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Wisbech v King's Lynn clashes down the years

1920: It was reported that the newly-formed Wisbech Town FC had been accepted into the Peterborough League and that fixtures were to start on September 4. The club had been unsuccessful in securing a ground and the park was to be the playing venue.

St Augustine’s donated goals, nets, ropes and duckboards for the spectators to stand on to watch the new club. Park Works decided to see how the new club progressed before starting again. They did so in 1925/26, entering the Isle League.

St. Joseph’s decided to run a Wednesday team and entered the Lynn Wednesday League.

The third team playing on the Park the previous season, W.W.M.C.C., disbanded and wished the new club every success.

Wisbech Town 1937/38 (38468762)
Wisbech Town 1937/38 (38468762)

1938/39: Lynn Town failed to defeat Wisbech in their replayed FA Cup Second Qualifying Round tie at Harecroft Road, Wisbech, on Wednesday, October 19.

The Lynn forward line failed to produce the ability which would have brought the excitement of another cup-tie for their supporters.

However, it could be said that they were lucky to have another chance of progress as the two teams had fought out a no-score draw the previous Saturday at the Walks.

Wisbech looked the better side throughout and the one goal which gave them the victory came midway in the second half. Eddie Murphy was unmarked when the ball came across from Terry Robinson and his shot passed inside the far goal-post.

Although it was not a great game, 2,342 spectators had excitement value for their £75/12/9d.

Wisbech went on to defeat Cambridge Town 1-0 in the next round, only to lose 2-1 in the fourth qualifying round away to Lowestoft Town. That was the Town’s best run in the competition before WWII.

Terry (Tecker) Robinson

Terry (Tecker) Robinson (38468760)
Terry (Tecker) Robinson (38468760)

Terry Robinson was an integral part of Wisbech Town’s successful years after the War. A clever, scheming inside-forward, he starred in Bert Blackshaw’s teams which won the United Counties League three times in the late 1940s.

In 1935 at 16, he was playing for Wisbech Rovers and won several medals with them before signing for the Town in his 18th year. He was top scorer for the Town in the 1938-39 season.

His last appearance for the Town was in season 1950/51; and his total playing career for the Fenmen over ten seasons was 189 appearances, 93 goals. He would have made over 200 appearances but for an injury in 1949 which gave him only seven appearances that season.

Chesterfield came to play the Town in a benefit match in May 1950 and there was a crowd estimated to be between five and six thousand to see the game.

1957/58: On Wednesday, October 8, Wisbech beat King’s Lynn 4-1 at home in an FA Cup Second Qualifying Round replay.

After a 2-2 draw at the Walks the previous Saturday, the two teams met at Fenland Park on the Wednesday afternoon (no floodlights then!), and Lynn were given a Cup-fighting lesson by the eager Fenmen. The Linnets folded up in surprising fashion in the second half.

The game opened in brisk fashion, and, as in thhe Saturday’ game at Lynn, there was a sixth minute goal. But this time it was for Wisbech. Terry Marshall crossed from the right, Jesse Pye pushed it along to Johnnie Downie, who turned smartly and shot the Town into the lead.

Then came a splendid save from Bryan Harvey before Ray Dixon headed in the equaliser from Verdi Godwin’s centre.

It looked like anybody’s game when the teams reached the interval, with the score at 1 – 1. Afterwards it was Wisbech who took a firm grip on affairs.

No shot-shyness now as they belted in shots from all sides. When Bobby Langton put them ahead on 54 minutes from Pye’s centre it demoralised Lynn.

Still Wisbech kept pegging away with Tot Leverton adding number three in the 75th minute. This was by courtesy of Langton, following a dazzling run.

Then Downie suddenly snapped into action with a gem of a shot from 25 yards which was a winner all the way.

Johnny Downie

Johnny Downie (38468764)
Johnny Downie (38468764)

Signed in September 1957, the final “jigsaw part” in Oscar Hold’s marvellous Wisbech team of 1957/58 was how John Downie was described; and many an elderly supporter who can remember those days will say that John was the finest football player to don the Wisbech shirt.

He could play anywhere on the field, however, Oscar preferred him at inside-left to form a left-wing triangle with winger Bobby Langton and wing-half Amos Moss which struck fear into most opposing sides.

Born in Lanark, Scotland in 1925, he started his Football League career with Bradford Park Avenue for whom he played 86 times, scoring 33 goals.

Manchester United paid a then record sum of £18,000 for his services. He played 110 games, scoring 35 goals for the Busby Babes. In 1953 he joined Luton Town for £10,000 making 26 apps with 12 goals. In 1954 he moved to Hull City – 27 apps, 5 goals – before playing for King’s Lynn and then on to Wisbech Town.

In late September 1958 Wisbech Town received a £1,000 transfer fee as Johnny moved back into league football with Mansfield Town for whom he made 18 apps; 4 goals. The following season he moved to Darlington – 15 apps; 2 goals –before finishing with Cheshire League side Hyde United.

For the Fenmen John Downie played 68 games, scoring 42 goals. He will always be remembered for the way he almost single-handed took apart Grantham on the last-ever Christmas Day match at Fenland Park. Scoring four goals in a 7-0win, the Grantham defence just couldn’t hold him.

John Downie passed away peacefully on February 19, 2013 at Tynemouth

1977/78: On Saturday, September 17, Wisbech won 2-1 atKing’s Lynn in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round.

Malcolm Lindsay headed in his eighth goal in as many games to give the Fenmen FA Cup glory and it was a goal that must have given Lindsay additional pleasure; proving to be the winner that knocked out his former club.

His 55th minute effort followed a spell of Wisbech pressure and it clearly rattled King’s Lynn who had little to offer in reply, and they finished a well beaten side.

Earlier it was another former Lynn player, David Clarke, who had given Wisbech the lead. His 10th minute shot dipped over goalkeeper Trevor Farrow and into the goal after a corner had been knocked out to him on the edge of the area.

Less than 60 seconds later the Linnets drew level in spectacular fashion. Straight from the kick-off the ball was sent out to Neville Alger on the left and he quickly cut in, sending a 25-yard shot curling over the head of Phil Ringwood.

Player-manager Lester Newell worked hard and Jimmy Stewart showed some good touches as Wisbech kept their cool once they had regained the lead through Lindsay.

Player-manager Lester Newell was delighted with the result: “We played very well. We won and we won well.”

They then beat St Neots after a replay before going out of the competition3-0 at Lowestoft Town.

That was the last time Wisbech played King’s Lynn in the FA Cup.

Lester Newell

LesterNewell (38468758)
LesterNewell (38468758)

After Keith Rudd’s departure at the end of the 1975/76 season, the directors appointed Lester Newell on May 2. Newell had left Fenland Park two seasons before to join Southern League side Cambridge City. But he never found the goal-scoring touch which made him such a prolific ECL marksman and he was released by City at the end of the season.

He was always a favourite to get the Wisbech job and was the target of other ECL clubs, including Ely City and March Town.

A superb season followed asWisbech Town became Eastern Counties Champions for the second time, and just failed to complete the double, losing to Sudbury Town in the League Cup Final.

Before the New Year the following season 1977/78, the team had only lost two Magnet & Planet League games, but a dismal end of season run-in with some terrible performances against some poor teams cost them dearly. The Fenmen finished in fifth place, 19 points behind champions Lowestoft Town.

At the end of the season Lester decided to stand down and joined Ely City. His total appearances for the Fenmen was 205 plus 5 sub. And 98 goals scored.

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