Rangers run brings back memories for Raynor

  • The Southampton Rangers team who were runners up in the 1955-56 FA Cup

    The Southampton Rangers team who were runners up in the 1955-56 FA Cup

  • Happy days: Eldon Raynor with a picture of the ’55-56 team

    Happy days: Eldon Raynor with a picture of the ’55-56 team

Southampton Rangers’ magical run in this season’s FA Cup has evoked pleasant memories for former midfielder Eldon Raynor.

Raynor was a member of the Rangers team who reached the inaugural FA Cup final in 1955-56 as a second division side.

Sixty-two years later, the club find themselves in exactly the same situation, having reached another final as a second-tier side.

First Division side Rangers will meet Premier Division opponents Robin Hood in Sunday’s final at the National Stadium.

Jomar Wilkinson’s team are the underdogs, but are not intimidated having recorded upset victories over top-flight sides Devonshire Cougars and North Village en route to the club’s fifth FA Cup final appearance and first in seven seasons.

“These guys are playing some good football and I take my hat off to them,” Raynor said.

“Just as we did back in 1955-56, they have made it to the FA Cup final as a second division team, and I congratulate them for just making it to the final.”

The inaugural FA Cup competition was held during the period of segregation in Bermuda.

Rangers, of the all-black Bermuda Football League, lost 3-1 to Bermuda Athletic Association, who represented the all-white Bermuda Football Combination, in the final at the old Prospect Garrison Recreation Field.

“It was a very interesting game,” Raynor recalled.

“The game was up and down. Beau Robinson [the Rangers goalkeeper] made a mistake and pushed a fellow on his face and they got a penalty.

“We fought back and equalised. But things just slipped away like that and we lost 3-1.

“We lost but we accepted it for what it was and it was an honour to play in the first FA Cup final knowing we made it to the final and we were not a recognised team.

“You had Pembroke Juniors, Dock Hill Rangers, Key West Rangers, Wellington Rovers and West End Rovers but we overpowered all those guys to make the final and it was good.”

Rangers suffered a setback ahead of the final after losing the services of their white expat coach.

“We had a Scottish coach named Tannock who came to Bermuda to work in a garage,” Raynor said. “He was a good coach who liked the way we fellows, a bunch of black players coming along, played. He was not prejudice and was quite happy with Southampton Rangers and took us to the FA Cup final.

“But what disappointed us was that he wasn’t with us for the final because he got sent away. We were very sad he wasn’t here for the final with us.”

Raynor and fellow midfielder Stuart Easton are the only surviving members of Rangers’s 1955-56 FA Cup final squad.

“Stuart was a great player,” Raynor, who also made a name for himself as an outstanding cricketer for Rangers and St George’s in Cup Match, said. “He used to play left half and him and I would always work together.

“When he went forward I would hang back a little bit and when I go up he hung so if the ball accidentally comes down someone is there to cover.”

Rangers won the FA Cup during the 1983-84 campaign under coach Rick Richardson, the club’s sole triumph in the prestigious competition to date.

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Published Apr 5, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 5, 2018 at 12:23 am)

Rangers run brings back memories for Raynor

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