The Comic Connection – No. 13 – Roy of the Rovers – 12th August 1978

The Comic Connection – No. 13 – Roy of the Rovers – 12th August 1978

‘Roy of the Rovers’ has been featured a number of times already in the series and in this issue dated 12th August 1978, Roy Race meets up with John Hollins:

Football is a game full of surprises. Nobody can predict what is going to happen next in this crazy game which has us all on the edges of our seats for most of the year. Were it not for the sudden turn up for the book, then a lot of excitement would be missing from the game.

The case of John Hollins is a perfect illustration. On May 8th he was preparing to play for his club, Queen’s Park Rangers, in a testimonial game at the Valley, the home of Charlton Athletic, shortly after finishing a season of disappointment and fighting against relegation.

Within minutes of the game ending he was the happiest man in the world, his reason? It would be best if he explains to you himself.

Roy of the Rovers QPR

“Shortly after the game had finished our manager, Frank Sibley, came into the dressing room and asked me if I would consider playing for the England ‘B’ team on their tour of Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.”

“Play? They would have had one heck of a job to stop me! It was one of the greatest shocks in my long career, for my last international recognition had been in 1967, when I made my one and only full international appearance for England, against Spain at Wembley.”

“The tour itself was a great success, not just for me but for everybody connected with it. I can honestly say that every player in the squad benefitted from the experience, even if he never again figures in an international line-up.”

“Our first two games, against Malaysia and Christchurch United, were not such a great success. We drew them both. I think this can be attributed to the fact that we all were suffering from the three-week lay off following the end of the season. And I don’t think anybody was fully fit. After those two games, however, we never looked back, and went on to win all our five remaining games.”

“I consider it a great honour to be selected for England and, although, I enjoy playing, it is especially exciting wearing an England shirt. It has some kind of magic about it.”

“English football has definitely benefitted from this tour and every player did exceptionally well. Many of the bright new stars of English football emerged on the trip and proved to manager Bobby Robson their worth to the future international set up.”

“I am hesitant to pick out any individuals in particular because I do not want to overshadow anybody, but if I was forced to name the players who most impressed me and are destined to be a great advantage to English football then it would have to be the two full-backs, Alan Kennedy and Viv Anderson. It is a long time since England have had a naturally left-footed defender as good as Kennedy and both these lads showed tremendous potential.”

“But they were not the only two who impressed me. The young Orient defender Glenn Roeder visibly improved as the tour went on and the more experienced men, such as goalkeeper Joe Corrigan, were a source of inspiration throughout.”

“A tour like that has filled me with confidence for the future of English football and right now I can’t wait to get back to the game. The last campaign was not a particularly good one for Rangers and we are all determined to improve on our league position next season.”

“The signings of Rachid Harkouk and Colin Viljoen can only help manager Frank Sibley. He had a tough baptism to the managerial side of the game last season and was left with only half a team at times following transfers and injuries. I think he was tremendously brave and showed his courage and confidence in our present squad of players at Loftus Road by not buying his way out of trouble.”

“The criticism he came in for last season was unnecessary. He was expected to follow in the footsteps of Dave Sexton and immediately settle down into the pattern of things. A manager takes as long to settle into his new position as does any new player. Given a chance I am sure he will prove to be one of the better managers in English soccer.”

“As for myself, I am also interested in the managerial side of the game. Playing under Bobby Robson on the ‘B’ tour proved a very interesting experience for me in that I was able to watch how a manger handles new players and goes about winning their confidence and respect.”

“I know I am not ready to retire from the playing side of the game yet and, to be honest, I feel no older than I did four or five years ago. I love football and have never even considered quitting the game completely.”

“I hope that I have something to offer football and after that England ‘B’ team tour I know for certain that it still has something to offer me.”


Elsewhere, ‘Tommy’s Troubles’ adorns the front cover and continues on to the next two pages. There’s ‘Mike’s Mini Men’, ‘Football Family Robinson’, ‘The Hard Men’, ‘The Safest Hands in Soccer’, ‘Simon’s Secret’ and the ‘Roy of the Rovers’ strip had the privilege of being in colour.

One other thing I noticed was that down in the bottom right-hand corners you were invited to mark these stories out of ten!

Alan Curtis was featured in the ‘Sign Please’ series across the centre pages. Ipswich skipper Mick Mills’ goal against Norwich was nominated by a reader in the ‘Great Goals’ series.

‘The Roy Race Talk-In’ deals mainly with issues surrounding the World Cup and finally on the back page there is an advert for ‘Football Special 79’ – The All-Star collection series that’s top of the league!

1st Division line-ups * 2nd Division Teams * National Squads – England, Ireland, Scotland &Wales * Top International Teams. Start your super collection in the fabulous 56 page Album – packed with football facts and figures. N. Ireland Fans Only: Look out for the special promotion in all SPAR stores during August and September.

Steve Russell