July 1978 – Rangers’ Previous First Team Visit to Germany

As part of a series of articles where the Indy R’s look back at previous QPR visits to Germany, I interviewed Robin Haldane about the last visit that the first team made to Germany – 34 years ago in 1978 when Robin attended the first three matches of five games played in total.

1978/79 was the fourth consecutive season that Rangers visited what was then West Germany -visits that had been initiated by Dave Sexton, a great admirer of continental football, but that was to cease with the clubs relegation at the end of that 1978/79 season under the management of Steve Burtenshaw.

Robin had seen Rangers play Cologne nearly two years earlier in the UEFA Cup, but his visit to Germany on that occasion had been very short and he was keen to visit again. The first 3 matches of Rangers’ 5-game tour of Germany appeared to be an ideal opportunity with 3 games to be played over the course of 4 days before a week’s break for training and the 2 final games.

After flying into Frankfurt on Friday 21st July, Robin caught the train to Homburg to see the first game versus FC Homburg. He arrived at the ground only to find that the match had been moved – 90 miles back in the direction that Robin had just travelled ! To make the kick-off time, a mix of trains and taxis had to be used, at significant expense, only to witness a 0-0 draw in front of only 500 people where Robin met Alan Barnes, Joe English and Joe’s German friend George, who still regularly visits Loftus Road after meeting Joe for the first time at the QPR friendly versus Moechengladbach in Marburg in July 1975.

This unexpected excursion blew a big hole in Robin’s budget and he had to be very careful of what he spent for the rest of the trip. Remember these were the days before easy access to ATMs and you had to take enough travellers cheques or local currency when you travelled abroad to fund the trip.

The next game took place the next day on Saturday afternoon in the ancient Roman city of Trier, close to the border with Luxemburg. The local Eintracht Trier fans were very friendly and the handful of Rangers fans mixed with the locals in a bar outside the stadium. The match, however, became a bit heated and defender Tommy Cunningham was sent off. Rangers were then up against it and ended up losing 1-2 in front of 5,500 fans with Martyn Busby scoring for Rangers. After the match the Trier fans had their annual barbecue and Robin and the other Rangers fans were invited to join them in the woods for food and drink.

After a night in some cheap accommodation near the station, Robin caught the train to Wurzburg for the next game versus FC Wurzburg 04 to be played on Monday 24th July. Robin was impressed by the high quality food on the train – in marked contrast for what passed for food on British Rail trains in the 1970’s ! The Everton player, Mick Buckley, was trialling at Rangers and he scored against Wurzburg, as did Martyn Busby in Rangers 2-0 win in front of 3,300 spectators.

Joe English’s friend George found Robin a cheap room after the game in Wurzburg – above what turned out to be a brothel !……and George was a Police Officer ! Robin then flew home from Frankfurt after an eventful trip.

Thanks to Robin for his memories of the trip. The results from the last 2 games of the tour were 3-1 versus Bad Honnef on 5th August with Paul Goddard scoring 2 goals and Martyn Busby the other in front of 2,000 fans. The next day the team concluded their trip with a 6-0 win versus FC Viktoria with Paul McGee scoring a hat-trick and Rachid Harkouk, Martyn Busby and Colin Viljoen (on trial from Ipswich Town) the other goals.

Martin Percival