I was disappointed that QPR won their play-off final and Leyton Orient lost theirs to deprive us of two entertaining derbies.
The odd thing about QPR and Fulham is there is rarely parity between the fortunes of the two clubs. Thus in 1968-70 we had 2 relegations and QPR 2 promotions. In the last 12 years we have been in the ascendancy but once again now we swapped divsions.
One of the best games I ever saw was Leyton Orient’s defeat of us 3-1 in the old third divison in 1969. There were 18,000 packed into Brisbane Road for a cracking game. We took the lead through Steve Earle but the Os came back to score 3. Years later I met a Orient fan who remembered the game as well as myself. The one we always cherish is in the promotion season of 1996-7. We played them on a Sunday at 12 and like many an early kick off there was a bit of a sleepy feeling. However Terry Angus, a cult hero centre half whom I had the priviledge to know, got the fans going by leaving the bench to go into our section to lead the singing. The atmosphere was incredible, so much so that Micky Adams thought it might make the team gung-ho but we won 2-0.
We will enjoy feisty derbes with Brentford. I never forget when their centre forward landed a haymaker on our keeper Jim Stannard, or when Peter Thomson in the promotion season of 96-97 went off to nature’s call to miss Peter O’Sullivans’s winning strike. The Brentford fans will be ticking off the minutes for this one as there is no love lost here. Brighton will be an enjoyable trip. Charlton too. I recall a last-gasp equaliser by Fred Callaghan in 1972 to stave off relegation and send Charlton down instead. At Millwall the Old Den was never welcoming and if you won there you were pleased to get out alive. More hospitable is Portman Road Ipswich, but as with Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Blackburn, Bolton and Middesbrough a salutary lesson that clubs do not have any divine right to bounce back and if we do not do so quickly our stay in the Championship or worse might prove a long one.