The editor’s request for more written material has given me the opportunity to exorcise my guilt feelings and come out of the closet. I am a fortysomething Rangers fan who knows nothing of Stanley Bowles, Tony Currie and many other gods within the pantheon so admired by Rangers fans and spoken of in reverential tones. Likewise, I have no knowledge of Ernie Howe, Dean Coney or other Loftus Road folk heroes.
It gets worse. I have to admit that I have no pathological hatred for Chelsea. I am not keen on some of their supporters and I don’t like Ken Bates (or any other egotistical chairman), but I cannot keep up a sustained hatred, even when they have equalised in the last minute, or they have beaten us luckily having been outplayed for 89 minutes. There, I’ve said it! Will I ever be allowed through the gates again? My problem is that I am a born again football supporter after many years of unbelief and, like all converts, I drive my wife, family and friends to distraction with any excuse to watch, read about, discuss or listen to football matches. My zeal has even led me to try to convert them to football in general and QPR in particular.
Let me start at the beginning. Around 1959 or 1960, I was taken with a friend, Alan Broom, by his Dad to Loftus Road to see a South-East Countries game against Dover. There wasn’t much of a crowd. There was a white wall in front of us (South Africa Road side) and it was all terracing in those days, except for Ellerslie Road where the players came from. There were two memories that stay with me still from that day: the smell of Old Holborn, and Bovril served in white china cups.
Because we were reasonably well behaved, a few weeks later we were taken to a Third Division game against Southampton. I am sure Terry Paine played for Southampton and we were beaten 1-0. After that, we were deemed old enough to go by ourselves. But Rangers were not enough of an attraction, so that most Saturdays were spent either at Craven Cottage (my son cannot believe that they were ever a First Division side) or Stamford Bridge, but we never really gained an affinity for either club. If anything, I had a soft spot for Manchester United because of Munich and what Nat Lofthouse did to Harry Gregg and I took whatever opportunity I could to see them when they came to London. (To this day my ultimate sporting hero is Bobby Charlton - not only a great player but a sportsman too.)
In my early teens, I found that I had to work on Saturdays and therefore found myself unable to watch football, except occasionally on TV. In 1967, I rediscovered, for a short time, QPR. With a friend from school, we went to midweek games and saw most of the home games in the League Cup run, and I can recall standing at the School End and being part of some great atmosphere.
Shortly after that, I left school and went to work. Studying took up what spare time I had. Marriage and kids followed and there were more important things to think about. In the late 1980s my son began to take an interest in football - and because it seemed like a good idea, I took him to a few games, mainly at Tottenham, because he was a Spurs fan. I then found that when they were playing away, I got withdrawal symptoms, not from Spurs, but from football. As a result, I went to various grounds. One such trip was to a QPR v Arsenal game. (Gus Caesar played and it was during the slump). The next couple of occasions when Spurs were away, I came to Loftus Road, if only to discover if there would be any improvement.
I was really hooked. The atmosphere reminded me so much of those first two games that I attended. Maybe it is a lack of intense atmosphere, but I felt at home. There was no threatening atmosphere, if the opposing team scored a good goal, you could applaud without worrying about your safety. Then things did improve. Peacock, Tilson and Brevett were signed and the corner was turned. The high spot of that season was undoubtedly the 3-1 victory at Anfield and being in the Liverpool crowd and seeing them applaud Rangers off the pitch. I was disappointed when, at the end of the season, Don Howe was sacked because I felt he had done a good job.
Maybe, on reflection, it was done for the best because, looking back, Gerry Francis has given us more to hope for. Being realistic, I do know that as a Rangers fan I cannot expect us to win the league or even a cup competition. However, I suspect I will get more pleasure out of seeing Man United beat us 3-1, with Rangers playing good attacking football than I would from seeing us win a war of attrition 1-0 against Arsenal. Don’t get the wrong idea, I am a football supporter who wants Rangers to win, but by playing football; I was walking two feet above the pavement when we beat Spurs 4-1 last season.
Perhaps in 10 or 15 years, when I can write lyrically, with the enchantment which distance lends, about the silky skills of Devon White or Dominic Iorfa, or give a comparison of the passing skills of Barker and Hoddle, I will truly exorcise my guilt at knowing nothing of Stanley Bowles or Tony Currie. Then, and only then, will I be able to stand tall, stride confidently down South Africa Road and enter the gates of Loftus Road with a clear conscience.
While top-flight football is suspended for the foreseeable future, you are cordially invited to visit this page in order to get a small fix of QPR. Each day, we will post a random article from our archives - and with over 15 million words making it in to print over the years, we can sit out this one for as long as it takes! Underneath each new daily article, we’ll provide a link to previous postings, so you won’t miss out. Of course, if you like what you read and decide to subscribe or to take advantage of our special 2019/20 season bundle offer, that’s what will really keep us going through this! So settle down and enjoy your free daily fix of QPR... on us.
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