Preview: ‘Roy Of The Rovers – The Best Of The ’70s – The Roy Of The Rovers Years’ And More Sensational Soccer Action Coming Your Way!

by Richard Bruton

Already a huge star in comics, Roy Race’s 70s saw him star not just in Tiger but in a brand-new Roy of the Rovers comic that launched in 1976. Here, in the ongoing Best Of reprint series from the Treasury of British Comics we get to see the golden years of Roy of the Rovers and Melchester…

Yes, here we are in the latter half of the ’70s, an era of bad clothes, worse hair, but some great footballing action from Tom Tully and David Sque.

Sque took the artistic reigns here in Roy of the Rovers whilst the other great Melchester artist of the time, Yvonne Hutton, continued his adventures over in Tiger, with Tom Tully writing his socks off for both titles.

And it was a golden era for Roy Race and Melchester, opening up with the prospect of an unbeaten season, not to mention the goal rush offer for the player to get 50 goals in the season. We saw Melchester get to the European Cup Final in ’78 and the UEFA Cup in ’79, and Race welcomed new roles, personal and private, with the birth of the twins, Roy Junior and Melinda, and Roy becoming player-manager for England alongside the likes of real-life players Trevor Francis and Malcolm MacDonald.

So yes, all in all, a busy few years for Race and his team.

And all of it done with real artistic flair by David Sque, one of the best at doing the on-field action, getting that sense of dynamism to the page. Granted, there were moments where it got a little bit chatty on the field…

Yes, plenty of time to have a calm conversation whilst banging the goals in, eh?

Although, being honest, that’s all part of the charm of reading the strip, a charm that runs all the way through this. There’s a reason the term ‘real Roy of the Rovers moment‘ became part of the lexicon, the over the top adventures, the polite respect for other players and officials, the somewhat twee footballing action all idealising the game with a sweetness and innocence that reflecting ideas of what the game could be.

Of course, this was an era when racist chants rang out from the stands, where National Front leaflets were handed out at the turnstiles, hooliganism was rampant, and where players drank and smoke with the best of them, often in the same pubs the fans went to.

But Roy of the Rovers wasn’t about that, not yet anyway. In fact, it wouldn’t be until the 90s and the short-lived rather alternative Roy of the Rovers monthly that that would be covered. And I am very much hoping that Rebellion will, in time, be reprinting those comics as well.

Looking back at it now, it’s very much the romanticised idea of the game, perhaps far more rooted still in the footballing comics of the 50s and 60s than the time it was published. In fact, you could make an argument that the changing face of football was what killed off Roy of the Rovers, the differences between what was seen on and off the pitch on the TV and what was there in the comic just became too much.

But it was what it was, a comic beloved by young kids throughout the land (and their dads as well), kids who read the adventures of Roy Race and fell in love with the game.

So we enjoy it, we breathe in the nostalgia, and we absolutely love the David Sque artwork.

Roy of the Rovers – The Best of the 70s – The Roy of the Rover Years. Written by Tom Tully, art by David Sque. Published by Rebellion / Treasury of British Comics on 4th March 2021.

Originally serialised in Roy of the Rovers between 25 September – 25 December 1976, 1 January – 21 May 1977, 7 January – 3 June 1978, 10 March – 2 June 1979.

Now, the first few Roy of the Rovers moments from the Roy of the Rovers comics… back of the net with a rocket…


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