On Tuesday 10th May 1966, Rangers won the London FA Challenge Cup Final for the fourth time. The R’s lifted the trophy at Highbury after an emphatic 4-0 victory. The game kicked off at 7pm and oddly, apart from the line-up, there was no other mention of QPR inside the four page programme ! Sean Kilfeather wrote the following report for the Willesden & Brent Chronicle:
‘The clouds of disappointment have lifted a little from Loftus Road and three pieces of news have helped to push away the memories of a frustrating failure to gain promotion. On Tuesday night came the pick of the bunch when a team made up of Rangers products – with one exception – swamped Arsenal in the final of the London FA Challenge Cup and John Collins walked off the Highbury pitch with a handsome trophy for the Rangers sideboard. This was a highly impressive display by Rangers who fielded six regular first teamers against a strong Arsenal side with four players who appear on regular first team duty.
Rangers were well worth their win and played impressively in attack despite an early injury to Mick Leach which limited his movements. The highlights of the night were a brilliantly executed first goal, a tremendous swashbuckling display by Tony Hazell and a few fine saves by Peter Springett. Hazell played his best game for some time and laid on three of the goals as well as doing excellent work in defence and in the middle of the field. Next to him in industry was Keith Sanderson, the odd man out in this Rangers squad and captain John Collins, Bobby Nash was the outstanding defender on view and on the wings the Morgan twins kept the Gunners busy with speed and ball control.
Arsenal were really in the hunt and although they found the Rangers defence in a mood of panic in the early stages, they failed to press their advantage home and only Sammels, Corr and Tyrer could match their rivals in ideas and execution. A quick flurry of zig-zag movement from a free kick saw Ian Morgan, Leach and Hazell mesmerise Arsenal with staccato passing and Sanderson swung the ball in with the defence in a complete tangle. This was in the 5th minute and 10 minutes later, Roger Morgan slipped the ball through for Collins to beat the goalkeeper with a shot off the post.
Another 3 minutes and Hazell swung a pass to Roger Morgan who swivelled past three men to beat the advancing Burns. Arsenal staged an attempted rally and Springett went full length to save from Walley and then had to make a 40-yard race from his goal as Tyrer chased a long clearance down the middle. Earlier, Taylor had cleared off his line after Springett had dropped the ball.
The fourth nail in the Arsenal coffin came after 23 minutes of the second half when a long pass through the middle from Ian Morgan seemed to be covered by Wilkinson, but he fell over and Leach gained possession to round him and shoot past Burns.
Team: Springett, Taylor, Nash, Hazell, Hunt, Sibley, Ian Morgan, Collins, Leach, Sanderson, Roger Morgan.
And those other pieces of good news this week, three Rangers players have been selected to travel with the England party to the Little World Cup tournament in Yugoslavia at the end of the month. Frank Sibley, Tony Hazell and Dave Clement will leave on the 18th. Meanwhile, the junior team has won the South East Counties League. The less pleasant news was a defeat for the senior team by four goals to two at Grimsby.’
In Round 1, the R’s had seen off Chelsea 1-0 at Loftus Road in October, Frank Sibley was the scorer. A couple of weeks later, Rangers won 3-1 at Leyton Orient with goals coming from Ron Hunt, Keith Sanderson and John Collins. Then Brentford were defeated 2-1 on 1st November at Loftus Road in the semi-final. Alan Wilks and Mick Leach scored the goals.
The final had originally been scheduled for the first Monday in December, but heavy rain postponed any likelihood of a match. Arsenal then suggested to the London FA that in view of the season being extended, the game could be played in May which all parties agreed to.
This was Arsenal’s 15th appearance in the final, which was more than any other London club and had won ten of them prior to this one. The London Challenge Cup had started off as essentially a 1st team fixture in 1908 and the R’s first match was away to Tottenham in October. The competition was suspended in 1915 and resurrected once again in September 1919.
As from the 1931/32 season, the competition then became generally a reserve fixture. Rangers won it twice in that decade, firstly against West Ham in 1933 and then by vanquishing Tottenham in 1939. QPR were due to play Arsenal the following October, but once again the competition was suspended because of the outbreak of War. Rangers won it for a third time in 1956 after beating Brentford 2-0. The R’s final appearance in the competition was in 1974 after losing to Hayes in the semi-final following a replay. It would be nice to think that maybe one day the competition could be resurrected again in some way ?