1968/1969 COLCHESTER & EAST ESSEX LEAGUE DIVISION TWO
Chairman Vic Williamson seemed determined to shake Wivenhoe Rangers out of their Second Division malaise by appointing a new coach in the shape of Gordon Haffenden. With a Committee growing in strength including Dave Poore and player/secretary Bill Hill (who now mainly turned out for the Reserves in the CEEL 4th Division), Lord Ted Hill became Patron of the club while veteran pensioner and former player Herbert Griggs helped out with caretaking and match day duties. With the likes of John Sills, Mick Carroll and John Woodard remaining from the previous season, the First Team was overhauled with a batch of new signings including strikers Harry Welsh (from Paxmans) and Graham Oxley (Walton Town), goalkeeper Adrian Robbins (Long Melford), winger John Colclough (who had just recently moved into the colchester area), Terry Davis and Roger Hall (University), Dave Garrity and Mick Hatch, who was making a welcome return to the club from neighbours Alresford Colne Rangers
Rangers’ new look strike force was quickly into its stride as visiting Barn Hall ‘A’ were defeated 6-0 with Harry Welsh netting a hat trick and Graham Oxley grabbing a brace to add to a Paul Wicks strike. Welsh (2), Oxley and Wicks were on target again the following Saturday along with Paul Skeet (3) and John Colclough in an 8-2 win at Thorpe. A 6-4 home victory over Ardleigh (Welsh 4; Oxley and Owen Nelson) gave some indication that although Wivenhoe’s attacking prowess would be enough to dispatch many teams in the Second Division, they still had a certain amount of defensive vulnerability and this contributed to their first defeat of the season when they gifted Paxmans ‘A’ a three goal lead inside 25 minutes before Paul Skeet and John Sills pulled back a couple of goals after the break.
Two more new signings arrived from Layer United in the shape of midfielder Leon Chapman and forward John MacLeanan giving Wivenhoe a total of six players in their squad with Premier Division experience. Unfortunately this was still not enough to stop the outstanding Colchester Minors from completing the “double” over Rangers 1-3 (home) and 2-3 away. Wivenhoe did gain some revenge in the League Cup as they thrashed visiting Minors 6-1 at the King George V Playing Fields, Welsh (2), MacLeanan (2) and Terry Davis getting on the score sheet, although it was John Woodard who scored the goal of the match with an outstanding 40 yard strike. Minors were less than happy about the Referee who refused to allow them to bring on their substitute at half time for an injured player as their captain had told the ref that their linesman was to be their Sub but had not actually named him therefore, technically, he could not enter the field of play according to the letter of the law !.
In addition to going three rounds in the League Cup Rangers also had a mini run in the Amos Charity Cup. After making heavy weather of dispatching Fifth Division Colchester Hotspurs 4-2 at home (Welsh; Oxley; Wicks and an Own Goal) Rangers pulled off a surprise result by beating the higher ranked Barn Hall First Team 4-3 away (Davis 2; Skeet; Colclough) before crashing out of the competition 0-5 at home to First Division St.Osyth. The Essex Junior Cup also provided Wivenhoe with some “giant killing” glory as they thrashed the previously undefeated Cherry Tree from the First Division 7-0 at home despite fielding centre half John Sills between the posts (scorers Welsh 3; Oxley 2; Davis and MacLeanan) and then followed that up with an excellent 1-0 home win over Essex & Suffolk Border League outfit Aldersgate thanks to a single strike from Colclough with Sills again having to don the goalkeeping jersey for the entire tie after Adrian Robbins was unable to get to the match. Unfortunately the run came to an end when Barn Hall gained revenge for their Amos Cup defeat as Rangers fell to a narrow one goal defeat.
Just to prove that mindless vandals existed back in those days as well, Wivenhoe’s Reserves arrived at the King George Playing Fields to discover a two foot deep hole had been dug into one of the goalmouths and the goal posts had been taken from the dressing rooms and been smashed in the near by woods. A desperate appeal was made to the University Of Essex and Rangers were allowed to use one of the pitches on the Wivenhoe Park campus.
Graham Oxley had been sidelined through injury for a few matches but was now fully fit as proved by the seven goals he netted in a 10-2 home rout of Vaccumatic (Skeet; Wicks and Welsh scoring the others). Rangers’ attack continued to go goal crazy as visitors Mistley were thrashed 7-2 (Welsh 3; MacLeanan 2; Oxley and Colclough), Ardleigh hammered 7-1 away (Oxley 3; Davis 2; Welsh and Wicks) and Nayland destroyed 18-0. On this occasion Welsh scored seven, MacLeanan five, Oxley four, Mick Carroll once and a visiting defender putting one past a shell shocked keeper. Finally Stoke-by-Nayland were smashed 9-0 on their own pitch thanks to a Welsh hat trick, two goals apiece from Oxley and Wicks and one each from MacLeanan and Davis. A 5-0 home victory over Soke-by-Nayland in the return fixture (Davis 3; Welsh and MacLeanan) saw Rangers bring up their 100th League goal of the campaign in only their 16th game to sit joint top of the table with Colchester Minors, although Wivenhoe had played three games more.
With Lawford, Weeley and Tiptree Heath also putting in a promotion challenge, Rangers established a four point lead over Minors (who still held a three game advantage) at the top thanks to a 7-0 thrashing of Mistley (Welsh 2; Davis 2; Dave Lee, Leon Chapman and debut making Terry Cowlishaw all scoring). Another “super seven” followed at home to Thorpe (Oxley 4; Welsh, Davis, Cowlishaw) however, conceding an 87th minute equalizer to draw 1-1 at home to Lawford after Wicks had given Wivenhoe the lead was the slip up that Minors required as they continued their own superb run to eventually clinch the Colchester & East Essex League Second Division Title. Rangers own Promotion hopes were suddenly thrown into the balance by a surprise 2-4 loss at Sudbury Wanderers ‘A’ after throwing away a two goal interval lead established by Oxley and Welsh. Weeley could now deny them, however, as fate would have it, Rangers had to meet them twice in the final days of the season.
After a tense start to the home game, Harry Welsh converted a Graham Oxley cross in the 26th minute and from that point on there was only ever going to be one winner as Wivenhoe turned on the style with further goals from Terry Davis, Peter Boyden and Welsh to record a magnificent 4-0 victory. With a far superior goal average in Rangers’ favour, Weeley’s hopes of promotion were all but over and by the time the two sides met again on the final day of the season Rangers were up and the match was played out like a friendly kick about with Welsh (3), MacLeanan (2) and Oxley on target in an amazing 6-7 defeat !.
Wivenhoe added a little Trophy gloss to their promotion firstly by winning the Harrison-Gibson Cup over two legs against Snaresbrook. 1-4 down from the first game (scorer Welsh), Rangers ran amok in the 2nd leg winning 9-3 with Welsh (3), Wicks (2), Cowlishaw, Davis, Hatch (penalty) and full back Woodard (from a full 50 yards) all finding the net. The Wivenhoe Charity Cup was also won thanks to a 5-2 victory (after extra time) against holders Colnebank F.C. Having won in the previous round 2-0 at Weeley, Rangers crushed Cherry Tree again 8-1 in the Semi-Final of the Lexden Cup thanks to two goals apiece from MacLeanan and Cowlishaw plus efforts from Oxley, Hall, Snowling and Greenwood. Unfortunately a hat trick of Trophies was denied as Wivenhoe lost 1-4 after extra time to West End United ‘A’ in the Final at Bromley Road in a game that saw Rangers use THREE keepers on the night, Roger Greenwood being our scorer. Wivenhoe were forced to play a mixed First/Reserve team side as both this and the Wivenhoe Charity Cup took place on the same evening for some reason best known to the powers that be !!. Afterwards there was a surprise as coach Gordon Haffenden announced he was leaving the club.
54 Harry WELSH, 45 Graham OXLEY, 24 Terry DAVIS, 22 John ManLEANAN, 16 Paul WICKS, 12 John COLCLOUGH, 6 Terry COWLISHAW, 6 Paul SKEET, 4 Owen NELSON, 3 Mick HATCH, 2 Roger GREENWOOD, 2 John SILLS, 2 John WOODARD, 1 Peter BOYDEN, 1 Mick CARROLL, 1 Leon CHAPMAN, 1 Dave GARRITY, 1 Dave LEE, 1 Roger HALL, 1 John SNOWLING, 5 Opponents Own Goals.