One Day In History - Exeter City 1937-38
Billy Birrell`s Queens Park Rangers travelled to St James` Park in prime position in the southern section of the Third Division.
Teams: Exeter City v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday April 16, 1938
Competition: Football League Division Three (South)
Venue: St James` Park
The fixture congestion in modern day, has absolutely nothing on the trials and tribulations of the Queens Park Rangers side of 1938.
Rangers had just drawn with Clapton Orient on Good Friday with recently signed Motherwell striker Johnny Pattison grabbing his first goal for the club, and travelled down to face Exeter the very next day on Easter Saturday.
Jack English`s men welcomed QPR on the Saturday, and it must have been quite a race against time to see who could get to the ground first with the Grecians losing away to Reading on Good Friday.
The visitors had struggled in recent fixtures before the draw at Clapton, who later became Leyton Orient. Losses against Crystal Palace, Bristol City and Watford, the latter in both league and the Third Division (South) Cup, meant that Rangers started to slip away from their commanding position in the league.
Rangers could call upon the talent of Alf Fitzgerald signed from Reading two years previous. The midfielder had scored an incredible 19 goals in the build up to the clash including a hatrick against Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup.
Understandably Birrell made three changes from the side that drew with Clapton just the previous day. Defender Ted Reay and strikers Jack Cape and the aforementioned Pattison making way with Norman Smith, Alf Fitzgerald and Wilf Bott all coming in.
7,885 fans at St James` Park saw QPR race into a 2-0 lead at half time, and despite the undoubtedly long trip from West London they sealed the rout in the second period.
Two goals from striker Tommy Cheetham and further strikes from Len McCarthy and the recalled Bott secured what was a comfortable win for the visitors.
They had little time to celebrate their victory, as they had to travel back to Loftus Road to face Clapton once again in a return fixture in the league on Easter Monday, of course they were allowed to rest on Sunday.
Rangers went on to finish third in the league, three points off winners Millwall. This was helped by a sensational late run that saw them win five out of their last seven games.
Exeter finished 17th in the Third Division southern section with Gillingham dropping out into the Southern League. They were replaced by a little known club that had recently turned professional after 50 years in existence, Ipswich Town - who were elected in their stead.
Final Score: Exeter City 0-4 Queens Park Rangers
Queens Park Rangers: Mason, Barrie, Smith, Lowe, Ridyard, March, Mallett, Swinfen, Cheetham, Fitzgerald, Bott
Goals: Cheetham (2), Bott, McCarthy
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