Despite being relegated from the top flight to the (old) Second Division in 1952, the next few years were full of excitement at the Cottage. There were plenty of goals (428 for in 210 games between 1952 and 1957 and 390 conceded, an average of four goals per game or one every 23 minutes). In 1957, a new manager tightened up the defence without compromising our attacking flair and we won promotion and also got to within a whisker of Wembley.
In the early part of this period we had a brilliant inside-forward trio of Bobby Robson, Bedford Jezzard and Johnny Haynes. These three men between them played over 1300 games for Fulham and scored nearly 400 goals; all three were to play for England and manage Fulham. In goalscoring terms, Jezzard led the way, scoring between 23 and 39 goals in the four years between 1952 and 1956, when injury cruelly ended his playing career before he was 30. Haynes provided the craft and the guile while Robson, then an inside-forward, supported Jezzard up front but showed the control and vision that made him a successful wing-half a few years later.
Although we were only in the second tier of the League, the international selectors were not oblivious to what was happening at the Cottage. Haynes and Robson were both capped at Under-23 level while Haynes and Jezzard represented the Football League. The Maestro’s first full cap came in October 1954 against Northern Ireland, just a few months after Beddy had made his full international debut. Unfortunately, this came against the brilliant Hungarians, led by Ferenc Puskás, who crushed England 7-1 in Budapest.
But he was such a prolific scorer that he was worth another try and, in November 1955, both he and Haynes were selected to play for England against Northern Ireland in the Home Championship at Wembley. The only other club with two players in the side was Wolverhampton Wanderers, at the time one of the dominant clubs in the country. England won comfortably 3-0 and the press reports were unanimous in claiming Haynes was the star.
This was Jezzard’s last international and his playing career was over the following summer. But in April and May 1958, Langley and Haynes were in the England team that beat Scotland 4-0 at Hampden Park and Portugal 2-1 at Wembley (a game in which Jimmy hit the post with a penalty). On a pre-World Cup tour in May, England, with Langley and the Maestro in the line up, were beaten 5-0 in Belgrade by Yugoslavia, which proved to the end of Langley’s international career. But again, Wolves, that season’s League champions, were the only club apart from Second Division Fulham to have two players in those England teams.