Alf's storyline history
On this page you can read a history of the character, with some storylines, edited from Vic Whittle's marvellous compilation of stories contained in Rover comic from 1949 – 1961.
In addition, some dates & storylines from the 'Victor' 1961 onwards. Will be updated as I get more information. Mostly obtained from Alan Notton's www.comicsuk.co.uk, a massive database of British Comic titles, characters, images. Its marvellous.
The volume numbers & actual series dates were suppied along with a mine of information supplied by Ray Moore
1949 - Series 1 Nos 1244(30/4/49)-1275(3/12/49)
1950 - Series 2 Nos 1295(22/4/50)-1324(11/11/50) 30 weeks -Alf Tupper works for Greystone Aviation.
Series 3 Nos 1331(30/12/50)-1340(3/3/51) 10 weeks - Alf works for plumber Charlie Chipping.
1951 Series 4 Nos 1350(12/5/51)-1361(28/7/51) 12 weeks - Alf’s in motor racing working for Cougar cars.
1952 Series 5 Nos 1404(24/5/52)-1423(4/10/52) 20 weeks - Alf works at the Brassingford Locomotive works.
Series 6 Nos 1434(20/12/52)-1455(16/5/53) 22 weeks - Alf goes on a U.S. Tour.
1953 Series 7 Nos 1460(20/6/53)-1472(12/9/53) 13 weeks
1954 Series 8 Nos 1503(17/4/54)-1524(11/9/54) 22 weeks - ( One day after I was born ! ed.)
1955 Series 9 Nos 1543(22/1/55)-1573(20/8/55) 31 weeks - 'HE's IN THE ARMY NOW' - Alf is in the Royal Artillery
1956 - No stories
1957 Series 10 Nos 1646(12/1/57)-1667(8/6/57) 22 weeks. Alf works for Brassingford Transport Company.
1958 Series 11 Nos 1710(5/4/58)-1740(1/11/58) 31 weeks. Repeat of Series 1, 'The Early Days of the Tough of the Track'
1959 Series 12 Nos 1763(11/4/59)-1792(31/10/59) 30 weeks Repeat of series 2 'Tupper, the Tough of the Track - The Early Days of a Famous Four-minute Miler'
1960 Series 13 Nos 1826(25/6/60)-1837(10/9/60) 12 weeks Repeat of series 4 - The Tough of the Track
( seemingly no repeat for the third series )
Thanks to Vic Whittle at www.britishcomics.20m.com
Between January 1961, & February 1963, Rover merged with 'Adventure' to become "Rover & Adventure" but it seems, according to Vic Whittles records, that Alf did not feature again in either the "Rover" or "Rover & Wizard" as it became.
Ray Moore has also provided details of the artists on the original Tough of the Track stories in Rover comic Ray writes “The major artist employed on the 'Tough' stories was James 'Peem' Walker who drew all but fourteen episodes of the first ten series published. This being the case it is easier to list the other artists who chipped in for the occasional issue. These are as follows -
Len Fullerton Nos 1252, 1253, 1305, 1311, 1312, 1324, 1417.
Ian Mackay Nos 1262, 1263, 1264
Fred Sturrock No 1313
Jack Gordon Nos 1416, 1452, 1471.
With the reprint series a greater number of artists became involved as follows -
George Ramsbottom Nos 1710-1716
Douglas Phillips Nos 1718, 1720, 1731-1740.
Ian Mackay Nos 1719, 1721-1726
Calder Jamieson Nos 1728, 1729.
Fred Sturrock No 1730
Calder Jamieson Nos 1763-1768, 1770, 1772, 1773, 1775-1780, 1782, 1783, 1786, 1788
James 'Peem' Walker Nos 1769, 1771, 1774, 1784, 1785, 1787, 1789, 1790, 1791.
Fred Sturrock No 1781.
Len Fullerton No 1792.
Calder Jamieson all issues 1826-1837 working from Peem Walker's original drawings.
The 'Tough' also appeared in the final four 'Rover' books published. Details as follows -
1956 7 page text story pgs 119-125. Art - 'Peem' Walker
1957 7 page text story pgs 67-73. Art - 'Peem' Walker
1958 7 page text story pgs 17-20, 22-24. Art - 'Peem' Walker
1959 6 page text story pgs 89, 90, 93, 94, 97, 98. Art - 'Peem' Walker.”
Tough of the Track in the 'Victor'
( most details from www.comicsuk.co.uk – I will credit others where necessary)
– No sign so far of any Fish & Chips in “Victor” stories. Seems
this was re introduced later...
Oct 20th - No 87 - The Tough of the Track - Alf, as usual, has fallen out with the coaches & management at Granton Hall, where the British athletic team is being trained. He hitch-hikes to Leyford to run in a handicap mile race. On the way the lorry driver he received a lift from ( actually, Alf more or less hijacked his lorry ! ) is flagged down by Police & runs away. Alf takes off across the fields as he doesnt trust the Police. However the Policeman that Alf thinks he can easily outrun ( “I'll soon have that flatfoot huffing & puffing” ) chases him haflway to Leyford before Alf shakes him off, losing one running shoe in the process.
At the race, one of Alf's big rivals from the despised Granton Hall ( Edgar Myers ) has received a handicap that is 30 yards better than Alf's & he makes his displeasure clear, suggesting to Myers that he 'must have friends on the committee'. Myers claims innocence.
Alf has to buy one running shoe from the local market ( well, you would wouldnt you ! ) to repalce the one he lost, but because its ill-fitting he has to tie it on with an extra lace around his ankle. This cuts into his foot during the race threatening to force his withdrawal, but of coruse our favourite is 'Tough' & he sprints passed the rather familiar unknown runner from Leyford & just beats the 'cheat' Myers on the line in great pain.
Alf is then taken to the Police station as the unknown ( quite good ) runner turns out to be ( you'll never guess ! ) PC Falconer, the policeman from the previous night. Alf is almost arrested for impeding the police in the performance of their duties, but the Policeman runner suggests that it would be better to have Alf on their side & gets him to identify the crooked lorry driver from a book of 'mug shots'. The lorry was carrying stolen cigarettes & the driver was suspect number one.
On returning to the race meeting with Falconer to pick up his prize, he is hauled before the committee for his unsportsmanlike behaviour in suggesting that the Committee had 'favoured' Myers with their generous handicap because he was 'one of the old boys'. Myers is indignant about being called a cheat & calls for Alf's disqualification. However, our Policeman ( Falconer the runner ) comes up trumps with the information that the committee must have mistaken some previous poor race times by another, different, E Myers ( Edward ) & then mistakenly given Edgar Myers the generous starting handicap he should not have had.
Myers is criticised ( somewhat unfairly really ) for not saying that his handicap was too generous, the Committee feel vindicated that it was all a genuine error & therefore not favouritism at all & Alf gets told to stop 'narking' as it will get him into trouble one day by our PC Falconer
Alf shakes hand with Falconer & says that his friends in Anchor Alley had better not be looking as he'd never live it down. He signs off by saying that he he knows when something is unfair & even if it gets him into trouble, he'll continue to speak out.
March 23rd – April 6th – The Tough of the Track – Re hashed storyline from The Rover No. 1740 - November 1st 1958 with a different ending.
Alf arrives in France having been selected as reserve for Great Britain in a cross country international fixture in Aubigny. He does not believe he should be reserve but travels with the team ( mostly Granton Hall men, with Commander Churcher as Team Manager ) anyway. He disagrees with the team captains plan to run as a team & not allow anyone to 'go for it', but is only reserve so goes along with things. Then he meets a lone American University runner who tells Alf that the race is open to individual entries as well as teams. Alf puts in his entry so as not to waste the trip. In the British team is Phil Rakes-Tyler described as a 'snobbish champion steeplechaser' & one of Alf's sworn enemies. After checking into a 'posh' hotel ( I tend to think that Alf would have regarded sleeping in a Water Trough as 'too posh' ) & falling foul of Rakes_Tyler's criticism of his table manners, Alf wanders off into the local village where he spies a local lad working in a garage welding an engine block. Clearly ( he is a foreigner after all ! ) doing it all wrong, Alf shows him how it should be done & makes friends with the proprietor 'Poppa Hartman' who suggests that Alf 'comes back, no ?'.
Back at the hotel, Rakes-Tyler announces that Alf has entered individually which means he might 'rob' one of the British team of vital team race points if he beats anyone. Alf points out caustically that as he is reserve, all the others must be better than him, so its not an issue. Commander Churcher lays down the law & banishes Alf from the Hotel much to Rakes-Tylers amusement.
Alf goes back to Poppa Hartman & works for him until race day receiving bed, board & lots of food – no chips, this is France – from Mrs Hartmans kitchen.
Alf gets up early to see the 'Flying Finn' Vuurmi, practising on the course. He decides that the Finns tactics are going to be 'go for it ' at the front, none of this namby pamby running as a team. Alf resolves to get to the first bend first as the course narrows that & he wants to be in front of Vuurmi at that time.
Rakes-Tyler falls & twists his ankle while training for the big day & the team need Alf to run in his place, but of course have told him not to return. They fail to find Alf at his new residence & resolve to keep his place open until the last minute. Of course, after a long wait Alf arrives & graciously agrees to put the problems of the trip behind him & run for the British team. But of course, he pretends not to hear the captain call out the race tactics & sets off in persuit of the Finn at the fornt of the field. For three laps Alf & Vuurmi battle it out, until Vuurmi falls behind, a beaten man. Unfortunately, Alf has used up all his reserves of energy & gets swallowed up by the chasing pack. Alf's friend Reg Fry comes in third & Alf battles home in twelfth place to secure the winning points for Great Britain in the team race. Commander Churcher admits he was wrong to regard Alf as undisciplined & accepts that if it were not for Alf running Vuurmi 'into the ground', GB would never have beaten the Finnish team. So Alf's tactics were vindicated ! Alf then misses the plane home because he thinks 15:00 is Five O'Clock, & has to hitch hike across France. He enters a race in Remy in France, wins & gets befriended by the locals who feed him ( still no Chips ) & ask him to represent them in the local 'grudge match' against the neighbouring town of Vermont. In return for Victory the mayor offers him a boat trip home to England in his brothers boat. No sign of Alf eating snails, but you never know...
Jan 16th – THE TOUGH ON THE YANKEE TRACKS – Alf in America ! ( thanks to Stewart Morrison for this detail )
1968 – Victor Book for Boys
Alf gets a race against the World top milers from Scandinavia & USA, but they are jetlagged & he is tired from working the night shift due to Ike's laziness. The race is slow, Alf loses & everyone is left deflated. That is, until Alf gets a 'Fish & Chip fuelled' idea to race them a week later, before they are due to fly home. Its a fast race & everyone is happy as Alf wins & breaks the world record.
1969 – Victor Book for Boys
Alf races against the Rakovian champion, Fedor Oranski at the White City. The race is a dead heat so Alf travels to Rakovia for a re-match. Unfortunately, on the way there he has his wallet pinched so has to stowaway on board an aircraft. Upon arrival at Grovic (as you will recall,the Rakovian capital) he gets arrested as a spy and is about to be interrogated by the secret police when he delivers a punch to the Rakovian Colonel's nose ("Keep you hands to yourself baldy!"). In a timely intervention Alf is revealed to be the famous British runner, given a compensatory plate of fish and chips (darned resourceful these Eastern Block chaps) and is rushed to the state sports stadium in the nick of time to run against Oranski in the 1500 metres – Thanks to 'Blogger' from www.comicsuk.co.uk forum for this detail. 1970
Oct 10th – The Tough of the Track – Alf forms his own Athletics Club to take on Greystone Harriers. Alf is disgruntled when he is left out of the Greystone Harriers team for the Clebbury Road Relay. He decides to enter with his own team made up of boxers from the local club. He trains them & the team look set to do well, until Alf's old friend Clem Johnson, local reporter, tells him that his entry has been rejected because his new team “Tuppers Trotters” are not an affiliated club. “Nuts to that” says Alf ! His team can run unofficially because the race is being held on public roads & the papers are full of the news when race day arrives.
The “Trotters' look to be in bad shape & are well behind until the 5th leg when Alf's collegue “Tig” runs a stormer to bring the Trotters into 5th place with only Alf left to run on the final leg. Inevitably Alf overhauls Greystone Harriers, Athletic Club de Paris & the hated 'Granton Hall' posh blokes to win ( unofficially of course ) the Relay.
“You can keep your blooming medals, everyone knows that my blokes were the real winners”. Alf is a hero to the Boxing club members, as the race generates excellent publicity for them & they receive offers of fights all over the country.
June 23rd – issue 644 - “The Rough Tough boyhood of Alf Tupper” – A 'prequel' series. Alf, an orphan, is 12 years old & has been sent to an “Industrial School” called Thorn House, a magistrate having decided that he was in need of 'care & attention'. Discipline problems arise due to the Head teachers view that pupils should be given total freedom. Alf falls foul of the school bully Butch Harden & his gang. A roof top protest by Butch causes the Head to sack the staff who have Alf 'under their wing', giving him welding lessons & allowing him to train for his running. Alf is punished for fighting by being banned from running & welding for 6 months. He runs away into the night...
July 7th – issue 646 - “The Rough Tough boyhood of Alf Tupper” – continues
January ? - “Alf Tuppers Castle” – Mentioned on ComicsUK forum. The correspondent suggests that the storyline related to Alf's boyhood again
October - issue 764 - “Rough Tough Summer for Alf Tupper” Again, this is noted on the ComicsUK web site forum, as being concerned with Alf's boyhood, but the date is only approximate.1975 – Victor Summer Special - Alf Brings Home The Bacon ( Thanks to Colin Noble )
13 yr old Alf goes to Summer Camp, at Bellfield Castle, paid for by the council. He is not happy, as the place is paid for by the council, which he sees as charity. He uses the week as a training week to improve his running, but runs foul of two local yobs.
The yobs taunt him as he easily win the Schoolboy’s Mile and decides to run in the Open Mile, where first prize is a huge haunch of ham. The yobs pair off and deliberately stop the local veteran, Harland, from winning by ‘nudging’ him, so that they can win the ham and make some money out of it. Alf, being pre-warned, decides to tuck in behind the pair and gets ready to thwart their plan, by being ready to catch the remaining lout. After a terrific burst of speed, Alf pips the remaining lout to the post and wins the race.
The ham? He donates that to Mr Harland, so that Harland can continue his annual practice of donating the ham to the local old folks home, thus allowing Alf to call it all square with the council paying for his place on the camp.
September 17th - “He's in the army now” - Originally the title for the ninth series, from the 'Rover'. Alf gets hurt in an accident with some tear gas & burns his hands. He runs in a 200m race & comes second, then wins the 1500 & anchors the 4x400 relay team to victory despite his hand injuries, by holding the baton in his mouth. Great storyline !
July 5th – The Tough of the Track – Clearly a new artist drawing Alf's adventures now. I am attempting to find out who it was, but can say that the artist concerned, had been illustrating in “Victor” comic for some years – Stories I have found with the same style are “ Ramage of the Roaring Guns” ( 1970 ), “The Battle Line” ( 1967), “Solomon Stark – Soldier of Fortune” ( 1969 ), “Hotfoot Harry” ( 1963 ).
The storyline harks back to 1952 & 1965 as Alf is in USA. But this time, its another 'prequel' storyline, with Alf on a University Scholarship ( Alf ? At a university ? Shome mishtake shurely? ) to Coxford College, studying Mechanical Engineering. Hmmm – New artist & Alf's character takes a complete U-turn !
Alf is up before the College sports Association committee, accused by 'Mush Malone' of taking a bribe to lose a race. Luckily, Alf has friends who happen to have a doctor with them & its confirmed that Alf ankle was so badly sprained that he should not have come second, in fact its a miracle that he ran at all with such a serious injury. Malone retreats in shame & Alf, now with a walking stick, offers to help out with coaching while he recovers.
October & November – No story in this series, but Alf is being 'touted' as the new 'host' of “Tuppers Talk-in” an advertised readers letters page – see stories index for details. ( see this link 'Alf Tupper confession' where a student confesses to 'hoodwinking' Alf into giving him a prize :-)
1985 Victor Summer Special ( Thanks to Colin Noble )
The Tough Of The TrackAlf is running the 1500m at Crystal Palace and seems to have the race sewn up until a complete unknown steams past him to take first place! The winner is Christopher Good, who is being trained scientifically by Professor Martin.
Alf is invited to Farleigh House to see how the training is undertaken, but the whole life of the athlete is dictated by the computer, down to even the diet. On a meal of lettuce and carrots, Alf is not best pleased! And again, when he races Good, he is beaten to the tape.
Alf, a worried man, heads back to Greystone and wonders if he is past it. However, a familiar aroma reminds Alf that silicon is not the only thing to be chipped! At the next meeting of Alf and Good, Alf storms off into the lead, and Good is forced to keep with him, but the murderous pace that Alf sets is too much and Alf proves that it was fish and chips that he needed not silicon chips!
1986 Victor Summer special ( Thanks to Colin Noble )
The Tough Of The Track
Alf sees an article in a local newspaper, claiming that a Samuel Granger ran around Hillstone Lake, a distance of 5,123 metres (3.1 miles) in 13 mins 38 seconds in 1920. Samuel Granger sets up a prize fund to be donated to the charity the runner, capable of equalling or bettering his time, nominates. This prize is offered as no-one believes Samuel’s assertion that he saw a monster on that day!
Ken Waters, an instructor at Ashdale Youth Centre is trying to train his runners to win the prize, as it is needed to carry out repairs to the Youth Centre. Alf is more than happy to donate the money to the Centre, so Ken enlists his fit but not fast enough runners to help Alf beat the record. Despite his best efforts, Alf is still 30 secs off the time, but decides to give it a go anyway. On the day, he goes flat out, but still is outside the time needed, until a shape appears from out of the water… A monster appears! Alf loses all signs of tiredness and goes headlong for the tapes, breaking the record by 5 seconds! The monster is nothing more than a stunt pulled by the young runners to help Alf beat the record. Alf then sees that Samuel set the record in April 1920, on the first to be precise !
1987 Victor Summer Special ( Thanks to Colin Noble )
The Tough Of The Track
Alf has a good night’s training and celebrates with a portion of Sam Kessick’s best fish and chips. In true Alf fashion, he scoffs the lot and throws the papers away, where he is accosted and told off by ‘Battling Betty’, a local no-nonsense WPC, for littering. As a result of Betty’s lecture and then treading on a piece of broken glass, Alf becomes a convert.
The broken glass lays Alf up for several days, but once again he is fit to run and sees a pair of yobs kicking a glass bottle about and smash it against a lamp-post. Incensed, Alf makes the yobs, who are initially reluctant, to pick up the broken glass.On the day of the race, Alf is steaming ahead, but is distracted by a flying piece of litter. He grabs the litter and gets back on track to win the race!
1988 Victor Summer Special ( Thanks to Colin Noble )
One off feature - “Your Chance to be a Tough” Stretching & warm-up excercises recommended by Alf himself. Strange really, as I would have thought Alf would be the type to completely 'pooh pooh' warm-up excercises, in favour of yet another newspaper full of chips instead !
The Tough Of The Track
Alf has a new fan, a wheelchair bound athletics fan, Tony Black. Alf sees an advert for a holiday cruise. He offers to win it for Tony and his dad.
As he lines up for the first heat, Alf hears a familiar name, but can’t place it, until the final, when he realises 3 runners, Wragg, Carter and Henderson work a scam to run the race so that they can win all the prizes.
Alf is tripped, boxed-in and elbowed, but they still can’t keep him down. Alf wins the race, only to let rip and smack the luckless trio for their cheating ways on the track. As a result of the ‘boxing lesson’, the free prize is withdrawn, but Alf goes on his own cruise to earn enough money to send Tony and his Dad on a Spanish holiday !
Summer Special edition - One off story - “Gritting his teeth & heading for the tape, its the Tough of the Track”. A 'bulked-up' Alf Tupper is pictured on the cover
Summer Special edition – One off story - “The Tough visits Crystal Palace”.
Last ever episode of “Tough of the Track” ?
According to Colin Noble this was published in the Sunday Post – a Scottish newspaper owned by DC Thomson – in which Alf travels to Seoul for the 1992 Olympic Games.
Alf had run in the Olympic trials but had been 'nobbled' by the Uncle of the Grimston borthers whom Alf did not like one bit. Luckily for Alf, the third person selected injured himself & Alf was in the team.
Alf receives an apology from the Grimston brothers at the Olympic team members meeting & grudgingly accepts it. He informs the chairman of the team that he intends to run a race that weekend at a meeting held to raise money for the Greystone Youth Club. Alf is told in no uncertain terms not to run as it will risk his Olympic place.
Alf tells waiting TV crews at the stadium, that he doesnt care what the chairman says , he is going to run as he gave his word. The press highlight the story on the front pages but Alf refuses to back down despite requests from his physio Dave Chance. The chairman reiterates that if Alf runs, he will forfeit his place in the team for Barcelona.
In the race, Alf wins but is accidentally 'spiked' at the finish. He hobbles off the track. But persuades the management to allow him to go to Barcelona.
In his heat,
he feels terrible pain from his injured foot but refuses to tell anyone
that he is injured except his physio Dave. Dave advises Alf to pull-out
with the injury as his foot has swollen too much for Alf to get his
spikes on. Alf takes a gamble when the room cleaner offers him a
'miracle' potion to clear-up his foot injury. Alf applies the potion
but is instantly in agony. Alf removes his spikes as he lines up for
the semi-final to stop them rubbing on his swollen foot. He runs an
easy race allowing Grimston to win but qualifies for the final vowing
to beat Grimston for the Gold medal.
You can guess what happens after that :-)
The Hornet – early 70's
An interesting piece of information from the message forum on ComicsUK, suggests that a story featuring Alf Tupper, together with Bernard Briggs* ( Sporting Scrap dealer ), called 'King of Scrapland'. Appeared in the Hornet comic at this time.* Bernard (Bouncing) Briggs was a powerful young fellow who earned his living as a General Dealer, who appeared in the Wizard, Hotspur & Hornet comics. He had a yard of his own in Slagton, and he rode a motor bike with a sidecar made from an old bathtub. He was a keen amateur sportsman taking up various sports including: Baseball, Boxing, Football, Ice Hockey, Rugby League, Tennis and Wrestling. Bernard excelled at all the sports he tried. ( courtesy of Vic Whittle )