In Memory of John Hollins MBE

John was born in Guildford on 16th July 1946.

His football career began with Chelsea and he made his first team debut in September 1963 against Swindon Town.

John gained an England cap in 1967 when he played in the 2-0 win against Spain at Wembley.

He signed for the R’s in June 1975 for a reported fee of £80,000. John made his league debut at Loftus Road a couple of months later in the opening game of the season against Liverpool.

His first goal for the Club came in the 2-0 win at Aston Villa on 31st January 1976.

In July 1979, after making 183 appearances and scoring seven goals, John was transferred to Arsenal for £75,000.

The following ‘Michael Wale Report’ appeared in the Manchester United match programme on 26th November 1977:

‘After our victories over West Brom and Liverpool, plus the draw up at Middlesbrough, Rangers were really on the way to recovery.

But then came last Saturday’s defeat at Coventry and the Jeremiah’s were at it again. But five points out of the last eight is not a bad record.

Our new captain John Hollins was impressed by Coventry and offers no excuses. “They caught us cold with an early goal. We were bought right back to earth on Saturday.”

“Most teams have been playing with three players upfront. In fact, Middlesbrough playing at home, only had two men upfront.”

“Coventry had four with Yorath coming through from the back. Their full-backs attack, so when Coventry are on the attack you could say they attack in numbers.”

But enough about Coventry, let us return to that great Rangers victory a fortnight ago over Liverpool. I think that John Hollins played that day the best game I’ve ever seen him play.

He completely marked Dalglish out of the game. In fact, the Liverpool and Scotland star only got away twice.

Typically, John says: “From the team point of view that result was terrific. It was great against Dalglish. I think that things were with us that day. It’s not that he is exceptionally quick but that he reads situations, he seems to know where the ball is going to go.”

“When he went deep it was my job to pick him up. Dave Needham looks after the aerial side of things.”

So, will the same plan go into action against Manchester United this afternoon?

“Well, I don’t know yet because we don’t know their side. But it could be Pearson and Greenhoff upfront.”

“I would think Dave would take care of Pearson and I would look after Greenhoff. He is a good player. He can take you on a run as a decoy, to get you out of the middle of the defence. So, you have to judge that one as it comes.”

I wondered if the captaincy makes any difference to a player? “Yes, it does affect you. Whereas before we were gifted with a few good leaders of players like Frank McLintock and Dave Webb at the back, and our captain at the time, Gerry Francis, now I have to do the shouting.”

“It’s odd but I was made captain at Chelsea when there had been a big change around, and here it has happened in almost the same situation.”

“The team was changing. Now I am captain I feel responsible for everything that goes on. If a goal goes in, you think ‘if I’d been there….’.”

It was typical of the way he is approaching his new responsibilities that he spent a cold Tuesday afternoon watching the reserves draw one goal each with Birmingham. I was there too, and we met after the game.

John explained: “I think it’s good for the club captain to watch the reserves because, say the side has three or four injuries, you know who is coming through and how they play.”

I was impressed, by the way, with the way Barry Wallace played on Tuesday, and so too were the many managers who were at the game, among several QPR old boys including Bill Dodgin and Gordon Jago.

If you go to a reserve game in future it might be worth taking the advice of one of the managers watching Tuesday’s game: “Take note of what happens in the last 20 minutes. That’s when the real players can be spotted, as the rest fade.”

No one could ever accuse John Hollins of fading in any game. He always gives the side 100 per cent effort, and he thinks now that the rest of the team are trying so hard, combined with their talent, results will come.

Off the field he used to run a children’s wear shop, but he has now sold it: “I prefer coaching kids these days. I have a full coaching badge and I really enjoy working with young players.’”

In 1982, John was appointed as a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to football.

He eventually returned as Reserve Team Manager when he replaced Frank Stapleton and after Stewart Houston and Bruce Rioch were sacked in 1997, John was appointed Caretaker Manager.

The following year, he moved on to manage Swansea City.

After my son had come out of hospital in 1991, prior to an away game at White Hart Lane, John kindly took him around the pitch and also into the dressing rooms to meet the players.

In 2016, John returned to Loftus Road to be inducted into the ‘Forever R’s Club’.

John sadly passed away earlier this month on 14th June, aged 76.

Rest in Peace John, and thanks.

Steve Russell

(The above pic appeared in the Coventry City match programme on 28th April 1979 and the caption reads: ‘John Hollins receives a “Player of the Season” award from Terje Dahl, the organiser of the QPR Scandinavian Supporters Club. This is a very lively group of fans with 130 members to whom we send good wishes from all at Rangers Stadium’)