On this day, 21 May 1977: Roy of the Rovers
On this day, 21 May 1977 … Cup-final day congratulations go to Penny and Roy Race, on the birth of their first children: twins Melinda (presumably named after Melchester Rovers, the lucky girl) and Roy Junior (who would go on to succeed his father in Melchester’s number 9 shirt. In 1982 they would have another daughter, Diana (named after … well, I’m sure you can guess). This is another of those landmark issues of Roy of the Rovers. Despite the soapiness of the plot, one has to admire the consistently developing narrative of one of the all-time classic British comic strips. Roy lived and played to a ripe old age, but if one can ignore the unlikelihood of that, his universe, family and a range of supporting characters were built solidly and realistically around him over forty or so years (thanks in the main to the sterling work of writer Tom Tully).
This story is notable also for the culmination of the season-long ‘Goal Rush’ arc in this, Roy of the Rovers comic’s first year of publication. Roy has been chasing the £50,000 prize for becoming the first player to score 50 goals, but there’s a clever twist to the tale (see below). After the game Roy dashes straight over to Maternity Ward 7 at Melchester General Hospital, still fully kitted-up. This reminds me of the Basran terrorist tragedy of the late 1980s, in which most of the Melchester team were killed by a bomb – horrific, but slightly surreal in that they were all wearing full Rovers kit while travelling on the bus that was attacked. Roy did tend to perform an awful lot of his off-field activities in full strip, rather like an excitable ten-year-old who just can’t wait for Saturday’s big game.