The Comic Connection – No.2 – Roy of the Rovers – 16th April, 1977

‘Roy of the Rovers’ started off as a weekly comic strip and first appeared as long ago as 1954. Roy Race was introduced on 11th September, 1954 in an edition of the ‘Tiger’. His exploits became so popular that his own comic was launched on 25th September, 1976 and proved to be very successful. This particular issue is from April, 1977 and cost 7p at the time. Phil Parkes, one of Rangers greatest ever goalkeepers is the connection and was featured on the back page.

I’m not familiar with any of the characters but first up was ‘Smith and Son’. ..’Young Danny Smith took charge of 4th Division Grandon Town when his father, the Club Manager, was taken ill. But the Grandon Board thought Danny was too young for the job and they had appointed Les Harwood as Acting-Manager. Certain decisions had made Harwood unpopular with his players and now, in a vital promotion battle against top-of-the-table Eton United, Grandon were losing 1-0.’

There is a triangular box at the end of each strip where you can allocate your marks out of ten if you so wish. ‘Millionaire Villa’ follows…’Millionaire David Bradley had given First Division Selby Villa two million pounds on condition that he played in the 1st team. But Villa were having a bad season, and Manager Joe Weston had made up his mind to resign if the team failed to win their next two games. In the first match – against Marby Town – Selby goalie Taffy Mardell was secretly playing with an injured hand…with the result that Marby were a goal up…’

The popular table football game, Subbuteo was the inspiration for ‘Mike’s Mini Men’…’Mike Dailey had formed a table football league at St. Mark’s, his new boarding school. His pals had woken him very early on the morning of his birthday and as he returned from breakfast, he got the surprise of his life…many of his friends from his home town were there for his birthday.’

The ‘Roy of the Rovers’ strip is the only one featured in glorious colour. Roy had grabbed a last gasp goal for Melchester Rovers in a Cup tie against North Vale, but would it count ?

The great man answers some of his mail over the next two pages. There are questions concerning Fulham, Blackburn Rovers and the final one is from Simon Guthrie from Fraserburgh in Scotland: ‘What is the toughest part of your training schedule with Melchester Rovers , Roy ?’ It doesn’t give his age but Roy Race does it justice and writes a 16-line reply. The colour centre-spread features Duncan McKenzie then of Everton.

There is even an option for the reader to personalise the next feature. ‘You Are the Star’. You could write your name and stick up a photo in the spaces provided !!!

I have to say that there is an interesting title for the next one, ‘The Hard Man’…’Danefield United were desperately fighting to avoid relegation from the First Division. In their latest league match, against Parston United, they were leading by one goal to nil. Then, with only two minutes to go, the Danefield captain, Johnny Dexter, gave away a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. The referee’s decision looked a harsh one…but there was no time to argue.’

Next, we read about Tommy Barnes and his pal, Ginger Collins, who started a soccer team at Crowhurst School…which had always played Rugby Football. Tommy’s team of misfits won a cup tie and Tommy treated them to a day at the sea. But the boys caught colds on the way back and when they were due to play their next match…’

The ‘Phone Call of the Week’ winner was Errol Meager from Portsmouth who won ¬£2 and Roy Race even advised him: ‘Don’t forget…spend it wisely ! ‘

Finally, there was ‘The Football’. .. The football was owned by Bob Richards, who played for the Tanfield Terrors, a Youth Club Team organised by Arthur Jackson. The team were playing in a vital Cup Semi-Final game and they were winning three nil…’ Even I became intrigued as to what drama could possibly of then taken place ?

Steve Russell