Table topping hatters

By Roger Wash

A Kenilworth Road crowd of 24425 turned out to see new signing Billy Bingham make his debut against West Brom on the opening day of the 1958/59 season and he did not disappoint, putting in a masterful performance in a 1-1 draw. 

Another 1-1 draw followed, at Leeds, before the Town secured their first ever win at Birmingham, courtesy of a John Groves strike three minutes from the end.

Leeds came to Kenilworth Road for the return fixture and went back to Yorkshire with a point following a 1-1 draw, before early season leaders West Ham paid a visit to Luton.

The Hammers were, like the Town, unbeaten at that stage in the campaign and such was the interest in the game 25715 forced their way in to see the Hatters tear into the opposition with goals from Allan Brown, Dave Pacey and Gordon Turner, with two, earned a resounding 4-1 victory.  The football world was beginning to sit up and take notice.

Another 1-1 draw followed, this time at Manchester City, with another point dropped when Bolton secured a 0-0 draw in a sterile game at Kenilworth Road with both defences dominating.  Shaking off the disappointment of two successive draws the Town came back with a bang in seeing off Manchester City 5-1 at Kenilworth Road, to preserve the unbeaten start and put the team briefly top of the table.

The Hatters then returned from Burnley with a point from a 2-2 draw setting up the next clash which saw new leaders Preston visit Kenilworth Road with the supporters knowing that a victory would put the Town in pole position again.  Interest was again high and 23056 packed Kenilworth Road together with the BBC television cameras who were recording for their ‘Sports Special’ programme.

It was the Town that opened the scoring through George Cummins, but Dennis Hatsell equalised before the break for the visitors after Gordon Turner suffered his first ever penalty miss, seeing his spot kick well saved by Fred Else.

During the second period, the Town finally came to life, and this after Turner had suffered an ankle injury which reduced his mobility and had him hobbling up and down the centre in the days before substitutes were allowed.

It was left to the wingers to show the way to goal and Bingham, repaying a large chunk of his transfer fee, scored a brilliant effort soon after the restart with his first for the club, with left winger Jim Adam hitting home two in the last quarter.

Preston were pushed aside as the Town swept to victory, maintained their ten match unbeaten start and were seen sitting proudly at the top of the Division One (now Premier League) table.

Below: Gordon Turner takes the first-half penalty.