Tag Archives: Stan Matthews

Brentford mourn Ken Horne – a true Bees legend

3 Sep

I was saddened to read the news about Brentford legend Ken Horne yesterday, after the club announced he had died at the age of 89. I never saw Ken play ; his time at Griffin Park through the 1950s after signing from Blackpool being somewhat prior to my own love affair with the Bees. However, I was fortunate enough to meet him back in 2010 for a ‘Where Are They Now’ interview that would later appear in the matchday magazine

Along with fellow team mate Jim Towers, Ken gave one of the most fascinating insights into life at Brentford in the 50’s. It’s fair to say that football was a lot different back then to the game we know today whilst other aspects, such as rivalry with QPR or suspicion of match rigging, were present even then.

Ken, who came over as a genuinely nice guy and warm individual, gave a remarkable account of his time as player. From the early days at Blackpool after the Second World War to his career at Brentford.

Extracts from the interview, which was conducted alongside his wife Joyce, are reproduced below.

Ken on first playing football after the war: “I had no ideas of being a footballer. I was brought up during the war and was thirteen when it broke out. By the time I was fifteen /sixteen I had become a member of a youth club. They had a football team and wanted to play but had no one to play as all the men were away. So we used to get on our bikes and arrange matches with prisoners of war and also RAF teams. We used to play the Italians and then have a cup of tea with them behind the barbed wire. Also the Germans but it was bit different as with them they had all the guards on the gate.”

They enjoyed a game of football and we’d sit down and have tea with them. The Italians were actually allowed to walk around the town. They had big patches all over them but we all knew they didn’t want to go back and fight! They knew when it was good here; they were fed and would go in the pubs and everything. But with the Germans all the sentries were on duty with the guns as soon as you walked through the gate. It was a different atmosphere but a great experience.

Often when we were due to play the RAF teams we’d get it cancelled. Then you’d read the news and see they’d been out over Germany during the night which is why they couldn’t play us.”

Ken on his trial at Blackpool: “ I thought it was a trial, all the young players talking to each other. I didn’t know who we were playing but it turned out to be Burnley A. Mid way through the second half I took the ball form the goalkeeper and took it on, right through where I slipped it to the centre half, it got back to me and I put it through the goalkeeper’s legs. They all mobbed me and I asked them afterwards, why does everyone know one another? “

He was told, “ They’re all professionals here and you’ve just scored the winning goal that’s given them the league.” He signed for Blackpool !!

Ken on Stanley Matthews: .”. I’d only ever seen him on cigarette cards so you can imagine what it was like. Even driving through Blackpool everyone was waving. I was a lad from the country and here I am sitting alongside the great Stanley Matthews.

He came and played in my benefit match at Brentford. It was all internationals we played against. It was a hell of a crowd and we even got a quarter of an hour live on television, which had never happened before in an evening programme. I went in to the dressing room afterwards, because I knew quite a lot of them.

I went round to thanks them all for coming and Stan said to me, ‘Ken, would you mind cleaning my boots.’ This is absolutely true. I took them out and just dusted them. “ Infact, Stan had made a real effort to participate in the game.

”He’d been training that morning and had come from Blackpool. He had a mac and pulled out a newspaper, wrapped his boot up and put it in his pocket then did the same on the other side. He went back that night on the sleeper train.”

Ken as a player : “When I came down to Brentford I’d never played full back before but we’d been a bit shy in front of goal so they moved Fred Monk from right back to centre forward and I stepped in there. He scored in eleven consecutive goals and we went on a wonderful run.”

It is at this point that Joyce joins in and gives her opinion. “He’d never be on the field now, he’d always be red carded! Lethal but legal He tackled hard and it used to be man, ball, everything.”

Ken concurs, “ I was a little bit……aggressive. One thing I was proud of was that I played at Brentford for eleven years and never, to my knowledge, got barracked. The crowd used to barrack quite a few of them.

I did get booked once at Bristol Rovers in a reserve game, where I was captaining and Tommy Lawton was the manager. The linesman was terrible and I was having a go at him all the time, trying to get the rest of the team playing and gee them up. Right at the end the ball came to me as the referee’s whistle went. I thought to myself, I’ve had enough, and fired the ball straight back into the crowd.

I ran off and as I was going down the tunnel and felt a tap on the shoulder from the referee who said he had to take my name and report me for ungentlemanly conduct. The linesman had told him that I hit the ball straight into the crowd.

I went in to training later that week where Tommy had received a letter from the FA. I told him it was true and said I would own up to it. No you don’t’ he said, got his pen out an put this reply to the F.A…

‘Just as the final whistle blew, the ball landed on my foot and as I was making the clearance it skewed off into the crowd, If I have caused any problems to anyone I do apologise wholeheartedly. It wasn’t intentional and would never happen again”

I signed it. We got away with it! That’s the only time I’ve been booked and”, he deadpans… “I don’t know why”,

Ken - as featured on the official site yesterday

Ken – as featured on the official site yesterday

Ken on the climax to the 1957/58 season – the old third division South and North, with only one team going up from each. The Bee’s final game was at home to title rivals Brighton.

“It was between them and us. I’d hurt the top of my foot and didn’t think I could play but had a pain killing injection. It was a really good game with almost thirty thousand there that night and I was so pleased to get though without any pain. We’re running off the field when Ian Dargie comes along, slapping me on the back and jumps straight on top of my foot. I couldn’t walk.”

However, Brentford held on to a 1-0 victory meaning Brighton had to win their last game, against Watford, to take the title.

“Jimmy Bowie, a betting man, went to Watford and said (so he claimed) we can offer you money to go out and beat Brighton for us. Jimmy named his price and got told – ‘We get more than that for losing to Brighton’. There was a lot of trouble after that match with the Watford captain. There was a lad making his debut for Brighton and Meadows, who was captain of Watford and who Jimmy had spoken to, was marking him. This lad was making his debut and scored five goals. In the first half.”

For the record, a subsequent probe by the Daily Mail the next season confirmed that some Watford players had taken a payment to let Brighton win but by that stage it was too late…

Ken’s career highlights: Brentford’s 1951 trip to play the Dutch international team.

“We flew from Heathrow on KLM and stayed there five days. We played n the Olympic stadium and we were better than them. The Germans had taken over Holland during the war so they were getting back on their feet. They wanted a good run out and so we gave them one. We were better than them although drew one all. It was a lovely trip, we gave them a very good game and they were happy; even gave us a reception and presentation afterwards.”

These days surely even the most loyal Brentford fan would struggle to cope with the concept of them outplaying the Dutch national side.

“1955 when we played Newcastle in the cup. We lost but they went on to win the cup and it was that last time they did so. We lost 3-2 but gave them some game. Johnny Rainford was brilliant that day. You’d have thought he was the first division player. He was playing against some famous players. Well, we all were. Kenny Coote was left back and he was up against Jackie Milburn and I was playing against Bobby Mitchell who was a Scotland international. All we heard all week was ‘ if you two can stop the two wingers we’ll do alright’. I think we did our job quite well.”

Ken has his eye on the ball

Ken has his eye on the ball

Ken on his teammates: Kenny (Coote)was such a nice fellow and such a good player. Quite honestly I think he was too good for us and it’s a pity he didn’t go higher.

I was also very friendly with Tony Harper who played just in front of me. He was wicked. He just never stopped running. He was everywhere, like Rooney. He and I had such a good understanding and he was such a nice fellow too although you wouldn’t think it when he was on the field. Very tough

It was a pleasure to play in those times.

That was the best team I played in. Ron Greenwood, Jimmy Hill, Billy Dare. It was a good side and hardly changed for weeks. I played about eighty games alongside Ron Greenwood. He was wonderful to play with. He used to make you play football and get it down, because sometimes in our day it was a lot of hoofing it but Ron wanted it played on the deck all the time and did so. He was really good to play with.

He was coaching, even in those days doing his coaching course already. Walter Winterbottom thought an awful lot of him, even then. My peg in the dressing room was alongside his so it was like we did everything next to each other.

Ken on playing QPR: They had a clever little winger called Ernie Shepherd. He was a good player but didn’t like me at all and he didn’t like tackles! I’m playing on the side where it was (then) all terrace and you’re very close to the people leaning up against the fence. They used to hate me over there and were all giving me the bird. About an hour through the game the ball went out for a throw in. I bent down to get it, looked up and they’re all going “you dirty so and so”. I looked up with the ball and just said to them “Has anybody seen Ernie Shepherd this afternoon?” After that they were all applauding me.

Not only did he manage to silence the Ranger’s fans, but even their children were loyal supporters, as Joyce elaborates. “ I used to take our eldest daughter who was only two and ever so good at the football. They were all calling out “You dirty bugger, Horne”. All of a sudden she stood on a seat and says, “That’s not a bugger, that’s my daddy”

After that the crowd all round us were all saying “Come on daddy” .

Ken gave a wonderful insight into life as a footballer in the 1950s

Ken gave a wonderful insight into life as a footballer in the 1950s

Nick Bruzon

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