Arsenal Football Club paid tribute to the last link to Bedford Town’s most famous football match who died peacefully with his family around him at his home in Putnoe, aged 90.
Bernard Moore wrote his name into the annals of sporting achievement by scoring the equaliser for the non-league Eagles against the mighty Arsenal during their 2-2 FA Cup Third Round tie at Highbury in January, 1956 writes Layth Yousif.
In an official statement from the North London club to bedfordtoday they said: “Arsenal Football Club would like to offer its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Bernard Moore at this sad time.”
His daughter Lesley Nicholson said: “He was a really lovely man. His disposition was always cheerful, kind and very patient. My sister and I had an idyllic childhood with him. He took great interest in our schooling and lives. In a house with three women he would let us put curlers in his hair and taught us to dance. He was a great father. We had lots of conversations about football. He took me to my first match when I was six weeks old. He often talked about the game at Arsenal. I think he was just pleased and proud to have played his part in such a historic game.”
The Bedford Record newspaper’s match report on January 10, 1956 stated: ”Nothing more dramatic has occurred during the 77 years history of the FA Cup than Bedford Town’s draw with Arsenal under the floodlights at Highbury [as] the Eagles staged their magnificent recovery. How the 55,178 crowd rose to them at the end.” After Derek Tapscott and Vic Groves put the North Londoners 2-0 up, Ronnie Steel netted on 76 minutes to make it 2-1 before Bedford, “urged on by defeaning encouragement from the crowd, in which many Arsenal supporters must have shared, surged forward again...it was pandemonium let loose among the Town’s followers when the scores were levelled six minutes from time [as] Moore promptly smashed the ball home.
“In the hall of the great stadium after the game, around the memorial to Herbert Chapman, a genius of football, strolled the directors and officials of the club and their wives, all in a state of happy and delirious confusion.
“One Bedford player who ventured into the throng was seized by the ladies of the party and handed from one to the other to be kissed, despite his understandable protests and embarrassment.”
Peter Jennings, Bedford Town historian, said: “I met Bernard a few years ago. he was a lovely man. I was at Highbury when he scored. We had a goal disallowed by the referee, Mr Callaghan. He wasn’t too popular with us - we could have won. Two train loads of Eagles fans went down to London. There were about 10,000 Bedfordians at Highbury. The Arsenal fans sportingly cheered us on in the second half, can you imagine that? For the replay the atmosphere in the town was brilliant. The ticket queues at the Queens Park ground went to Ford End Road. My mother came, she confused the teams and thought we were Arsenal! In 62 years of support it remains my favourite memory, and Bernard played a big part.”
Bernard started his career at Brighton and Hove Albion before serving his country as a PT instructor in Singapore during his National Service. When he came back, concerned he wasn’t match fit they sent him on loan to nearby Hastings.
Lesley said: “There was an adminstrative error and instead of going on loan they sold him to Hastings which meant if he played well they could sell him. Luton then bought him for £4,000 which was a huge amount in those days. He was in his early 30s when he played for Bedford.”
Bernard was married to Daphne and they had two daughters, Lesley and Bernadette.
His funeral is being held at Norse Road Crematorium, Bedford, on Thursday, July 31, at 1.45pm.
>> With thanks to Peter Jennings and Sue Watson at Bedford Library.