1938: Ernie's Fruitless Treble

Thursday 15 August 2013 09:01

Yorkshire-born Ernie Shepherd signed for Fulham in April 1938. An outside left, he had previously played for Dearne Valley Schools and Bradford City as an amateur and turned professional with Fulham after a trial in September 1937.

He was desperately unlucky to make his First Team ‘debut’ against Luton Town on 2nd September 1939. The following day, the Second War started and the League programme was suspended for the duration. So, seven years all but two days later, Ernie finally got his chance, and he wore the number 11 shirt in the 7-2 defeat at Bury that kicked off the post-war era. In between times, he guested for a number of clubs in the war years as military duties permitted.

By now, he was 27 and, for the first two peacetime seasons, he was the regular choice on the left wing, playing in 70 of the 84 League games. He was a pacey, workmanlike winger who managed 13 goals in his 72 League appearances for us. But the signing of Jack McDonald for a record fee of £12,000 in the summer of 1948 limited Ernie’s opportunities.

New manager Frank Osborne was keen to sign a striker and wanted West Brom’s reserve centre-forward Arthur Rowley, who had starred against us in the Baggies’ win at the Cottage in October 1948. So he agreed a straight swap of Rowley for Shepherd with the Albion manager in December 1948.

At the Hawthorns, Ernie struggled to establish himself and made just four appearances before moving on again to Hull City of the Third Division North in March 1949 for £4,500. At Boothferry Park, Ernie played in six games in the final weeks of 1948/49.

When the fixtures were completed, we had won the championship of the (old) Second Division and West Brom finished runners-up, both clubs gaining promotion to the top flight, while Hull City took the Third Division North title. So Ernie played for three clubs in one season, all of which won promotion, but did not play enough games for any of them to qualify for a medal.

He remained on Humberside for a year before finishing his playing career with QPR. He spent six seasons at Loftus Road, playing 233 games for Rangers and scoring 54 goals. He then turned to coaching, in Iceland, with non-League Hastings and Bradford PA. He also managed Southend in the 1960s and was assistant manager at Leyton Orient in the 1970s. In retirement, he settled in Southend and died in March 2001 aged 81.

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