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Thursday, January 24, 2008

QPR's Former Defender Ian Gillard Profiled and Interviewed

Another great profile and interview on the QPR Official Site. This time, QPR's Ian Gillard, who was part of QPR's 1972/73 promotion squad; QPR's 1975/76 "Championship" Team; and QPR's 1982 FA Cup Final team. (His last game QPR was in the Wembley replay.) Background: Recently turned 57; Given his debut by Tommy Docherty in November 1968 (at home to Nottingham Forest. Played 400+ times for QPR - Record). Also - Wikipedia/Gillard and Dave Barton's QPR Profile of Gillard

In our latest instalment of exclusive past player interviews on www.qpr.co.uk, Ian Gillard comes under the spotlight.
Ian Gillard (1968-1982)
When Ian Gillard retired from playing football, he went to work in the Mars Bar factory and he put on so much weight that his former R's team mates thought he was eating up all the chocolate he was making!
"Yes I piled on a few stone," said Gilly.
"It was a different sort of living altogether for me. Football had been in my blood and then all of a sudden things changed and I was out in the big wide world.
"Some guys are quite lucky in that they can stay involved in sport and keep themselves in trim. But I took one look at my FA Cup Final shirts and my England shirts and thought 'how the hell did I ever fit into them?'"
Joking apart, Gillard was an accomplished left-back who joined Rangers as an apprentice in 1968 and went on to make nearly 500 appearances for the first team. He loved his time at Loftus Road.
He said: "It was a big part of my life. I had my ups and downs like most professional footballers, but I really enjoyed it at QPR. It was a good Club and very well run.
"We had a super Chairman in Jim Gregory. He knew exactly what he was doing business-wise. He was a bit of a devil when you tried to negotiate with him, but he understood how to rule a Football Club."
Gillard was an integral part of the great R's side that challenged for the League Championship in 1975/76 - and he still regrets missing out on a title medal.
"I felt that we deserved to win it. We were an attacking side that played lovely flowing football, but it wasn't to be. Liverpool pipped us by a point and it was a real disappointment for us.
"That was the best team I ever played in. They were good times and we had a host of quality players. There was an excellent balance throughout the squad.
"Dave Sexton was the finest Coach I ever worked with. He was top notch. Dave was a very private and quiet man, but all the players had so much respect for him."
Gilly's excellent form for the Super Hoops led to three full England appearances in the mid-1970's. He takes massive satisfaction when looking back on his international caps.
"I was very proud obviously. I was lucky as a few regulars in the squad like Kevin Beattie and Alan Kennedy got injured. So I got my chance and I was really chuffed to play for my country.
"It was just nice to be part of the set-up and be in the England squad as there were a lot of good players involved in those days. I was very honoured."
Snappy in the tackle and lethal on the overlap, Gillard was a formidable defender. He only scored 11 times for the Hoops, but one particular strike sticks in his mind.
"It was at home to Manchester United in September 1978. I still talk about it to this day as it was quite funny!
"Paddy Roche was in goal for United and I put the ball between his legs at the School End. It wasn't meant to be that way but I miss-hit my shot and it just happened!
"I didn't notch many goals in my career so to get one against Manchester United was quite a privilege really."
After completing 14 years with Rangers, Gillard bowed out at the very top. His last games for the Club were at Wembley Stadium in the 1982 FA Cup Final and Replay.
"We had two bites of the cherry against Spurs. We played on the Saturday and then the Replay was on the Thursday night. I knew that I was about to move on from QPR so it was a really good way for me to bow out.
"Tottenham dominated the first match and if wasn't for our keeper Peter Hucker, then we could have lost by two or three goals. But we got over that and Terry Fenwick headed the equaliser towards the end to make it 1-1.
"Then in the Replay, I thought we really did well. We had a good Manager in Terry Venables and he knew what was required to damage Spurs. The plan worked but unfortunately we didn't score, so it was a sad occasion to lose 1-0."
Gilly has had a varied life since leaving Rangers - both in football and in his existence beyond.
"I went to Aldershot as Player-Coach in July 1982. I retired from playing four years later but I stayed on the coaching staff at the Recreation Ground until 1990. We won promotion to the Third Division during my time there.
"But when you have played at the top, it is very hard to go down to the lower levels and I could see a contrast in the players' attitudes. It was so different that it really hit me, to be honest.
"After my time at Aldershot, I worked for Mars before I set up a cleaning company with my wife. It was just the two of us involved and it was very successful actually. But you get a little bit older and we decided to call it a day. So I have jacked that in and I am semi-retired."
Ian Gillard is now 57 years-old and lives in Surrey. He remains a firm follower of our beloved R's and wishes the Club every success.
"It is the first result I look for every week. QPR have always been close to my heart and I pop up to Loftus Road occasionally to watch games with my son or my wife.
"I don't want to see the team where they are at the moment in the lower half of the Championship. They have come through so many difficult years and I am hoping for an exciting future ahead under the new owners." QPR

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