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Friday, February 15, 2008

QPR's Pre-1967 Goal Machine, Brian Bedford Profiled and Interviewed

QPR Official Site - BLAST FROM THE PAST - Brian Bedford

In our latest instalment of exclusive past player interviews on www.qpr.co.uk, former R's front-man Brian Bedford comes under the spotlight.

Brian Bedford (1959-1965)

Dexter Blackstock had a fantastic campaign for Queens Park Rangers in 2006/07, notching 14 goals; and Patrick Agyemang has made an immediate goalscoring impact since his January transfer from Preston North End.

But what would be the modern day value of a striker who was guaranteed to score a minimum of 25 goals for the R's every year? One such player from the past was Brian Bedford.

In his six full seasons at Loftus Road, Bedford scored a grand total of 180 goals. His lowest tally was 25 in 1963/64. His highest was a staggering 39 in 1961/62, thereby equalling George Goddard's record from 1929/30 for the all-time QPR record of League and Cup goals scored by one player in a season.

Bedford was born in Wales and joined Rangers from Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic in July 1959. He remembers the transfer with some amusement.

"When I signed for QPR, Alec Stock had just been named as the new Manager," said Bedford.

"I travelled up to West London to be interviewed by the Club and Alec said 'You'll score 30 goals a year for me son!' Just like that! So I said 'You're joking?' as my record down at Bournemouth was something like 32 goals over three years. But Alec said 'Yes you will!' And he wasn't far wrong, was he?"

Stock's all-out attacking policy was really beneficial for the strikers at Rangers and Bedford was happy to rattle home goals by the truckload.

"Alec played a big part in my goalscoring. We used to play with those old fashioned players called wingers. We always seemed to get good wide men at the Club like Mark Lazarus who could provide excellent crosses. So I was the benefactor of that.

"Then we would have one inside-forward who dropped deep. I was the inside-right and I would play up front alongside the centre-forward.

"Bernie Evans was my strike partner in my first few years at Rangers. He was a big, strong boy who was pretty useful in the air. So it was just sort of...BANG...flick on...run on...BANG...GOAL...and that's it! Very simple stuff.

"I was a very direct and hard-running player. I could hit the ball with both feet and I was good with my headers.

"I've still got the pen, plaque and two trophies that the QPR Supporters' Club presented me with for my goals in the 1961/62 season. I got six hat-tricks that year, including four in a game against Southend United.

"I recall that the top wage in the Third Division - which Rangers were in at the time - was about £35 to £40 a week. Ridiculous really! But it was still much better than the average working man's salary. Not only that, as far as I was concerned I was getting paid for something I loved doing. That was a big thing for me.

"There was certainly much more emphasis on attacking football in those days than there is today. A lot of teams nowadays play with just one lone striker, which I think is ludicrous. I call it 'dinosaur football.'

"When I see one man up front on his own, I feel so sorry for him, because he is on a hiding to nothing and it is not good entertainment for the fans."

After his great goalscoring adventures, Bedford eventually left Rangers to sign for Scunthorpe United in September 1965. It was a time of great change at Loftus Road.

"Jim Gregory was appointed as Chairman of QPR and he started pouring some money in with new players being signed. Unfortunately, I was just starting to go a little bit over the hill as far as age was concerned. I was nearly 32 years old then. The Club had to offload some of the playing staff and I was one of them, I'm afraid.

"I had six very happy seasons at Rangers. Then they transferred me to that Godforsaken place called Scunthorpe! I don't think Alec Stock wanted me to sign for any other London team or any nearby club in case I embarrassed him.

"It was very sad. I didn't like leaving Loftus Road. But you have to move on don't you? That's life."

Following spells with Scunthorpe United and then Brentford, Brian Bedford's football career started to wind down - but he continued to work in the sporting environment after hanging up his boots.

"In 1967, I went over to America to sign for a soccer team called Atlanta Chiefs. While I was out there, I started playing tennis. We had outdoor courts that were floodlit so we used to play well into the evening.

"I became a little bit addicted as I knew my time in football was more-or-less over. So when I returned to the United Kingdom, I became a professional tennis coach. I did it until my knees gave out and so I retired from that.

"Then I returned to QPR as Stadium Manager in the late 1980's for five years. It was a bit archaic compared to what they have at the Club now. There was only me running the whole ground to begin with, although eventually I managed to get a plumber to help out as the place was falling apart!

"I can remember one year when we had a very severe frost. Rangers were due to play Southampton on the Saturday and there were problems everywhere around the stadium. Most of the toilets were leaking and the overhead pipes were burst. So we stayed until four o'clock in the morning before the game repairing everything! We didn't get much money for it, but there you are."

Brian Bedford is now 73 and lives just outside Cardiff. He keeps himself busy on the local golf courses and continues to watch out for all of the R's results.

"I'm a golfing fanatic! But unfortunately, I'm having a lot of trouble with my legs at the moment so I am going to have to buy myself a buggy.

"It is hardly surprising when you consider the amount of strain I have put on my body over the years. One doctor said to me 'This is pay-back time!' It is poor circulation I think.

"I still follow football and the first score I always look for is QPR. I wish the Club well, I really do. They were really good times for me at Loftus Road - the best days of my life actually." QPR

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