What a proud day that was when we received the letter inviting us to go to the England Training Camp in Buxton. Dean was nervous and he had to be there for a week. We drove him there and left him at the hotel. He telephoned home every night to tell us how he was getting on. He was sharing with a lad from Liverpool and they got on ok. That lad got injured and had to return home so Dean then had the room to himself for the remainder of the week. He was the only one from a Centre Of Excellence so he didn’t know any of the other boys. We collected him at the end of the week and we asked him loads of questions, “How was it ?”, “How do you think you’ve done ?”, What were the other players like ?” and “What were the Coaches like ?” He replied with, “I think I did ok”
We had been told that we would receive a letter but not to worry if he didn’t get in the first squad as they would all get a game and so we waitedThe letter finally arrived, ‘Dean had made the first squad to play against Wales in the Victory Shield.’ We were ecstatic and phoned all our friends. Terry Springett busied herself arranging the hotel and travel details. Everybody at QPR was happy for us, we were on cloud nine. Joe and Steve Gallen spoke to Dean and congratulated him and said, “We knew you were capable of getting into the squad.”
When the England players came out, we were so proud as were all our friends who travelled to watch him. We ran round to the other side of the pitch to watch them sing the National anthem. We told him to sing loud and proud (not that we needed to) Tina and Gary started crying, we hugged and Terry took some pictures. We were both inundated with, ‘Good Luck’ text messages from our friends watching at home. Joe and Steve also travelled to the game even though they both had games the following day. They really are top lads, they praised him but also kept him grounded with the usual banter. How proud we all were for Dean and QPR.
Dean was in the starting line-up for the next match against Northern Ireland. Travel arrangements were again left to Terry, our top organiser. Lots of friends from Rangers travelled again even some whose boys had left the Club. Again the Gallens were there and big Alan McDonald came along plus a number of Northern Ireland R’s fans. Seeing Steve Russell and JJ putting up that big Rangers flag with military precision was a sight to be seen ! Dean was well happy with that and told us after that the other boys couldn’t believe the support he had there. He did himself and us proud but unfortunately he came off injured. We went back to the hotel after to celebrate my 40th birthday with all our friends and the Rangers boys also came along for a few bevies.
The next match was the big one, the decider against the old enemy. Bobby Ross was telling Dean that he had told the Scottish Coach to put three players on him. Dean replied that England would be too good for them. He also promised Bob that he would wave to his grandson as the little fella had watched the last game and knew Dean was an R’s player. On arriving at the Ground, we sat in the wrong section and sat near Gordon Durie and Stuart McCall. Gary and Ray made sure they sang the National anthem as loud as they could. The boys went a goal down despite having most of the play and chances. Dean had done well but he was still carrying a knock from the previous game. Kenny Swain told him that he had done well over the three games and could be proud of himself. He had to sub him and Dean knew that this was the right decision for the team but was gutted. The one way traffic continued in the 2nd half, two great goals and the Victory Shield was retained. A great night and great memories. Dean will always be grateful to Joe and Steve Gallen for helping him achieve his England dream and to Terry Springett and Bobby Ross for all their support over the years.
We got to know most of the regular Rangers fans who turned out on Saturday mornings. This is a family Club and has so much going for it, especially at Youth level. I made friends with everyone at QPR. Thanks to Steve Bacon who looked after us at the Training Ground. I have a special friend at QPR, Terry Springett. She is amazing and does so many jobs, from putting out the cones to giving out kit and keeping all the paper work up to date. We are and always will be, supporters of this Club. Dean had a fantastic time and has many fond memories. Good luck for the future.