By Deal Town

It’s 50 years ago this week that Deal Town last enjoyed an attendance of more than 1,000 for a league game.

The occasion was a Southern League Division 1 fixture between Deal and Hastings United on Thursday, November  11, 1965 and the special ingredient that drew 1,073 spectators to the Charles Ground that night was the prospect of watching former Tottenham and England centre forward Bobby Smith in action.

Only two years earlier Smith had been in the Spurs side that had won the European Cup Winners’ Cup – the first British club to win a European trophy.  He then left White Hart Lane the following season to join Brighton, whom he helped win the old Division 4 championship in 1964-5, before moving along the South Coast to Hastings in October 1965 – a surprise move that caused newspaper headlines and big gates at many of United’s matches that season.

But,  in the event, Smith did not play at Deal after being hit by flu, and in his absence  the Town  pulled off their most memorable win in what was otherwise a season to forget. Goals by Roy Carr and Clive Lloyd gave Deal a 2-1 victory – their only home win of the entire campaign.

The Deal team was: Lennie Long, Clive Cavell, John Ludlam, Tippy Prior, Jim Manning, Clive Lloyd, Wally Hinshelwood, Austin Dunne, Dave Ward, Roy Carr and Johnny Dickinson.

Smith did play in the return fixture at Hastings on December 27 and scored twice as Deal were thumped 9-0 in front of a crowd of 2,504.

Deal let in a total of 165 league goals that season, which stood as a Southern League record for 30 years until Poole Town let in 188 in the 1995-96 season. Deal  resigned from the Southern League at the end of the 1965-66 season, having collected just 10 points from 46 games, and joined the Greater London League.

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