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The Richmond Road Experience, by Rob White


I was first introduced to the K's by my Dad in 1947 at the tender age of 6. He had played for Bognor Regis before the War and had been on Portsmouth's books, so knew his football. I have very hazy memories of those early days at Richmond Road but a glance at the final Isthmian League 1947/48 table reveals that K's clearly had a very, very good team:

Pos Name Pld W D L GF GA Pts
1 Leytonstone 26 19 1 6 87 38 39
2 Kingstonian 26 16 6 4 74 39 38
3 Walthamstow Avenue 26 17 3 6 61 37 37
4 Dulwich Hamlet 26 17 2 7 71 39 36
5 Wimbledon 26 13 6 7 66 40 32
6 Romford 26 14 1 11 53 47 29
7 Oxford City 26 10 5 11 50 68 25
8 Woking 26 10 3 13 63 55 23
9 Ilford 26 7 8 11 51 59 22
10 St Albans City 26 9 2 15 43 56 20
11 Wycombe Wanderers 26 7 5 14 51 65 19
12 Tufnell Park 26 7 4 15 38 83 18
13 Clapton 26 5 4 17 35 69 14
14 Corinthian Casuals 26 5 2 19 33 81 12

My trip down Memory Lane or rather Richmond Road is therefore more to do with the early 50's when I was allowed to go to the matches on my own. I t seems like only yesterday - but the world was a different place. If you go to the Carshalton Athletic website you will see that they were asking supporters to contribute Clothing Coupons so that they could buy kit for the players...

I am no historian so my memory of individual players is quite sharp but whether they played together is not always clear.


The 50's were drab. No TV really - you relied on The Surrey Comet for information about the team. K's had to compete with nearby professional clubs but such was their attraction that many supporters would follow them one week and watch Crystal Palace, Brentford, Chelsea or Fulham when K's were away.

The Isthmian League was amateur, although there were mutterings on the terraces about £5 notes (a princely sum in those days) finding their way into players' boots. The terraces believed that Corinthian Casuals were the only true amateur team in the league. Judging by their league position, there may have been some truth in that allegation! They did not have a ground of their own but shared with various clubs over the seasons.

There was also Pegasus who were (I think) made up of ex-university players. They played friendly games and entered the Amateur Cup and were to amateur football what the Barbarians are to rugby.

K's had a huge following and it paid to arrive early if you wanted a reasonable view. There were several local derbies but the real hate figures were Wimbledon (Plough Lane vintage) with whom there was intense rivalry compared with which Arsenal v Spurs is tame!


I used to get a 65 bus to the town centre and then walk to the ground. Past the Kingston Empire and The Black and White Milk Bar, past the railway station where several joined the walk to the ground, past the cinemas and along the boring stretch with its little shops all hoping to catch the eye of the passing hordes.

Then eventually one reached the ground with its bright red and white fence and gates, paid at the turnstile and sprinted up the steps to reach the top of the terracing behind the Richmond Road End goal. That was open to the elements but the terraces had concrete edges and the view was excellent.

On the right hand side was the main stand which got painted every other season. Like most stands of the day it was wooden and was beyond my pocket money. By the entrance to the stand was a bar dispensing hot tea, and meat or fruit pies. Opposite the main stand was a smaller terracing part of which was covered and this was my favourite spot. If I couldn't get to the fence it was possible to sit on a wall at the back and lean against the netting put up to protect the neighbouring gardens from the football. Whenever this happened, the crowd mysteriously shouted "Redhill" - who were a team noted for long balls through the middle and for booting the ball into the crowd whenever danger threatened.

At the far end was more terracing, of a rougher nature, and beyond it was the reserve team's pitch (which was eventually sold off for housing during one of K's financial crises).

My abiding memory is that crowds were largely male and that most of the men wore caps and smoked.

The gladiators entered by the far right hand corner flag from the most modern part of the ground - the changing rooms. Teams used to run on as a unit to great cheers from their supporters.

Looking back it seems that K's games were always intense affairs. K's always played classy football and usually the crowd went home happy. Referees were of course bald/blind/unfit etc. The game itself was rather different. The well timed sliding tackle was popular with coaches and crowds; the shielding of the ball by a defender playing for a goalkick was outlawed as obstruction; shirt pulling was regarded as effeminate or Italian; and there was little or no fending off with the arms. The offside rule was understandable!

The crowd noise was such that you couldn't hear the players calling to each other even though supporters were so close to the pitch.

The pitch itself was excellent, according to my dad there was a slight downward slope from the penalty spot to the goal at the Richmond Road End which accounted for so many shots going over the bar. However, the joke on the terraces was that short sighted players were aiming for the twin towers of the Kingston Power Station in the near distance.


Perhaps the best way to do this is a sort of dream team from my memory. So these are the players who have stuck in my mind - some were the best, others may not have been.

Goalkeeper - The one I remember most was called Ernie (I think) Manouche. He came from Chichester and was both an incredible shot stopper and catcher of the crossed ball. In those days 'keepers could be charged but he was strong under such challenges. I remember he was either bald or originated the shaven head...

Right back - another Ernie, Ridgewell. He was neat, not overly big but timed tackles to perfection and passed well. If he had been a pro he would have been a Brylcream model!

Left back - Gordon Foss. He would have been ignored by Brylcream as he was bald. A fearsome tackler who was definitely a man to have on your side. He had a knack of slowing down speedy wingers by turning them with his hip and not many refs spotted this! He had a strong left foot and could be relied on to clear the ball a long way even when the ground was muddy.

Centre half - Tessa Reeve was the traditional 'stopper' centre half, good in the air and strong on the ground. He died tragically young. He was a real gentle giant - I remember him on the train to Newcastle for the semi final against Bishop Auckland; he went round chatting to supporters and thanking them for travelling,

Right half - Two strong contenders. Sir Matt Busby's son, Sandy was a skilful wholehearted player who drove the team on. He used to arrive by helicopter I believe. Unfortunately a broken leg ended his career prematurely. Peter Wood is the other contender. A very gifted, natural ball player who could also be very frustrating if he had an off day. I can remember being in the crowd at Romford for a cup match and screaming at him to "wake up". The lady in front of us turned round and said, "Do you mind, that is my son"...

Left half - Jim Coates. He came from the Navy and was an international. He was big and strong and sometimes played up front. He seemed to be able to maintain full steam ahead for 90 minutes.

Right wing - Has to be Eric Adams. He dribbled like a Brazilian and provided pinpoint crosses. The sort of player for whom the crowd buzzed like a swarm of bees whenever the ball reached him. Left backs wore out the seat of their shorts trying to stop him.

Inside forwards - One has to be the peerless Hugh Lindsay. I can't do justice to him with mere words. I wonder if anyone captured his side step, his passing ability, his goalscoring on video? He played for England and various other representative teams and always lit up a game in the days before floodlights. The other is from a previous generation - Alf Zimmer. He was small and wiry and very clever. I know very little about him but just remember him as a very watchable footballer.

Centre forward - Has to be Johnny Whing. He scored nearly 300 goals for the K's. He was pretty good on the ground and occasionally appeared on the wing but in the air he was supreme. He had a long career with K's and must have taken a buffeting but I never remember him complaining about being fouled - his revenge was usually to hit the net, not the opposition.

Outside left - Norman Field. Fast, tricky. Excellent crosser. Everything a manager needed from a left sided player.


Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. For all those who are young and feeling that the past is irrelevant I regret to tell you that today will soon be yesterday in your life too. Time passes so quickly. The players of the past leave a legacy of fast, flowing and honest football I hope the current players serve you as well as my heroes of the past.