Dennis Signy wrote the following in his 1969 book on the history of the Club, (which then prompted me to find out more):
‘The fervour of the Rangers supporters, then as now, reached its peak on the occasion of notable 1914 FA Cup victories away from home.
By the time the team arrived at Paddington Station, several thousands of people would be waiting to welcome them.
As the train steamed in, the engine decked in club colours, there would be a rush for the team compartment, but several of the older hands knew a way of avoiding over-keen attentions.
They slipped out the wrong side of the train, got down to the track and ran back along the line to Royal Oak Station.’
The following article was written by J. V. A Kelly and appeared in the Acton Gazette on 27th February 1914:
‘When the history of Queen’s Park Rangers in this season’s FA Cup competition is recorded, it will only have to bare justice to recall the fact that the GWR locomotive, “Rising Star” has played the part of mascot to the team in their victories at Bristol, Swansea and Birmingham. Now for Liverpool next Saturday!
There should be no fear of failure if the “Rising Star” is associated with the express trip, which is being run by the holiday line, and I shall not hesitate to predict that the Rangers will probably be concerned in the final at Crystal Palace.
The scenes at Paddington Station on Saturday, both going and returning, will not readily be forgotten.
I had the good fortune to be one of the merry party of enthusiasts who left by the one o’clock express (one of several well-appointed two-hour “fliers” to Birmingham), which, owing to an unavoidable delay, due to a mishap near the terminus, left Paddington at 1.06, and pulled up at Snow Hill at 3.06 to the tick, after a smooth run by the French engine, “Alliance”.
In the dining car the alliance was of a more cordial nature, and as Park Royal (the headquarters of Queen’s Park Rangers) was passed the party rose as one man to toast success to the “Royalists”.
At Snow Hill, the courteous GWR officials had taxi-cabs in waiting, and the enclosure at St. Andrew’s was reached in time for the kick-off at 3-15pm.’
The Pall Mall Gazette reported that the team had intended to travel to Bordesley (a small railway station located between Birmingham’s Moor Street and Small Heath) on the 11.30 excursion, but when it was found that this would be delayed, an alternative was arranged, and even that was 15 minutes late!
And this account on another contingent of fans travelling to the match: ‘Remarkable scenes were witnessed as the train, packed with the team’s supporters, left some time after the express.
The train, made up of 15 coaches, all closely packed, was drawn by the mascot engine, “Rising Star”’.
After that 2-1 victory at St. Andrews, Rangers were knocked out by Liverpool.
For the 1914/15 season, the Royalists’ three FA Cup ties were all played at home.
When the FA Cup was re-introduced for the 1919/20 season, Rangers were drawn away to Aston Villa.
Once again “The Rising Star” was used by the Club. ‘The Globe’ reported on 10th January that:
‘The Queen’s Park Rangers’ team travelled from Paddington on the 10.15 express to Birmingham. They had a pleasant surprise on arriving at the station, for when the engine was coupled up, it was discovered that it was the famous “Rising Star”, which had brought them so much luck the last time they took part in the Cup competition.
The 400 supporters of the Rangers who travelled with the team were very jubilant at the thought that their favourites lucky mascot was at the head of the train, and they declared it to be prophetic of victory over the Villa’.
However, Rangers lost the match 1-2 and Jimmy Birch scored what was to be the Club’s last non-league FA Cup goal.
The locomotive was built in Swindon in 1907 and it was later renamed “Swallowfield Park” in 1937. In 1951 it was withdrawn from service and later scrapped.
(Thanks to Colin Woodley for his assistance. The above image was taken from a postcard in my collection)