From ‘boo-boy’ to crowd favourite – GOAL magazine helps us remember QPR’s unsung star, Mick Leach

Posted: 13th June 2013

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While flicking through the 296 editions of GOAL magazine in preparation for writing my next ‘Brief guide’ article here on Goals and Wickets, I came across this picture of former Queens Park Rangers legend, Mick Leach with his wife Jenny.

The feature was ‘MEET THE GIRL BEHIND THE MAN’, one which lasted throughout the magazine’s life. This is the only photograph in the series where the player’s wife is looking away from the camera. Maybe Jenny was a touch camera shy or possible just distracted?

Sharing it with my friend Phil Stevens who has written books about West Ham United but grew up with Mick, the Morgan twins and Derek Bellotti, he told me how much Jim Gregory had helped the couple in the early days of their marriage.

While at Liverpool University in the mid 1970’s, where Phil and I became friends playing football for the University team, Mick got us tickets for Rangers’ away game against Everton in 1976. Sadly, I didn’t meet him to say thanks.

Mick’s transformation from ‘boo-boy’ to crowd favourite was a strange process but one with the right outcome. Gradually, over the seasons, the jeers stopped and a well earned respect was established.

He played over 300 games for the club between 1964 and 1978 through the 3rd Division years, the rise into the First Division in 1968/69, the drop back down again and the rise in the mid 1970’s including the 1975/76 season when QPR were First Division runners up to the mighty Liverpool.

Initially a centre forward, Mick’s most successful years were after he dropped back into a left sided midfield role where he scored some important goals, playing alongside Terry Venables and then Don Masson. It was during this later phase of his Rangers’ career that gradually, the crowd began to change their opinion of him to the point where he was a firm favourite.

I remember a super goal Mick scored one grey afternoon at the Loftus Road end while he was still playing as a striker. He cut back inside from a wide position on the left leaving his marker on his backside. He then calmly stroked the ball outside the diving keeper’s left hand into the far right corner of the net.

A class goal from a class player.

Sadly, Mick died of cancer in 1992 at the age of 44.

RIP Mick Leach

Category: Football Magazines

12 Comments

Martin

Well done for featuring Mick. He was undoubtedly one of the good guys. I had the privilege of knowing him well and he was a great servant to QPR as well as to local youth football in our area of South London where Mick lived.

Sunday 13th October 2013 - 5:44am

midfielder

Thanks for reading and commenting, Martin. My friend Phil Stevens who I played with at Liverpool University and whose books I mention elsewhere on the site, grew up with Mick and the Morgan twins and Derek Bellotti. Phil also always talked very highly of Mick.

Sunday 13th October 2013 - 10:37am

Colin Taylor

I attended the same school as Mick Leach and he was an outstanding left half ,then he seemed to have a fixation with playing centre forward . He was never as effective ,but as a schoolboy left half you thought of Duncan Edwards !

Tuesday 24th March 2015 - 11:23am

midfielder

Hi Colin, That's high praise indeed for Mick. It's interesting that his best days at QPR and ones I witnessed personally, as I mention in the post, were playing left midfield. My old friend from Liverpool University football club days, Phil Stevens, whose books I review elsewhere on the site, was in the same district team as Mick and was a good friend for after school fun along with the Morgan twins and Derek Belotti. Thanks for looking at the article and site. Best wishes, Mark

Tuesday 24th March 2015 - 3:44pm

Dag Hakon Hellevik

I am a QPR-fan about to do an article on Mick Leach for a Norwegian QPR magazine. I have found a feature here from 2013 mentioning Phil Stephens, a friend from Micks youth, Could you help me get in touch with him?

Friday 30th October 2015 - 3:27pm

midfielder

Thanks for the message, Dag. I'll get in touch with Phil and get back to you asap. Best wishes, Mark

Saturday 31st October 2015 - 7:35pm

midfielder

Hi Dag, Spoke to Phil and here's his e-mail; philstevens06@gmail.com Best wishes, Mark

Sunday 1st November 2015 - 1:08pm

midfielder

Hi Dag, Glad you got in touch with Phil who I just spoke with. The photo from GOAL magazine that I used in the post is all there was. The feature in the magazine was always just one page with a small inset over a larger photo (as with Mick and Jenny), so there's nothing extra I can send you from the magazine, unfortunately. Phil tells me you went to see Rangers in 1972 and I was probably at the home game. My brother had been going since 1964 as a reaction against all his school mates who all supported big 1st Division clubs. I followed in his footsteps at the start of the 1969/70 season and went to all home games and the London aways from then until I went to Liverpool University at the start of the 1974/75 season (the post on the site 'Chasing Sammy' is all about my time playing in the University 1st team, an activity which almost took over from academic studies! At the start of each season, we'd play a friendly match against the youth team of Liverpool and in the first one of these, my very first game for the team, I had to chase a 15 year-old Sammy Lee all over the pitch. Needless to say, I never got anywhere near him). Any way, I hope Phil was a help to you and I'd love to see your piece when finished (although I don't speak Norwegian). Very best wishes, Mark

Friday 13th November 2015 - 5:16pm

Andy

I remember Mick as a kid; I lived a block behind them on Link Lane and went to Bandon Hill School......Think I was year above his boy David and I recall a younger btother Joe. I remember Jenny and her VW; I think it was bright yellow.......with a sun roof; quite a novelty back then. Anyway i just remember Mick as someone who was a bit special because he was a footballer; but just only a bit and he pitched in like all the other fathers (so did Jenny) helping with school fates and jumble sales and I remember he used to help out with coaching and really it was so very sad that he passed away so young I think he was also involved in the Chelsea youth set up back in the very early 80's; I recall his boy wearing the full kit in Mellows Park

Saturday 26th March 2016 - 4:30am

midfielder

Those are lovely memories, Andy. Thanks for reading the post. Best wishes, Mark

Saturday 26th March 2016 - 1:49pm

Glen Moore

Mick was probably 18 or 19 when he turned up at our school in Walthamstow in 1966. The third year school team were knocking everyone over by double figures, so I guess that's why Mr. Leach (or Sir) as he was known, was dispatched by QPR to spy the lie of the land. Sadly he never unearthed any world beaters, but there are a number for lads in there 60,s that remember a lovely man and super footballer. Never forgotten Sir!

Friday 17th June 2016 - 4:49pm

midfielder

That's a lovely memory, Glen. Thanks for posting it. Best wishes, Mark

Saturday 18th June 2016 - 11:45am

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