Our latest interview is with perhaps the fastest man to ever play for Rangers - Wayne Fereday. He talks about his pace, referee's, his exit from Rangers and much more.
QPRnet.com: Are you still involved in football?
WF: I’ve been working for the Press Association doing all the stats for the opta index. It’s nice, it keeps you involved in the game and you get to catch up with some old friends. I did West Brom against West Ham last season and met up with Big Les after the game. Also I play in the masters and the all stars teams for West Brom.
QPRnet.com: When you retired you talked of becoming a referee, what happened there?
WF: The PFA asked me if I fancied it, I think they probably ask everyone when they retire but at the time I didn’t think I had the right personality to do it - I’m too laid back. Looking back I wish I’d gone for it and I think more ex pro’s should go on to be ref’s because they understand the game so much better. When I was playing you could talk to the refs and have a bit of a laugh and a joke but you can’t do that these days. I know you cant get all the decisions right all the time but at least If you’d played the game then you know what a player is thinking, you see some decisions these days that are just awful. So I wish I’d done it but hindsight’s a wonderful thing, if I could go back I would never have left QPR either.
QPRnet.com: You came through the club as a youngster and scored twice on your debut. What you can you remember from that day?
WF: I remember that well, I think it was only the second game of the season and I hadn’t even played a reserve game yet. I’d played in a South East Counties game and scored two or three then Tommy Docherty asked me to come along to first team game.
I thought it was just going to be to give me a bit of insight into what life in the first team is like next thing I know he reads the team out and I’m in it! I was totally shocked, absolutely stunned but then it was a case of getting on with it. Apart from the goals it all went so fast. I can remember the finish for the second goal but I can’t remember the build up at all, the ball fell to me and I lobbed the keeper from just inside the box. It was all over too quickly really.
I remember thinking afterwards how great it was and being a young lad I thought all the papers would want to talk to me after the game. I got showered and changed and walked outside and everyone had gone, it was totally empty! So I walked up to White City and got the tube home!
QPRnet.com: It would have been very easy for a 17 year old to get big headed, did anyone help you keep your feet on the ground?
WF: Luckily I’ve never been that way, even if I was playing now and earning the money they do I’d still be me. People have said along the way if I’d been more arrogant or self confident I’d have played for England but I was just never like that. At the time I was just in awe, I was playing in the same side as people like Tony Currie and I couldn’t believe it was happening.
QPRnet.com: You were only used sparingly for the next few years (8 starts in 3 seasons) was that a frustrating time for you?
WF: That was when Terry Venables came in, I was young and had only played a few games and Terry was brining in people like Flanagan and Sealy so I was out of the side pretty much. I had the odd game and a few sub appearances but nothing much and whilst it’s never great knowing that you’ll be back out of the side again I was only young and I knew my time would come eventually.
Terry was OK though, he wasn’t like Jim Smith who enjoyed a laugh with the lads, he’d come in a train us and go home. You needed O-Level's to remember his tactics at free kicks though.
QPRnet.com: You settled into the side under Jim Smith. You played under him for two clubs, I assume you had a lot of respect for him?
WF: Very much so. He gave me my chance and kept me in the side. Jim was always straight with you as a player, he’d tell you exactly what he thought of you. If he thought you were doing well he’d tell you and if he thought you weren’t he’d let you know in his own inimitable way!
QPRnet.com: You were involved in the League Cup run that saw Rangers reach Wembley but you missed the final. I assume you were watching from the stands, what thoughts were running through your mind?
WF: I enjoyed pretty much every minute of my time at QPR but that was one of the lowest times I had at the club. During the run I was more or less stand in right back in place of Warren Neil and I expected to keep my place for the final but Jim called me in the day before and said he was bringing Warren back in. I’ve got no beef against Warren because he was a great player but I’d done well in the games before and not looked out of place so I was disappointed to say the least.
QPRnet.com: You played in the 5-5 draw with Newcastle in 1984; that must have been an amazing game to be involved in, what do you remember of it?
WF: As a player the game starts and you they suddenly stick three past you, you think you’ve still got a small chance of getting it back and then they make it four and you go in at half time thinking you’d need a miracle to get anything out of the game, and that’s what we got! The lads really went out to try and get a bit of pride back and win the second half. I remember we pulled it back to 4-3 and we were thinking we can steal this then just as the confidence is coming back they hit us with a sucker punch and go 5-3 up. We just kept on plugging away, got back to 5-4 then Gary Micklewhite scored the equaliser. I’ll never forget that, to be four down, come back, then fall back to two behind and still draw was an incredible game to be involved in.
QPRnet.com: Another amazing game for Rangers fans was the 6-0 home win against Chelsea in 1986. Did the players go into the derby games with a different attitude?
WF: I remember that game well too, I’ve still got the video somewhere. I played right back and I remember the keeper played a short ball to me and I tried to chest it back for a back pass, messed it up and let David Speedie in and he missed an open goal. I think it was about 4-0 by then anyway but it’s funny how I remember my mistake! I don’t think the players go into the big derbies with a different mindset, you tend to take each game as it comes but once you get on the pitch, in front of packed house it lifts you.
QPRnet.com: Did you have to adjust your game to playing on plastic?
WF: You did, but it helped me no end with my pace. The bounce was different and you had to make sure every pass was perfect so when balls were over hit I could use my pace to catch them when perhaps over players wouldn’t be able to. When you played a ball through on the plastic it would fly through, on grass it would hold it up a little more but the bounce of the ball was the biggest difference, changing every week between grass and plastic didn’t affect my game too much but it must have been a nightmare for the keepers.
QPRnet.com: Was your pace something you worked on or was it totally natural for you?
WF: At school I was quick but not overly so. Actually it’s funny you saying that because I had a surprise 40th birthday party the other night and there was all old school friends there. There was this one guy there who’s overweight now and bald and we were talking and he told me he always used to beat me at running in school!
I don’t think it was till I got to Rangers and started training every day that I started to notice my pace and I got quicker and quicker. I never used to think I was that quick, then I’d go past one or two people and they’d make comments, so I guess I was.
QPRnet.com: You eventually left QPR for Newcastle, was Jim Smith a big part in the decision for you?
WF: It was the biggest mistake I could have ever made and my career was never the same after that. At the time Trevor Francis was the manager and he was struggling for a left back and I was filling in. I did OK, luckily I had my pace to get me out of trouble but I was never a defender. I’d always had a good relationship with the fans over the years at QPR but I remember this one game against Man United. I was playing left back again and Russell Beardsmore was twisting me inside and out and giving me a bit of a time and I could hear some fans were unhappy which was a shame.
Towards the end of that season Trevor called me and said I wasn’t doing as well as he hoped and he needed a proper left back. He wanted to sign Kenny Samson from Newcastle and I was needed to be the makeweight in the deal. Really I should have just said no, I loved the club and I should have stayed and fought for a place but he made it clear he didn’t want me and wouldn’t use me so I felt forced to go.
Obviously Jim being there was a massive factor in the decision for me, having had so much respect for him when he was at QPR but Newcastle seemed like a world away. No disrespect to Rangers but they were a small family orientated club and the pressure at Newcastle was something else entirely. Things started OK, funnily enough I ended up in the same situation for my first game as our left back got injured and I ended up filling in for him. I did OK and we won the game but over my time there I didn’t play well in fairness. The Newcastle fans either love you or hate you, there’s no in-between and I think I let them get to me. In the end Jim pulled me in and said it wasn’t working out and that was that.
QPRnet.com: When you look back on your time at Rangers do you have a favourite moment?
WF: The main one for is the draw against Liverpool at Anfield which was actually Rangers first ever point up there. They had this fantastic team with Dailglish and the like and we got a draw and I scored the goal. I remember it vividly, there was a long ball forward, Simon Stainrod flicked it on and it ended up a race between me and Phil Neal, I outran him and right footed it under Bruce Grobbelaar into the net. It was quite a mile stone for Rangers and there was champagne flowing in the dressing room afterwards and everything!