Another gem from Ron Phillips « Thread Started on Dec 13, 2011, 1:40pm » THE NIGHT BRIAN CLOUGH'S CHEEKS WENT CRIMSON - By Ron Phillips
We were playing Derby County at home on a dark evening. About 10 minutes after the game started, Derby County took the lead with a single goal. 5 minutes after that, all the floodlights went outk. I tried not to panic and phoned through to ask if Charlie Howard, the electrician, was on the job. They said "Yes", so I asked the P.A. announcer to put out a soothing announcement. He did so. Another 15 minutes went past and we were still in pitch darkness.
Poor Charlie Howard was sweating over our 19th Century lights and just couldn't get them on. A steward dashed into my office yelling "The Derby Manager wants to see you!" The Derby Manager was Brian Clough. I decided that I didn't want to see him, so I told the steward to advise Mr Clough that I couldn't get away from my office and the electrician would soon have the lights back on. I must have been insane.
5 minutes later, the steward was back in the office with a message from Mr. Clough to the effect that, if I didn't get down to his dressing room immediately, he would come up to my office and drag me down by the scruff of my neck. I decided to visit Mr. Clough in his dressing room.
He had no idea who I was but, when I went into the Derby County dressing room, he must have guessed. He was sitting with a bunch of their players but, when he saw me, he stood up and came straight at me, eventually bodily pushing me out into the corridor. Then he started yelling at me, his nose practically touching mine, shouting insults in that strange voice of his.
It was a particularly unpleasant attack because he was suffering from that acne rosacea which disfigured his face so much that he later had to give up football. His face was flushed dark crimson and his eyes were practically popping out of his head. He screamed at me so loudly that I could hardly make out what he was saying. I gathered it was something to the effect that he knew exactly what game I was playing; I had sabotaged the floodlights because Derby County were ahead. He had seen other clubs try this on and he had dealt with the Secretaries to make sure they never worked again. Unless I got the floodlights back on immediately, I was going to regret it for the rest of my life. Etc., etc., etc.
This went on for a solid 5 minutes and he had me backed against a wall, so that I was totally unable to escape. I can still remember that enormous crimson face, and inch away from mine, screaming and screaming at me. Heaven alone knows what would have happened if Charlie had not achieved a miracle: the lights came back on. Brian Clough turned away from me as if absolutely nothing had happened and called his team out lof the dressing room and onto the pitch.
He never spoke another word to me. Until the night I drove Stan Bowles up to Nottingham Forest for his transfer. Then Brian Clough, now the Nottingham Forest Manager, greeted me like an old friend and spent the evening chatting to me and plying me with drinks in the Board Room, while he completely ignored Stan Bowles standing in the corner.
I'm convinced the reason he didn't recognise me was that, all the time he was shouting at me, he must have been blind with rage.
At one time, JIm Gregory was toying with the idea of asking Brian Clough to take over Rangers. Thank heaven the idea never went ahead.
ANOTHER FINE MESS YOU'VE GOT ME INTO, STANLEY By Ron Phillips
During the 7 years Stan Bowles was at QPR, I often used to remark that he and I would be buried in the same grave one day. During those years, Stan was forever dogging my heels, walking into my office, encountering me in the street and always, but always, asking for a "sub" on his wages.
The first intimation of what life would be like with Stan was when we signed him from Carlisle United in 1972. Manager Gordon Jago had phoned me at 4 a.m. to ask me to meet him at Euston: we were off to sign "a brilliant new player" from Carlisle. So I was rather short of sleep when I first met Stan but I recall him as being one of the nicest players ever to join Rangers, extremely well brought up, with a charming personality and scrupulously polite to everyone he met.
The transfer deal was completed remarkably quickly and, as Gordon and I were leaving the club to catch a train back to London, Stan asked me if I could spare a moment. He wanted a £20 sub "to clear up a few things before he left Carlisle". As he was entitled to a large percentage of his transfer deal, I gave it to him without a thought. Back in London, he needed another sub the next day. And the next. And the next.
As I subsequently learned (and as he has always admitted himself) Stan was an inveterate gambler and, as a result, was constantly short of money. The problem was compounded in his case, however, as he didn't get much money in the first place. A malicious judge had made a maintenance order against him when he got divorced, which entailed giving rather more money to his ex-wife than he actually earned from Rangers. As Stan's employer, I had to take the case back to court to inform the judge that Football League regulations prevented us from paying out more money than was provided for in his contract. The judge grudgingly relented and changed the award to one which exactly removed every penny of Stan's wages.
The case was widely reported in the media and I was depicted as a heartless so-and-so who had grabbed back the pittance Stan was giving his ex-wife. One could picture me calling at her house every morning to snatch the cornflakes out of the mouths of his children. As a result, I attracted the unwelcome attention of the Feminists.
I started receiving sackloads of mail each day from women who threatened unspeakable things they would do to me unless I started paying more money to Mrs Bowles. One afternoon, my secretary came into my office to advise me not to leave the club by the front entrance. "Why?" I asked. "Because there's a woman outside hiding behind a wall with a brick" was the answer. I left the club for some time thereafter by walking across the pitch and out of the Ellerslie Road entrance. As far as I know, the woman with a brick is still hiding behind that wall.
From that time onwards, a day without Stan desperately requiring a sub was a rare occurrence. On one occasion, a home game was taking place in which QPR were winning 1-0 at half time. A few minutes after the half time whistle, Stan dashed into my office in full match strip, asking if he could have a sub for the match bonus. I said "But Stan, we haven't won yet!" He replied "Don't worry, Mr Phillips - I'll win it for you!" And sure enough he did, scoring a superb goal to achieve this.
After the match, I gave Stan his sub. I stress that he was entitled to this win bonus - he never asked for or received an illegal payment.
The pressure on me intensified, however, when Stan Bowles was joined by his mate, Don Shanks, a good player who was almost as great a supporter of the gambling industry as Stan. I had formed the habit of leaving my office cautiously to see if Stan was lurking anywhere. If I spotted him at the end of the corridor, I would leave the club as fast as possible in the other direction.
One lunchtime my secretary whispered to me on the intercom that there was no escape that day: Stan Bowles was waiting at her end of the corridor and Don Shanks had staked out the other end. I would have to pass by one of them and, faced with a combination of Don Shanks' persuasive talents and Stan Bowles' charm, I would end up forking out a sub to them.
There was only one way out: through the window. My office was on the first floor of the South Africa Road stand, about 20 feet above the pavement. There was a sheer drop beneath me but I could see a few handholds in the bricks ..... I decided to try it. A pity no Fleet Street photographer was around that day to capture the sight of the Secretary of one of the Football League's top clubs leaving his office by a slightly unorthodox route. I made it intact and took off at high speed for White City tube station. Don and Stan waited another hour or two before my secretary advised them they weren't going to get a sub this time.
Came the day when Stan concluded his glorious career at QPR and we sold him to Nottingham Forest. By coincidence, it fell to me to drive him up to Nottingham and hand him over to his new manager, Brian Clough. The journey was a dangerous one: we had picked a night when a howling blizzard made driving along the motorway very tricky indeed. At one moment, when my windscreen became covered in sleet and the wipers stopped working, I recalled my joke that I would be buried with Stan Bowles.
But we eventually made it and I took Stan in to meet Brian Clough. It was a most peculiar meeting: Mr Clough completely ignored Stan, his most valuable new signing, and spent 20 minutes talking to me and offering me drinks. I eventually escaped, saying goodbye to Stan and thanking him for all he had done for Rangers.
As I drove away, I fancied I heard Stan asking his new secretary for a sub.
From Imperium Another anecdote from Ron Phillips, as follows :
AS Secretary of Queens Park Rangers Club during the turbulent years of 1966 - 1989, it fell to me to save the Club from going out of existence on three separate occasions. One of these incidents is better kept permanently secret; one will provide an interesting story in due course - although now is not the best time to relate this; but I can see no reason why the third occasion should be kept hidden.
In 1987, the very talented Les Ferdinand joined the Club. His skills may not have been totally appreciated because only a year later, it was agreed that he would be loaned to the Turkish Club, Besots, for 12 months.
On the day he was due to fly out to Turkey, the Club Chairman, Jim Gregory was at a health farm, and the manager was away with the team. I was therefore given the job of getting Les to sign the loan forms, and sending him of to Heathrow.
Les arrived at my office in the morning, and immediately informed me he had no intention of going to Turkey. I was surprised, and asked him why ? He said he was certain Rangers would turn the loan into a permanent transfer and he wanted to spend his playing career in England.
I gulped and went off to phone Jim Gregory that Les refused to go to Turkey. Mr .Gregory gave me a short order. "Get him on that plane." I went back to Les and found him adamant about staying at QPR. Time was running out - the plane was leaving in a few hours. What to do ? Eventually I found a solution. I told Les I was certain that QPR would not want to lose a player of his ability, and I was prepared to sign a letter guaranteeing that his loan to Besiktas , would terminate in one year's time and, after that,he would return to Rangers ! Les liked the idea; I prepared the letter for him ; he gave me a big smile ; and off he went to Turkey.
One year later, Les Ferdinand's fears were proved correct. He prepared to return to England but was immediately informed that his loan was being transferred into a permanent transfer for a fee of £100,000 (!) and he was to remain at Besiktas. Transfer papers were drawn up for him to sign, but Les stunned everybody b producing the letter I had given him the previous year. A Club Secretary's signature on such a document made it a cast-iron contract - so, Les came back to Rangers.
All hell broke loose over the head of that Club Secretary. The Manager did not speak to me for months. Unfortunately the Chairman did.............
Jim Gregory had just moved his private office to Rangers Stadium and now operated from the floor above the Secretary's office.
Several times a day, for many weeks I was summoned upstairs to appear before the Chairman and receive a substantial rocket. Eventually all went quiet, but I was never forgiven for what I had done. To be honest, the Chairman and the manager were correct - A Club Secretary should never interfere in a transfer deal.
I should have been fired.
The years passed by. Jim Gregory's health deteriorated and he sold the Club.
I had a terrifying experience with one of the new directors and quickly followed in Jim Gregory's footsteps.
Les Ferdinand meanwhile went fron strength to strength displaying talents which marked him out as one of Ranger's best ever players, with a goal-scoring ability which made him a targer for several of the League's major Clubs.
Deprived of Jim Gregory's careful financial control, Rangers fell on hard times and it became clear that the Club might have to be placed in administration.
In the nick of time, Newcastle United offered a £6,000,000 transfer fee for Les Ferdinand. The bid was accepted with alacrity, and the windfall this avoided Ranger's probable disappearance from the Football League. I was delighted that my "mistake" 6 years earlier had produced such beneficial consequences for the Club and I sent them a joking letter, asking if they would consider apologising for the reprimands I had received or, failing that, 10% of the transfer fee would be quite acceptable.......
I received a formal legal reply to the effect that Club Secretaries were not entitled to any share of transfer fees.
football Clubs have no sense of humour.
As told to Imperium by Ron Phillips"
And many thanks to Imperium and Ron Phillips for this.
Re: When the Apostrophe was Dropped - Dennis Signy « Reply #32 on Apr 18, 2011, 6:58am » Posted by Imperium
I have received a letter from RON PHILLIPS - remember him - the best Secretary ever for QPR?
I quote his letter which I think gives the definitive answer to the apostrophe conundrum , as follows :
I was indeed the culprit who dropped the apostrophe. The clues are all there. I joined the Club as Secretary in October 1966 and took over as editor of the programme a few months later. When I arrived the programme consisted of a single, folded sheet of paper which just wasn't up to the standards of the team's fabulous successes at that time. I changed the format to something more substantial(and I designed the Little Men cover which has been so popular with Rangers supporters.
Then I took a look at the club's title on the front cover and decided it had to be improved.
It had absolutely nothing to do with the club coming from Queen's Park or even Queen Victoria. I am red hot on grammatical misspellings caused by dropping apostrophes, but in this case it was simply an aesthetic decision.
Apostrophes used in the titles of well-known locations look ugly. "Queens Park Rangers" as a title is much tidier than "Queen's Park Rangers" (in just the same way that "Regents Park" is easier on the eye than "Regent's Park"), or "Earls Court" is more digestible than "Earl's Court"
I have continued this policy in my present job as Artistic Director of Barons Court Theatre. When I started the theatre in 1991, the area was known as "Baron's Court" It just had to go ! Thanks to the rising popularity of my theatre, everyone wries "Barons Court" nowadays - even the Tube has dropped the apostrophe !
My apologies if my decision offended the traditionalists. I hope that before they vent their anger on me they will at least take into account my "Little Men" innovation and agree that not all I did while at QPR was bad.