Team: Parkes, Clement, Hazell, Delve (Beck), Mancini, McLintock, Thomas, Francis, Leach, Bowles, Givens
Rangers took on Sheffield United at Loftus Road on 8th December 1973. The match programme apologised for the absence of any colour photos, which was due to the National Power Crisis at the time.
The following match report appeared in the London Evening News:
‘Queen’s Park Rangers, London’s top team clearly missed the influence of injured skipper Terry Venables against Sheffield United at Shepherd’s Bush this afternoon, and they owed a lot to goalkeeper Phil Parkes.
The last United side picked by John Harris – new manager, Ken Furphy, gave the pre-match team talk – nearly took a first-minute lead. Ted Hemsley shot narrowly wide after a build-up by Tony Currie, once a Rangers’ reject, and David Staniforth.
Rangers retaliated and John Delve, preferred at the last minute to John Beck as deputy for injured Terry Venables, shot over. So did Dave Thomas, and Frank McLintock had a header blocked.
Staniforth had a run for United when Rangers skipper for the day, McLintock, lost the ball and let him clear. But he wasted the chance.
Don Givens clipped the top of the United bar with a header, following a Dave Thomas free kick.
Alan Woodward, who has been having a quiet time, tested Phil Parkes with a low shot, and then the Rangers goalkeeper saved with his legs as Currie fired in another.
Parkes made yet another fine save from Woodward’s powerful 25-yard shot, after Currie, who was the butt of the Rangers’ fans, played on a free kick to him.
Rangers were missing the midfield influence of Venables, and Tony Hazell was having an unfortunate game and being barracked.
The always dangerous Woodward went close to putting United in front with a shot past Parkes but across the face of the goal after a John Flynn/Bill Dearden build-up.
Rangers were struggling to find their rhythm, but Stan Bowles worried Flynn into a back pass and John Connaughton only just beat Givens to the ball. Then Connaughton was smartly out of his goal to fall on the ball.
United looked far more dangerous and Dearden hooked the ball just over the bar from close range.’
Brian Scovell wrote an interesting piece about what the Press witnessed after being invited into the Rangers’ dressing room after the game.
‘We rushed down to the QPR dressing room to see if the players were going to get a rocket. It was a non-match, but it made history because it was the first time for some years a League club had invited the Press into the dressing room afterwards.
Manager Gordon Jago was like an understanding teacher whose pupils had all failed their exam. He said: “I am not going to criticise anyone. I couldn’t fault the work rate or the effort. We were just bad…for the first time this season.”
“Let’s go away and forget about it and we’ll analyse it more deeply on Monday morning.”
Upstairs the fans had spent most of the game moaning and groaning but not in a nasty way.
Acting skipper Frank McLintock, who smoked and drank a can of beer while lying in the bath – they have six baths as well as a row of showers – brought his cigarette into the dressing room.
“Here”, said injured skipper Terry Venables, “No smoking allowed.” Someone asked Gerry Francis what he thought about his tackle on Sheffield right-back Len Badger.
“It was a bit strong,” said Venables in mock reproval. “Well I got the ball” said Francis.
In the entrance a radio man was asking Jago if he thought Francis was as good as Sheffield’s England player Tony Currie. “There isn’t much in it,” said Jago. “Currie is more experienced that’s all.”
Upstairs the language of the fans had been Hells Angel-like. But there was hardly any swearing here.
Left-back Tony Hazell didn’t join in the fun. He had been booed most of the match. “No, it didn’t worry me,” he said. “That was my 386th game. It’s taken them a long time to find out I can’t play. That lot don’t understand the game anyway.”
Someone must have gone round cleaning up, because there was no mud or dirt. The dirty kit had been taken away and the players were changing into their mod gear. Venables wore a striking blue satin jacket.
“Don’t take any credit from Sheffield”, said McLintock. “They played it well.”
Two hours later the senior players were still talking their way through the game upstairs and you could see why Rangers are having such a good season – they have a lot of responsible players.
I hope all the other clubs copy Jago’s example and let in the Press as they do on the Continent and in America. They ought to take note that not one critic condemned outright what had been a depressingly dull match – because we all sensed the mood and understood why it had been bad.
“You can’t do it right every time,” said Mick Leach. “In any job you get a day when nothing goes right.”’
I wonder if the Gentlemen of the Press were ever invited back? As for the R’s, they lost 0-2 at Filbert Street the following Saturday.