Two quotes have stuck in my mind over the years about QPR in Season 1968-69. One was at the beginning of the Season and came from the Manager, Alec Stock, and the other one was at the end from the Chairman, Jim Gregory. The previous two Seasons had seen the R’s bag a net full of goals playing good football and the atmosphere at matches was unbelievable. Our first match of the 68-69 Season was at home to Leicester City and the game was featured on the lunchtime Grandstand spot. Alec Stock was interviewed and the pride he had for the club was evident. He did not promise anything for that Season but he urged people to go to Loftus Road and experience for themselves the transformation taking place. In particular the new South Africa Road Stand, before “the atmosphere generated by Rangers supporters begins to melt the metal structure.”
In all honesty, particularly because Marsh would be out for several months with a broken leg, most of the QPR supporters I knew hoped for a good Season but in our hearts we knew the team wasn’t good enough. However it was history for the club in the making, we wanted to be part of it and we knew at least we would be entertained. The 1-1 draw against Leicester was a false dawn. We were the better of the two teams and we were optimistic that we could hold our own in the league with or without Marsh. Unfortunately no one was to know at the time that Leicester would be going with us into Division 2 at the end of the Season !
I went to almost all the home games that Season and all the London away matches. We expected to see lots of goals and we were not let down. The problem was that more than ninety of them were in the QPR net. However, I can honestly say that even though we finished bottom with the joint lowest number of points ever for a Division 1 club, I was never more proud of my team. Perhaps as our expectations were low there was little likelihood of us being very disappointed. The players seemed to give their all and we as fans could not ask for more than that. Despite being on the receiving end several times, the players always continued to try and play good football.
I am probably biased but I even felt refereeing decisions didn’t go our way – the Jimmy Greaves equaliser for Spurs was a blatant hand ball. The low point for me was the fact that Alec Stock (as I was led to believe by the Club at the time) was in poor health and had to step down as Manager early in the Season. The return of Marsh promised much but was by then too late to help our position in the league. The other high point was that Fulham were also relegated that Season (from Division 2 to Division 3). The quote from Jim Gregory after it was mathematically certain we were down was: “We will be back !” And we were.
(aka Liam O’Liam in Irish and cyberspace)