Writing about that great day in May 1968 was difficult for some reason. The day seems to have become a memory blur for me…and its not drink related ! I remember being on one of Daphne’s Supporters Club coaches (the Victor of her day, only better looking) with some of my mates and like everybody else, up for it. Word got around that one bloke travelling was a Crystal Palace player and also an R’s fan. Apparently he should have been with Palace that day but had thrown a ‘sickie’ to be at Villa Park !!!
Like now, I didn’t drink in those days (it’s so hard to lie) so the next thing I recall was being inside the Ground. QPR fans used to gather on the half way line at away games in those days, as I did at Villa Park. Three or four years earlier, ‘Ends’ and ‘Mobs’ had come about and on this great day ‘The Rangers Boys’ decided to take the Holte End. It seemed quite funny watching Villa’s hoolies trying to sneak up the outside of the terracing only to be chased back down again. This seemed to go on forever but as the Ground filled up things eventually began to settle down. The Holte End seemed to be half and half, mob wise anyway.
With us on the halfway line was a fellow everybody called Elvis. He was dressed head to toe in a sort of blue Sailor’s outfit. He was one of those blokes who could get the fans going…and he did it. In those days the chanting was more simple then now. ‘Clap, Clap, Rangers…Clap, Clap, Rangers’
Very easy but the clapping and chanting stopped when Villa took a shock lead. I remember thinking why would they want to do that ? They have nothing to play for, why ? As the game went on, news came through that Blackpool, our rivals for second place, were also losing. Half time came and still losing.
Things of course got better as Mick Leach equalised and during the 2nd half, a Rangers fan went onto the pitch to tell Mike Kelly (Ron Springett wasn’t playing) that Blackpool were now winning at Huddersfield. Somehow word must have spread through the team and also to the Villa right back, the great Keith Bradley, who eight minutes from time put the ball into his own net following a low cross at the Holte End. I think the remaining eight minutes were the longest in my life. Rumour has it that Rodney gave Bradley a kiss on the top of his head as he just sat there !
At the final whistle, Rangers fans invaded the pitch to hug and kiss the players and were trying to get their shirts etc. I think I was also on the pitch but do you know that I’m not sure ? That blur again ! My mate got the number 3 shirt off Alan Harris but for some mad reason he cut it up and gave bits of it to other mates, mad or what !