Percy Seymour Varco – Twice Elected Mayor of Fowey & QPR Player

“Sea-Bee” wrote the following article, (edited), which appeared in the Cornish Guardian on 29th October 1926:

‘The first game I saw, Queen’s Park Rangers v Plymouth Argyle, I have already alluded to in this column. Plymouth lost, and Varco did not play.

The second game was the Rangers v Bristol Rovers. This was a draw, and again Varco did not play.

From my programme for the Plymouth Argyle match I gathered that Varco, who has come to the London team this season from, I believe, Aston Villa, had been badly injured in the first game of the season.

From the same source, during the game against Bristol, I learned that Varco’s injury was still sufficiently serious to keep him out of the Rangers’ first eleven, but that he was being tried that day with the reserves at Southend.

Last Saturday, so little of a “fan” am I, I went along expecting to see the Rangers first eleven playing Millwall in a Division 3 match.

When we got to the ground we found that this was an “away” and that the Rangers’ reserves were playing the Millwall reserves in a London Combination fixture at home.

That was good enough for us, of course. It was, indeed, so much more satisfactory that the two Division 3 games we had seen, for Varco was playing for the reserves.

Again, there was a note about him in the programme explaining that he was still unfit for “the more strenuous league matches”. It was obvious from his game that this was so.

I could see at once, when the bandsmen scuttled like rabbits from the centre of the pitch and the game began, that the Fowey man was nursing a bad right knee. He was playing at inside-right on the programme, but he filled this position less than that of right-half on the field.

Where there was a melee, there Varco most scrupulously was not. There was little of his old dash of Cornish days, when halves and backs “marked” him to such an extent that I always thought of him – without disrespect, of course – as the exceedingly clever ticket-of-leave man watched by half a dozen exceedingly harassed detectives.

Varco was always a dozen yards behind his fellow forwards. In the early stages he had three excellent “pots” at goal, but mainly he was satisfied to keep the injured knee out of reach of further mischief and, at the same time, make all the openings he possibly could for his four colleagues in the forward line.

He timed and judged the length of his passes splendidly. His was the most unselfish exhibition I have seen for a long time.

Nowadays, he is the typically imperturbable, almost blasé, professional. There is plenty of fire in him yet, I am sure; but there is not a great deal of smoke. He does not often dip into that “bag of tricks” which dazzled many of us in Cornwall years ago.

With the Queen’s Park Rangers crowd he is obviously a great favourite already. To them he is “Percy”, not the more distant “Varco”.

For my benefit, I feel sure, two young gentlemen behind us in the stand explained at great length that “Percy” had had a rough time and was saving himself for the first eleven, rather than give rein to his dash and take risks with his injured knee. My interest in Varco needed no such stimulation.

There were about five or six thousand people on the ground. Two of us were Cornish, Varco and I. The young gentlemen behind were astonished when I shouted: “One for Fowey, Varco!” But you who read this understand why I shouted. Two of us, among so many.

I think Varco would have understood, too – but it is part of a professional’s job not to listen to the crowd.’

Percy Seymour Varco was born in the Cornish town of Fowey on 17th April 1904.

A centre-forward, Percy started his playing career with his local side Fowey Town before moving on to Torquay United. He joined Aston Villa in 1924 for a reported fee of £200.00.

Percy signed for QPR in 1926 for a fee of £800 and he made his debut at Selhurst Park later that year on 28th August. Rangers lost the match 1-2, but Percy scored the R’s goal.

Unfortunately, Percy sustained an injury during the game which put him out of action for nine weeks.

Unable to train, he began to put on weight but eventually he returned to the Rangers first team on 13th November when he scored one of the goals in the 4-0 win over Norwich City.

He went on to make a total of 16 first team appearances that season and scored four goals.

Percy signed for Norwich City on a free the following year where he scored 32 goals in his first season at Carrow Road.

His next club was Exeter City where he notched up 41 goals in 81 league games for the Grecians. Later a street in the city would be named after him.

Percy moved on to Brighton & Hove Albion in 1932 where he made just the one appearance before finishing his career with non-league sides, St. Austell & St. Blazey.

It is recorded that the latter side set up some kind of record in 1936 when they won every competition they had entered.

At a St. Blazey Club meeting in 1962, the toast was proposed by Percy and he said that although he had played for many clubs, his most enjoyable time was spent with St. Blazey, and assured all the young players that they would be treated right by the Club.

He later became a successful fish merchant and he was also elected the Mayor of Fowey on
two occasions.

I must mention the advert which appeared in the ‘Wants Section’ of the Cornish Guardian on 1st February 1951, which said: ‘Wanted, Cabin Cruiser, 22-25’. Full details – Percy Varco, Fish Shop, Fowey.’

Percy passed away in his home town on 29th January 1982.

Steve Russell

(Thanks to Colin Woodley and Joe English for their assistance)