Queens Park Rangers club historian Gordon Macey speaks exclusively to Vital QPR, answering your questions in a Q&A.
In his post as official club historian Gordon has compiled and published three books about Queens Park Rangers, including the recent release of ‘Queen’s Park Rangers: The Complete Record.’
Here he answers your questions concerning the history of our beloved club.
How did you first become interested in QPR?
I first went to a QPR game in November 1962; it was an FA Cup game versus Newport County played at White City. I ‘chose` Rangers as I lived in West Kilburn and the primary school I went to was attached to St. Luke`s, a church at the time linked to St. Jude`s. Also all my school friends were “supporting” Chelsea and my father is a Brentford fan; so QPR seemed a good choice to be different to everyone.
What prompted you to start compiling the club’s history, was it a role that previously existed within the club?
I have always been interested in statistics and records and started keeping records on QPR from the time of my first game. Back 1992 I was approached by Breedon Books to see if I would like to do a “Complete Record of ?” on QPR as Rangers were the only premiership side they had not covered. Back in the early 90`s there was no recognised club historian although Derek Buxton was the stats man and he used to contribute a page in the club`s programme on the interesting and not so usual stats. He was able to supply me with a good basis of line-ups to get me started but these had gaps and (not surprisingly) some inconsistencies as they were all hand-written.
The narrative side took a lot of research to do, my main source was the Brent Archives at Neasden and Cricklewood library reading through the back copies of the local papers. My daughter Karen was a great help as we used to go up to the Archives on Saturday mornings before going on to the home game in the afternoon. As my job at the time involved a lot of travelling I was able to do a lot of work on the stats side whilst sitting in various parts of the world, including an Oil Company`s compound in Angola (at the time the civil war was drawing to a close) !
What made it harder was that Breedon were not computerised and everything, including the season-by-season grids had to be handwritten and proof read afterwards. These days Excel and Word make life so much easier for checking and compiling statistics.
How easy was it obtaining information about the formation and amalgamation of ‘Queens Park Rangers’ – have you exhausted your research or is there more to come?
I am sure that I have not unearthed the complete story behind the amalgamation of the two boy`s clubs into Queen`s Park Rangers. There is an excellent book called “Thank God for Football” by Peter Lupson, which describes the formation of all Football League clubs that arose from church sides. He was able to find out a lot of information about the people behind the club`s formation by searching through the census of that time. The local papers I used a source did not cover the two youth clubs games and the first mention I found of Queen`s Park Rangers was in the late 1880`s when they were playing established local sides.
What information if any do you have regarding the now defunct Shepherds Bush FC – are there any records of public opinion about Rangers taking over the site?
The only information I have on Shepherd`s Bush football club comes from the “Loftus Road Legacy” book by Frances Trinder published by Yore Publications. There didn`t seem to be much resistance from SBFC at the time of QPR`s arrival, probably as it was in the WW1 period and normal football wasn`t being played.
What was your opinion of Jim Gregory – What were his positives and negatives?
I believe without his involvement in the early 60`s the club would not have had the success it did in the 70`s and 80`s. I think his intervention, which prevented John Bloom gaining control, saved the club from a possible early extinction. Under his Chairmanship the ground was re-built in situ, whilst matches remained at Loftus Road, also he bought in good managers like Alec Stock, Gordon Jago, Dave Sexton and Terry Venables. I think in the early 80`s his interest may have waned especially when he tried to sell the club to a Venables led consortium. But to his credit he continued when he could have easily walked away.
Are there any parallels to be drawn with Gregory current chairman Flavio Briatore?
To me they are completely different. Gregory was a businessman who built his companies from scratch locally, whereas Briatore`s companies and businesses are multi-national and in diverse business sectors. Gregory bought into Rangers as he had an interest in football, unlike Briatore at the time of his arrival. I have the feeling that when Gregory committed money he felt it was ‘his` money and wanted value for it, I don`t think Briatore with his millions has the same feeling.
When the ground was originally purchased it came with 39 houses on Loftus Road and Ellerslie Road – they were reportedly sold under the Jim Gregory era, do you know when they were sold and why?
I don`t have a note of when they were sold. I would guess that it would have been around the time when the Ellerslie Road stand was rebuilt. Most certainly they would have been sold in order to raise much needed finance to go into the club`s coffers to help with building projects and running costs.
After playing in hoops for the whole of our history we stopped in the 1950s, do you know why?
The change was made for the 1953/54 season in attempt to change the club`s fortunes as Rangers had had four poor seasons in a row. Firstly getting relegated from the (old) Division 2 and then finished just above the re-election places in their first season back in Division 3(south). A similar move had been made in the mid 20`s when the club had to apply for re-election twice.
Is there a consensus as to what occurred in the dressing room before the 1986 Milk Cup Final?
I am not aware of anything untoward before the ’86 disaster at Wembley. However, I wasn`t involved in any capacity at the club then, just a normal season ticket holding fan. I put our poor performance down to over confidence and Oxford`s greater desire to win.
Who would you say have been the most influential figures in QPR`s history and why?
It is difficult to pin point any one or two people who have influenced the club`s history. Obviously the Wodehouse family had a long term involvement with the club from the founding days of the 1880`s through to early 1950`s. From a recent perspective, as mentioned previously, Jim Gregory must take the credit for establishing the foundations on which the club grew into a major player in the higher echelons of the English football structure. What is missing these days is that long term association with the club; most of the owners / chairman in the last 20 years have not lasted more than about 5-6 years. What Gregory bought to the club was stability. On the managerial side, again Alec Stock and Dave Sexton are the ones that took the club on to another level. On the player side Tony Ingham, Gerry Francis, Alan McDonald have been great servants to the club and remained far longer than players would do today. In the off-field side I would have to mention Shelia Marson who was another with long and dedicated service to the club. She was around for and saw a number of changes, not always for the better. Having someone like Sheila gave stability to the club in it`s difficult times.
Are there any records of an on-field incident involving Tony Ingham and Shrewsbury Town resulting in a court case or FA Hearing in November 1957?
I know nothing about this – it was before my time. It was not something I came across in my research at the local newspaper archives. It is the sort of news I would have included if aware of it.
Besides 1966-1969 and 1975/76 – what was your favourite year at QPR?
That is a good question; I think my favourite 12 month period would have to be May 1982 to May 1983. First we reached the FA Cup final and didn`t disgrace ourselves despite losing the replay to a ‘dodgy` pen (aren`t they all). Then that squad gained promotion to Division 1 the following season. The “advantage” of the plastic pitch was disproved by winning 10 times on the road. Also between the two events my daughter Karen was born, so not a bad 12 months !
Have you been employed by the club in any other capacity other than club historian – if so how did this come about?
I have never been employed in any capacity by the club. I was just a regular supporter before being offered the position of Club Historian in 1993. Following the publication of my first “Complete Record ?” book I was approached by Chairman Richard Thompson to see if I would be interested in taking on the role. It has been a role that I have, and still, enjoy doing. I get numerous inquiries from ex-player families for information about their ancestors and in most cases I am able to supply the details they are looking for. However in some cases I have no record at any level of the person they are looking into, so guess their footballing career was slightly inflated within the family. I also have a lot of contact with all areas of the media, usually asking about comparing current events (like record score, goal-scoring sequence, etc.) to previous instances in the club`s history.
What is the most bizarre incident you`ve seen at Loftus Road ?
The one I always remember was is the home game with Wycombe Wanderers at Christmas 2001. As it was the game prior to New Years Day an American marching band were there as publicity for the New Year`s Day parade. They performed on the pitch before the game and again at half time. When not on the pitch they sat in the corner of the lower loft stand. The game was a very entertaining one with Rangers going into a 2 or 3 goal lead, with Wanderers having 2 players sent. If I remember correct they got back to 3-3 with 9 men before Rangers in the last 5 minutes scored their 4th, and winning goal. The atmosphere was tremendous among the supporters and then without any warning the band stood up in their seats and started playing. Not bad for Americans who didn`t understand soccer !
QPR have been described as the ‘Gypsies of the Soccer Scene` with a record number of ground moves – do you think the club missed an opportunity in not staying at White City?
The majority of the grounds were in our amateur days when the club were constantly being moved on or having problems with the landlord and neighbours. I think the move to White City in 1930`s was a sign of the positive hopes for the club but finances were not sufficient to support it. I think the same thing occurred in the early 60`s. The first QPR game I saw was at White City and I remember how big and empty it was. It was not until I saw a game at Loftus Road did I realise how far away the pitch was at White City. If the club had been in Division 1 (Premiership) at the time they might have made a go of it, but as Rangers would never have owned White City they would always have been at the mercy of the Greyhound Racing Association as to their continued tenancy. As things turned out I am glad that we were not made homeless after the GRA sold the land to the BBC, as Rangers wouldn`t have had the finances to buy the land and then keep the stadium maintained. A re-built Loftus Road was a much better option.
Many thanks to Gordon for his time
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