Saturday 11th May 1968 – Fourth Account

So the scene was set. Rangers had won the final home game against Birmingham 2-0 and we led Blackpool by the smallest of goal differences for second place in the table. The final match against Villa was seven days away and the week dragged by. Sleeping was a problem as anticipation increased with each day. For anyone who doesn’t follow a football team, these anxieties must be very strange. Grown men losing sleep over a simple game but as we all know, football life is more important than that.

Match day came and along with 15,000+ others, we filled the M1. Hundreds of vehicles displaying the hoops with horns blowing and I can even recall the odd vehicle pulled over with engine trouble. Hopefully an angel in blue and white came to their rescue to get them to the Ground in time.

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The match itself was a roller coaster. Rangers were poor in the 1st half and were very fortunate to reach half time only one down. The only consolation for us was that Blackpool were also one down to Huddersfield. The 2nd half commenced and at last we started to relax, so presumably Alec Stock had worked his magic again. Dear old (much underestimated) Mickey Leach equalised with a header off bar and post which the referee adjudged to have crossed the linesuch relief !

The news came through that Blackpool were leading which added to the tension. Heaven smiled again when Villa’s right back, Bradley, diverted the ball into his net to give us the lead. Even then Villa protested that Frank Clarke had handled the ball. The goal stood and the celebrations started with the ball being shunted here, there and anywhere into safety.

The final whistle went and we had reached the ‘promised land’ (albeit for a short while) and the world was a wonderful place. The sun was shining in Shepherd’s Bush and the beer tasted like champagne !

Clive Kingham

9 thoughts on “Saturday 11th May 1968 – Fourth Account

  1. Great read Clive…those were the days!

    In the end I suppose you could say we “limped” over the promotion finishing line…but on our overall form that season I reckon we deserved it. Remember we did suffer some injuries to key players on the “Run in”

    You had to feel a bit of sympathy for those Blackpool fans at Huddersfield… they had won 4-1 and at the final whistle many were under the impression they had won promotion too!

    Winning promotion by .20 of a goal is more exciting than winning by 20 points but it sure does tend to shred the nerve ends! lol

  2. Great read. Wasn’t at the game. But remembering listening anxiously on the radio for score flashes. Much, much tension. And then the final result coming in and QPR were where we never believed we’d ever really be. Unbelievably magic moment.

  3. I’d definitely agree that being there was even more nerve-wracking!
    Just for the record: The team –
    Mike Kelly
    Allan Harris, Bobby Keetch, Tony Hazell, Ian Watson
    Ian Morgan, Mike Keen Les Allen, Mick Leach
    Rodney Marsh, Frank Clarke

  4. Unfortunately I wasn’t around to suffer that sort of tension and nail-biting drama then BUT for the benefit of us youngsters ;-)! Would it have been on a par with the promotion up at Hillsbrough for the 2003-04 season?
    Granted that back in 1968 we were being promoted to the top division and also that if we had lost against Sheffield Wednesday we would still have had the possibility to be able to make it through the dreaded play-offs.
    Thoughts anyone?

  5. Moreno I would say Villa Park 68 had more tension…but less replica shirts! lol

    It is difficult to make a decision re the category of importance for both fixtures because we are not comparing like for like situations here.

    We certainly had more Fans at Villa Park 15,000 out of a total crowd of Approx 34,000 (the Home side were a poor team back then)..compared to about 9’500 at Hillsbro’ Although in 2003/4 you have to take into consideration the Big Screen event at LR which boosted the numbers who saw the match.

    There was certainly more post match euphoria after Hillsbro’ tour on an Open Top Bus around Shepherds Bush/Hammersmith for the boys of ’68. In those days we mainly confined celebrations of Triumph to the day of the game….but there was a chance for an encore from the team when we played Chelsea at LR(Mike Keen Testimonial) a few days later…lost 2-1

    I wonder what would happen if we got promoted to the top flight at the end of this season?…Hold that thought!

  6. I remember my dad telling me that he stopped counting the coaches from west London after he got past 166 that day in Brum.

    He was born in Paddington in 1918 and started following the Rs in 1926 and like most of us had no choice in the matter – his father was a Rangers fan back into the 1890s. To understand what it meant to fans of that era and how special that day was at Villa Park you have to consider that they NEVER thought the day would come where Rangers were going up into the first division. Remember it was only the clubs 5th season in Div 2 and the vast majority of the clubs previous history had been spent in Div 3 and the Southern League.

    My dad went to school in Kilburn and he would mention to me as a kid the grief he got at school from Arsenal fans in the early 30s. Remember they were winning Div 1 3 years in a row in that era, whilst Rangers were applying for re-election to Div 3 South.

    Hillsborough 2004 was certainly a magical and enjoyable day and it was so good to see the younger Rs support being able to celebrate a victory and promotion. For the 40 plusers like me though age wise though it was not comparable to the 82 Cup Final, spanking top teams like Cologne and Slovan Bratislava etc in the UEFA Cup and nearly winning Div 1 in 1976.

    What both Villa Park 68 and Hillsborough 2004 had in common of course was a memorable own goal from the home side – thank you Keith Bradley, Chris Carr and, of course, on the subject of own goals away from home an honourable mention to Jamie Pollock!


  7. Very Interesting comments Martin…During the period 1957 to 1966 I was wondering if we were ever going to get out of the third Division…never mind reach Top Flight Football!

  8. Colin lol

    Alternatively they could clone us from DNA and have a “Jurassic Park” section of Loftus Rd specially prepared.

    Old QPR Dinosaurs on display and roaming the stadium ..Hmmm… Charge for admission and it could even be a money spinner for the club!

  9. Yes Ingham that is a fair summing up of that late 50’s early 1960’s era.We were minnows and were expected to remain thus.

    Yes indeed in those days what did we have to look back on?…1948 Div 3 south championship and defeat by Man Utd in the Charity Shield at the turn of the 20th century!.

    Of course in these modern times we can “Look Back” on far more “Glory”

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