The Blue & White was sadden to learn of Elfed Morris’s death yesterday. Morris was, of course, a major part of the Famous Five forward line that scored a huge amount of goals for Chester in the sixties and played a small role in helping the new Chester FC as he was groundsman at Colwyn Bay, where the reformed club played its first ever match. This article is taken from issue #6 of the fanzine (which you can purchase here) and focuses on Peter Hauser, the manager during the Famous Five season, but is a great reminder of the entertaining football that Morris helped bring to Sealand Road.
The 1964/65 season was one of the greatest in the club’s history. Chris Courtenay Williams takes a look at the man behind the brilliant football…
If you were to ask any ‘Senior Blue’ to name a favourite season, I’m sure without doubt that most would say 1964/65, the season of the ‘goal fest’. It was a thrilling season, and the man behind the success was Peter Hauser.
Born in South Africa he signed for Blackpool at the age of 21 and went on to make 83 first team appearances before dropping out of full-time football to play at Cheltenham Town for a season.
Meanwhile Chester sacked Bill ‘keep fighting’ Lambton after the club had had to apply for re-election for the third successive season, and Hauser was duly appointed player-manager in time for the 1963/64 season.
One of his first acts as manager was to sign Gary Talbot, who was working as a photographer when Hauser had first seen him play in a charity match whilst at Blackpool. Hauser kept him in mind, if and when he achieved his ambition of becoming a manager. Though Hauser’s first match in charge was a 2-0 defeat to Oxford at home, a win against Barrow and draw against Workington got the season underway. Talbot was introduced for his first league game home against Newport and duly scored in a 3-0 win. Gary went on to score 23 League goals that season, and the club finished a respectable 12th place.
But Hauser’s defining season was yet to come, with the addition of Hughie Ryden to an already powerful forward line of Morris, Metcalf, Talbot and Humes, the final piece of the jigsaw slipped into place. These were the days before formations like 4-2-4 and 3-4-3, before ‘holes’ and ‘channels’. Hauser played the traditional five up front, three half backs and two full back and made sure to have a strong a front line as possible. Although nobody was to know it then, what an impact that those five were going to make that season!
It was a mixed start to the season with a defeat at Aldershot followed by victory at Bradford City, and then another slip up with a home defeat to Torquay.
But the following Wednesday, September 2nd, Chester faced old rivals Wrexham in the First Round of the League Cup. 10,331 fans turned up to see the Blues turn on the style and trounce the old enemy 3-0 with Metcalf and Talbot scoring, something that would become a regular occurrence that season. An astonishing 5-4 win at Stockport and a home 3-1 win against a fancied Millwall had the football pundits sitting up and taking notice and the rookie Hauser was starting to make a name for himself.
But the result in the Second Round of the League Cup against a high-flying Derby County, packed with international players, really did make the headlines! Most probably the most exciting game that I have ever seen saw Chester run out 5-4 winners with the lead changing constantly between the two sides in front of 9,874 spectators, again Metcalf and Talbot hogging the goal scoring with two each. The Blues eventually went out of the competition in the next round 3-5 at Norwich. A mixture of results and plenty of goals saw Chester into November were they drew Cheshire neighbours Crewe Alex in the first round of the FA Cup, as fate would have it, the two had met in the league the previous Saturday at Sealand Rd and Metcalf scored twice in a 2-2 draw.
In the FA Cup match the following week they met again in front of 9,436 fans and two goals by Metcalf looked to have sealed a comfortable win. Towards the end of the game some spectators started to make their way home, but inside an astonishing three minutes Gary Talbot scored the fastest hat-trick in the FA Cup proper, a record that still stands today.
After another win and draw in the league Chester travelled to Barnsley in the second round of the Cup, and came away with an easy 5-2 win including a Metcalf hat-trick.
The following Saturday Aldershot were demolished 6-2 by a rampant Chester side, a busy four games that month then saw the Blues finish off Stockport with another easy win 4-0, and then off to Old Trafford on January 5th for a Third Round FA Cup match against the mighty Manchester United, Charlton, Best and all. 45,660 turned out for the match, a figure that would’ve been much higher had it not been for building alterations at the Old Trafford ground. Astonishingly Chester took a lead into half-time with a goal from Jimmy Humes, but in the second half an off-side goal from George Best and another from Albert Kinsey saw brave Chester out of the competition.
But in the league the goals kept coming and between Jan 23rd and Feb 24th an astonishing 21 goals were scored, and then on the 27th of February came Chester’s best ever result against Wrexham in the modern era, a thumping 6-1 win at home which could’ve been a lot worse, as the Blues lead 4-0 at half time, and Gary Talbot sustaining a serious knee injury before half time, all this in front of a crowd of 14,782.
By now Peter Hauser had got Chester into a League position vying for promotion, but with one of his top scorers injured, a 0-1 defeat at home to Rochdale somewhat dented those promotion ambitions.
He took a gamble against lower placed Darlington by playing defender Colin Corbishley at centre forward in place of Talbot, and the gamble looked to have paid off with the Blues going in a halftime 3-2 up, with Corbishley scoring. The second half though saw Darlington come back and win the game 4-5, a 1-5 defeat at Crewe the following Saturday eventually saw the end of Hauser’s promotion dream, but the fans kept turning out to see this exciting Chester team.
Hauser was quoted as saying that he “wanted his team to play good football, but mainly entertain”, which they did in spades! The crowds packed into Sealand Road are testimony to that. The only interest was, not if we would always win, but how many goals we would score? It all seemed so simple, we Chester fans knew that if we conceded, more often than not we’d go up the other end and pop one in the opponent’s net!
On April 3rd myself and a good travelling support saw Chester beat Halifax away 4-3 with the hundredth League goal being notched up. The final six games of the season saw Chester win five of them scoring another 19 goals.
The final match of the season saw the bizarre situation of the whole team trying to get Hughie Ryden two goals. He was the only striker out of the five below the magic twenty mark, on 18 goals. Nearly 6,500 fans turned up to see if he could do it and, eventually, it was, albeit sat on his backside whilst scoring it!
A great season without doubt, with a staggering 119 League goals plus another 22 cup goals, but the teams’ Achilles heel was the amount of goals conceded: 81 in the League alone, which certainly cost them a serious promotion chance.
The following season saw Hauser yet again try and push for promotion, but Talbot was still struggling with his injury. Chester did still manage to score 79 goals, but again conceded 70, and the club finished in a respectable seventh place.
The following 1966/67 season was marred by both Ray and Bryn Jones breaking their legs against Aldershot on New Year’s Day. Hauser did not replace either of them. Fans at the time thought this an astonishing decision and in hindsight it still seems like that as Chester finished just above the re-election zone by three points. Although the ‘Famous Five’ all played a part of that season, the magic had disappeared, and when Talbot went to Crewe in the following close season they never played together in anger again.
The following 67/68 season saw Chester have another indifferent season and after a 2-1 defeat at home to Workington on February 17th saw Chairman Reg Rowland relieve Hauser of his duties. A sad end to an eventful five years at Chester for the South African, but he had left his mark on the history of Chester FC (as we were known then) and the Football League; he was one of its first foreign managers and probably its very first black manager. He was an amiable bloke too, I met him a couple of times and he was very friendly – he even took me into the dressing room once to meet my heroes! Hauser also played nearly 120 times at wing half for Chester, scoring a couple of goals too, but it’s through others’ goals that he’ll mostly be remembered, in that wonderful, famous season.