Monday, December 10, 2018

The Rodney Marsh Interview

We were particulary thrilled when an absolute legend in Rodney Marsh agreed to talk to us about his time at QPR. Marshy chats about his time at the club as a player, the controversial decision to employ him over Gerry Francis, how he sees the club these days and much more. When you arrived at QPR did it appear as a club on the up?

RM: Very much so, and that was down to the chairman at the time Jim Gregory. He had great vision about the future of QPR, he was such a passionate man and he was one of those people who put his money where his mouth was and he had the vision to take the club forward. Not dissimilar by the way to what Al-Fayed has done with Fulham. We won the league that year by twelve points when it was only two points for a win and scored over 100 league goals, just how good a side did we have?

RM: It’s hard to make modern day comparison and analogies but I would say that it was one of the most exciting teams I have ever seen, ever, and I’ve watched football for a long long time. We played the old WM formation, so we had goalscoring wingers in Morgan and Lazarus, two goalscoring strikers in myself and Les Allen all complimented by two workhorses in midfield in Mike Keen and Keith Sanderson. It was a fantastic side. I read that you rated Les Allen as the best strike partner you ever had, why was that?

RM: People never really give enough credit to Les Allen. He was an outstanding footballer, he had a great football brain, he could score goals, make goals, he had great vision and never ever got the credit he deserved. He was absolutely top drawer. Do you think you might have taken some of the limelight away from him?

RM: From one point of view I did I suppose, maybe he got the hump about that I don’t know! We really trounced some teams, 7-1 at Mansfield, 6-0 against Doncaster. Do you have a personal favourite league game from that season?

RM: This might actually be from the year before but we played Millwall and beat them 6-1 and I scored two and made three, I think Les Allen scored a hatrick. I always remember that game as being absolutely incredible, it was just wave after wave after wave of attack. We scored six but it could easily have been sixteen. From your point of view was that a perfect personal performance?

RM: No actually! I had a game just after we won the league cup, we played Bournemouth at Loftus Road and that for me stands out as the most perfect game I ever played. I think I only scored two or three but it was one of those games where they couldn’t get the ball off me! You have those from time to time and for me I played the perfect football match. Talking of the league cup final, I think people might be a little blasé about it now as the competition is so devalued these days, so for the benefit of some of our younger readers can you tell us just how much of an achievement was it for Rangers to win the League Cup that season?

RM: Well at the time it was staggering because people thought of it as being a big competition, we beat West Brom who in those days were a top First Division team, to put it in today’s terms you could compare them with Newcastle or Leeds, plus we were two nil down at half time of course! So for a Third Division team to come back and win three-two against a team like that, in front of one hundred thousand people, in the first Wembley final was an incredible achievement, absolutely incredible. How did we approach the game did we always believe we could win?

RM: Well in those days we had a manager called Alec Stock and he only knew one way to play which was all out attack! We didn’t change our system home or away, it helped that we had players at the back like Frank Sibley, who was a tremendous defender so not only could we go forward but when we were under the cosh we could defend well too. Should your overhead kick have stood as a goal?

RM: No, it was offside! I didn’t realise it at the time, in the heat of the game you just put it in the net and ask questions afterwards, but I was about three yards offside. Your equaliser has been described as one of the greatest ever scored at Wembley, what can you remember about it?

RM: It was one of those no brainers really, I picked the ball up about forty five yards out and I just wandered around with the ball until I saw a space and hit it into the space and it cannoned of the inside of the post and smashed into the net. I don’t actually remember too much about it, it was one of those instinctive goals you score from time to time. What are your thoughts on Stan Bowles, can you compare yourselves as players?

RM: I think it’s very difficult to compare players from different generations, I will say that Stan Bowles was one of the most talented footballers that I ever saw. He was a fantastic player with incredible skill.

The only reason I think the team that played before Stan gets so much recognition is because we won things and achieved so much. We won the Third Division Championship, the League Cup and of course we got promoted to the First Division the year after that. All those things came in only a couple of years, we were winning things and scoring millions of goals and of course QPR hasn’t won anything since.

When you look at the team I played in we scored over a hundred goals and our main forward player (me) scored forty four in one season, that then makes it so much more difficult for teams that follow to come up to that standard. So when you are comparing players and teams from different times it’s very difficult. Why did you never get into English football management?

RM: I never really fancied it, I’ve never really wanted to manage or coach in this country. I did in America for ten years with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. I played there, coached then managed before finally becoming their Chief Executive but I never wanted to do it England because of the way managers are treated in this country by the tabloid press and by the fans – I just wouldn’t want the aggravation that goes along with that. When you were in discussion for the Chief Executives position at QPR could you see problems at Rangers then that ultimately led to our collapse?

RM: No is the short answer! A lot of people were anti Richard Thompson at the time but I always found him to be an extremely astute businessman and a very clever man too. I certainly didn’t see the demise of QPR, all I saw was potential success. QPR’s collapse coincided with Richard Thompson leaving the club and Chris Wright taking over. You couldn’t possibly predict it at that time and I don’t think you can blame Richard Thompson. After the job offer was withdrawn your reputation took a bit of a battering amongst Rangers fans, do you feel you came out of that situation unfairly?

RM: I did take a battering yes but I’ve always looked at life as being relative and what I do, what I’ve always done and what I continue to do on television that gets me into trouble is I tell the truth! The problem is people are offended by the truth sometimes. I told the absolute truth about the situation at the time and when I’m asked now I tell the absolute truth. I don’t bullshit and if people don’t like the truth then fuck them. I think at the time people saw it as you trying to muscle in on Gerry Francis and certainly from reading your autobiography that doesn’t seem to be the case.

RM: Well I told the truth at the time, I told it in the book and I’ll tell it to you again now. The first thing I said to Richard Thompson was before we do anything I want to meet with Gerry Francis. That was the first thing I said, so how in the world that ever got misplaced I don’t know. When the club was in administration were you ever approached to by any of the consortium groups trying to buy the club?

RM: I chatted with a couple of guys about it, they came down to see me at a club I go to in London, Peter Ellis came with them. I spoke to them for about an hour and they were asking my opinion on what I thought. The thing that seemed to hit me was it really wasn’t organised properly. It wasn’t like they had a three-year or five-year plan, they just wanted my help to get some money. That bothered me a bit, when I was with the Rowdies we had short term and long terms goals, clear thinking on what we were trying to achieve and I don’t think they have that.

They were very passionate, but usually if you meet with someone you say this is what we are trying to do and this is what we want to achieve. When you are doing that sort of thing you have to have to have a plan. I was approached by the Fulham 2000 fund a couple of years ago and they were similar, passionate people who care and want to help but didn’t have a plan as to what they were doing. You stated a couple of seasons ago that Rangers were heading for the conference if they didn’t sort themselves out.

RM: Yes, I was right as well! Do you feel the club has turned the corner now?

RM: Well twelve months ago it was desperate times, the club almost went out of existence let alone the conference. I think I was right when I said that but a lot of people at the time were offended by that. QPR supporters wrote to me saying how disloyal I was for saying that. I think I was spot on with that one at the time, but people got offended by the truth then as well.

My understanding is there still is not an awful lot of money within the football club. The other side of the coin is if you can’t afford to keep your players, like the recent situation with Gavin Peacock, then once you start losing players because of financial reasons then whose going to come and play for your when the players you have aren’t good enough to go somewhere else.

To answer the question though, I think they’ve turned the corner in terms of steadying the ship, it’s not sinking anymore but it’s only treading water. Does it hurt you to see Rangers back in the position they were when you joined them?

RM: You know that is the single most question that I’m asked and I give the same answer everytime. People are always willing to have a chip at me when I say something negative but not compliment me when I say something positive, so I’ll say it again now. I love QPR. When I first went there they were a third division team drawing about four thousand people, when I left they were at the top of the tree, as far as they were concerned, getting about twenty odd thousand people and playing great football. I always look at QPR as being my club, if people ask me “who’s your favourite club” I say QPR. How do you feel Ian Holloway is performing as manager?

RM: I think he is doing very very well with very limited resources. He’s the sort of person that will dig his heels in and he will graft. I think he’s doing well with what he has got but it would be a difficult job for anybody. I’m not one of these people that criticise him, I don’t agree with the people that do that. I’ve read some articles in the papers where people were having a bit of a chip at him but I don’t agree with that. Do you feel this QPR can emulate QPR of 35 years?

RM: That’s a bit of a stretch! I personally think that the QPR team I played for was the best QPR team of all time. I know that the seventies team with Gerry Francis, Stan Bowles and Frank McLintock were good as well and almost won the first division but I always look at the team I played in as a magnificent football team.

We had so much quality throughout the side in all positions, we won so much and we won with flair they were great days for me. I moved onto Manchester City who were one of the biggest teams in Europe at the time but I always look at that team as being special, very special. So today’s team would have to do a lot to emulate my team!

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