Roy Race

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Roy Race
Publication information
Publisher Tiger
First appearance 1954
Created by Frank S. Pepper
Roy Race
Personal information
Full name Roy Race
Date of birth Unknown
Place of birth Melchester, England
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Melchester Rovers
Youth career
1954 Melchester Rovers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1955–1983 Melchester Rovers 245 (200)
1983 Walford Rovers 21 (45)
1983–1993 Melchester Rovers 256 (236)
National team
1963–1987 England 43 (52)
1979 Basran 3 (6)
Teams managed
1975–1983 Melchester Rovers
1978 England (Caretaker)
1983 Walford Rovers
1983–1993 Melchester Rovers
1992–Present England 'B'
1994–1996 AC Monza
1996–Present Melchester Rovers
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Roy Race is a British comic strip character, a professional football player who appears in the comic strip "Roy of the Rovers". The strip first appeared in the boys' comic Tiger in 1954, continuing for 22 years before giving its name to a new weekly (and later monthly) comic magazine, published by IPC and Fleetway from 1976 until 1995, in which it was the main feature.[1]

The character is a fondly remembered childhood memory for several generations of British men.[2][3]

Fictional biography (based on the historical story line of the strip)[edit]

Roy Race[edit]

Roy Race was brought up surrounded by football. His father's few footballing medals and trophies from a mediocre career in the 1930s twinkled like stars on the sideboard and Mel Park, the grand old stadium of his local team Melchester Rovers, as Roy recalled "Stood like heaven at the end of the street." Not that young Roy needed any encouragement; football was in his blood. A fine all-round athlete, he was a naturally gifted footballer, making up for his lack of muscle with the subtle touches that had been missing from his father's own career.

In 1954 he was playing for Melchester Area Schools under-14s, a year later he signed schoolboy forms for Melchester Rovers, the only club he had ever wanted to play for. At sixteen, Roy made his first appearance for Melchester Rovers. This was no ordinary debut. An injury to Rovers regular striker meant that the young apprentice was drafted into the side for the 1959 European Cup final. It was a dream, a fantasy, a fairy tale. Roy twisted and turned his big Spanish marker, leading the line like a man twice his age. With 10 minutes left, and the game goalless, he broke free on the edge of the area and let fly with the shot that made his name: "Racey's Rocket". It screamed into the net. Rovers were Champions of Europe and had a new hero.

Roy Race would go on to have the longest and most celebrated careers in world football.[4][5][6] Within two seasons he was made captain, and together with his best friend and striking partner Blackie Gray won practically every trophy there is. Sadly injury always meant that Race was never able to appear in the World Cup finals or European Championships and hence he was always denied the chance to lead England to the highest footballing glory.

In 1976 Race married Rovers club Secretary Penny and a year later they gave birth to twins, Roy and Melinda, a further daughter was born in 1982 called Diana.

Roy Race became player manager of Melchester Rovers in 1978 leading Rovers to League Championship success in his first season, however an alarming drop in form and injuries resulted in Rovers getting relegated following the 1980-81 season. At the end of 1981 Roy was shot and seriously wounded by a lone gunman. A man by the name of Elton Blake was arrested for attempted murder and once Race had recovered from his coma he was able to lead Rovers to promotion and further success.

In 1983, following a heated argument with Rovers directors Race left Melchester Rovers for ambitious Walford Rovers. The spat only lasted a short time and Race was able to return to his beloved Melchester Rovers.

Tragedy struck the Rovers in the summer of 1986 when a terrorist bomb in Basran killed eight team members: Noel Baxter, Vic Guthrie, Steve Naylor, Carl Hunt, Neville Jones, Kenny Logan, Jimmy Slade and Trevor Cassidy. Roy survived the attack and went on to build a new Rovers team that went on to win the 1987 Littlewoods Cup Final against Stambridge City. Race, who scored both Rovers goals, dedicated the win to those players.

The following season saw Rovers narrowly miss out on the double after winning the league, Rovers lost in the FA Cup final.

The 1988-1989 saw Mel Park suffer an 'earthquake' and subsides forcing Rovers play their 'home' games at Wembley Stadium. The disruption to the season saw Rovers struggle and end up in a relegation battle. The last game of the season saw Rovers needing to beat local rivals Melboro to avoid relegation. A Race inspired 3-1 victory kept the Rovers up.

The 1989-1990 season saw calls for Race to step aside and let a younger striker take over, Rovers signed Andy MacLaren for a British transfer record from Celtic. However Race continued to score goals and led Rovers to a FA Cup win against Weston Villa.

Race rejected an offer of an $8 million five-year contract to become manager of the USA international team. 1991-92 saw Rovers become League champions, with Race setting a new league goal-scoring record, notching up his 436th goal to seal the title.

The summer of 1992 saw Race appointed as player-manager of the England 'B' team and they went on to win a four-nation tournament against USA, France and Segovia.

The 1992-1993 season saw the dawn of the Premier League era, and also saw Race resign as manager live on Sky TV. Race continued to play under controversial new manager Ralph Gordon who after a string of poor results saw Gordon resign and Race reinstated as player-manager. On the 23rd March 1993, Race, on a scouting trip to watch a potential new signing, crashed his helicopter and was critically injured ending up in a coma.

Race came out of his coma in September 1993 and learnt that his left foot has been amputated, ending his playing career (at the age of at least 51!). Race eventually recovered fully and became manager of Italian Serie A side AC Monza.

1995 saw a further tragedy shatter the Race family as Penny Race is killed in a car crash. The true circumstances of the crash remain a mystery to this day. Following her death Race quit Monza and football with depression.

1997 saw Race return as manager of Rovers just in time to save the Rovers from relegation to Division Two.

The 1997-98 saw Race bring in his graduate daughter Melinda to help generate funds and keep Race's financial backers the Vinter brothers off his back. Melchester Rovers finish the season fourth in Division One but win the Wembley play off final to gain promotion back to the Premiership.

1999 saw Rovers beat a Castlemere team managed by Johnny Dexter to win the FA Cup following extra time.

Roy "Rocky" Race[edit]

Roy Race's son, Roy "Rocky" Chester Race was born on 15 May 1977.[7] He played for Mel Lane football team until he was 11, and it was not long before he began to show the same prodigious skills as his father and grandfather. He signed schoolboy forms for Melchester Rovers as soon as he was old enough. Then in 1992 he signed as a pro. He continued to show tremendous promise in the youth team and at the start of the 1993-94 season was promoted to the first team, wearing the number 9 shirt made famous by his father

Rocky made his league debut against Felixstowe Town, unfortunately the fairy tale did not have the familiar ending. Rocky had trouble adapting to the demands of the Premiership: "It was like the script was there, but I didn't know the lines," he said. His debut was hard, fast and fierce. On his last legs Rocky missed an open goal, then angry with himself, he made a wild tackle and got booked. He was substituted shortly after. Then before the next game his father announced that he would be going to Italy to manage Serie A side AC Monza. A 40,000 sell out crowd gathered at Mel Park to say farewell to Roy Race and following a dreadful tackle Rovers striker Andy MacLaren was injured and Rocky replaced him. Anxious to make a good impression, and struggling to live up to his famous father Rocky allowed himself to be wound up by his marker resulting in the pair getting set off. Ashamed of himself Rocky sensationally quit Rovers the next day.

Rocky would return to the club and scored his first Rovers goal in the FA Cup against non league Brockwell Wednesday. Rocky would go on to form a fearsome partnership with Paul Ntende and helped Rovers in their fight against relegation. Rocky would go on to score the goal that kept Rovers in the Premiership in the last game of the season.

The 1994-95 season saw Mervyn Wallace replace Blackie Gray as Rovers manager and despite struggling in the league Rovers would go on to win the FA Cup beating Prestwich North End in the final. Rocky score in every round including an extra time winner in the semi final. Despite being underdogs, Rovers won the game 3-0 with goals from Ntende, Malandro and Rocky.

The 1995-96 season was not a good season for Rovers. Under pressure following allegations of match fixing Rovers struggled for form. News had come in from Italy that Rocky's mother had been killed in a car accident added to the stress Rocky was under and resulted in him lashing out at opposition striker Matt Croker. Following his latest sending off Rocky was transfer listed and Rovers arch rivals Melboro were the club that Rocky chose to join. With Rocky and numerous other star players leaving the club, Rovers were relegated.

Honours[edit]

All of these records are fictional of course, and only date as far as 2000, the last fully completed season of the comic strip.

Domestic[edit]

League[edit]

Cups[edit]

European[edit]

International[edit]

  • Intercontinental Cup/World Club Championship: 2
    • 1964, 1969
  • Summer International Tournaments: 9
    • Australia 1966, Mexico 1969 (shared), Saladoria 1970, Australia 1978, Crete 1980, Scotland 1981, Vienna 1986, Crete 1989, Japan 1990

Career statistics[edit]

The 1966 World Cup[edit]

Just a month before the 1966 FIFA World Cup would be held in England, an end-season charity match saw international striker Roy Race twist his ankle badly. The England selectors could not take a chance on Race for the World Cup team. The most important tournament in Race's career was about to fly away.

Manager Ben Galloway took the Melchester Rovers team on a tour in Australia trying to ease Roy's pain over his missed chance on the 1966 World Cup. But he would play in an unofficial one: the many nationalities in Australia had given a wealthy sheepman a startling idea to start Australia's own World Cup. Rovers agreed to represent England and soon found themselves playing against a fantastic Italian team which they eventually eliminated in the first round. After eliminating a team who represented Poland, the Rovers successfully battled their way through the final where they lifted the cup beating the Bulgarians with Roy Race scoring the winning goal.

1970 FIFA World Cup[edit]

After missing out the previous three World Cups, Rovers captain Roy Race travelled to Mexico with the England squad alongside his teammates Geoff Giles and goalie Tubby Morton. With a month to the World Cup, England were already in Mexico, getting acclimatised to the unfamiliar weather conditions. In the meantime the rest of Melchester Rovers team would be getting prepared for their summer South America tour in Saladoria.
Reigning World Champions England faced Rumania in the opening game of tournament, having the three Rovers players in the first eleven. On the 6th of June, Roy Race performed his second World Cup match in a thrill-packed game against mighty Brazil but they didn't prove able to score. Eventually England made it to the next round but at some stage obviously they were defeated which let Roy Race and the other internationals get incorporated with the Rovers team in Saladoria and helped them win the international clubs' tournament.

International goals[edit]

  • National Teams:  England, Basran
  • England (1963-1987): 32 full international appearances.

Though Roy Race was close to be picked for the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, an injury kept him out of action and the selected squad. Nevertheless he debuted in 1963 against a lowly South American side scoring a hat-trick. He missed out the 1966 World Cup but he was selected for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. This was his only World Cup appearance as the 1986 Basran massacre wouldn't allow Race to win the most illustrious trophy in the World.

His very last performance for England was displayed against Turkey in 1987 at Wembley Stadium and according to press the most spectacular goal that Race scored for England took place against Brazil in 1981. It is remarkable that with Roy in the squad England were defeated only in one game, the one that saw England out of the quarter finals of the 1970 World Cup.

  • Basran (1979): 3 international appearances.

In the summer of 1979 Roy Race managed and played for the middle-eastern national team of Basran. He scored 6 goals in 3 matches and led Basran to the 1979 Middle-East Games. Upon his return to England he recommended Lofty Peak for the vacancy. Lofty Peak was appointed the new coach of Basran.

National Team # Date Venue Opponent Goals Result Competition
 England April 1963 Caragua, South America Caragua 3 3-1 Friendly
 England June 1970 Mexico City, Mexico  Romania - Unknown 1970 FIFA World Cup
 England June 1970 Mexico City, Mexico  Brazil - 0–0 1970 FIFA World Cup
 England May 1973 Rome, Italy  Italy 1 2-0 Friendly
 England August 1974  ?  ?  ?  ? Friendly
 England August 1975 Wembley Stadium, London, England  France 2 2-0 European Nations Cup
 England November 1975 Wembley Stadium, London, England Mulvania 1 1–1 Friendly
 England February 1978 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Netherlands - 4-1 Friendly
 England June 1981 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Brazil 1 1-0 Friendly
 England June 1983  ?  ?  ?  ? Friendly
 England February 1985 Wembley Stadium, London, England  France 1 1-1 Friendly
 England August 1985 Wembley Stadium, London, England  France  ?  ? Friendly
 England June 1986 Wembley Stadium, London, England  France  ?  ? Friendly
 England May 1987 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Turkey 2 2-0 1988 UEFA Euros Qualifier
National Team # Date Venue Opponent Goals Result Competition
 England B June 1992 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Italy B 1 3-0 Friendly Tournament
 England B June 1992 Wembley Stadium, London, England Segovia 2 5-1 Friendly Tournament
 England B June 1992 Wembley Stadium, London, England  United States 1 2-1 Friendly Tournament
National Team # Date Venue Opponent Goals Result Competition
Basran June 1979 National Stadium, Basran, Basran Zatar 1 1-3 Friendly
Basran June 1979 National Stadium, Basran, Basran  San Marino 3 5-2 Friendly
Basran June 1979 National Stadium, Basran, Basran Kiria 2 4-1 Midde-East Games Qualifier

Comic World Cup[edit]

Several World Cups were held during Roy Race's career since 1954 and until last decade of the Roy of the Rovers story in 1998. Though Roy Race didn't participate in the final stages of the tournament, there were big names of the comic football world and Roy's rivals as well who made an impact and went down the history

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Until 1992, the top division of English football was the Football League First Division; since then, it has been the Premier League.
  2. ^ The Second Division became the First Division upon the formation of the Premier League, and is now known as the Football League Championship.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wardrop, Murray (24 March 2009). "Roy of the Rovers comic makes a comeback". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Shergold, Adam (17 December 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: The Rovers Return! Iconic comic book hero Roy Race relaunched online... and Sportsmail has the first look". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  3. ^ Murray, Scott (14 April 2011). "Roy Of The Rovers Ruined The English Game". Sabotage Times. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Moore, Richard (7 June 2008). "Book review: Roy of the Rovers". The Scotsman. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Book review: The Best of Roy of the Rovers | The 1970s". The Scotsman. 1 August 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Sherman, Bill (26 April 2011). "Comic Collection Review: Roy of the Rovers: World Cup Special". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Turnbull, Simon (2 December 1999). "The Diary: Forget Pele, Roy is still a Race apart". The Independent (London). Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  8. ^ Melchester Rovers was the first British club to win the European Cup in 1970, according to the Monthlies alternative storyline
  9. ^ In 1985 It was mentioned that Melchester Rovers after eliminating Real Santanda they made it to the 1975 European Cup Final but with Roy Race injured they got no luck to lift the trophy
  10. ^ According to 1986 Annual, Rovers beat German club Stomberg and they won the UEFA Cup of that year


Year Publisher Winner Score Runner-up Third Place MVP Fourth Place
1950 Het Parool
Brazil
4-4
Netherlands

Spain
Kick Wilstra
Bolivia
1954 D. C. Thomson & Company
Hungary

Brazil

Uruguay
Viskov
Yugoslavia
1958 Fleetway Publications
Brazil

Sweden

Hungary
Frantz Komora
England
1962 D. C. Thomson & Company Brazzana
Brazil
 West Germany Russia
Soviet Union
Santoza
Scotland
1962 D. C. Thomson & Company
Brazil
Russia
Soviet Union

[[national football team|]]
Pele
[[national football team|]]
1966 Fleetway Publications
England

Hungary

Italy
 
Australia
1966 D. C. Thomson & Company
England
4-3 Gannet Island
Canada

Brazil
The Earl of Boote
Italy
1966 D. C. Thomson & Company Bralivia
Bolivia
Russia
Soviet Union
Marinesia Manny Kritch
England
1970 Fleetway Publications
Brazil

Mexico

Italy
Lepe
England
1974 Fleetway Publications
West Germany

Netherlands

[[national football team|]]
Johan Seegrun
[[national football team|]]
1978 Fleetway Publications
Argentina

Netherlands

Italy
Johan Seegrun Saladoria
El Salvador
1978 D. C. Thomson & Company Brasiliana
Brazil
3-0 Goetland
Netherlands
Marinesia Manny Kritch Slovenska
Yugoslavia
1982 Fleetway Publications
Italy
3-1
West Germany

Soviet Union
Zardelli
Spain
1982 D. C. Thomson & Company Baronia
France

England
Plateau Troubedore
Ecuador
1982 Super As
Belgium
3-1
West Germany

Brazil

Spain
1986 Fleetway Publications
Argentina

Denmark

England
Ollie Olsen
Mexico
1986 D. C. Thomson & Company
England
3-1 Arvenal
Argentina
Varslava
Yugoslavia
Jon Stark
Mexico
1990 Fleetway Publications
West Germany

Italy

England
Zardelli
Republic of Ireland
1990 D. C. Thomson & Company
Italy

England

Brazil
Jimmy Grant Russia
Soviet Union
1994 Fleetway Publications
Brazil

Sweden

Italy
Mario
Netherlands
1998 Fleetway Publications
France

Italy

[[national football team|]]

[[national football team|]]