On this day, 7 May 1983: Roy of the Rovers
On this day, 7 May 1983 … Credit where it’s due to Roy of the Rovers – for a comic that was in some ways repetitive and formulaic, it did know how to play its audience and produced quite a few iconic covers over the years. If Roy Race wasn’t being shot, dismembered, married or divorced, or losing half his team to natural disasters or terrorist attack, then there was usually something fairly dramatic happening to him on the football pitch. This was perhaps the most shocking of all Roy’s football-related escapades was his transfer from Melchester to Walford Rovers. Seeing him lead out his new team in blue (quite fetching, as it went well with his eyes) must have been as horrible for Melchester fans as it is for Arsenal fans seeing Cesc Fabregas playing for Chelsea, and I do recall being quite unnerved by it at the time. Roy’s time at Walford was a cleverly-managed few months; the comic kept us up to speed with what was going on back at Melchester, both within the Roy of the Rovers strip and with the introduction of a secondary strip, The Apprentices, in which we discovered a potential new ‘Roy of the Rovers’ – blonde-haired Rob Richards – working his way up through the Melchester youth team. Consequently, readers such as me could question whether Roy would ever return in much the same was as we can question ‘Is Judge Dredd still alive?’ in the current arc over in 2000AD: of course our heart tells us ‘Probably! Of course!’, but the cards are stacked in such a way that our head tells us ‘But he might not be, you know. He doesn’t actually have to be for the strip to continue without him.’
Come back, Racey! And come back, Joe!