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Thursday, December 20, 2007

1975/76 Star, David Webb Profiled/Interviewed on the Official Site

Another excellent Official Site profile of a former QPR (and Chelsea!) star. This time, David Webb

In our latest instalment of exclusive past player interviews on www.qpr.co.uk, former R's number six David Webb comes under the spotlight.
David Webb (1974-1977)
David Webb had a unique pre-match ritual during his time with Queens Park Rangers.

He would saunter into Loftus Road barely ten minutes before kick-off, quickly get changed and then trot out on to the pitch just in time for the start. It invariably led to him giving a wholehearted display in a hooped shirt.

Webb said: "I never liked the stress and the strain that goes on in the dressing room before a game. I just wanted to focus on the task in hand. So I timed it to perfection to get there as late as I could. Then I'd just go straight out to play football without any worries. I always did that during my career.

"Roy Francis - the father of Gerry - was Kit Manager at Rangers and he was brilliant for me. He was like my own personal valet! He would drop everything when I arrived at Loftus Road and just concentrate on looking after me. Roy knew exactly what I required and how I wanted it. He would have my boots studded up and everything ready. The whole lot would be spot on.

"I can always remember my home debut in 1974. QPR Manager Gordon Jago started panicking as he didn't think I was going to turn up. So he sent a policeman out looking for me 25 minutes before kick-off. But I was actually just strolling down to the ground from Shepherds Bush Green. The copper picked me up and gave me a lift to the game as a pillion passenger on his motorbike!

"That walking around the streets I used to do before matches was the equivalent of modern players having warm-ups. It used to get me going and then the adrenalin would pump through when I got out on to the pitch. Players wouldn't be allowed to turn up really late nowadays, but it didn't matter to me as long as I got there in time for the start."

Webb was a rock-like presence in the centre of QPR's defence during the famous League title attempt of 1975/76. We finished our campaign on top of the table, but Liverpool won their final game ten days later to pip us by a point. That whole scenario still rankles with the former Rangers number six.

"It wouldn't be allowed to happen nowadays, as all teams have to complete their fixtures on the same day at the same time," said Webb.

"We just missed out and it was so disappointing.

"It was probably the best team I ever played in. We were really ahead of the times with our passing football. Gordon Jago had a part to play in that. Then Dave Sexton took over, changed things slightly and gelled it all together.

"They were fun days and we had great flair players. Stan Bowles up front; Gerry Francis in the middle; and Dave Thomas wide. We constantly played the ball out from the back, which was very unusual in those days.

"My centre-back partner Frank McLintock was always better at that than me, so we tried to make sure he was the spare man. But the full-backs, Dave Clement and Ian Gillard, were also extremely comfortable on the ball so we could build our moves up from defence. The whole team was very well-balanced in that respect."

Despite the heartbreak at the end, it was still a fantastic season for Rangers. Webb was one of the real characters in the team and he is fondly remembered for a string of late goals in important games.

"I was always ready to go forward on corners or play up front in the closing minutes of matches if needed. I have little flashbacks now as I get older and I can vividly remember my goals! For example, I scored two last-gasp winners that year against Peter Shilton, when he was the keeper for Stoke City.

"In saying that, my main role was as a defender. Some people used to say that Frank McLintock and I were a bit too old. He was 37 and I was 30, so the pundits felt we were slow and we couldn't turn.

"But we used to out-cute opposing strikers. We used a lot of know-how between the two of us and I recall that Rangers only conceded 33 goals in the League in 1975/76.

"I used to have little laughs out on the pitch with Frank - a sort of a nod and a wink to each other, because we did things as a pair that were almost sixth sense and like a married couple!

"You might have left your partner in a position that people would think was vulnerable as a defender, but we both instinctively knew exactly how the other one wanted to play and what we wanted to do in matches. So we had total respect and trust in each other and it worked a treat."

Webby is now 61 years-old and lives on the south coast. Despite devoting all his time to a burgeoning business empire, he continues to keep an eye on events at Loftus Road.

"Opportunities came along for me in recent times away from football. I bought up a load of petrol stations and I put my mind into the property side of things. So that is what I have been involved with for the last five years.

"I still follow QPR's fortunes and I was sad that the Club hit the buffers after leaving the Premiership. They just need some sort of stability at the R's now.

"So I am delighted that Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone have taken control and it would be very nice if they can bring the good times back to Rangers." QPR

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