Although it was almost 40 years ago, the Shepherd’s Bush and White City areas of West London had already been shrouded in darkness for many years. The Manager Alec Stock, forlornly wandered the pitch at the empty stadium. Although the floodlights were fully on, little, if any light made its way through the gloom and reached the pitch. Things could not continue this way for much longer. Alec was aware of this, but had no answers.
From on-high, a voice came down and reached Alec’s ears….
‘Many years ago I sent someone who would lead his people from the darkness into the light. He was found by the banks of a river and for those who believed in, and followed, he led and delivered from the darkness and into the light. Therefore, make for the river, where you shall find the one I have chosen to lead your tribe from the darkness into the light.
Believers…..believe in him, for it shall be so.
Unbelievers…….prepare yourselves, for he shall smite you and deliver the Silver Chalice to the Believers. The one I have chosen shall be known as ‘The Rodney’…..
Go now, make haste.’
Alec Stock looked skyward but saw no one there, he replied anyway…
‘Er, yes, isn’t it, ho ho, marvellous.’
Alec left the stadium and climbed into his Ford Prefect, he turned on his headlights against the gloom and headed for the river. Days passed, as he drove this way and that, through the gloom and permanent dusk. Eventually he reached the river…at last he found the one he was seeking…..he had found ‘The Rodney.’
‘The ‘Rodney’ had been waiting patiently at Fulham, waiting to be taken to Queen’s Park Rangers and thereby fulfil his destiny, the destiny that had been pre-ordained. The ‘Believers’ at Loftus Road gathered every other Saturday to pay homage to ‘The Rodney.’ Slowly, and then with mounting speed, Queen’s Park Rangers began the climb towards the summit of the Third Division. Under the leadership of ‘The Rodney’, the team also targeted the Silver Chalice they so desired, the Silver Chalice that would banish all those years of darkness and deliver the Believers into the light.
And so it came to pass……
The ‘Believers’ would have their day in the Sun, they would have their day at Wembley.
The prize ?
The Silver Chalice……The Silver Chalice that would bring permanent light to the ‘Believers’ of Queen’s Park Rangers.
The stage was set……
The ‘Believers’ versus the ‘Unbelievers’
The ‘Unbelievers’, a tribe from the north who spoke in a strange tongue, were already in the promised land. They laughed and poured scorn upon the ‘Believers.’
‘Bring ‘The Rodney’, bring him on, for we shall surely bury him.’
The ‘Believers’ refused to be drawn by the ‘Unbelievers’, they kept the faith and marched as one, along the Harrow Road towards Wembley. They carried a coffin with them, a coffin that they knew they would not need that day. At half time, the ‘Unbelievers’ were leading 2-0. They laughed and taunted the ‘Believers.’
‘The day is done, deliver ‘The Rodney’ unto us, for we are ready to bury him. Join us, for your quest shall be unfulfilled this day.’ The ‘Believers’ refused and raised their voices as one.
During the second half, the ‘Believers’ scored, 2-1. They raised their voices higher. ‘The Rodney’ made it 2-2…….The ‘Believers’ blinked back the tears as they sung his praises unto the heavens. The ‘Believers’ scored again, 3-2…….The Silver Chalice belonged to us. There were tears of joy and much merriment, as the ‘Unbelievers’ fell silent at the miracle they had witnessed. A ‘Believer’ shouted at them….’Behold, remember well what you have witnessed this day. Take this tale and spread it throughout the tribes of the North. Take this empty coffin also, for ‘The Rodney’ stays with us, as this is not the day when we shall be buried.’
The following day, ‘The Rodney’ appeared in W12 clasping the Silver Chalice and the ‘Believers’ fell silent before him. ‘The Rodney’ raised the Silver Chalice towards the sky………he spoke.
‘Behold, let there be light.’
The darkness was banished as the ‘Believers’ looked about in wonder. One ‘Believer’ said unto ‘The Rodney’……..’Blimey Rod, it was better in the dark.’ He was swiftly banished to Stamford Bridge to roast in Hellfire for eternity. ‘The Rodney’ spoke again…..’You have believed in me and today I have shown you the light, the light that shall lead us into the promised land of the First Division. This season we shall be promoted into the Second Division. This time next season we shall be waiting to take our final step into the First Division.’
The ‘Believers’ cheered, clapped and danced. ‘The Rodney’ held up his hand and the crowd fell silent. He continued…….
‘When we reach the First Division, my work will be done here. I will leave you, for there is much work for me amongst the tribes of the North. One day, many years from now, another may fill my boots and lead you. Until that day arrives, the Chalice that we have won shall provide the light.’ The ‘Believers’ listened and then cheered ‘The Rodney’ again.
And so it came to pass…..’The Rodney’ did indeed lead us into the promised land, then left us to carry out missionary work with the tribes of the North. Forty long years since then and I have waited for the arrival of ‘The New Rodney.’ Few have tried to fill those boots….some have come close, none though, have succeeded. My time grows shorter as each year passes….yet ‘The Rodney’ said another will come. So, still I believe….still I wait….for he said it shall be so.
As for ‘The Rodney’……what can I say ? There are only two words really……
(This article first appeared in issue number 201 of, ‘A Kick Up The R’s’)