I met Alan Barnes, Ron Hill, Jim Mellins, Rob Bennett and Martin Botwright at Kings Cross for the 7am departure. Because of vandalism around the Durham area my rendezvous with Jimmy (jj) in Edinburgh was about thirty minutes later than planned. He had flown up from Luton earlier that morning. The others missed their connection to Falkirk by a couple of minutes and had to wait half an hour for the next one. We knew that many R’s fans were meeting at the ‘Behind the Wall’ bar before the game but after checking in at our hotel, we decided to head straight for the Ground.
Falkirk used to be located at Brockville Park from 1885 until the end of the 2002/03 season. They then shared with Stenhousemuir until their new stadium was ready in 2004. The ground is essentially made up of a massive West Stand on one side of the pitch, the North Stand for away fans and a temporary stand in the North East corner. The rest of the East side and the South end are currently unused for supporters although there are plans to develop these areas. We unfurled the ‘Indy R’s’ flag and then it was time for a chat. I met Brian from Aberdeen (Aberdeen R) for the first time. The R’s lined up as follows:- Camp, Delaney, Connolly, Hall, Stewart, Mahon, Ledesma, Rowlands, Blackstock, Agyemang and Ephraim. It has to be noted that the referee, Mike McCurry and his two linesmen were ‘blinding’ in their luminous yellow kit !!!
After 15 minutes, Damion Stewart put the ball into his own net following a cross from Aafjes into the 6 yard box. Worse was to happen a few minutes later when McCann’s corner was volleyed in by an un-marked John Stewart from close range. It has to be said that the home side were neatly knocking the ball around and Rangers never really got going. Ledesma shot well wide and Ephraim forced a save after shooting from close to the bye-line. Half Time: 0-2. After the break Mahon had an effort blocked and Rowlands shot wide a few minutes later. Connolly collided with one of their players and then had to be stretchered off. The five substitutions were Ramage, Walton, Ainsworth, Bolder and Balanta. The official attendance was 1,308 and the R’s turnout was either 336 as given to Alan Barnes or elsewhere as 200+ ?
Russell Latapy, who will be 40 years old on 2nd August, came on for the home side in the 2nd half and it is said that as part of his preparation prior to Trinidad and Tobago’s 2006 World Cup campaign, he reduced his cigarette consumption from forty to ten a day !!! Iain Dowie spent much of the game in the stand until Gareth Ainsworth went on. The ‘Sunday Mail’ quoted him as saying: “Falkirk played well. They just missed out on sixth last season and popped the ball around well. It was a decent game and we had our chances.” Their Official Site described the QPR performance as ‘lacklustre’.
This was the third time that the R’s had played in Falkirk. There was a 1-1 draw in 1984 when Clive Allen scored from the penalty spot. The match was played on a Sunday and the crowd was given as around 2,000. Rangers won 2-0 five years later with goals from Colin Clarke and a penalty from Andy Gray. Saturday’s programme also refers to five connections between the two clubs, Paul Wright, Andy Gray, Andy Thomson, Simon Stainrod and Dominic Iorfa. There are glowing memories of Stainrod: ‘To a certain generation of Falkirk fans, he was the greatest player ever seen in the navy blue. He arrived from Rouen in 1990 for the sum of £100,000. He was paid £1 per week but was on a huge bonus every time he played. Management was not for him as events at Ayr and Dundee showed and he is now acting as an agent based in France.’ They write about the careers of Dominic Iorfa and his brother Daniel. One was a footballer and the other a prolific 400 metre runner but which was which they speculate?
After the game, we headed back to the hotel and later met up for a drink in the town with Alan from Dundee, Bill Burnett and Brian from Aberdeen plus Richard and his sons from Perth. When we arrived, there were also a number of other R’s fans including a young lady from Inverness with her boyfriend who was originally from the Goldhawk Road. A few pints later, the others headed off and Jimmy, Bill and I decided to find an Indian Restaurant to round off the evening. Bill took us on a tour of Edinburgh the following day and as we headed back to the car who should I see walking towards me….Joe Hylton ! Next game…Kilmarnock.