1982 FA Cup Semi-Final, QPR v WBA. Venue: Highbury. The date: 3rd April 1982. What a great day even though I had to watch the match sitting next to a Fulham supporter, my Dad !!!
I was lucky to get seat tickets. By that time I was residing in Manchester and must confess that I wasn’t a regular at Loftus Road, but a long time friend of the family and season ticket holder, Tony Pennie, came up trumps for me and obtained two seat tickets not far from the dug-out section.
The R’s were a Second Division team and West Bromwich were in the top flight, but right from kick-off you could not tell the difference and I straight away got the feeling that we could win. The game itself was not a classic. The pitch was hard and slightly bumpy and not suitable for quality football. At half-time the score was 0-0 and during the interval some people around me were concerned about the Grand National result. What ? Do me a favour ! Concentrate on the REAL Sporting event please !!!
In the 72nd minute, Clive Allen, our star striker, got his chance. He swung his foot at a ball in the box at the North Bank end of the ground and in it went. Was it off part of his knee ? No matter, there was an explosion of joy especially behind the goal and certainly a right old knees-up at the final whistle when we were the victors, 1-0 and in the first FA Cup Final in our history.
Coming out of the ground, I bumped into an old childhood friend, Mick Stone and his Father, the two people who had taken me to my first ever QPR match at Loftus Road in September 1957. As we hugged each other in celebration, Mick said: “We’ve waited long enough for this haven’t we ?” I headed back to my parents house in the Bush and as I was walking down from Stamford Brook Station, I composed the following ditty based on that famous WW1 song: ‘It’s A Long Way to Tipperary’:
“It’s a long way to Wembley Stadium,
It’s a long way I know,
It’s a long way to Wembley Stadium,
Where all the best teams go,
Goodbye Man. United, farewell West Brom too,
It’s a long way to Wembley Stadium,
But Rangers are through”
Needless to say that my Dad was not impressed, and it never caught on !!!
Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)
I can’t believe its 30 years ago and, now approaching senility and it’s hard to remember that far back. However, I do remember encountering a Baggies fan of about 13-years-old sitting on the kerb outside Highbury with tears streaming down his face. He stood up to shake my hand and wished the Rangers good luck for the final. West Brom had also lost the League Cup at the semi-final stage that season. I was a little late getting away from the ground and was surprised to meet Glenn Roeder already changed and carrying a small holdall. He stopped to speak and we talked briefly about the game. I asked him in fun whether he needed a lift, but he declined as he was off to get the Tube home, a bit different to the pampered players of today.
Brian Clark (R’s fan since 1948 – Lower Loft season ticket holder)
Looking back, I don’t actually remember too much of the game itself. My family had moved from Perivale to Buckinghamshire a couple of years before. I was 12-years-old and I was only allowed to travel to home games on my own (that probably wouldn’t happen now !), not away. On the day I met up with my best mate from Primary School in Perivale, Ian Clarrige, who had queued up at the Box Office the previous week for semi-final tickets for both of us. Thirty years on, myself and Ian are still regulars at Loftus Road when we get the time off work as we both work Saturdays.
I remember having to keep the game quiet from my Mum as she would not allow me to travel to “away” matches yet ! My Dad, a Fulham fan who was at the 1975 Cup Final, appreciated the importance of the game and he kept it quiet from her. I remember the packed Tube journey full of Rangers supporters in good voice and coming out of the Station to see a mass of people. Having only attended games at Loftus Road before, I had never experienced a crowd of over 40,000 before with so many Rangers fans.
Ian and I made our way to the middle of the North Bank. We soon realised that as 12-year-olds, we would not see anything of the game as other fans swelled around us in a sea of blue and white banners. As the game kicked off we moved to our left and found a better view of the game from near to the corner flag. I recall seeing Stainrod, Allen, Currie and Waddock warming up. Being a fellow ginger, Waddock became a firm favourite of mine for many years afterwards. Big Bob Hazel just seemed to cover every inch of the pitch that afternoon and had an immense impact.
And then the goal – I never saw it !!! Back in the days when replays and home VCR recorders were not the norm, it was some weeks before I actually saw the ball ricochet off Clive Allen’s knee and hit the net. I just remember a wave of R’s fans surging down on us in the good old days of terracing and jumping up and down like lunatics. We spent the next 15 minutes screaming at the ref, Keith Hackett, to blow up !!!
My memories of anything else after the final whistle have just about gone. A hugely enjoyable journey home on the tube, singing non-stop and a smile that began to hurt. After parting with Ian at Perivale, I returned home to an almighty telling off for deceiving my Mum, but it was all worth it. That game remains in my top 10 of all time and is one of the reasons that I’m still watching Rangers 30 years on.
The following seasons brought a lot of success under Terry Venables and, at the age of 12, I thought it would always be like that ! Never mind eh, Once a Ranger, always a Ranger…….You Rrrrssss !!!
Pete Key (R’s fan since the late 70’s – Supporters Club Member)
My school mate of the time, Stuart Putland whose season ticket is now next to mine, got a lift to the game with me and my Dad. We parked up near the ground and Stuart and I went on the North Bank terrace and my Dad went into the East Stand to sit with his cousin Peter. They’d been attending Rangers games together on and off since 1936.
I recall there being a few more Baggies fans at the game than Rangers and the Clock End was a mass of West Brom’s yellow and green away scarves and flags. The North Bank was the Rangers end and it was mainly blue and white, despite Rangers also wearing their away kit; red shirts and black shorts. I remember hoping that having that end would not prove unlucky as 5 years previously the Rangers fans had been on the North Bank for the League Cup Semi-Final versus Aston Villa, a disappointing 0-3 defeat that’s best forgotten about.
Andy King had been signed by WBA from Rangers earlier in the season and I’d been worried before the game that he would score against us. As it was, he didn’t get too much of the ball and went off injured with a broken nose. In fact it was to be the next season when a former Rangers player was to score for WBA versus his old team to send us out of the Cup – Peter Eastoe in the FA Cup 3rd Round. That was also of course the season that saw Rangers win the Second Division Championship, so in the end no one was too upset.
West Brom were still a good side in 1982, although not quite the exciting team that they were in the late 1970’s, and had finished fourth in Division One the previous season. They were 4-1 on favourites to win and were appearing in a then record 19th FA Cup Semi-Final. By contrast it was Rangers first (and so far only) appearance in the last 4, although they’d made the semi-final draw in 1948 before losing to Derby in the 6th Round replay. The Division Two Rangers team of 1982 were a very , very solid team though and in Terry Venables had a manager who knew how to get the best out of his players.
The game was a tight one and I don’t recall us having too many chances. In fact, the goal in the 72nd minute came just 2 minutes after Rangers first corner of the game. When Clive Allen’s goal went in off his knee and into the North Bank goal, the Rangers fans went wild. The last 18 minutes seemed interminable and Jim Gregory left his seat in the Director’s Box as he could not take the anguish. At the final whistle, the Rangers fans celebrated big time as the team ran up to the fans. For the older generation it was a return to Wembley for the first time since 1967. For the younger fans it was a dream come true – we were going to see Rangers play in an FA Cup Final, the most important single club game of the season. It was also even more of a dream for certain older Rangers fans. My Dad had had a bad car accident in February 1967 and was still suffering from concussion on 4th March 1967. My Mother would not let him go to the game. After following Rangers for 56 years he was to see his team play at Wembley at long last v Spurs in the Final.
I can’t comment on the game without mentioning Bob Hazell. He played an absolute blinder that day and Cyrille Regis, the star Baggies player and a good friend of Hazell’s who had already scored 22 goals that season, got barely a sniff with Bob marking him very tightly. It was probably Hazell’s best game for the R’s, so much so that he even set up Allen for the goal.
The other news of the day on 3rd April 1982 ? Well, the House of Commons sat for the first time on a Saturday since the Suez Crisis in 1956 due to the Falklands War. The Grand National was won by 7/1 favourite Grittar, ridden by amateur Dick Saunders who, at the age of 48, became and still remains the oldest jockey to have won the race and a boyhood QPR fan finalised his purchase of Chelsea (!) after being rebuffed in his attempt to buy Rangers from Jim Gregory – yes, Ken Bates.
Martin Percival (R’s fan since 1970 – Lower Loft season ticket holder)
(The Press photo shown above is from my collection and on the reverse side the caption reads - ‘West Bromwich Albion striker Cyrille Regis turns away in disgust after missing an easy chance, much to the relief of Queen’s Park Rangers defender Bob Hazell’. The other pic originated from a copy of ‘Roy of the Rovers’ which Chris Guy kindly scanned for me – Steve Russell)