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Monday, July 31, 2006

Two Ex-QPR Stars Profiled - Ian Holloway and Rodney Marsh

Two very nice pieces about two Rangers stars in the Times....Just not nearly enough focus on their time at QPR!

The Times - July 31, 2006
Holloway's crazy days of summer - By Tom Dart

Our correspondent finds the former QPR manager refreshed and ready for his new challenge

STILL BARKING. “HE BREEZED INTO THE room, more or less hijacked the interview completely, took it over with his enthusiasm. His passion is unmatched, I’ve never met anybody who’s got that much life about them. It’s not just football, it’s the whole of his life. It’s lifted the whole city,” Damon Lenszner, a Plymouth Argyle director, said.
Thus, famously, spoke Ian Holloway after winning promotion to the Coca-Cola Championship with Queens Park Rangers in 2004: “They say every dog has his day. And today is Woof Day. I want to go out and bark.”
Last season, the noises emanating from Loftus Road were more like agonised howls, but now Holloway’s tail wags once more. His managerial CV is solid but it is his personality that has made him a cult figure. Last year, Time Out magazine named “Olly” the fifteenth-funniest Londoner, ahead of the Little Britain duo and Paul Merton. Not bad for a Bristolian.
In 2004 he painted a canvas called Promotion in the style of Jackson Pollock for a BBC documentary called Stress Test, in which he was shown crying when talking about his wife and battling bouts of rage as he tried to cope with managing QPR and being a husband and father to four children, three of whom are profoundly deaf and so were unfazed when he ranted at them in an argument about a cushion.
As with José Mourinho, Holloway’s best quotations are collected in book form: The Tao of Ian Holloway. A modest man, the 43-year-old would presumably reject the implication that it is possible to base a life-guiding philosophy around his musings, yet extraordinary charisma shines from his small frame. His enthusiasm is contagious because it is so sincere and omnipresent.
Sentences flood out like a burst dam and drench listeners with metaphors that are often magical even if they are mixed. Desire, honesty and conviction are his petrol as interviews drive off in a straight line then veer off-road without warning and a routine trip turns into a safari.
The chunky West Country accent adds a lyrical hue and there is no sense of ironic self- parody, the creeping archness that infected the work of another noted benefactor to football’s lexicon, Ron Atkinson. “What I want to do is add one or two players, but I’ll take my time,” Holloway said after a pre-season friendly on Friday. “Slowly, slowly. The way I look at it, I want to drip-feed some of the things that I want.” He mimed a hospital infusion pump. “Tonight, they were so keen to impress me, they cut the bag and it all whooshed over the floor in the first half. If that makes any sense. It should be just drip, drip, drip.”
Barry Hayles played for Holloway at Bristol Rovers so knew what to expect when he joined from Millwall this summer. “A few of the boys have been a bit surprised,” the striker said of his manager’s ardour. “He’s very excited, he made it clear he’s got big plans, he wants to get a squad that’s good enough to challenge for the top six.”
Holloway managed Rovers for 4½ years, then took over at QPR in 2001 and won the Londoners promotion, making them an established Championship club despite a paltry budget. A feud between directors last season led to Holloway being caught in the crossfire.
He was placed on gardening leave by QPR in February and arrived at Home Park at the end of June to replace Tony Pulis, who rejoined Stoke City. Holloway denied that the souring of his relationship with QPR had sapped his morale. “Not in a million years,” he said. “I probably feel the best I’ve ever been. I’ve had five months to sort my life out, to see what I want to do. I think I got thrown into football management [at Rovers)]because I was cheap, I could do two jobs [player-manager] for the price of one. I’m very proud I took that opportunity, people can never take that away from me. What I want to do is leave a mark on the next club I’m managing, which is this one.”
Holloway took Plymouth to the Memorial Stadium for a friendly on Friday and was generously received by the locals, especially since the League Two side won 1-0. “That makes Bristol Rovers as good as Real Madrid,” Holloway pointed out. This month Plymouth lost by the same scoreline to the Spanish behemoths in a friendly arranged as compensation for Real taking Plymouth’s hotel at pre-season training in Austria. “Who are they to move us?” Holloway had said. “I don’t like it myself — we’re Argyle, get out of our way! We’ll leave something on a few of them and I don’t think they’ll like that too much.
“In three, four, five years we’ll be pushing for one of those play-off places with that man in charge,” Lenszner said. If that sounds like a relaxed timescale, he points out that it took John Madejski 15 years to bankroll Reading into the big-time. Plymouth were only promoted from the bottom division in 2002 and the board, without Madejski’s millions, are focused on incremental growth. “It’ s going to take time and I’ve only been here two minutes,” Holloway said. “If this is a 24-hour clock, the alarm hasn’t even gone off yet, has it?”

The Times - July 31, 2006 The ultimate maverickBy Rick Broadbent
Our correspondent delves deep into the colourful complexity of Rodney Marsh

IF MARTIN PETERS WAS TEN YEARS ahead of his time, Rodney Marsh was 200 years late. “I should have been born in the late 1700s,” he said. “That was the time of highwaymen and rascals and romance.”
It is a neat summary, but it barely hints at his kaleidoscopic guises as a Blitz baby, a boy beaten with a belt called “Kennedy” and an England player sealing his fate with a gag about masturbation.
An hour into the interview and Marsh has spoken about Salvador Dali and Chinese ink paintings, Elton John and the Rolling Stones, “f***ing idiots” and “total a***holes”. History books tell you that he played for Fulham, dropped to the third division to inspire Queens Park Rangers’ League Cup win in 1967, captained Manchester City and got a tan in Tampa. They omit the bits about the family history in which a relative smashed an ashtray into his mother’s face and the two days drifting in and out of consciousness after being bashed in the head during a game against Leicester City.
This is Marshland, a maverick world where the stories are Day-glo but the opinions black and white. Maybe it is this gift of the gab, learnt as a survival mechanism, that makes him more able than most to explain the psyche of “The Entertainers”.
Exhibit A: “I’m playing for Manchester City against Birmingham. We’re 3-0 up and playing brilliantly. I get the ball in the outside left position. It’s almost like looking through my own mind’s eye and all the other 21 players are there to watch me. I’m going towards a defender. I keep dropping my shoulder. I’m oblivious to the whole game around me. The defender falls on his backside. I’m ten yards from goal. I just need to shoot or pass square to Colin Bell who will score. I try to chip the goalkeeper. It bounces on the crossbar and over. The crowd give me a standing ovation. The manager says, “what the f***ing hell were you thinking?”
Exhibit B: “I’m playing for Tampa Bay Rowdies against the Memphis Rogues. It’s 1-1 and we get a last-minute corner. The ball comes in and I hit a bicycle kick into the top corner. Jimmy Husband runs after me. He’s going to hit me, so I turn round and butt him first. There’s a 22-man mêlée. Fans are on the pitch. The referee sends me off and I throw my shirt in his face. I ’m like a matador in the bullring. Brilliant.”
Marsh says that “The Entertainers” were a club with George Best as their leader and Terry O’Neill their photographer. “Did we know we were different? Christ, yeah. It was a brilliant era. There was rebellion everywhere and nothing was off limits — drinking, gambling, nightclubs until 5am. You got ten parking tickets and you threw them away. We were part of the anti-establishment. They say you get nothing from evolution, it has to be revolution.”
It was no surprise that Marsh, hirsute and sharp-suited, would clash with officialdom. “I fell out with the manager” is the interview’s refrain. “There is an institutional fear of genuine talent in England,” Marsh said. “If Ronaldinho had been English it would have been drummed out of him. It’s astonishing the level of distrust. I would be told, ‘play the way you ’re facing’, but I’d say: ‘I’ve got vision.’ ”
The most famed falling out was with Sir Alf Ramsey. “Me and Alf were oil and water,” Marsh said. “He had a regimented attitude and wanted to get me to play like Geoff Hurst. I wanted to pack in after three caps. It was only Malcolm Allison who kept me going. I got nine but never did myself justice.”
It was 1973 in the dressing-rooms at Wembley when Marsh made the quip that ended his England career. Ramsey gave warning that if Marsh did not work hard enough, he would be pulled off at half-time. “Christ!” he replied, ambivalent about the consequences. “All we get at Manchester City is a cup of tea and an orange.” It was his last cap.
The brashness and honesty have long conspired against him. In his football afterlife as a pundit, he caused a furore by making a joke about the tsunami. He counters by saying society is too restrictive. “Now you have rules a, b and c, subsections eight, nine and ten.” It was ever thus. When Peter Swales, the chairman at Maine Road, called him in to ask for his opinion of Tony Book and Ian MacFarlane, the manager and head coach, he gave it straight. “I said the truth is they are f***ing useless. They sacked me and put me on the transfer list for that. Elton John’s manager rang and said did I want to take his private plane to LA. So I did. Elton was out of it but sensational company.”
The United States may appear a suitably artificial epitaph, but there was always substance behind the Marsh style. Beaten by his father and “Kennedy”, he went deaf in one ear after his accident against Leicester and spent a depressing ten months as a teen wondering if his career was over. He is a voracious reader and history buff, once stopping the team bus to check a fact in a library. He owns three Dali etchings and “did some shadow-painting of birds recently”. He hates political correctness but loves football, wishing he had played under Arsène Wenger. He has also come to appreciate lesser talents, even those such as the team-mate who labelled him a performing seal. “It’s the things that are ordinary that make the greatness what it is,” he concluded.

And Also: Clive Whittingham/QPR Rivals Interviews with with Mauro Milanese, Lee Cook and Nick Ward

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