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Steve Russell
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On this Day in 1968 & Steve Zico was there!

Post by Steve Russell »

The last game of the Season, and as an 11 year old, it all seemed so simple to me.
All we had to do was play Aston Villa away, beat them, and we would be in the ‘Promised Land’
(the old First Division) for the first time in our history. I was lucky enough to be taken to the game
by a family friend.

We set off early in the morning in his old Zephyr 4, with our blue and white scarves hanging out of the
windows. In those days there was no segregation between supporters within Grounds and they opened
earlier than they do these days.

So we joined what seemed like thousands of our fans towards the rear of the Holte End. Eventually we
heard shouts of ‘Villa Villa’, which got louder and louder as the home fans
arrived via a staircase to the left and rear of the terrace.

Now those days were the beginnings of the original ‘Skinheads’, complete with exposed steel toe capped boots.
The violence I witnessed was frightening.

As Villa’s numbers grew, our fans withdrew further down the Holte End and the side terraces, well, all except
for a petrified 11 year old and his Dad’s mate. As the violence went on around us, he put his arm around my shoulders
and said: “Just stand still and don’t move.” This wasn’t a difficult request to comply with as I was already frozen
with fear.

So we stayed where we were for the whole of the 1st half, adorned as I was with a blue and white scarf and a large
rosette that was almost as big as I was. Quite a few of the Villa fans were aware that we were there, yet not one of
them said a single word to either of us. Looking back, I can only assume that a grown man standing with a young lad,
were considered ‘Out of Bounds’.

At half time we were one down, so we slowly made our way out of the Holte End to the left and ended up somewhere
near where the dugouts are today. I remember that there were lots of R’s fans already there and it certainly felt less
hostile.

As Steve Russell has previously mentioned, I can remember missiles being thrown in our direction including an apple with
razors sticking out of it. The 2nd half seemed to last forever and people around me started making comments about what
a good Season it had been and that maybe it would be our turn next year. Yet as a ‘just turned 11 year old’ who had only
known Cup wins and promotion, I still never doubted that we would win.

Then we equalised, or did we? I saw the ball hit the bar and little else as the crowd surged forward, but the referee
gave the goal. Then with a few minutes left, an own goal by a Villa player made it 2-1. We held on until the final whistle.

We had done it, we were promoted and we were in the First Division. Everyone was cheering and shaking hands and I
don’t remember any trouble with the Villa fans after the game. We shook hands with some of them, while others wished
us luck for the following Season.

I don’t recall seeing many QPR coaches or cars on the journey up there, maybe it was because we had started off so early.
But on the journey back, I remember seeing loads of cars with scarves flying and a few of those round fronted old fashioned
coaches full of our fans. But when I think back to that day, one memory stands
out above all others..

Arriving back at the top of the Hendon Way (where it joins the Finchley Road), there were loads of cars (it seemed like hundreds),
stopped at the traffic lights and not moving as the lights changed sequence a few times. People were out of their cars, cheering
and dancing in the road.

It was brilliant, a perfect end to a perfect day.

Steve Zico
Steve Russell
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Posts: 2223
Joined: Tue Nov 30, 2021 10:25 am

Re: On this Day in 1968 & Steve Zico was there!

Post by Steve Russell »

As was Bernard Lambert....

Dateline Saturday 11th May, 1968, venue Villa Park. There comes a tide in the affairs of men which if taken
at the flood etc etc. Well the waves of opportunity were certainly breaking upon the shores of Loftus Road.

We were only 90 minutes away from reaching the top flight of English Football for the first time ever in our 86 year
history. Nerves, anticipation, hope, pride ? Yes, most of the 15,000 Rangers supporters would have felt those emotions
as they travelled forth to Birmingham to watch the R’s play Villa in the final Second Division match of the 1967/68
Season.

The situation was as tight as the proverbial shark’s rear end. Ipswich were top, two points ahead of QPR and Blackpool
but the R’s had the better goal average. If only we hadn’t lost those Easter away fixtures at Cardiff, 1-0 with a missed
penalty and 3-1 at Middlesboro. Yes, life is full of ‘if only’.

Our group included Indy R’s member, Colin Woodley and we set off to the match by train from Euston Station.
Also in the party much to my astonishment was my Father, a lifelong Fulham supporter

! Perhaps he had a vision of what the future was going to be like at Craven Cottage for the next 35 years!

On arrival at New Street Station, we headed straight for Joe Lyons for our pre-match meal. The Cadby Hall connections
of my Grandfather and Colin’s own Father held considerable sway I’ll have you know.

Inside the Stadium, the crowd of 33,785 was in good voice and a sea of blue and white was everywhere.
Even half of the giant Holte End terrace was taken over by R’s fans. Villa were a poor side that year and were in the
bottom six of the Division with nothing to play for.

Surely this was to be our day. If we won, we were up, provided of course that Blackpool did nothing stupid like winning
9-0 at Huddersfield!! The game kicked off. It was a nightmare start and it got worse as the first half progressed.

We were a goal down in under 15 minutes and were never at the races. Thank heavens for the half time whistle and the
news that Blackpool were losing 1-0 at Huddersfield.

After the interval it was a different story. Rangers stormed into the attack and took the game by the throat.
There was huge pressure on the Villa goal and corners a-plenty. The long overdue equaliser came twenty minutes from the
end. A Les Allen corner on to the head of Mick Leach on to the woodwork scramble was it over the line? Yes!!!

But I was damned if I could see from my position in the halfway line enclosure. Then with eight minutes to go, a
Clarke/Allen move sent the ball through to Marsh. Rodney could not quite get there but the Aston Villa defender Keith Bradley
did and deflected the ball into his own goal. Villa 1 QPR 2!!!

Absolute delirium erupted among the massed ranks from West London. The blue and white colours were bouncing all around
the Ground.

This was followed by one of the longest seven minutes of my life. What relief and what joy when the final whistle sounded.
Hundreds of fans invaded the pitch and swamped the players. A total stranger built like the wrestler Giant Haystack, grabbed
hold of my Dad in a Bear hug which nearly squeezed the life out of him and lifted him high into the air. “You don’t experience
that sort of thing at Craven Cottage do you Dad ?”

As a sporting gesture, the hosts played Cliff Richard’s record, ‘Congratulations’ over their tannoy system and there were
beaming smiles all round. Meanwhile, out on the pitch, the players were trying to make
their way to the dressing room in possession of as much of their football kit as possible. Too late boys, the Mob has spoken!

Hooray, we had reached the ‘Promised Land’. From the Third Division to the First in consecutive Seasons. Ipswich had drawn
1-1 with Blackburn Rovers to deny us the Championship Trophy but in the words of Catherine Tate, was I bothered?

Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)
steveqpr881
Posts: 1633
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2021 9:58 am
Location: Running down the Uxbridge Road

Re: On this Day in 1968 & Steve Zico was there!

Post by steveqpr881 »

Zico?? Who he??? :shock:
We should be told.
But we won't be.
Sort it out.
Kerrins
Posts: 493
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2021 12:02 pm

Re: On this Day in 1968 & Steve Zico was there!

Post by Kerrins »

Stand on me. The boy Zico is still around. Wembley play off finals only these days ;)

if you time it right you might just get to see one of his rare posts on the Loft for Words forum
message board.

Otherwise he is in full Scarlett Pimpernel mode.

Why does he no longer post on the Independent R's Website?
We should be told
But we wont be
Sort it out :)
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