Review – ‘Roy of the Rovers: The 1980s’

As a huge football fan interested in comics, Roy of the Rovers seemed like the perfect fit for me, and it didn’t disappoint! For years I’ve heard phrases like “this is real Roy of the Rovers stuff” – such as surrounding underdogs Leicester’s incredible Premier League victory in 2015-16 – but I never fully understood what it meant. However, I saw just how popular this comic was when I took the annual home and my mum reminisced about how her younger brothers’ whole week used to build up to getting the new issue, and I think my dad spent more time reading it than I did!

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Roy of the Rovers is a British comic strip about fictional player-manager Roy Race and his team Melchester Rovers, which first appeared in 1954 and ran as a weekly (and later monthly) comic magazine from 1976 to 1995. That’s almost 40 years of adventures – Roy had an illustrious playing career and the writers were very creative with their storylines to keep it going! This annual is a collection of strips that were published in the 1980s; each weekly strip is 2 or 3 pages long and they run in chronological order. It felt slightly strange to read lots of strips in a row; each one is built to a climax, often with a cliffhanger, to create anticipation for the next week’s issue, but reading so many together meant it was always very high tempo and intense!

In this almost “soap opera” like annual, Roy is at the peak of his career – unleashing many a left-footed volley into the top corner – but is forced to deal with difficult off-the-pitch problems as well. Roy faces criticism after selling fans’ favourite Geoff Giles to their rival club, the Rovers are relegated after a poor season but bounce back the next year, Roy’s wife Penny leaves him because of his football obsession but then returns and becomes pregnant with their third child, and Roy is the victim of an assassination attempt! He is shot in the Rovers’ ground and the police investigation reveals many suspects – from his Mafia-involved cousin to jealous actor Elton Blake. Clearly the strip, though focused on football matches, has much more to it and there is lots of drama, tragedy and victory both on and off the field!

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Roy of the Rovers is definitely my favourite comic that I’ve read so far, mainly because of the football scenarios which as a player I can relate to, but also because of how easy it is to read; the time passed so quickly as I was constantly wanting to know what happened next! A man of outrageous skill and incredible integrity, Roy Race is an amazing character who I think every young reader wanted to be and he certainly is the perfect role model. However, things have changed since the ‘80s and I noticed many differences between football then and now; for example, nearly all of the Rovers are English and homegrown which is not the case in any top British teams nowadays! There are many examples of classic style, from the players’ haircuts (a few mullets) to their very short shorts. The art is colourful and detailed in a classic comic strip style.

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For me, the only thing that Roy of the Rovers is missing is any mention of girls and womens’ football! Of course in the ’80s it was much less popular and it has grown exponentially since then, so I can imagine that any possible modern-day reboot would perhaps feature an affiliated Melchester Rovers Ladies team! Overall, if you are a football fan now or were obsessed with Roy of the Rovers when you were younger, hopefully this has filled you with excitement (or nostalgia) and inspired you to dig out an issue or annual!

– Caitlin

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Meet the Intern: Caitlin Mitchell

Caitlin has been doing a great job here at DCCS, including interviewing our artists. To mark the halfway point of her placement we thought we would turn the tables and have our Coordinator Damon interview her to find out more about her!

caitlin interviewTell me a little about yourself

I’m Caitlin Mitchell, I’m 16 and I’m from Dundee.

How did your placement at DCCS come about?

My school (Dundee High) got involved with the Rank Foundation Fellowship programme. The school nominates a candidate for the programme that they feel has leadership potential. There was a group of us who were interviewed by the Rector and the senior management team, and I was lucky enough to be the successful candidate that the school put forward. Natalie Kay at The Rank Foundation then got in touch to organise my Community Action Placement, which is a two week volunteering programme. I’ll be doing two, one next summer, but the first is here at DCCS.

Did you know about DCCS before?

I didn’t know but it’s a really worthwhile project which I think more people should be aware of, and that’s what I am trying to help out with while I am here.

Have you read many comics?

My granny used to buy me The Broons annuals and when I was younger I always used to read Match of the Day magazine and it had comic strips in it. If it was about football then I was interested in it! But I always noticed that there was a lack of strips and articles about women’s football. Hopefully this is changing as women’s football has become more popular.

Which leads me to my next question, what other interests do you have?

I love football! I play a lot of football and watch it as well. I play for Forfar Farmington, it’s an all-girls club with teams playing from under 7 level (who I coach) up to the Scottish Women’s Premier League. I have represented BGC Scotland at the Rosebowl – a tournament between the home nations, which we won! BGC Scotland is a charity helping 8-18yr olds become involved in activities including football and other sports. I also like to read a lot – Harry Potter is my all time favourite.

Will you continue reading comics after your time here?

Definitely! I am enjoying finding out about different types of comics. At the moment I’m reading Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, which is the story of a young woman growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. I was surprised and excited to see that there are all kinds of stories being told with comics not just superheroes. We just need more comics about women’s football teams!

Thanks Caitlin!

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