Rangers’ Return to the White City was a total Washout

Posted on by Steve Russell

The following article is dated 4th October 1962 and appeared in the local Gazette and Post:

‘The biggest night in the history of Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club ended in a big washout at White City on Monday evening. After torrential rain had flooded the pitch, the referee postponed the match against Hull City half-an-hour before the kick-off.

This was probably the biggest anti-climax in the history of football. For their move to the White City – which manager Alec Stock has said will put QPR forty years ahead of any other football club in the country – Rangers had spared no expense and the national Press had given great publicity to this opening match – this was a day to remember.

To mark this historic day the QPR Directors had laid on an expensive banquet in the White City restaurant. The guests included the top men of the Football Association and Football League, stars of the radio and television world and the foremost sporting journalists in the country.

After drinking cocktails in the bar with these numerous celebrities, I sat down to dinner eagerly awaiting the moment when I would have to leave my coffee and rush down to the Press box for the big kick-off. But at seven o’clock, when I had hardly taken my first mouthful of melon, the announcement came over the loudspeaker system that the referee had inspected the pitch and decided play was impossible.

The disappointment echoed round the restaurant and groans of dismay could be heard from the terraces where ardent fans were already seated in their positions to cheer the Rangers back to the top of Division Three.

I and the hundred or so other guests, finished our dinners – the cost to Rangers was probably about £400 – but the edge was taken off our appetites as there was nothing left to do but have another drink and make one’s way home.

Many of the Rangers’ guests were bitterly disappointed. Seated at my table was an American film director who had never seen a football match in his life. His disappointment was equal to the most ardent fan on the terraces.

But these people were impressed by the White City and said they would come again – without the attraction of the free dinner – to see the Rangers play. Harold Berens of “Ignorance is Bliss” fame was one such enthusiast.

The life and soul of the party was Australian disc jockey Alan Freeman. His spirits were not dampened by the weather but he too promised to come again. “Yes I’ll be here on Saturday”, he replied in answer to my question, “but how does one get in?”

“Well you just pay your three bob at the gate along with everyone else” I retorted.

“I don’t mind paying three bob” said Alan, “See you on Saturday then!”

Even before the match was called off there were a large number of fans already in the ground and many more outside. A White City official estimated that there would have been a 20,000 crowd if the game had been played.

If the estimate was correct it would seem that while the game was a washout the White City itself was a roaring success and will attract everyone, famous funny boys, football fanatics and us fans. See you on Saturday then!’

The article also includes a pic of two R’s fans with the following caption: ‘Two charming Rangers supporters, Mrs Maureen Atkins and Miss Brenda Giles, drink a toast to Alec Stock and his men at the White City on Monday evening’.

whitecity

The programme’s ‘Club Notes by Ranger’ begin as follows:

‘Tonight is our privilege and pleasure to welcome you to our “new home”, the White City Stadium. This switching of first-team matches from Loftus Road is a milestone in the history of Queen’s Park Rangers FC. It is a bold move by the directors of the club, aimed at providing spectators with the maximum comfort – which is we believe, a vital consideration in this modern Soccer age.

Among our many guests tonight, we are particularly pleased to see Mr Graham Doggart, Chairman of the Football Association; Mr Denis Follows, the new FA Secretary; Mr Alan Hardaker, Secretary of the Football League; Miss Edith Woods, Mayor of Hammersmith; members and officials of the League Management Committee; the players and officials of Hull City; and representatives of all London’s Football League clubs.’

Elsewhere in the programme it is noted that; ‘TV’s Judith Chalmers will be making the draw for the QPR Sportsman’s Association Pool (prizes nightly, Monday to Saturday) at half-time this evening’.

I saw the R’s play at the White City that season and my memories are of being a long way from the pitch, a small crowd and no atmosphere.

Rangers played two matches at the White City in April 1912 and later spent two seasons there between 1931 and 1933.

Attendances for our final two league games at the end of the 1932/33 season slumped dramatically to 2,837 and 3,079 respectively, although our record home attendance of 41,097 was against Leeds United for the FA Cup 3rd Round match there in 1932.

I also remember when the idea was mooted again at the end of the 1964/65 season, but the stadium was demolished in 1985 to make way for a new BBC building complex.

Steve Russell



4 Responses to Rangers’ Return to the White City was a total Washout

  1. Kerrins says:

    Yes I remember that night well. I was in Wood lane when some of the crowd said the game was postponed due to heavy rain.

    The Hull city team coach was stuck in the traffic heading to the ground(late) and I tapped on the window and tried to tell them the game was off…They were not going to take any notice of a 13 year old in a blue and white bobble hat!

  2. david says:

    Got off train at White City to be met with hoardes of people coming down to the platform saying game off.The traffic was gridlocked all around Wood Lane and Bush green.Little did we know that a few years later we would have a fantastic young side and we were on the up.

  3. ESSEXURs aka Colin Woodley says:

    Yes Kerrins that was about as far as we got that night. I can vouch for the expected crowd numbers as the pavements were packed along The Bush Green and Wood Lane.
    If the lush White City pitch was unplayable I would hate to think what Loftus Rd was like that evening!

  4. Chris Guy says:

    Great article Steve,the two attempts we had at making The White City our permanent home were a bit of a disaster.
    It’s a blessing in disguise really when you look at all the great times we’ve had at Loftus Road,it’s a real shame it got pulled down when it did, I imagine that site would have been first on the list for our new stadium under the current regime. A case of third time lucky?


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