Gentleman Jim

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We received the very sad news in December that Jim Langley had died. I remember him as a great character, a gentleman and a QPR legend. The sliding tackles, those almighty throws and the spectacular bicycle kicks. The overlapping full back who always seemed to have a smile on his face. I couldn’t attend the funeral at Breakspear Crematorium in Ruislip on 21st December but JohnQPRHayes did and represented the Independent R’s. I would like to thank him once again for organising the flowers which also included a moving poem that he had written and is shown below. I was going to write something in December but decided instead to wait and contact his son, Peter Langley. He very kindly wrote the following fascinating article for our Website and he also forwarded the wonderful pic of his Dad on the Loftus Road pitch. Many thanks once again to Peter for doing that and we send our best wishes to him and his family.

Jim, God Bless and thanks.

Steve Russell

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It seems that he was always destined to play for QPR at some stage. He was born in Kilburn and spent the first couple of years of his life there before moving to West Drayton. His father was a Fishmonger with a passion for greyhounds which he trained and raced. I assume, but I don’t know for sure that he raced them at White City. This could explain his first connection to QPR and I say his connection because it was he who was pushing for dad to play for QPR. Dad went to school in West Drayton, Evelyns Secondary Modern (a school later attended by Frank Sibley) I don’t think he achieved much academically but his Sports Master wrote in his 1943 school report…’That he was an extremely talented footballer.’

In December 1944, Dave Mangnall the then QPR Manager wrote to dad….

Dear Jimmy,

I would like you to play with our reserve team on Saturday 30th December,

on this ground, kick off 3pm. We are playing West Ham Res, and from what I

hear about you, I think you ought to come here and lets have a look at you,

and see if you are ready for this class of football.

Would you try to phone me today (Friday) about 12 noon, or let me know

somehow if you can play.

Yours Faithfully,

Dave Mangnall

Unfortunately, dad never made the grade. I think the fact that he was only 5’ 2” and about 9 stone put them off. That said, he was invited back again in December 1947 for a further trial. On this occasion the letter was penned by Alf Ridyard……

Dear Jimmy,

Rather a surprise to be hearing from me, I suppose, hoping you are

Keeping fit and have managed to put a few inches on since I saw you last.

My reason for writing to you is that I have had a line from your dad last week

asking if we would give you a trial, as he understands you are playing very

well at left half these days. We are sending a reserve team to play at Slough

Social Centre on Saturday 6th December and wondered if you would be able

to play for us. We are sending a fairly useful team and you would have a good

chance to shine as the opposition won’t be too great. If you can play will you

phone me at Shepherd’s Bush 2618.

Yours sincerely,

Alf Ridyard

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I don’t think that he would had put enough inches or weight on and the chance had been lost, or at least for the next 18 years. His career took an alternative route and I’m sure with the benefit of hindsight, QPR wished they had signed him. But, if they had, would he still have been playing for them at Wembley in 1967. Who knows ? For dad, it was the right move. He eventually signed for Guildford City and then moved to Leeds. He enjoyed his football at Leeds but did not enjoy being in the north of England so when his Manager at Guildford (Billy Lane) moved to Brighton and then offered him a move there, he jumped at the chance. It was at Brighton that he won the first of his representative honours and his England B caps.

He then signed for Fulham which is where he spent the majority of his playing career and where he made a name for himself, winning three England caps. A travesty for a player who brought to the game the attacking full back and the art of overlapping, not to mention sliding tackles, overhead kicks and the long throws. One has to say that he was ahead of his time. As over the following years, the overlapping full back was to have an immense impact on the game. His time at Fulham was undoubtedly the happiest of his playing career. I remember Fulham as a fantastic family Club. But like all good things, it had to end. Times at Fulham were changing. New faces were brought in, the atmosphere was different, it was time to go.

I am aware that Fulham were approached by a couple of Clubs sounding out the chances of him becoming their Player Manager. I know that one of them was from the north of England which is presumably why he declined the offer. As for the other, I think that he felt that he still had a lot to offer as a player and did not want to go into management at that particular time. QPR made an enquiry which for dad was the chance to fulfil what started as a schoolboy dream. An offer not to be missed, and so he signed for QPR. He signed a one year contract, with the option of a further year. When he took up the option of the second year, there was a further option to stay the following Season.

Jim Gregory as the Chairman and Alec Stock as the Manager, were a combination reminiscent of his earlier days at Fulham. Both were true Gentlemen, had a passion for the game and showed respect to the players. They in turn rewarded the Club with its greatest achievements. Alec Stock had put together a team of players young and old. Some up and coming stars and some characters who had had their day and were intent on enjoying their twilight years. The family atmosphere which was such a part of his playing days at Fulham was evolving at QPR. There was belief in themselves and their ability to perform as a team. You don’t need me to tell you the rest….

I was only 12 when dad played at Wembley in 1967. The enormity of the achievement was probably beyond me at that time. I knew who the players were but I knew nothing about them. It is only in recent years when I have had the opportunity to meet and spend some time with the players that you become aware of what they had back in 1967. It is amazing that after 40 years, the warmth and affection that they had for each other is still going strong. Dad wasn’t superstitious, more obsessive compulsive disorder. As a supporter, you will know that the first thing he did when he went onto the pitch was to kick the upright with both feet. I think it gave him the reassurance that he hadn’t forgotten to put his boots on. He would always have a cup of tea in the dressing room before the game and at half time. He tells a story, where on one visit to Liverpool, he was visited in the dressing room before the game by Bill Shankly, who handed him a cup of tea and wished him luck. How times have changed ! Maybe his worst habit of all was that he loved his cigarettes. Not a good advert for the present day footballer, but at half time he would always light up a fag. Not in the presence of the Manager though. He would sit and listen for a couple of minutes and then he would adjourn to the Mens lavatory, cup of tea in hand and he would then light up a fag…Wembley included !

When dad left QPR, he went to Hillingdon Borough as Player Manager. Alec Stock left QPR and went to Luton. I think it was 1972 ? Hillingdon met Luton in the 2nd Round of the FA Cup and to be played at Hillingdon. On the day, Alec said to dad: “If you beat us, I’ll eat my hat.” (Some of you will remember the famous dark blue trilby hat that he always wore) Hillingdon beat Luton 2-1. Rather than have Alec eat his hat, dad claimed it. Another scalp claimed during an illustrious career and there were still more Wembley honours to come……

Dad was a true sportsman, not only in the way that he played the various sports, but in the amount of sporting activities that he took part in. He probably has more trophies for sport outside of football than he has for football. He has always played to win. He was an exceptional darts player with numerous trophies. He has trophies for ten pin bowling, cricket and golf. He played table tennis, bowls, you name it, he played it. The love of his life as with many a footballer, was playing cards. Talking of cards, his lifetime hobby has been collecting cigarette cards. I have numerous press articles written about him and his collection which I now have. For many years, right up to the present day, supporters who have been aware of his hobby, have sent cigarette cards to him through the post. They have arrived as individual cards or complete sets. Needless to say, the collection is massive and still growing.

It is very difficult to condense what could be a book into three or four pages. The above does not really give you an insight into the man, whose reputation as ‘Gentleman Jim’ on the field of play, does not adequately reflect the amount of charity work that he did or the generosity that he showed to the supporters. A point supported by the many messages of condolences received since his passing.

Peter Langley

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14 Responses to Gentleman Jim

  1. bigdave says:

    true ranger and a sad day best wishes to your family jim R.I.P

  2. I was there in 67 for the final, and if you saw Jimmy and Les Allen walking off the pitch 2 0 down laughing and waving to family and friends in the crowd you new we were still in with a shout. I saw Jimmy play many times but that was my finest memory of him,he gave us hope and rock solid enthusiasm. A truly great sportsman

  3. Bill Elkins says:

    A wonderful piece of writing Peter, and must admit to having a lump in my throat as I read it.

    Rest assured that Jim will never be forgotten for the ‘Gentleman’ and great sportsman that he was.

    We will never see Jim’s like again, they broke the mould when your dad was born.

    All the best mate.

    Bill Elkins.

  4. chriscarrsrightfoot says:

    I was to young to see Jim play but what
    a great article , for a GREAT Rangers legend .

  5. peter hayter says:

    wonderful piece. thank you so much. But, apart from Wembley, my other abiding memory of Jim is of his near-faultless penalty taking; just ran up and whacked the ball, left foot straight into the corner. Can’t recall seeing him ever miss one, and with Rodney performing his, ahem, tricks in the box, there were plenty.

  6. "Kerrins" says:

    A great tribute to a wonderful person and Footballer.

    I first saw Jim play in the late 1950′s for Fulham when my Father sometimes press ganged me along to Craven Cottage…only when R’s were not playing mind!

    He always used to say you have got no one like him at Left back at Loftus Rd y’know and my response was always to furiously sing the praises of Tony Ingham.

    Well in the end we DID get him at LR and what a bonus that was for the club.

    Jim was always friendly towards supporters and I recall once having the honour of talking with him on the train during an away trip to Colchester in the 65/66 season.

    A sad loss to the world of Football. I just Hope FULHAM FC also paid the proper respect due to him. After all thats been said he was really their hero first and Foremost.

  7. Kalash says:

    As Jim was one of my boyhood heroes I very much wanted to pay my respects and attend his funeral.

    I was, however, a little uncertain about going along, not wanting to appear a hanger on.

    At the end I did go, and it was so uplifting to see so many people who had known Jim talking about him with so much respect and love.

    Rest In Peace

  8. johnqprhayes says:

    I was only too pleased to represent the Indy R’s in tribute to Jim.This website and it’s members reflect often on the importance of history to this club of ours.Jim was involved in our finest hour (& half) at Wembley, and although he did not spend years as a player for us, he was instrumental in our victory over West Brom, being the positive influence as the elder statesman of our side.
    I had the pleasure of speaking with this man on several occasions while he represented West Drayton Royal British Legion at darts against my team, and I took the opportunity of bending his ear of what it was like playing for QPR and England, winning at Wembley, hammering Scotland etc etc, and modestly as can be he didn’t mind explaining his memories to someone who was genuinely interested.As his nickname famously details him he was a gentleman, an individual lucky enough to live out a boyhood dream of many a West London lad, with such distinction, modesty, and honesty today’s players could learn so much from.

    I stand by my words “Rest in peace Gentleman Jim”.

  9. jj says:

    A really heart warming article. No doubt a true gent appreciated by many. He lived the dream but stayed a gent. If only that could be said of many of todays players.
    Well done to the respect shown by those on this board. A credit to the individuals and to indyrs.
    Rest in Peace Jim Langley.

  10. dave h says:

    i was there 1967, the overiding memory of Jim was his smile and love of the game, those long throws, overhead kicks and the certainty he would convert those pens. As a 11 year old they were truely fantastic times to be a r’s fan. Lyme Regis hoops

  11. Frances Trinder says:

    Back in 1967, some friends of mine were throwing a party in their rented house in West Drayton. I admit the music was loud and it was getting late. There was a knock on the door and standing there was a gentleman who very politely asked if we could turn the sound down a bit. We invited him in – it was Jim Langley and I couldn’t believe my luck. My enduring memory is of him sitting on a cushion on the floor, with a drink and a cigarette and chatting well into the night.

    Belatedly, I have to apologise for the noise. But I am so grateful for the chance to have met him.

  12. I am a lifelong rangers fan. Many years ago in my work as a comedian I got booked to do a gig at Hillingdon Borough FC. When I got there this very friendly guy came in to the dressing room and made me welcome with a cup of tea. I told him he looked familiar and asked if we had met before? When he told me he was Jim Langley and I told him I was a QPR fan and remember watching him play when I was a kid…that was it. We talked about the Rangers glory days for ages. What a great bloke and a great player..if only there were more Jim Langleys around today, football would be a lot better for it.

  13. Andy Wardle says:

    Wow!! Reading these comments/stories above has been a real highlight for me. Great pohoto with two trophies! I honestly believe I have missed out by not being at loftus road from 1964 to 1970.

    Certainly a major loss for me. RIP Mr Langley.

  14. graham seston says:

    i knew jim through peter and steve and pat we all went to evelyns sec mod i remember our first cup final jim presented the medals umfortunately we lost and from that day i became known as laughing boy.so many happy memories following hillingdon boro including the terrace song the mighty jim so it came as a terrible shock to hear of his death. I now live in the cotswolds still follow football.it is truly wonderful he is remembered with so much affection all the best and thanks for the memorie
    s.

    and stl have gr

    eat memories.
    l


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