I Was QPR’s 250,000th Supporter

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Back in 1967, I was going through the turnstiles at the Loft End and saw Ron Phillips standing by the wall. He then waved to me and I pointed to myself. That’s how I came to be the 250,000th spectator as reported in the Shepherds Bush Gazette:-

‘Colin Vine had a pleasant surprise waiting for him when he passed through the Queen’s Park Rangers turnstile on Saturday for their match with Portsmouth. Waiting inside the ground was Rangers’ Secretary, Ron Phillips, who welcomed Colin as the 250,000th spectator of the season. He was given a seat in the Director’s Box for the afternoon, a season ticket for the rest of the season, a ball autographed by the two teams and a certificate to commemorate the occasion. Colin, a 24-year-old heating engineer, of 73 Devonport Road, Shepherds Bush, has been a Rangers supporter all his life and picks the League Cup Final last season as the greatest game he ever saw them play. Although he watches Rangers on Saturdays, Colin is a regular player with Sepia F.C. every Sunday.’

In 1974, I had a boozy session with Michael Wale in a country pub in West Berkshire and I told him the story. He took my telephone number and to my surprise, he rang to tell me what he had written for the Derby programme:-

Michael Wale’s Rangers Report –  Our 250,000 Supporter – Colin Vine

‘I’ve never met many QPR fans on my wanderings, this is no reflection upon our club but just the fact, I think, that it is very much a local affair based upon years in the Third Division. So it was a surprise the other night when I was having a drink deep in Racing country at East Garston, near Newbury, that I should meet the man who was named all those years ago officially to be Rangers 250,000th supporter. He is Colin Vine and for 20 years he lived in Shepherds Bush before moving out of London. He is now a successful young executive with his own heating and air conditioning Company, but more to the point, he is an even stauncher Rangers supporter and this season for the first time, bought a season ticket in the Ellerslie Road Stand and motors a round 100 mile trip to each home game. And what is more, Colin spreads the word about the Rangers across the countryside.

We met in a very pleasant pub called ‘The Queens Arms’ run by another exile Londoner, Bill Hill, who it must be admitted, is still a keen Brentford supporter, but often Colin and Bill are to be heard discussing the past of their teams (if I was a Brentford supporter I suppose I would live in the past). Colin still thinks it’s a blessing the Rangers never completed that proposed move across West London to Griffin Park. And Bill is agreed upon that too. So they must have something in common.

Colin first started coming to Rangers when he was 11-years-old: “I can’t quite remember the first game I saw, but I think it was a Reserve match, there were no goals and Conway Smith used to take the penalties. I used to stand in the Boys Pen at the Loftus Road End and I used to go with a crowd from school. I lived in Devonport Road. Over the years I went to most home games, but seldom went away because of work. But I did go to that League Cup game up at Birmingham the year we won the Cup.” Remembering the fervour of those years, I asked Colin the question that has often been posed this season. Why don’t Rangers get bigger gates ? “I think it’s because Shepherds Bush has changed as an area. People who grew up there have moved away. In my boyhood days it was very much a local side.”

The occasion of Colin being picked out of the crowd as Rangers quarter of a million man, came before the game against Portsmouth in our previous First Division promotion season. “I remember going through the turnstiles at the Loftus Road End and the Secretary Ron Phillips picking me out and taking me to the Director’s Box.” What happened next might reassure a lot of those who still follow the R’s from the terraces.

Colin explains: “To tell you the truth I didn’t like the view from the Director’s Box because in those days there was a pillar or two in the way. It was in the old Ellerslie Road Stand and so after a drink at half-time in the Directors room, I slipped back to the terraces and watched the rest of the match from there. Then afterwards, I went back to the Director’s room and met some of the players and officials. I remember especially meeting Bill Dodgin and being very impressed by him. What it brought home to me seeing the other side of a football club, was that as far as I was concerned being a Rangers fan was about being a fanatic, but to the people on the other side it was a business because they earned their living from it. I think it was a very good idea meeting them and chatting.”

Following on his decision to move back to the terraces from the seated comfort of the Director’s Box that day, I wondered what Colin’s views were now of the terraces versus seats controversy. Many people like myself, would be delighted to see Rangers build the first all-seater stadium in soccer. Many others would disagree. Colin says: “Basically, I’ve switched to being a season ticket holder so that I didn’t have too much trouble in getting in. The last few times when we were on the way up last year, it was murder. I used to enjoy it on the terraces because you get all types there. Some of the rougher ones are very witty. I think this seating business is good for all clubs because they can take a higher return on each match financially. I often hear people saying: ‘How can you afford a season ticket ?’ Well I pay £35.00 a season and when you think that some people are going to pay £2.00 a match all the season, you’ll see it’s a good investment and doesn’t work out at so much.”

And what are Colin’s views on the present Rangers side ? “This is without doubt the best team they have ever had. The football is of a higher quality but the excitement is as high as when we were in the Third Division. I think the best game this season and probably the best football Rangers have played, was against Manchester United. But there have been so many good games that it would be easier for me to single out a bad game.” Colin’s ambitions for the club at the moment, is to see them in Europe. I still live in Shepherds Bush and I would feel immensely proud for our local team to be competing with the big name European clubs. After all, to me and many others, it still is very much a local club, far more than Arsenal or Spurs, or even Chelsea.

Shepherds Bush has a character and style of its own. As Colin says, “I remember when the Who used to play in the Bush, they were called the High Numbers in those days.” So Rangers have become another local success story. I think the only clubs that have this intense local feeling nowadays are West Ham and Brentford. Colin is still proud he was raised in the Bush and when I asked him bluntly why he spent many Saturdays driving that 100-mile round journey back to his old home he said: “I couldn’t imagine going to Swindon.” !!!’

(At the time Michael Wale presented ‘Rockspeak’, a music and chat show on Radio One, ten till midnight every Friday)

Colin Vine



11 Responses to I Was QPR’s 250,000th Supporter

  1. Beans says:

    £35.00 a season. I’ve grown up in the wrong era. Although you early earnt 7 and 6 a day in those days…..

  2. finney says:

    Colin many thanks for that story what a read and many thanks again.

  3. jjcolls says:

    Great read.
    Great era, always enjoyed reading Michael Wale.
    Thanks for sharing that with us.

  4. Olly says:

    Nice one,Quarter K Colin. Thing that strikes me about all this,is Michael Wale’s role.Michael Wale,historically,has been the best read ever in the usually dull,anodyne and unilluminating official match programme.It’s from him I first heard about The Crown and Sceptre and Stan Bowles shenanigans.I live off the Askew Road and have bumped into him once or twice,the last decade.Strikes me as a bit of a rum cove.Now,after such a strong,leading connection with Rangers for so much of his life,he doesn’t seem to give a fig for anything QPR.It seems he became so embittered against the regime that was in place when his column was cancelled,that he has cut all contact with LR. Shame.

  5. Kerrins says:

    Thanks for that great read Colin.

    The only time I saw Conway Smith play at Loftus Rd was after he was signed by Halifax Town circa 1958/59

    Yes I’m told he was once the regular R’s penalty taker both for the first team(and resrves when he played)..after which Arthur Longbottom and Pat Woods took over.

    In your childhood days not such a long walk to the ground was it? lol

  6. ESPANACOL says:

    thanks for the comments fellows. Kerrins, yes wasnt far to go for the first 25 years of my life but it’ll be a bloodly long walk now.

  7. Excellent Article. if anyone has a contact address or e-mail for Ron Phillips, please PM me with the info. I’ve been looking for him for 25 years. a good man, despite telling me in 1980 that QPR would not be taking me on.

  8. Martin says:

    Another great article – I think my 1983/4 terrace season ticket for the Loft was £49. That was the first time Rangers had issued terrace season tickets.

  9. Steve Zico says:

    That bought the memories flooding back, thanks for that Colin.
    That 2-3 Man Utd game was one that I thought we could have got something from, even though their lot ‘took’ The Loft.
    Great read Colin.

  10. Dave Marshall says:

    Hi THERE, I REMEMBER STANDING IN THE BOYS PEN IN THE EARLY FIFTIES…LIVED THEN ON GODOLPHIN RD.SO WE MIGHT HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER..I WAS BORN IN 1942 SO MAY BE A YEAR OR SO OLDER THAN YOU.I REMEMBER WHEN CONWAY SMITH TOOK A PENALTY AGAINST REG MATHEWS..I WAS RIGHT BEHIND THE GOAL…YOU KNOW I NEVER SAW HIM MISS A PENALTY AND I MUST HAVE GONE HUNDREDS OF TIMES..I REMEMBER GUYS LIKE ANGELL,WOODS ,INGHAM,PETCHEY,ALSO. STILL A BIG FAN EVEN THOUGH I LIVE IN CANADA SINCE 1970..OH AND DID YOU GO TO COVERDALE RD SCHOOL? WHEN I LEFT THERE WENT TO WEST KENSINGTON..MOVED TO LANGLEY IN 59…SO I HOPE YOU GET THIS ..I REALLY ENJOYED READING YOUR BLOG…DAVE

  11. dion vaux says:

    hallo, just read about colin vine with some surprise.
    I was a mate of colin,and mick tait and others in the late 1950,s early 60′s. spent many hours down the R’s,and played for sepia on sundays. lost contact with colin when i married molly and moved to SE london. they were happy days, and the games against brentford were always great games. just wondered if anyone knows where colin might be now.
    dion(dell)vaux


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