On 26th February 1948, QPR drew 1-1 with Derby County at Loftus Road in the FA Cup 6th round. Over 28,000 witnessed the match and Johnny Hartburn scored the Rangers goal.
The day before the replay, the QPR team travelled up to Derby from St. Pancras on the 4.15pm train.
Six thousand R’s fans were expected to make the journey. These included 19-year-old Stan Russell, a private in the Parachute Regiment. Stan from 100 Oaklands Grove in the Bush, was on 10 days leave.
He had recently joined the Ealing Manor Road Cycling Club and two days before the big game, Stan firstly cycled to Norwich to see some friends. He eventually completed the 313-mile journey at 2.30 on the morning of the match.
Fog had delayed him on the last stages of his journey and he lost his way four times!
The ‘Derby Daily Telegraph’ also reported that two legless R’s fans made the trip in their invalid chairs:
‘Mr John Jones and Mr John Butler set out from London on a 130-mile trip by invalid chairs to Derby at 4.15am today. Their journey was started in thick fog, but they reached the Baseball Ground half-an-hour before the kick-off.
Our picture (unfortunately its of poor quality, but John Jones is seen wearing a bowler, and has a rosette pinned on his coat. There are two small flags aside the headlight and “QPR” displayed between them), shows Mr Jones, who lost his legs in the 1914-18 war, leaving his house in the North Circular Road, Willesden, before joining Mr Butler. QPR had given them complimentary tickets.
They were greeted by rousing cheers at the Baseball Ground from friends waiting to meet them. Both said they had had a good journey, though one of them added: “But it was cold! We had icicles on our faces for many miles.”
Rangers lost the tie 0-5 and after the game Stan cycled the 130 miles back to London via Kettering.
As for John Jones and John Butler, they rested in Derby overnight before returning to London the following day.
(Thanks to Colin Woodley for his assistance)