three of our teams combined as one large visiting party.
Our list of opponents played on the continent over the years included: VC Vlissingen, FC Blankenburg, OFK Ostende, KVGO Ostende (Banner right), FC Patro (Banner Centre), Lissewege, Real Engelshott, FC Acieries (Banner left) & Runcorn.
Photos of the banners exchanged with FC Ascieres and FC Patro provided by Eric Allinson & KVGO Ostende by Colin Arnott as shown above.
ARTICLES ON THE CONTINENTAL TOURS
BELGIUM TOURS 1965
"Everyone throughly enjoyed this Whitsun tour. The boys were very high spirited but after a restless first night, which was perhaps to be expected, they settled down and were a pleasure to be with.
The two matches played were disappointing in that our opponents were two or three years older than the Rangers' boys, but the team played extremely well and despite the age disadvantage managed to achieve respectable scores.
Adults accompanying the team were Messrs Harris, Levoir, Raymond and Woolgar. The team were all grateful to them for making the tour such a success.
Results: FC Lissewege 4 Rangers 0; OMK Ostende 4 Rangers 2.
Team: Paul Godfrey, David Blyth, Kenny Cross, Edgar Dunkley, Steve Cantwell, Paul Harris, Eddie Hoare, Earle Jacotine, Colin Pearl, Richard Peacock, Billy Russell, Stevie Russell, Gary Tomlin, Maurice Woolgar, Steve Hadaway."
"Our first Easter continental tour was a success in every way. In the tournament Rangers met Belgian opponents in the first match, played through a fierce storm, and won comfortably. The final match was against Runcorn from Cheshire. It was possibly the best performance of the 1964-65 season. Team spirit was very high and friendly rivalry was maintained with our co-travellers Malco United (who also played in the Border League Division Three).
We stayed at Hotel Rosemary which was excellent. The rooms were very comfortable and both the food and hospitality very special. Time between games was divided between a running card school and seeing the sights. Both activities had their moments. There were startled faces around when we found ourselves in a fairly plush dance hall where, after a few rounds, the team started a conga. Mel Oxland achieved lasting fame at the card table with his blind hands at brag. Although not always successful those games proved very entertaining.
Results: FC Lissewege 0, Rangers 4; Rangers 4 Runcorn 2.
Team: Mick Clark, Barry Mears, Dick Raymond, Micky Bakewell, Peter Haase, Dave Hannay, Micky Pratt, Mel Oxland, Roy Fentiman, Alan Sizer, Ray Bassett."
There are no records of some of the tours undertaken. However some material has survived and below are photographs and also articles copied from old Rangers club magazines of the time. Grateful thanks to Eric Allinson who loaned these items. More photos and memories would always be welcomed.
On several of our visits, we stayed at Hotel Rosemary in Blankenburge and a number of our old players had very happy memories of the place. It was quite a disappointment on our last tour in 1971 to find that the hotel had changed hands.
Whilst there was no formal report of the Under Thirteens trip to Belgium, the following article written by Graham Arnott under the title "A Player's Eye View" was reproduced in the November 1965 edition of the club magazine"
"We were going to Belgium next Easter to play football I was told last December. These words greeted me when I opened the door at 11.30 pm to my brother Colin. 'Isn't that a long way to go for a match?' I asked sleepily. But it was true, we were going for a long weekend to Ostende. The weeks dragged by with lots of discussions and meetings. At the last meeting the tickets and other documents were distributed and finally the words rang round ' See you at Leyton Green, don't be late, don't forget your passports, don't .......................'
Everybody was there on time - except Colin. The coach was a little late but, about a half an hour or so afterwards, we arrived more or less safely at Victoria. We unloaded our cases and looked for the train beckoned on by Mr Stocker who was acting as our courier, and all was set for Dover.
We saw the White Cliffs at last! We went from the train, through customs and on to the boat ready for our four hour crossing. A few minutes later and we were on the way across The Channel.
We arrived at Ostende around 2.30 pm, There was a long wait to get through customs but no one cared! After a further ten minute coach ride we arrived at Hotel Lido. After a quick change we managed a game of football on the beach before dinner. Next morning kit was all prepared, rosettes were at the ready and our manager said a few words before the coach arrived to take us to our first match. But on arrival there were no thirteen year old opponents in sight. After a confusing discussion it was discoved we were expected to play a very large looking under fifteen side. The game was played with KVGO and we put in a really good display. Despite losing 2 - 0 the moral victory was ours.
For our next game, we arrived to find that our opponents were seventeen and eighteen year olds. Another English team was over there and having the same trouble. They had several very young players though and so the game was quite one sided. It was played through heavy rain. We thought we had scored at least ten goals, but the result was finally declared as an 8 - 0 victory.
On Sunday we went sight seeing in Brussels. Most of our party went on a tour of the city but the sensible ones stayed and played 'Harry football' in a Harry Bar in town. On the Monday, there was just time for some last minute shopping before returning to the hotel for packing and dinner. Then it was back on the boat and a rather rough crossing to Dover followed by the return train and coach journeys. All too soon it was over, but still, there is always Holland to look forward to next year."
Team: Peter Mills, John Black, Dennis Stinton, David Littlechild, Paul Littlechild, Alex Gillan, Cliff Jones, Des O'Neill, Terry Crabb, Dicky Bird, Graham Arnott, Bobby Wiles, Brian Gulliver, Dave Stocker, Paul French.
HOLLAND AND BELGIUM 1966
"We had our biggest tour party so far with three teams travelling together. The party left by coach for Dover at 22.30 hours on Thursday 7th April. We had a smooth ferry crossing to Ostende and carried on by coach to Bresking This was followed by a further ferry trip to Vlissingen.. The first afternoon and evening (Good Friday) were free as was Saturday morning.
The Saturday afternoon matches were all against Vlissingen teams,
Seniors: Vlissingen 1 Rangers 4 (Roy Fentiman scored all four goals)
Team: Clive Ingram, Del Finch, Mick Titheradge, Dick Raymond, Del King, Pete Sunshine, Stevie Wasmuth, Eric Allinson, Roy Fentiman, Peter Cason, Jim Butler.
Under Fourteens: Vlissingen Juniors 7 Rangers 2
Team: Peter Mills, David Tomlin, Melvyn Browne, Keith O'Donaghue, Alex Gillan, Graham Arnott, Terry Spindler, Peter Glynn, Harry Campbell, Keith Colley, Paul French
Under Thirteens: Vlissingen Juniors 4 Rangers 3
Team: Phil Niall, Steve Hadaway, Phil Tilley, Trevor Paige, Richard Peacock, Edgar Dunkley, Dave Barnett, Colin Haysman, Gary Tomlin, Lee Butler, Colin Pearl.
We travelled to Gent. Matches arranged for the two younger sides did not materialise so they played each other with the Under Fourteens coming out on top by 2 - 0. Phil Godfrey replaced Dave Barnett in the Under Thirteen team otherwise both sides were unchanged.
A very appreciative crowd of over 400 watched the two matches.
Seniors: FC Patro 3, Rangers 1 (Eric Allinson scored for Rangers)
Team: Clive Ingram, Colin Arnott, Dick Raymond, Del King, Del Finch, Pete Sunshine, Stevie Wasmuth, Eric Allinson, Roy Fentiman, Peter Cason, Jim Butler
Sunday evening was spent at the hotel. The favourite activity was the card schools, although several seniors went to the bar where a challenge billiards match was played against the locals. On Easter Monday, we left soon after breakfast. Retracing our steps, we arrived back at Leyton Green around 11 pm, having had a most enjoyable trip."
Seniors: Rangers met FC Acieres for the first time. The senior team became regular visitors over there over the next four years and also entertained Acieres back in Essex twice. The Belgian side always took the matches very seriously. It was an experience just to see the printed posters in the Town advertising the matches. All the games were played in great spirit and in front of large attendances. It is hoped to get an image of one of these posters for the site soon.
There is no copy of either of the 1967 magazines currently available, and only a picture of the team thought to have been taken just before the match with FC Patro in Gent survives.
Team: Back row: Brian Russell, Dick Raymond, Bob Smith, Eric Allinson, Peter Cason, Reg Eldridge; Front row: Pete Sunshine, Tony Sanderson, Jim Butler, Eddie George, Stevie Wasmuth.
Matches were played against FC Acieres and FC Patro but the match details are not known, apart from the result of the game in Acieries which ended in a stalemate 0 - 0.
There is no article on the actual Easter tour in any of the old magazines provided by Eric, but the following article entitled 'Our Friends From Abroad" was printed in the September issue mainly concerning the return match In Essex.
"Once again our Easter Tour party was well received on the continent. It was a shame that our fixtures did not include a game against FC Patro in Gent, but our old friends FC Acieries were in great form against us and winning 6 - 1, rather unexpectedly after the previous year's 0 - 0 draw.
The return match in UK was played on a borrowed pitch in Rainham in very wet conditions. Despite the weather Rangers were playing fluently but were unable to turn their possession in to goals, Our inability in front of goal meant the score sheet remained blank at half time.
Soon after the resumption, a defensive mix up let Acieries in to stake the lead. This spurred Rangers on to greater efforts and Reg Eldridge equalised from a Brian Russell cross. An injury to Eric Allinson threatened to spoil our chance, but Ray Luck in our goal did well to keep the Belgians at bay. Eventually, a through ball from Tony Sanderson led to Pete Rhone grabbing a winner near the end. For Rangers it was a fitting finale to one of our most enjoyable games of the season. A feature of the game was the fine performance of Ronnie Dulieu from the Under Fifteen side, who acclimatised well against strong opponents.
Our thanks to everyone who came to support us at Rainham and especially to those who helped with providing refreshments. Players and supporters retired to a local public house after the game for a very enjoyable social evening. Jim Butler was in his element and made a great job of acting as host. Acieries players matched the good performance on the pitch with their generosity at the bar, highlighted by a bewildered Jackie More (fiance of Reg Eldridge) as six drinks were lined up in front of her by the friendly Belgians. Reg's face was no less amusing as he tried hard to resist the efforts of the Acieries centre forward to initiate him in the joys of cigar smoking."
There is no other written material available about our Club continental tours although they did continue up to and including Easter 1971. Mention was made above of the interest in our games on the continent. .
Also. on one occasion (as shown in the picture below possibly taken in 1969) against FC Acieries, the Seniors were asked to take part in a procession to the ground behind the town band and majorettes marching along with the Acieries team in full playing kit.