I have been to Highbury four times to see QPR play against other opposition. I was also aware of a FA Cup replay in 1954 and the time when Loftus Road was closed in 1930 following crowd trouble, but further research revealed that there were in fact another three occasions. Later, I came across a rare programme on ebay and then referred to Gordon Macey’s ‘History of Queen’s Park Rangers’. The final piece of reference was the acquisition of Leonard Evan’s two comprehensive booklets which lists every single match played at Highbury between 1904 and 2006.
The first occasion was a London Combination match against Tottenham Hotspur on 12th April, 1919. The attendance was given as 20,000 and Rangers won the game 3-2, with goals from Gregory, Smith plus an own goal. White Hart Lane had been taken over for military purposes during the War and they therefore played some of their matches at Highbury. Coincidently, after the outbreak of War in 1939, Highbury became an A.R.P. base and was therefore closed to football.
Later that year on 10th November, the R’s lost 1-0 to Chelsea in a Semi-Final of the London Challenge Cup. Rangers had beaten Brentford 6-0 in Round One and the details of the next match are currently unknown.
In 1930, the FA ordered the closure of Loftus Road for two weeks as a result of crowd trouble and had to play outside a six-mile radius. So on the 1st March, the League Division 3 match against Coventry City was played at Highbury.The R’s won 3-1 and there was a decent crowd of 17,903. The goal scorers were Howe 2 and Armstrong.
Team: Cunningham, Nixon, Harris, Neil, Armstrong, Yates, Coward, Burns, Goddard, Rounce, Howe.
Further details were contained in the programme editorial:-
‘In consequence of circumstances with which we have no concern, the Rangers found themselves debarred from receiving Coventry City this afternoon, either on their own pitch or on any within a six mile radius. As it so happened that our ground was not occupied on this date, and a consultation of the map showed that Gillespie Road is more than six miles distant from the Rangers home, the Arsenal Directorate promptly placed their enclosure at the disposal of the Shepherd’s Bush club. This arrangement having been sanctioned by the League, we have the pleasure this afternoon of offering a hospitable welcome to two guests, who we are sure, will put up a grand struggle. Those followers of the Rangers’ fortunes who will, no doubt, travel across London to see their favourites play at Highbury, will have all their attention on the game being played before their eyes, but in addition to them there will be many a man whose main thoughts will be of the Arsenal’s vital game at Upton Park.’
On the 10th February 1952, whilst a Reserve side were playing Arsenal at Loftus Road in the Combination Cup, the 1st team took on an Army X1 at Highbury. Bert Addinall scored the only goal of the game and with no team changes shown, the Rangers side is listed in the programme as follows:
Saphin, Poppitt, Ingham, Nicholas, Woodward, Clayton, Waugh, Cameron, Addinall, Mills, Shepherd.
For the match at Loftus Road, the QPR programme editorial states:-
‘As our First team were without a league game today the Board agreed to play a match against the British Army Representative side at Highbury this afternoon and we express our thanks to Arsenal Football Club for the very sporting and prompt way in which they agreed to allow the use of their ground for this match. This game is in the nature of a final trial for the Army side who next week go to France to take part in an Army International triangular tournament.’
Two years later, Rangers went down 4-0 to Walthamstow Avenue in an FA Cup 1st Round, 2nd Replay on 29th November 1954. This followed a 2-2 draw at Loftus Road and another 2-2 draw in the subsequent replay after extra time. The editorial in the next home programme revealed that the club had received letters of complaint about the choice of venue and that it favoured the opposition’s supporters – ‘In fact, couldn’t agree on a choice of a ground, it was decided that each club should name their choice and decide on the toss of a coin.Our choice was Craven Cottage.’
The match kicked off 2 o’clock on a Monday afternoon and the attendance was 11,939. The QPR line-up was:
Silver, Woods, Ingham, Nicholas, Powell, Angell, Tomkys, Cameron, Clark, Smith, Kerrins. With Stan Gullan and Harry Brown injured,
Alan Silver stepped up to make his debut in goal and never played for the 1st team again.
The next visit was for a League Cup Semi Final Replay played on 22nd February 1977 against Aston Villa. The match attracted a crowd of 40,438 and after a 0-0 encounter at Loftus Road and a dramatic 2-2 draw at Villa Park, Rangers fans had high hopes of a return to Wembley. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, the R’s went down 3-0 and we had to wait a few more years.
Team: Parkes, Clement, Gillard, Masson, McLintock, Webb, Thomas, Francis, Eastoe, Bowles, Givens.
However, on 3rd April 1982, Rangers beat West Brom with a 1-0 victory and into an FA Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur. Clive Allen’s goal provoked wild celebrations in the North Bank that afternoon. 45,015 attended the match and for the record the R’s line-up that historic day was:
Hucker, Fenwick, Gillard, Waddock, Hazell, Roeder, Currie, Flanagan, Allen, Stainrod, Micklewhite.
On to 1984 and the R’s were competing in Europe. UEFA wouldn’t allow any matches to be played on artificial pitches so the home game on 2nd October 1984 against KR Reykjavik was played at Highbury. Rangers won 4-0 and there was a disappointing crowd of only 6,196. Gary Bannister grabbed himself a hat trick that night and the other scorer was Jeremy Charles.
Team: Hucker, Neill, Dawes, Fereday, Wicks, Fenwick, Stewart, Fillery, Bannister, Charles, Gregory. Subs: Cooper and Allen
The R’s final appearance at Highbury against other opposition was the 2nd Round home tie later that month. On 24th October, Rangers were up against Partizan Belgrade and a slightly bigger crowd of 7,836 witnessed a very exciting encounter and a 6-2 victory for the R’s. The scorers were: Gregory, Fereday, Neill, Stainrod and two from Bannister. Team: Hucker, Neill, Dawes, Fereday, Wicks, Fenwick, Stewart, Fillery, Bannister, Stainrod and Gregory.