Yes folks (I kid you not) much gloom and doom from the multitude of QPR supporters at Griffin Park during the end of the 1961/62 season when Brentford lost a midweek fixture 2-0 to Grimsby Town. Strange but certainly true and here is an explanation of events seen through the eyes of a devout 13 year old schoolboy Rangers fan…I still get a twinge of sadness thinking about it forty six years later. This was the second season running when the R’s were in at the death fighting for promotion from the old Division 3. We just missed out previously in 1960/61 (behind Bury and Walsall) following a Spring ‘dip’ in form after selling our star left winger Clive Clark to West Brom….talk about selling your promotion chances !!!
In 1961/62, Portsmouth were home and dry as Champions but the runners up spot was down to the wire…contested between Grimsby, QPR and Bournemouth. The Brentford versus Grimsby Town match was crucial. Brentford HAD to win to keep Rangers hopes alive. A win for Grimsby would see them promoted on the night and seal our fate. The omens were not good, Brentford were total garbage that year. They were already relegated before kick-off. Furthermore, I remembered just how bad they were when we thrashed them 4-1 at Griffin Park earlier on in the season.
The Bees gates averaged around 7,000 but that night I think there were approximately 14,000 inside the ground…thousands of R’s fans swelling the attendance with plenty of ‘blue and white’ on display. There were virtually no Grimsby supporters…people tended not to travel away so much in those days, especially long distance and midweek. Although roared on by the large R’s contingent, Brentford quite frankly, were pathetic, even George Francis the ex-QPR centre forward proved hopeless in front of goal. Grimsby were smooth and clinical and of course had everything to play for.
The writing was on the wall after half an hour and Grimsby easily won 2-0 and hence were promoted. Boos and jeers rang out from our section of the ground at the final whistle. We were all stunned, gutted…sick as a parrot etc. This was the second consecutive season we had fallen at the final hurdle. When were we EVER going to get promoted out of Division 3 ? Virtual silence punctuated by a few moans on the number 657 trolley bus was followed by total grief at Ashchurch Park Villas, Shepherds Bush ! Oh well, there is always another season. Perhaps 1967 will be our year ?
Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)
Portsmouth finished on 65 points, Grimsby were the runners-up on 62 followed by Bournemouth and despite scoring an amazing 111 league goals, the R’s were in fourth place. A further 18 goals were scored in Cup matches which included a 7-0 thrashing of Barry Town in a FA Cup replay and a 5-2 victory against Crystal Palace in the League Cup. In fact there were an incredible 213 goals scored in all Rangers League and Cup matches that season !!!
Brian Bedford was top scorer with 39 goals followed by Bernard Evans on 22. Apart from the departure of star-winger Clive Clark to WBA, Mark Lazarus was sold to Wolves during the season. He returned five months later though and still chipped in with 12 goals. Mike Keen was ever-present and Ray Drinkwater missed only one game.
The R’s fortunes were to dip in the next few years. Gates plummeted and there was another unsuccessful move to the White City but it could have been even worse if John Bloom had taken control of the club. His well known washing machine company was to go bust but in November 1964, Jim Gregory joined the Board……..