The following letter was written by Kevin Conlon to Ron Phillips and appeared in its entirety in the Ipswich Town match programme on 12th April 1974. One of the things I love about it is how Kevin describes student writing paper exactly how he became an R’s fan after a chance meeting with a bus conductor in Piccadilly Circus:
‘First would like to say that the QPR programme is one of the most popular magazines I and about eleven of my football friends have the pleasure of reading here in Oslo. The match magazine arrives at my house about five days after the game. (I get so very upset when there is a long delay and feel like I might commit suicide when sometimes it does not arrive at all, because not enough care is given to writing the address in full in a clear proper manner, so helping the foreign post handlers).
Anyway, if changes must come about, as they should to keep a fresh appeal, special attention must be paid to the casual supporter who comes to London for the little holiday or odd six month stay. Does the club know just how many foreigners support them?
I got to know so many of my Irish friends from chance meetings at Loftus Road. Also, I’m sure the club would be quite amazed to find so many of the fans work as chefs in the West End hotels (all chefs put up your hands and be counted please).
The Rangers gave about 300 of the stand seats one Saturday when they played Oxford to some school kids for free – does the club have any idea how many of these are now Rangers fans?
Could some pop song writer be encouraged to write a song simple enough for the fans to sing in harmony and give special encouragement to the Rangers players?
All these questions could be talked about in the programme and would give the more interested and gifted fan a chance to play an active part in the running of the club.
Also in place of the full page cartoons why not give this page to some supporter or personality within the club so that he or she could give his story of how he was hooked to the R’s, or his “funny thing happened to me on my way to see the R’s last week” column.
I liked the way you printed that story on free kicks from the Sunday Times and howled with laughter on reading how Terry Venables tricked the Romans into giving away such a silly goal. I told this story to an Italian friend of mine here in Oslo who supports Napoli and he found it or the more funny because he has such a contempt for Roma.
These stories need not be about Rangers all the time as I think football needs the wit of people like Michael Parkinson. We football fans don’t want to destroy the game with our destructive need to win at all costs. I would love to hear some of the stories Danny Blanchflower could tell us about a certain “Cheeky” Charlie Tully, a player in the same mould as Rodney, loved by all Celtic fans the world over.
Then there is Dave Bedford, some say a folk hero of our time, and such a fine fan of Rangers, the list is never ending and just needs a little encouragement.
As for me I’d love to tell how I became a QPR fan. Arriving in London, very green from my early years in Ireland, I stopped a bus conductor in Piccadilly Circus and asked him how to get to Spurs’ ground.
“Are you daft man? You don’t want to see that rubbish!” (Spurs were in the top six of Division One and were to play Manchester City in a match that was to give City the title).
“Come with me to Loftus Road to see Rangers get promotion to Division One.” Well, as I knew no one in London, a little lonely, I decided I might as well take up this offer from this very kind Scot, even if I had never heard of Queen’s Park Rangers. And so with his wife and five kids we all headed for Loftus Road.
That was six years ago and since then I have had so many memorable experiences with Rangers fans, and so many interesting seasons of attacking, attractive football that I never once regretted that first chance meeting with this kind man.
Another time I talked to an old groundsman at Loftus Road who showed me a photo of his wife who died 20 years previously and another photo of him playing for his army team in his youth. Soon the talk was on the R’s and Rodney. As he told me of some of the goals he saw this man score, the tears were coming down his eyes and I then asked him how he would like to see Marsh back in the side.
“What, Man, are you crazy? Where could you put him with the team we now have?”
I really enjoyed reading that again, thanks Kevin.