Date:Monday November 3 2008
Dennis Signy OBE has answered the questions that you have set him on the history of Queens Park Rangers.
As a former employee of Queens Park Rangers and a prominent member of the national media, Dennis covered the R`s and Brentford on alternate weeks for the national press, but his close links with Rangers came when Alec Stock was appointed manager in 1960.
Dennis also handled the press and PR side of Queens Park Rangers during Jim Gregory`s tenure as chairman whilst also attaining the role of Chief Executive at Loftus Road for a brief period.
1. 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? (Vital QPR)
I honestly don't know. I would presume though that they were originally used as homes for players coming to London.
2. Was Jim Gregory a QPR fan? Was there a similar relationship with the club that former Chairman Chris Wright had a few years ago? (Vital QPR)
He was originally a Fulham fan and almost became a director of that club when Tommy Trinder, the comedian, was the chairman. From memory, he went to the London Palladium with a cheque to enable him to join the Fulham board, but the deal fell through.
3. How did Jim Gregory come to buy the club itself, how much did the club cost and what was the procedure of doing it?
The club was ticking along as a Third Division outfit and welcomed a wealthy investor. I can't recall the cost, but the procedure was Gregory buying shares to get on the board. He became a director and quite soon afterwards chairman.
4. After playing in hoops for the whole of our history we stopped in the 1950s, do you know why? (Vital QPR)
Sorry, can't help. There must be a better historian at QPR.
5. Before the 1986 Milk Cup final is there a media consensus as to what occurred before the match? (Vital QPR)
All I can remember is the Jim Smith link - and bad feeling between the two chairmen (Gregory and Robert Maxwell).
6. I have a copy of your book 'A History of Queens Park Rangers' how involved were you at that time (late 60's) with the players, and did you talk to the likes of Rodney Marsh about what was happening during that tremendous period 1966-1969? (Zenith R, QPRdot.org)
I was involved with Rangers throughout the Sixties, starting with writing in the programme when Alec Stock became manager and John Smith, at the age of 21, the secretary.
Alec, as I have said before. was something of a mentor to me; I learned a lot of good PR from him. Alec, a former Army officer, made his name as player-manager of Yeovil after the second world war with giant-killing Cup wins.
He was an admirable front man and adept at keeping clubs like Leyton Orient and Rangerds alive, although he flirted with the big-time by going to Italy and to Arsenal as No 2.
Alec and coach Jimmy Andrews were a good pair in the early Sixties. Alec and Bill Dodgin the same at the start of the Gregory era.
Although I got on like a house on fire with Alec Stock - we socialised outside football with our wives and I spent hours with him at the ground - there was one famous occasion when he banned me from watching QPR.
It was during the time of the ill-fated White City adventure and a heavyweight Daily Mail sports reporter named Jack Wood was given coverage of QPR-Bournemouth, a routine Third Division fixture notable only because of the venue.
Jack decided that he was go back to the BBC studio round the corner to do his piece and he left some five minutes from the end, asking me to cover the last few minutes for him. Jack rang on the whistle and I duly reported what had happened in his absence.
I then got on with my own reporting work and, obviously, never saw Jack's TV piece. Later that evening I got a call at home telling me that Jack had broadcast an anti-White City piece and it was down to me as I had influenced what he had written.
I don't to this day know what Jack Wood said; I do know that I was pro the White City experiment. Despite my protestations, I was banned.
Luckily Alec's anger subsided quickly and I don't think I missed many matches.
Alec had bright ideas for earning Rangers publicity above their Third Division station when they were in competition with the other 'big' clubs in London.
I remember, on the way to a Cup game at Reading, he dropped the players off and made them walk along the riverside in a 'pastoral setting' that brought a few photos and column inches in the papers.
The answer to the question is that I was involved on a daily basis at that time as a football writer covering QPR; my involvement intensified when Jim Gregory arrived on the scene.
Jim was basically shy and hated the cameras and the limelight. In fact, he disliked the media. Thanks, in part, to Alec, he accepted me as a publicist for Rangers and our relationship lasted for 23 years - until I went to work for the club as chief executive.
It took hours to persuade Jim to do a piece on ITV with the late Brian Moore; he did not take well to the cameras and the interview took a long time to record.
Obviously I was in the forefront as the Gregory era produced players of the calibre of Rodney Marsh, Jim Langley and Les Allen.
Stuart Leary was a record signing at £17,500. That moved to £23,000 for Les Allen ... and eventually up to £400,000 for Andy King and Tommy Langley.
Jim Gregory loved flair and the No 10 shirt in his team was reserved for Marsh, Stan Bowles, Tony Currie and Simon Stainrod. Currie cost £375,000.
I built long standing relations with most of the Rangers players of that era. Rodney Marsh flew from the USA at the request of my wife and myself when we helped organise a testimonial for Stan Bowles against Brentfdord at Griffin Park.
Jim Gregory, too, had a special relationship with his players. Stan Bowles regularly came to the board room after games to see the chairman; he treated Terry Venables like a son, Terry being the character Jim would love to have been. Jim gave Frank Sibley his chance in management in his 20s.
I remember Jim giving Mark Lazarus his Rolls Royce to drive some of the players into town when the team were based at the old Brent Bridge hotel in Hendon the evening before the League Cup final.
The players of the late Sixties were all caught up in the promise of a new era following the League Cup win at Wembley against First Division WBA.
7. Have you thought of writing an updated history of the club, that's if you haven't already? Would love to read your thoughts on the mid 70's. (Spiritof76 QPRdot.org)
I think there was a follow-up history to mine.
8. How did you get on with Michael Wale? Was he really a fan? (Parker QPRdot.org)
I had a working relationship with Michael. He was a genuine fan, although not over passionate about football.
9. At a date sometime during the close season of '59 - '60, a meeting was held in the Hammersmith Town Hall, I believe the meeting was called by the Supporters Club.
It was chaired by Alec Stock, I seem to recall amongst other items the meeting expressed concern regarding the presence of Jim Gregory in the ground, who had only just previously bought into the Club.
My question is, (albeit long ago),was the meeting ever minuted, for one vital proposal was made by my brother, but not sure if I seconded it.
The proposal was the we revert back to our Blue & White Hoops for the coming season.
I would like to think that this was recorded at the time, we've both been lifelong supporters and would feel greatly privileged to be able to take credit for this essential part of our history.
You may have to dig deeply into the records for this Dennis but hopefully 'the clues are there'. (Thasi - Vital QPR)
I remember addressing a similar meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall in Jim Smith's time but have no recollection of this meeting and have no records to check back on for that time.
10. I would really like to have the thoughts and Comments of Dennis regarding the attempted Takeover of QPR FC by John Bloom circa 1963.
All I can really recall is that John Bloom made two attempts....and that both John Bloom and QPR FC were held up to ridicule on David Frosts That was the week that was late night satirical TV Programme. (Kerrins - Vital QPR)
The opposition of the fans was the eventual reason for it being a non-starter. The take-over provided headlines because of Bloom's reputation; I'm not sure how near it ever came to coming to fruition.
I'm 100 per cent clear on the Sixties Brentford take-over as I was general manager of the Bees at the time. The whole background is listed in the History of QPR book.
I'm 100 per cent clear on the 'Fulham Park Rangers' episode as I was chief executive at QPR at the time.
My involvement with the John Bloom episode was as a football writer and, although I can recall a meeting in the stands at Loftus Road and going to Bloom's office, I can't recall the ins and outs. There was vocal opposition from the fans to the Bloom efforts mainly, from memory, because people were wary for the future if it happened.
11. What was the truth behind the Alec Stock Departure in 1968? Was he sacked or helped out by Jim Gregory? (Mike, QPRReport)
I was writing my History of QPR when Alec Stock left. The official reason given was Alec's health, but I think it was more of a parting of the ways 'by mutual consent'.
Bill Dodgin took over from Alec; he left almost immediately when Tommy Docherty was brought in. Tommy stayed for a tempestuous 28 days - which I lived with him - and when he left Les Allen took over. The book came out three managers out of date. We managed to get a note at the front saying that Alec had left since the book was written.
I had lunch with Jim Gregory and Tommy Doc at a pub in Wimbledon the day the new manager arrived. The partnership was doomed to failure. Tommy wanted to bring in Brian Tiler from Rotherham; he chairman suggested Brian O'Neill (Burnley), 'He'd cost £70,000, I've checked', said the Doc. The argument continued over the meal - without resolve.
Twenty seven days later I went to an evening match at Tottenham. Tommy Doc arrived. He told me to tell the chairman he was leaving the next day and would be clearing his desk at 9 a.m .
I rang the chairman, who was at a health farm, at midnight when I got home. 'He's bluffing', he said.
The next morning I was in Tommy's office at 9 a.m., with chief scout Derek Healy, as he started emptying the drawers in his desk. I rang the chairman to report. 'He's bluffing', said Jim.
I saw Tommy off the premises and rang the chairman. He left the health farm and drove to the training ground to break the news to the players. I stayed in Tommy's office breaking the story to the papers!
12. Why after QPR were promoted, did Gregory do so little beyond builidng the stand. Few signings. The Les Allen appointment after Docherty left.? (Mike, QPRReport)
I've explained how Les Allen came into line as manager with the departures of Stock, Dodgin and Docherty.
I don't agree that Jim Gregory did little beyond building a stand - he, in fact, built four new stands and QPR were the first club in England in the post-war years to have four.
Look at the players in the Dave Sexton side that finished runners-up to Liverpool - some fantastic signings among them. That team had flair.
13. What other QPR revelations do you have? (Mike, QPRReport)
The only 'official' signings were Tony Roberts and David Seaman.
Chris Gieler, the scout who found so many first-rate youngsters for Rangers, discovered Tony and he came to Loftus Road with his parents and I completed the signing.
I saw Tony only the other day playing for Dagenham and Redbridge. I always joke with him: 'Told you I'd make you a star'.
Jim Smith was with the players on tour in Sweden when the chairman told me that we were signing Seaman from Birmingham City. I was deputed to go to the Newport Pagnell service station with Ron Phillips, the long serving secretary, to complete the signing.
We travelled up in pouring rain and stood by the entrance on the southbound side not knowing what David looked like and watching hundreds of drenched people coming in.
Finally, I went to a phone box and contacted Jim Gregory, who was in the South of France, to update him. He contacted Seaman's wife and discovered that David had gone to the service station at Mill Hill near the foot of the motorway rather than Newport Pagnell.
The chairman rang back - me standing by an open phone in the rain - to report that Seaman was now en route to where we were ... and eventually we all got together and the signing took place over a cup of tea.
David still calls me 'Mr Signy' and inquires about 'Mrs Signy'. The only other polite young man from over the years who does that is Clive Allen. David's signing, I guess, was the most beneficial thing I did for the club.
I had a behind-the-scenes role in many transfers - in and out. The sale of Phil Parkes to West Ham came about through my friendship with the late John Lyall.
He asked me about the possible availability of Phil, I spoke to the chairman and a deal was agreed. I had to sit on the story for three days before the formalities were complete and I got my exclusive.
I also played a major role in Paul Goddard going to West Ham. The Hammers were staying at Hendon Hall Hotel, opposite where I lived, when the deal was mooted. I organised phone calls chairman to chairman and manager to manager and all was quickly agreed at the hotel.
Apart from Crystal Palace nipping in the next day to try and talk Paul out of it all went smoothly.
I can't remember if I told the story of how John Lyall almost became manager of Rangers. Jim Gregory knew of my close friendship with him and asked if he'd join QPR. I felt he was too imbued with the Hammers, buit posed the question to John.
Eventually a meeting was arranged at the chairman's house opposite Wimbledon Common and John came with Mick McGiven, his No 2, and chief scout Eddie Bailey.
Talks went on for hours - I can even remember Jim Gregory promising to find John a home near Marlow with a lake for him to indulge his passion for fishing. At around midnight agreement was reached for the trio to join Rangers and Jim Gregory popped the champagne corks.
I was at a function in Mill Hill the next afternoon waiting to break the news when I got a call. The West Ham chairman, who had given John permission to speak to Rangers, had changed his mind.
Away from players, I had a hand in bringing Steve Burtenshaw and Alan Mullery to Rangers as managers.
PS John Lyall moved to a 30-acre farm when he later became manager of Ipswich -- with a lake!
Many thanks to Dennis Signy
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