A new dawn has broken has it not ? These words which were spoken by Tony Blair in May 1997 would have been far more appropriate had they been said by a certain Mr J. Gregory, the ambitious new Chairman at the start of the 1965/66 football Season. Yes, ‘Uncle Jim’ was taking us forward big time ! There were new signings, Langley, Allen, Sanderson, Watson, Marsh together with fresh Youth players like, Sibley, Hunt, Hazell, Leach, the Morgan twins and Peter Springett plus some ‘old school’ like Keen and Lazarus. Hooray ! We had the team, we had the fans and we had the money too !
The sighting shot of the 65/66 Division 3 promotion hard luck story, was followed by devastating direct hits. Firstly, the Division 3 Championship and League Cup trophies of 1967 then the photo finish promotion to our first ever top flight football in 1968. Hallelujah ! Unfortunately, we were promptly evicted from the ‘promised land’ in 1969. We were though, unlucky in many games and were not as bad as our record suggests. Also, Rodney Marsh was missing for nearly six months. We got away with his long term injury the previous Season but it was too much to ask amongst the elite.
In the 1970’s, my jacket lapels and ties got wider. My hair grew longer and my team grew even greater. QPR FC were a force in the Land. Jago, Leach, Venables, Mancini, Parkes, Clement, Gillard, Masson, McLintock, Webb, Thomas, Francis, Hollins, Bowles, Givens, Sexton…carve their names with pride. Many of the best teams in England (and some in Europe too) were being taken on and beaten by a classy blue and white hooped soccer machine from Loftus Road. This was indeed superb football of a type never before seen by any R’s supporter but what happened to the just and proper reward ? Wither the silverware we so richly deserved ?
It was not to be found in the Division 2 promotion near miss of 71/72, the Division 2 second position of 72/73, the 6th Round, 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Leicester of 1974 and certainly not in the Football League Championship runners-up spot of 1975/76. They say that a week is a long time in politics but 15 minutes is an agonising eternity in an end of Season football match you know ! There was no joy either in the League Cup semi-final replay defeat by Aston Villa nor the UEFA Cup quarter-final exit to AEK Athens on penalties, both in the 1976/77 Season.
After the Lord Mayor’s Show came the lull which was followed by relegation from Division One. The stars of the seventies had moved on and I too had moved on geographically speaking, to the wet of Manchester to a new residence and a new career. Was I leaving Rangers behind ? Never on your life, I was taking Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club with me !
Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)
(The first image is a Press photo from a training session in November 1976 at Ruislip in preparation for the match against Slovan Bratislava which the R’s went on to win 5-2. “Stan Bowles was in a happy mood as he jogged with team mate John Hollins during training today, he had just heard of his selection for the England squad.” The second image shows Dave Sexton celebrating with fans after the 2-0 win over Leeds in April 1976 – Steve Russell)