On 18th September 1984, Rangers played K.R. Reykjavik in the UEFA Cup. The R’s won this first leg 3-0 in front of a crowd given as 1,600. Nigel Clarke wrote in the ‘Daily Mirror…”Simon Stainrod the striker who gives Rangers such style and swagger, last night hit two goals to tie up this European adventure. Gary Bannister also scored as Rangers strolled to an emphatic victory here in this UEFA Cup first round, first leg, in a ground set against lava fields and encircled by a range of bleak, forbidding mountains…”
The team lined up as follows:- Hucker, Neill, Dawes, Fereday, Wicks, Fenwick, Micklewhite, Fillery, Bannister, Stainrod and Gregory. Charles and Stewart were the subs for Fereday and Bannister.
Alan Mullery in his programme notes for the 2nd leg wrote, “The attendance of 1,600 was one of the lowest – if not the lowest – in European soccer history. Reykjavik expected 4,000 but pre-match worries that Hurricane Diana might arrive obviously kept a lot of people away…….My thanks to the 68 Rangers supporters who travelled. There would have been more but we didn’t have room on the plane…..They royally entertained a party of 60 after the match to a meal of sea food cocktail, beef Wellington and dessert with wine and brandies to follow. I know that some of the Press lads on the trip went out and had soup, chicken and a couple of cans of beer. That cost £35. I’m glad I wasn’t paying the bill for the after match party.”
The R’s had toured there in 1947 and the Reverend Robert Jack who was a prominent football Coach at the time wrote, “Until then we had all played as individuals. QPR displayed great team work and we began to concentrate upon slowing down our game and developing more as a team unit, rather than as individuals.” Fred Durrant wrote in detail about the Tour for the 1947/48 Club Handbook:-
The Iceland Tour during the summer was arranged to serve as a goodwill visit, as well as providing us with a change and relaxation after a most strenuous and exciting Season in League Football. On Monday, 2nd June, our party of fourteen players, Directors, Manager, Trainer and Referee flew from Prestwick and arrived at Reykjavik some four hours later. The weather was beautiful and we learnt that three months of the year is comparable with our early summer. During this period there is never any darkness, which at times gets one confused with the days. The air journey was uneventful but our troubles were soon to start. During a six-aside game amongst ourselves, Smudger Smith was unfortunate in pulling a muscle and Reg Allen suffered an injury when making contact with a goalpost. Reg was able to play in the first game the next day but Smudger was an onlooker for three out of the four games.
All of us were keyed up for the first match against a combined Reykjavik eleven, as we had no idea of the strength of the opposition and were all out to win. The playing conditions were a little unusual for us, as the playing pitch was a gravel one, making it necessary to wear knee-pads. The score was 9-0, which appears to have been a walk-over for us but we really were right on top of our form and would have given any of our leading First Division Clubs a hard game. The Icelanders, like most foreign teams, are good individual footballers, but team work was lacking, as well as experienced coaching. An incident worth recording was a sporting gesture made by our Manager, Dave Mangnall. An injury to an opponent necessitated him leaving the field and Dave immediately withdrew our half-back, Alf Parkinson thus making it ten-aside. This was greatly appreciated by the spectators, the action being described in the Press as, “A gesture of British sportsmanship.” Our scorers were: Johnny Pattison 3, Cyril Hatton 3, Hartburn 1 and myself 2.
Our second game, two days later, against Fram FC ended with a 6-1 win, the scorers being: Pattison 2, Hatton 1 and myself 3. The Icelanders’ goal was the result of a penalty and received so much applause that one would have thought it was a winning goal of a Wembley Cup Final. Dave Mangnall’s idea in this Tour was to give everyone a game but Ted Reay played such a grand game in the first match that a special request for him to play came from the Iceland officials. I add here, special praise for the Iceland Reception Committee, consisting of Messrs.Schram, Einarsson, Palsson and Th.Ingvarsson for their perfect organising. Mr.Schram in particular was a real gentleman and will always be a most welcomed visitor at Shepherd’s Bush. The third game resulted in a 5-0 victory, with Billy McEwan netting 2 and Hatton, Pattison and myself 1 each. The fourth and final game on 11th June, against a combined Reykjavik team, was another 6-1 win. This time the scorers were: Hatton 1, Pattison 2 and myself 3.
The Icelanders took their defeats very sportingly and we all are looking forward to a return visit. Their most popular player was Albert Gundmundson, who wishes to be remembered to all Rangerites and will be donning the Arsenal colours again this Season. Now for a few remarks or should I say observations, about the country itself, which I hope will be of interest to you. Iceland is a very barren country and one misses trees and grass. The few roads built are made of dried lava from the volcanoes and are of course, very dusty…………Each game, which incidently was played in the late evening, was followed by a non-austerity dinner, together with many toasts and complimentary speeches. The people are proud of the fact that their Parliament, formed in the year 930, is claimed the oldest in the world. The results of the games were not important, but I can say on behalf of our party, that as Ambassadors of British Sport, our trip has done more to create a friendlier and better understanding between this country and Iceland than has ever existed before.
I’ve left out some of his comments about the country and its people but wanted to retain a flavour of his experiences. I would like to thank Steve Bacon and Martin Botwright for their help with putting this article together.