In 1970/71, the Football League Review featured long-distance Rangers season ticket holder, Norma Print:
‘Match day for Norma Print kicks off at nine on a Saturday morning and ends at 10 the same evening.if British Rail run on time.
For Norma is one of the football-commuters who travels by train to support her favourite team. What makes her different from the thousands of other soccer travellers on a Saturday is the distance she travels to take her seat in the stand at Loftus Road where she is a Queen’s Park Rangers season ticket holder.
Norma lives at Lancaster, two motorways and 250 miles from Rangers’ ground at Shepherd’s Bush, London W12. Her itinerary on match days is worked out to the finest detail:
She catches the morning train from Lancaster to Euston, travels across London, watches the game and returns on the 5.45 train to the North West, arriving at Lancaster at 10pm. She says: “It is a long day and it costs a lot, but it is worth it to watch Rangers play.”
For mid-week matches at Loftus Road, Norma’s timetable is even tighter. She takes an afternoon off work, catches the lunchtime train to the capital and returns on the last train leaving Euston just before midnight, arriving in Lancaster at 4.30 in the morning.
“I usually have time for a couple of hours’ sleep before setting off for work”, says this self-confessed Rangers’ addict.
Norma, a 28-year-old secretary, first watched Rangers play seven years ago when she was on holiday in London. “I was so impressed with the team and the friendliness of people at the ground that I have been going ever since and have been a season ticket holder for the last two years.”
Her favourite player is Rangers’ skipper Terry Venables and during her travels she has made many friends among other Loftus Road regulars. Norma admits that she does have another football love, a little nearer her Lancaster home than West London – Liverpool. She has followed the Anfield club around the country but stresses that Rangers are her first love.
She says: “I was born in Lancaster, but my father comes from London. Every year I get more fanatical about Rangers and during the past three seasons I have missed only half a dozen home games mostly through illness, although there was one occasion when a train derailment made me miss the match.”
Not content with watching football, Norma also helps a local club. She is the secretary of Ship Nomads, a Sunday League team in Lancaster, and often runs a line for the team.
“People say I am mad devoting so much time to football, and I must admit it does not leave me with a lot of spare time. But I reckon it is all worth it.”
There must be something about Loftus Road to attract the long-distance supporter. For, after receiving a letter from Norma, Rangers’ secretary Ron Phillips who edits QPR’s bright programme, set out to find other devoted fans.
He says: “We’ve heard of another woman supporter who regularly travels from Somerset to Shepherd’s Bush and of several exiled Rangers’ fans living on the South Coast and in Birmingham. But there was no one who regularly travelled from as far away as Lancaster.”
There was a fan living in the United States, who made a special journey to watch Rangers’ League Cup game (league?) at Luton this season and another supporter living across the Atlantic who is returning to England because he misses watching QPR.
But no one has yet been able to match Norma’s regular long-distance travelling exploits to Loftus Road. AND WE DOUBT WHETHER ANYONE CAN.’
Norma’s letter appeared in the ‘Ranger to Ranger’ section of the Portsmouth programme on 24th October 1970 and Ron Phillips wrote the following response:
‘Other long-distance supporters include Mrs Irene Kite of Woodhayes Road, Frome, Somerset, who travels 110 miles for each home game and Mr F. Pursey of Harold Road, Hastings, Sussex. But Mrs Print is the winner so far!’