My first trip to Wembley and it was to see the Rangers, in a major Cup Final of all things. This wasn’t supposed to be my first trip there and the R’s weren’t really supposed to be there for the first time either ! You see, I had a ticket for the World Cup Final in 1966 which had been given to me by an Irish mate of my Dad, a ten shilling standing ticket if I recall correctly. I can’t remember if England had already reached the Final by then or not but I didn’t really care. The World Cup was in England and I had a ticket for the Final, or so I thought. My Mum thought differently…no way on this planet was her 13 year old son going to be allowed to go to Wembley on his own, so my highly delighted older brother got the ticket instead, much to my disgust. He’d been out when the ticket was handed over but got the benefit of it, how outrageous !!! Still, he told me afterwards that I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as he was surrounded by German fans, yeah right ! Knowing my brother, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d sold it on but I don’t think even he would have passed on going to the World Cup Final !
Anyway, on to 1967…we’d already enjoyed a great 1965/66 Season, trying to cut a large points gap between ourselves and Millwall. Hull were the eventual champions of course. This was due to what might be called an indifferent start (if losing 6-1 to Brentford at Griffin Park could be called indifferent, there’s nothing new to pain you know). However, we did see the magical arrival of Rodney Marsh that Season. The following Season we were almost literally walking away with the 3rd Division and then came the Leicester game. We bought seats in the luxury of the Ellerslie Road for the first time for that game, transferring from our normal perch on a crush bar in the School End. I think this cost about 4 shillings but it was another week’s pocket money gone and blagged some off my Mum as well no doubt. This was my first experience of the rust shower when the ball hit the roof !!! Anyway we demolished Leicester City, Gordon Banks, Derek Dougan and all.
I think it was back to the School End for the next tie against Carlisle. Then it was Birmingham away and the astonishment of seeing the R’s on TV for the highlights. This was rare and Rangers on TV was even rarer. In fact unheard of as far as I know before then apart from maybe an experimental friendly in the 30’s at White City ? The highlight of that game for me was watching Marsh who from the half-way line and going forward, just turned and lobbed the ball straight into Peter Springett’s arms. Rodney Marsh was announcing himself to the nation. I can’t remember much about the 2nd Leg other than we were back in the Ellerslie Road for that one. We already knew that we were going to be at Wembley for the Final.
My mates Gerry, Roger and me got our tickets for the Final costing I think, five shillings each ? We were situated behind the goal QPR defended in the 1st half and where all the goals were eventually scored. I’d got my brother a ticket from the school playground at a 20% mark-up. It’s strange but I only remember bits of the day now. We set off from Emlyn Gardens and I have no recollection of the Walk taking place other than it was rumoured that somebody was walking with the coffin. I think we got the Met line from Baker Street to Wembley Park but have no idea how we got to Baker Street ?
Outside the Stadium, I’m sure we watched as these guys tried to manhandle the coffin over the top of the turnstiles. Somehow they did it to many loud cheers.
I remember so little of the game itself unfortunately. There was Rodney’s disallowed wonder goal and Clive Clark destroying us in the 1st half. The R’s were two goals down at half-time which was a rare feeling for that Season. Then came the comeback…Roger Morgan got one back, Rodney’s superb strike (described at the time as the best goal ever scored at Wembley) and then the winner from Mark Lazarus. We’d won the Cup !
The following year’s Final was between Arsenal and Leeds, a match described as, “Dishwater” after last year’s “Champagne” by one newspaper which was a fitting tribute.
So why weren’t QPR supposed to be there ? Well, the Football League and Alan Hardaker were a bit peeved that the so called big Clubs didn’t always enter the League Cup. They got the Final at Wembley for the first time instead of the usual two-leg affair and a European Fairs Cup place for the winners as well. Cue nearly all the big 1st Division Clubs entering. But we won it and in style ! The other interesting thing about that Final was that the losers went up to collect their medals first and were then followed by the winners and the trophy presentation. I don’t think that had ever been done in a major Final before or whether it had happened in the previous two-leg affairs ? Either way, I think that is a better way of doing it.
(The images shown above are from a rare piece of memorabilia which also lists the guests in alphabetical order and even a table plan –Steve Russell)