George Whitelaw – QPR Centre Forward In 1959 – ‘Raging Bull’ !!!

Scotsman George Whitelaw’s spell at Loftus Road was quite short lived. He played a total of 26 First Team games for the R’s from the date of his arrival from Sunderland in March 1959, up to his transfer a few months later to Halifax Town, scoring ten goals along the way. This however is only a basic statistic, there is far more to it than that.

In the grand scheme of QPR FC history, burly George Whitelaw would probably be considered as merely a very brief footnote but his stay at the club was certainly not uneventful and his somewhat eccentric on-field persona coupled together with a fearsome physical style at centre forward left a lasting impression on the majority of supporters who saw him perform. I am not certain exactly what horror effect he had on the opposition but he sure as hell scared the life out of me…and here’s the unique part, WE the supporters helped pay his transfer fee when he was purchased from Sunderland as the following Editorial comment from the QPR v Bradford City programme, dated 16th March 1959 confirms:-

‘As our supporters will have heard, a large sum of money has been paid to Sunderland for George Whitelaw, who will add much needed thrust to our forward line. Our very grateful thanks are due to the Committee of the Supporters’ Club for the loan of ¬£2,000 which greatly influenced the club when making this important signing. Without their help this valuable signing would not have been possible. We are not in a position to spend money unwisely, but this capital expenditure was considered necessary in the interest of the club. Here’s hoping that good results will materialise and that you will all show your appreciation by giving maximum support during the remaining games of the 1958-59 season.’

It’s nice to know that my Junior Supporters Club Membership fee of one shilling and three pence was put to good use. Yes, George was worth the money. He provided the vital spark with goals and assists which steered us away from the relegation zone during the 1958-59 campaign. Immediately prior to his arrival we were fifth from bottom of Division 3 and the way results were going there was a real danger of dropping into Division 4. Perish the thought !

George was an instant success on his debut, although it was obvious he was not the most sophisticated or skilful footballer ever to wear a QPR FC number nine shirt, he really set the place alight running around like a raging bull creating havoc in the Bradford defence as the R’s gained a vital 3-0 victory and to cap a tremendous all-round display, he also scored. This was of course the era of the shoulder charge on goalkeepers and George Whitelaw had the physique and relish to undertake the task. There was a joke circulating at the time stating that whenever George was in the team the opposing keeper ended up in the back of the net more times than the ball did ! It was not without good reason that he earned the nicknames of ‘Garth’ or ‘Cheyenne’ from a section of the R’s faithful. Look, I’m sorry you younger folks reading this article, you will have to go away and look up your 1950’s newspaper and TV history to comprehend this connection.

The start of the following season, 1959/60, saw George Whitelaw, Arthur Longbottom and Brian Bedford earmarked as our main goalscorers. George scored one or two goals in the very early fixtures but under the new regime of Alec Stock, Brian and Arthur got priority so George was subsequently dropped to mainly Reserve team football until his departure to Halifax Town. Was this a blunder by Alec ? Was George off the boil ? Would a long term strike partnership of Bedford and Whitelaw have been a success ? Alas we will never know the answers, but it is worth mentioning that his goalscoring ratio at his other English lower league clubs, Halifax, Carlisle and Stockport stands up fairly well and when playing for St. Johnstone in 1957/58, his record has been described in some quarters as prolific.

Various R’s fans have indicated to me that George was a much different kind of person off the field of play. He was less aggressive and furthermore I also understand that he tended to be more religious than most of his team mates. Nevertheless, if it came down to a punch-up you would definitely want George Whitelaw in his prime on your side.

Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)

Aged 22, George was signed by Manager Jack Taylor in March 1959. Previously with St.Johnstone, he arrived from Sunderland and made his debut at home to Bradford City on Monday 16th March. He made an immediate impact with a goal after just 2 minutes when he challenged City’s goalkeeper and bundled the ball home. Unusual in appearance, he sported a fringe style haircut and ran with a slightly hunched style with his elbows away from his body. Because of this he was very distinctive and no doubt City’s goalie must have found him to be a formidable figure. Added to this he showed that he was a decent footballer as well and he soon found favour with Rangers fans.

Regrettably, his stay with the R’s was short lived. After finishing the previous season with five goals in eleven appearances, it was hoped that he would start the new season with a bang. For whatever reason it was not to be and under new Manager Alec Stock, he seemed to stagnate. His final First Team appearance was the home game against Brentford (lost 4-2) and his last appearance for the Reserves was on 21st November against Colchester. Sometime after that he was transferred. Always popular with the fans, he was a character and his playing style was unique. Quite why the Rangers let him go was never disclosed, however to this day those of us fortunate to have seen him remember him fondly.

Clive Kingham

40 thoughts on “George Whitelaw – QPR Centre Forward In 1959 – ‘Raging Bull’ !!!

  1. Yes Clive…Goalkeepers did indeed find George Whitelaw a formidable figure!

    It was a mystery why George was included in the Alec Stock “clear out”…was he homesick for the north of England?

  2. Saga Lout. That was an interesting snippet. Thanks for the info. I had not heard that particular story until now.

    Yes that incident certainly showed up the eccentric side of his character.

    I wonder if QPR FC ever paid back that ¬£2,000 to the supporters club? Hmmm thats the capital sum plus Fifty years of compound interest!…Quick contact Wayne Rooneys agent lol

  3. If memory serves me right he was nicknamed “Gunlaw” after the the tv series on at the time, i remember him best in an away game at Brentford a Brentford defender bounced off him and while he lay on the pitch Gunlaw jumped up and down like a chimp goading him!.

  4. Bill Garvey…Yep could be right. One of his many nicknames I expect.

    I was not at that Brentford away game. I did not see my first R’s AWAY Fixture until Dec 1960…but I can certainly imagine George jumping up and down like a Chimp! lol

    By the way are you the Bill Garvey that was in the same class as me at Victoria school 1960?

    Bernard Lambert

    Colin…. not sure about the WG Stores connection.

  5. Just found this in a programme from September 1959…

    ‘George Whitelaw courageously came back on the field after being knocked out in a collision with a Newport County player. In all fairness neither player was at fault and the main damage to George was caused by his face hitting the hard ground. Being extremely tough, George shook the effects off rapidly and was fit enough to play in our away game at York last Monday evening.’

  6. Steve…I reckon the main damage was to the hard ground…not to George Whitelaws face! lol

    …and I bet that Newport County player if he is still alive still has the bruises.

  7. There is a piece on George in the Shepherds Bush Pie section of the Bournemouth programme dated 19th September 1959:-
    ‘George Whitelaw achieved a terrific reputation as a goalscorer with his last two clubs. During 1957-58, when he was with St. Johnstone, he was his team’s second highest scorer, and the following year he averaged two goals a game in over 15 outings with Sunderland reserves. Although goals have not come so easily for George since he made his Rangers debut against Bradford City on March 16 this year, certain it is that he will score more than his share when he really gets in his stride. Most sensational goal perhaps ever scored by George was the one he notched in that opening game. Remember ? Bradford City goalkeeper, Wilkinson, gathered the ball and George was there rushing forward right at him as he kicked it, which resulted in the ball rebounding into the net. And Rangers new centre forward had scored for his new club within moments of the start of his first game for them.’

  8. Yes Steve..that George Whitelaw debut goal was typical of him… how could anyone there forget it?

    PS I have that particular programme in my collection.

  9. I remember going to the Gaumont on a Saturday night after watching George play. At the end of the show the lights went up and we trouped to the exit. There was George still seated in the back row clamped to a girls face oblivious to the fact that the show had finished. He got a big cheer and laughed as he joined the queue for the exit.

    Things were so different then.

  10. Colin Vine

    Yes Colin things were indeed so different then. George was certainly a larger than life character both on and off the field.

    By the way Colin..did you ever attend Wendell Park Victoria or the Sulgrave Boys club late 50’s early 60’s..The surname Vine does ring a not Rowan Vine! lol

    Bernard Lambert

  11. Hi Kerrins
    No. Not guilty with either Wendell Park or Sulgrave Boys.

    I did play football for Oaktown which started off as a boys club but became a football club. That was 58 to about 62/3. I lived in Devonport Road till 67.

    I cant think of any of the family who would have gone there as there were only a few of my age and they moved away before then.

    How did you get the name Kerrins? Wasnt there a Pat Kerrins that played for the R’s?

    Am now living in not so sunny Spain.



  12. Colin

    I thought I knew you from ye olde days. Obviously not.

    I have taken “Kerrins” as my computer user name after the 1950’s Goalscoring QPR Left winger Pat Kerrins(later converted to centre forward..Completely wrong decision in my opinion)

    As a very young boy in my first season watching the R’s (57/58) he created an impression on me…maybe it was the Teddy Boy haircut lol

    There is also an “Ingham” on this website too y’know.

    Bernard Lambert

  13. Hello Sarah, thanks for leaving a comment. I tried to email you but it bounced straight back ?
    Please get in touch.
    Best wishes,

  14. I’m just reading Frank Worthington’s book (very good – very frank in all senses of the word!!) and George gets a few mentions. Worthington grew up near Halifax and they were his team as a kid. George was young Frank’s hero and he admits he was a big influence.

    In the book he says “Put simply, George was an eccentric. You’d see him walking around Halifax wearing wellies and a sowester even on a hot sunny summers day. Once on the park though he was sheer class. A Scottish amateur international who wore the number 10 or 8 jersey, George could kill a ball stone dead and pass like a dream. He would score a goal and run over to the corner flag and start waltzing with it, or pretend to tightrope walk up the touchline. He’d do other daft things like pretend to fall over while taking a throw in, but his favourite trick was imitating the ref’s whistle. George would blow up and when play stopped would pretend to place the ball for a free kick and, without touching it, punt it into space leaving defenders bemused. Talk about cheek. I was completely and utterly mesmerised by him and – although I never exactly set out to copy him completely – he was a big influence in my approach to playing football.”

    The book is worth picking up as it really takes you back to how football was in the 60s, 70s and 80s. It also mentions something I had forgotten – the Phil Parkes Cossack hairspray advert featured Phil Parkes saving a Frank Worthington penalty!

  15. Very Interesting comments Martin.

    Eccentric most certainly…Pass like a dream?? Ahem not from where I was standing in the Boys Pen in 1959.

    I’m sure I recall him once trying to pull that Free Kick Stunt in a Match at Loftus Rd.

    As I have said before it was a Pity we did not get a long term Bedford Whitelaw strike Partnership in the 59/60 season. Obviously new manager Alec Stock had other ideas…or perhaps the Character of GW was too much for him. LOL

  16. i saw most of Georges games for S/land reserves and he soon became my hero,especially when he was playing alongside my other hero Billy Elliot.Teams must have been terrified to come out for the second half.I think they used to compete to see who was the toughest,in my opinion it was an even result and great entertainment.

  17. Yes Alfie Moon we knew he was a tough and famed goalscorer for Sunderland Reserves. I think based on that reputation the QPR Supporters Club agreed to “stump” up the money for his transfer fee.

    I assume that at the time Sunderland in a higher league had too many good forwards so GW did not get much chance to establish himself in their first team

  18. Kerrins,your reply that Sunderland had to many good players is a little bit misguided.If George had been given a chance by Alan Brown it would have added a bit of backbone to the side and we may not have been relegated for the first time in the clubs history.

  19. did you know in the game v bradford city george pulled the goalkeepers shorts down as rs were about to take a corner at the school end

  20. Peter…could not quite see that incident.

    I was in the Boys Pen at the Loftus Rd end of the ground.

    Typical!…but if you were a goalie facing George having your shorts pulled down was the least of your problems

  21. I remember George.I was playing for the QPR Youth team and ‘A’ side.I had torn my cartiledge on the saturday at Dover in the Seanglian league.
    I went to Loftus road on the Sunday morning as usual if you had an injury on the day before.Alex Farmer told me to get up on the table so that he could see the injury .George happened to be there at the same time and asked me what I had done.I told him that my catiledge was torn and actually you could see the lump of it under the skin.Without any ado,George got hold of a scalpel and was clearly intent to attempt the operation there and then.Thanks to Alex Farmer he pulled George away.I am sure to this day that he would have gone for it as he was a real joker.
    My memories as a player were that he would read the Bible in the dressing room before every match, and then go out on the field and give the goalkeeper a few kicks.
    He was however a very nice man. I hope he is still alive and “kicking”

  22. Hello Ray…thanks for your response to my article.

    Very interesting post.I also have just seen your comment(very late I know) on our youth team team article on this same homepage.

    I have Such a lot to say to you on both these topics. I have your E MAIL address and if you dont mind I will be in touch to discuss this QPR Era of long ago.

    Kind Regards
    Bernard Lambert(“Kerrins”)

  23. He was in Stockport County’s team when my dad first started taking me to games. He became my first hero. Remember the beginning of one season he did not report back for training. They tracked him down to the Barrow area where he was working as a lumberjack during the close season.

  24. Hi all, this has been great reading about my late , great father George.
    Many thanks for all your memories and please feel free to e mail me ,

    Kieran Whitelaw

  25. Regarding George Whitelaw..Kieren I had the pleasure of watching your Dad play quite a few games for Stockport County at Edgeley Park in the early sixties..My Dad took me to see County play as my introduction to football..I can testify as many people have above that you Dad was a true “character” footballer as well as possessing a lot of skill for a player plying his trade in the lower divisions..He was well loved at Edgeley Park and I remember his tricks, like balancing on the touchline as though he were a high wire artist..also he would approach a player with the ball and suddenly bend down as though to pick the ball up and then dart past the defender with a grin on his face..he would also take the ball to the corner flag and sit on it…as I said a real character and something of a cult hero at Edgeley Park where he is remembered by us older fans to this very day!

  26. Bingham…Thanks for that interesting comment. Its always good to get a non QPR perspective on the topic.

    Yes we can consider ourselves fortunate to have seen one of the games great eccentrics in action.

    I think it was a pity we did not keep him the time of his arrival (1959) we were not a very good Div 3 team. He would have done much better amongst the better players we had during the 1960/61 season.

    I reckon he left Loftus Rd because either..He was homesick for the “North”…or the new manager Alec Stock could not handle him! lol

  27. Reading this stuff is why I love being a QPR fan. So many memories, charactors from our distant past. We might not have been the most successful club ever but we have a history as rich as anyone’s. Brilliant read, sorry to read that Mr Whitelaw may have passed on.

  28. I also saw George performing for Sunderland reserves. One game he kept getting fouled by the same player. Eventually with Sunderland kicking into the Fulwell goal there was yet another free kick for a foul on George. I’ll never forget the way he set off running towards the fouler as the kick was being taken. Never breaking stride he hit him with a perfect right uppercut and knocked him out cold. George was set off but the guy really had been asking for it.

  29. I was a young player with Stockport County and always roomed with George on away games.No-one else would room with him!His antics used to make me cry with laughter,and I could spend hours talking about him.Never met anyone who came anywhere close to him for giving the fans a treat,or driving the manager potty.He would sit in the team bath after training,swipe his razor through the muddy water,and shave!When he was waiting at the phone box for his girlfriend to ring from Scotland,he kept people waiting till she called,entertaining the queue with chit-chat.There should be a film about him,totally one-off guy as fearless as he was crazy.So sad to hear he has died…..not forgotten.

  30. Thanks for that comment Ben Bates.

    As someone who witnessed all of GW’s playing career at QPR FC your words are of no surprise to me

  31. I was too young to have seen George play, but it certainly sounds like he was a great eccentric in the vein of Dominic Iorfa 30 years later. Dominic, too, wasn’t the greatest player but, by God, did he give us some laughs and memories to cherish. I was told by an older supporter that George was very handy at administering a mud pie to an unsuspecting goalkeeper’s face; and that, of course, fits in perfectly with his other antics in pulling down the keeper’s shorts! Thanks for all these great memories, I only wish I had been able to see him!

Comments are closed.