Brian Stewart's Website
Queen's Park Rangers
When I were a lad, I used to live in Loftus Road (number 89) right behind the QPR ground. You could actually see the pitch through one of the stair wells if you stood on my bed and, sometimes, if they were training or there was a reserve game, you could see a ball and some legs scoot past the gap. It was very different on match days, the noise was extraordinary if there was a goal or near miss, but you couldn't see anything because the stair well was blocked with the silhouettes of the heads and shoulders of the crowd.
The players occasionally used to train by running around the streets surrounding the ground. I'd be walking my dog and the likes of Rodney Marsh, Mark Lazarus and the Morgan Twins would come running past in a bunch. After it happened a few times and they realised I was local, some of them would say 'Hello son' or stop and make a fuss of the dog, or ask me if I was coming to the game on Saturday.
Curious about the noise and excitement, and feeling obliged to live up to my assurances that I would be there, I started to go to quite a few of the home games - although I mainly remember contests with my mates to be the fastest to get a whole packet of Wrigleys Spearmint in our mouths at once, rather than anything about the games. We always used to stand by the right-hand corner flag at the Ellerslie Road School end and I remember once Mark Lazarus came over to take a corner and spotted me at the front (the wall was only about six feet from the line, so they had to back right up to it to get a run up). He said something brief like 'Hello lad, not got Chip with you then?' and I was a hero with my mates for weeks afterwards - my claim to fame: a QPR player knew the name of my dog!
Any road up, a few years back I was Googling for something else and, purely by chance, saw a link which mentioned QPR and - here's the bizarre thing - it was a report of the 1967 League Cup Final which I was at exactly 35 (I think) years to the day before. I had to keep a copy of the page and it's reproduced below:
THE 1967 FOOTBALL LEAGUE CUP FINAL
QUEENS PARK RANGERS versus WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Final Score - Queens Park Rangers 3 West Bromwich Albion 2
As events go, it wasn't half bad. A game which changed dramatically at the interval - turning from a rout into a startling recovery. A game which produced a goal of genius, a remarkable triumph for the underdogs.
Away from the cramped homely Loftus Road, Rangers, for three-quarters of an hour, weren't remotely the same force and found themselves two goals down at the break.
But half-time was a magic watershed, after which they came out transformed, five yards quicker, to pound the Albion goal. The West Brom defence, which had enjoyed an easy ride in the first half, suddenly found Marsh, Allen and Lazarus in terrific form.
Albion had taken the lead on seven minutes - a goal that was scored by a former Rangers man and suggested that the speed of their First Division opponents was more than the R's could handle
The ball, worked down the left in a rapid shuttle of passes by Brown, Hope and Fraser, was finally slipped through an ominous gap by the left-half Clark to run on and score with room, time and facility.
Rangers looked set for a spectacular equaliser when Lazarus, on the halfway line in a inside-left position, dummied Collard and had a clear run for goal. But in full flight, his confidence left him and he tamely squared for a colleague.
Despite this, another West Brom goal was almost inevitable and nine minutes from half time, it came. Very smoothly again, Albion worked the ball across goal right to left, Fraser to Kaye to Brown to Clarke - left quite clear for a second time to score.
But the transformation came after the break. The second half had barely begun when Rangers produced their first truly incisive move of the afternoon. Quick and clever passes by Morgan and Marsh put Allen through, but he wasn't quick enough to catch the ball.
However, the goal game on 63 minutes after Rangers had spent most of the half camped in the West Brom area. Lazarus, with his confidence returned, beat Williams and was callously tripped. Keen floated the kick over the defence and Morgan headed it in.
Rangers continued their bombardment and 15 minutes from time they equalised. Marsh got it; a dazzling individual goal, swaying like a palm tree in the wind, outside one man, inside another, all careless elegance and sweeping the ball in with his right foot off the left-hand post.
With time running out Rangers won the game. An Albion defender miskicked, Hunt rushed in for the kill, Sheppard saved gallantly at his feet but lost the ball and, as he lay prostrate, Lazarus scored to win the cup.
QPR: Springett, Hazell, Langley, Keen, Hunt, Sibley, Lazarus, Sanderson, Allen, Marsh, R. Morgan.
WBA: Sheppard, Cram, Williams, Collard, Clarke, Fraser, Brown, Astle, Kaye, Hope, Clark
Referee: W Crossley (Lancaster)
Date: March 4th 1967.