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Roy of the Rovers
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Roy of the Rovers

Roy of the Rovers is one of Egmont’s best-loved and most enduring comic-book characters, a hero still quoted in the UK press today. In May 2013 for example, Metro compared Barcelona’s new kit with the gear sported by Roy’s beloved Melchester Rovers – http://metro.co.uk/2013/05/21/barcelona-unveil-new-roy-of-the-rovers-style-away-kit-3803275/

The football star debuted on the cover of the weekly sports comic,Tiger, in 1954. He was the creation of writer Frank S. Pepper and artist Joe Colquhoun (the latter perhaps best known for his work on Charley’s War for Battle Picture Weekly), on the cover. In the opening story, the young Roy Race is spotted by a scout from Melchester Rovers.As the story continued, Roy progressed through the youth and reserve teams of the fictional First Division club, until he made it to the first team. His adventures would see him travel the world as something of an ambassador for British football in comics.


It wasn’t until 1976 that Roy gained his very own comic, the brainchild of Fleetway editor Barrie Tomlinson, who would go on to write football strip Scorer for the national Mirror newspaper. Like Tiger, it enjoyed an impressive run, lasting some 17 years, with storylines that were often inspired by other media, such as the “Who shot Roy?” mystery of the early 1980s, almost certainly inspired by the “Who Shot JR?” storyline in TV soap Dallas.

Roy of the Rovers comic also featured other popular football strips such as Hot Shot Hamish and Billy’s Boots.

Roy’s playing days were ended by a helicopter crash in 1993 after a career that included a role as player-manager, a spell as England manager and even marriage (to club secretary Penny Laine – a rare event for a boy’s comic hero in British comics!).

In addition to Tiger and Roy of the Rovers comic, Roy also appeared in a short-lived daily strip in Today in 1986, drawn by Kim Raymond, and a longer-lived one in the Daily Star, which was drawn by Yvonne Hutton until her death at the end of 1991, and by Mike Western for four years after that.

While many of his strips have been reprinted, Roy Race’s most recent new appearance was in the The Daily Mail in 2011, in a special strip to mark the weekend’s biggest match of the season, the 161st Manchester Derby.

The BBC’s Match of the Day magazine also ran a Roy of the Rovers strip from 1997-2001, written by highly-regarded writer and editor Ian Rimmer – who tells us he would dearly love to have another crack at the much-loved character!

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