The 1975 London Five-a-Side Football Championship

Twelve teams competed in the 1975 London Five-a-Side Championship. The tournament took place at the Empire Pool, Wembley, on 30th April.

Sponsored by the Evening Standard, Rangers had won the ‘Fives’ title three times in the previous four years so, not surprisingly, were considered to be one of the favourites.

The Rangers squad consisted of; Phil Parkes, Dave Clement, Don Masson, Gerry Francis, Stan Bowles and Don Shanks.

Ernie Howe turned out for Fulham whilst Millwall included Tony Hazell and Frank Saul. Former QPR youth team player Alan Mayes played for Watford and there was also Derek Richardson and Tommy Langley in the Chelsea side.
The 20p programme included an interesting article about Terry Venables, which was written by Peter Blackman and was titled ‘King of the Fives’:

‘Venables captained Queen’s Park Rangers to three ‘Fives’ titles in four years before moving to Crystal Palace.

What is the secret? In five seconds flat Venables replies: “First you must have a good goalkeeper. Second you must be organized and third the defence must be right.”

Throughout QPR’s winning streak Venables stressed that the club had no organized five-a-side training schedules.

“Some afternoons,” he said, “we would end training with a small group kick-about. A few days before the Evening Standard Championship we would start to seriously discuss our tactics.”

“We would talk and talk but the real issue was always the same: select the best goalkeeper, get organized and go for natural defenders. We believed the goals would come naturally from that set-up. We didn’t agree that because of the confined space and error margins that goals would come automatically – so choose front runners.”

When Rangers beat West Ham in last year’s final Venables’ ideals came true as goalkeeper Phil Parkes collected the ‘Player of the Night’ award.

So Venables breaks the ‘Fives’ team formation into three sections – the goalkeeper, organization and defence.

Goalkeeper: “There is no doubt this is the key position. They are asked to crash around on hard boards, risking serious injury. The fact they wear elbow and shoulder pads does not eliminate the dangers they face.”

“Shots come from all angles, at all heights. There are few soft shots in ‘Fives’ football. Every one comes like a rocket.”

“It is always handy, too, knowing that if you have committed yourself to an attack and it breaks down the man left at the other end is going to leap around, disregarding completely the prospect of a busted limb.”

Organisation: “There is nothing more embarrassing than playing ‘Fives’ in front of a big crowd and finding out too late that you have no system. I don’t care if the opposition have five, six million dollar men in their side they will crash if the tactics are off the cuff. I’ve seen sides running all over the place, making themselves look idiots.”

“No. Every player must have a specific job – and another one up his sleeve if things start to go wrong. It’s no good playing all season with a pattern and then throwing everything away just because you have moved indoors.”

Defence: “These are the men who can’t afford to be flash with little runs along the boards. Someone has to stay back; someone must feed the front men and someone must be prepared to help the goalkeeper.”

“Take Stan Bowles. In last year’s final he scored both our winning goals and hogged the headlines. But he worked hard at the back, too.”

Final Assessment: “Fives can be fun only if it is taken seriously. It can be hell if you turn up on the night, put on your shirt and say: ‘This is going to be easy….’ That way you invite a thumping.”

Two months ago former England man Venables quit playing to concentrate on coaching duties at Crystal Palace.

“I have played my last ‘Fives’ game at Wembley, but I shall pass on my experience to Palace players,” he says.

It is an experience the Palace players would be fools to ignore.’

After receiving a bye in the 1st Round, Rangers knocked out Chelsea 1-0 but then went on to lose 6-5 to the eventual winners, Charlton Athletic.

Steve Russell

2 thoughts on “The 1975 London Five-a-Side Football Championship

  1. Fantastic..Loved going to that tournament as a kid with a gang of schoolfriends;great memories Steve.

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