The following interview with Rodney Marsh appeared in ‘Shoot’ magazine sometime, I would think, during the 1970-71 season:
Q: You have a reputation for being a soccer clown. Is this deserved ?
A: It used to be. When I was playing for Fulham I made the crowd laugh purely by chance – I had been fouled a lot and finally I went down and bowed my head in the direction of the player who had tackled me. The crowd laughed and I have often played for laughs after that. But that’s all behind me now – I’m a much more mature player and I go hot under the collar when I think of my early days.
Q: How do you react when the Queen’s Park Rangers crowd starts its ‘Rod-nee’ chant ?
A: I love it…who wouldn’t ? And I’m sure our supporters are worth a goal to us. The ground is so compact you feel the fans are on the pitch with you.
Q: It’s often said that you play better when there’s a 50,000 crowd, or the T.V. cameras are there. Is this true ?
A: Yes and no. I would play better in front of a huge crowd, but so would the rest of the team – the atmosphere would help us all to raise our game. The T.V. cameras, though, don’t make the slightest difference to me.
Q: What about the famous remark that you do take dives in the penalty-area ?
A: I do dive, yes, but not in the way everyone means. I do have to fall in a certain way because I injured a shoulder when I was young, and so I’ve learnt to hit the ground in a certain way to avoid getting hurt. This might look a bit spectacular, but there is a good reason for it. But I don’t sham fouls in the area – it’s much more sensible to try and hang on to the ball and go on and score that way.
Q: How did you acquire your remarkable skill with the ball ?
A: Some of it must be inborn, but I put in a vast amount of practice when I was young as, indeed, I still do. One of my tricks was to throw one of my mum’s bakewell tarts on to my foot, flick it in the air and catch it in my mouth. My mum is a good cook, so I didn’t often miss.
Q: You suddenly hit a golden patch after starting the season poorly. Why ?
A: I missed the first match with flu and it took me a long time to shake off the effects of the illness. I felt sluggish and lost my sharpness. It took me three or four matches – before I was back to full fitness. Then I felt better than ever.
Q: Have QPR any chance of promotion ?
A: It’s still difficult to say, but the lads haven’t given up yet. I expect the last weeks of the promotion race will be a lottery.
Q: Which other sides do you fear ?
A: None. Although there are several I admire. Like Hull City, who have always been prepared to attack and are getting some reward for it. Sheffield United are also a good footballing side. But there are no teams around as good as Derby County in the season they won promotion.
Q: What is the biggest drag in soccer ?
A: Injury, without a shadow of a doubt. You can’t legislate for it. It can happen at any time. But it’s something that footballers have to live with. Once, during my Fulham days, I ran into a post. The doctors said I’d never play again…that’s an experience I don’t want to have twice.
Q: Which team do you follow apart from QPR ?
A: None really. I used to watch Arsenal as a boy. Now I have a slight feeling for Spurs. But QPR always comes first.