Forward to 1980Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister and some months earlier had made that famous speech on the steps 10 Downing StreetWhere there is Chelsea may there be Rangers. Where there is Fulham may there be QPR. Where there is Brentford may there be the R’s. I am sure it went something like that !!! Yes folks, all West London rivals together with British Manufacturing were in decline but our status was still high. Jim Gregory was Chairman and Terry Venables Manager. The first ever FA Cup Final against Spurs in 1982 and the Division 2 championship trophy of 1983. We were back amongst the big boys, mingling with the mighty on our magic plastic pitch. That particular experiment however, proved short lived.
There were new stars in the Shepherd’s Bush Galaxy, Fenwick, Roeder, Clive Allen, Stainrod, Currie, Gregory and Waddock etc. We had a brief European sojourn in 1984 and a second League Cup Final in 1986 where disaster struck and we lost 3-0 to Oxford. The subsequent TV pictures of that crook Robert Maxwell cavorting around the Manor ground with the trophy made me cringe. Compare charlatan Maxwell with our noble Alec Stock ! Chalk and cheese ! Talent continued to gravitate towards QPR FC. There were Managers such as Jim Smith and Don Howe, players the like of McDonald, Bannister, Reid, Seaman, Lee, Bardsley and Byrne etc. The early 1990’s gave us Gerry Francis as Manager and established Les Ferdinand as one of England’s top strikers and brought forth Sinton, Sinclair, Wilkins, Darren Peacock, Wilson and others. The R’s had the quality to mix it with the best. In the 1992/3 Season, we finished fifth in the newly formed Premiership. Heady stuff eh ?
Alas, one fly in the ointment. After 1987, our dynamic Chairman and benefactor, Jim Gregory, was no longer at the helm and it was just not the same without him. Storm clouds started to gather and down we went in 1995/6. We were cast out into mediocrity, plunged into debt and Administration and relegated to the wilderness of lower league football. The faces of a lot of QPR fans back then were longer than Peter Crouch after a session on the rack !
Then as the early years of the Millenium gathered pace, a chink of light appeared in the very dark tunnel. Ian Holloway’s blue and white army. We had the play off Final in 2002/03 then up we went in 2003/4 amid wild scenes of euphoria at Hillsborough. Rejoice ! Relief ! Cheers to Camp, Day, Rowlands, Gallen, Furlong, Ainsworth, Shittu and Co. Daphne Biggs must have looked down from the heavens and smiled. Now here we are in Championship football, the second tier of the English league structure. Which fork in the road will we take ? Quo Vadis ? Whatever the future holds, I will be around as long as there is breath in my body.
These days I have mellowed with age and now I appreciate that the Institution of QPR FC and the camaraderie with friends and fellow supporters previously taken for granted, means more to me than the actual performance out on the pitch. From the ‘March of the Gladiators’ to ‘Pigbag’ and beyond, let the music of Queen’s Park Rangers play on !
Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)
(The images shown above are firstly, Gary Bannister from October 1984 and the other one is of Alan McDonald celebrating his goal on 2nd December, 1995 – Steve Russell)