Chelsea (1) – QPR (3) – 17th March 1979 – ‘Busby Turns The Relegation Screw On Chelsea’

Team: Richardson, Clement, Gillard, Hollins, Howe, Roeder, Shanks, Francis, Eastoe, Bowles, Goddard.
Sub: Busby
Atendance: 25,871

This was our second league victory at Stamford Bridge but it wasn’t enough to keep us up. Pat Needham wrote the following report for the Sunday Mirror:

‘Substitute Martyn Busby appeared like a fairy godmother to guide Rangers to their first win of 1979 – offer a ray of hope in their relegation struggle. With the match poised at 1-1. Busby made his entrance on the hour and set up Glen Roeder’s goal five minutes later. Then he sealed this grim battle for First Division survival with a goal of his own in the 74th minute.

From Chelsea’s viewpoint this was surely one of the final nails in their coffin. On St. Patrick’s Day of all days, Chelsea Manager Danny Blanchflower was entitled to expect a little luck. But it didn’t work out that way. “It wasn’t a good day for us, was it ?” he said. “We need a lot of luck to stay up and we’re just not getting it at the moment.” It was no surprise when Rangers took the lead in the 23rd minute. Chelsea defender Nutten lost the ball then failed to make a convincing challenge on Goddard, who slipped the ball past Borota.

As Ray Wilkins found his touch, Chelsea began to buzz. In the 35th minute, Wilkins found Stanley on the right and his cross was pushed past his own keeper by Shanks, as he rushed back to clear. For a while, Chelsea looked the likelier side. But after Docherty wasted an open goal chance from only five yards out – a miss leading to his replacement by sub Langley – Busby stepped in to steal the show. Man of the match: Ray Wilkins (Chelsea). Rangers Manager Steve Burtenshaw missed the match. He was in the Midlands trying to clinch the ¬£100,000 signing of West Brom winger Willie Johnston.’

The headline on the back of the above Press photo reads: ‘Chelsea Blues !!! ‘ – and goes on to say: ‘Ian Gillard of Queen’s Park Rangers, right, fires in a powerful shot during today’s First Division clash against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Goalkeeper Peter Borota gets in the way with the help of defender David Stride. Rangers won the match 3-1 to give Chelsea further cause for concern.’

Our victory was on the back of five successive defeats and ten without a win. In fact, our last victory was against Manchester City on 16th December. Chelsea finished bottom on 20 points, followed by Birmingham City on 22 points and we were also relegated in 20th position with 25 points, 6 points adrift of Derby County. In May, Tommy Docherty returned as Manager.

Steve Russell

7 thoughts on “Chelsea (1) – QPR (3) – 17th March 1979 – ‘Busby Turns The Relegation Screw On Chelsea’

  1. More importantly after Docherty’s arrival, was that of a 19 year old New Zealander. It didn’t work out as history has proved of course but it was an interesting time.

  2. One of the two highlights in what was a turgid season as we struggled and got relegated.The only other highlight was the emergence of a prodigious teenager called Clive Allen who scored a hat-trick vs Coventry on his full debut and went on to become a club legend.
    Relegation was softened slightly with the knowledge that the SW6 pikeys at least joined us.

  3. I was there that day with my dad in fact we were sitting in the exact part of the stand behind where Gillard was shooting.
    I was only 8 or 9 at the time , I remember going in that stand (the east?) each time we played there during the late 70’s and 80’s always wearing colours.
    I remember when Martyn Busby scored we had about 3 corners in a row,he always seemed to score there.
    In later years we always stood on the away terrace a million miles away from the action,memorably being kept in for 45 minutes after our Milk Cup quarter final win there,while the scum waited outside to tear us apart.
    How different it was there at the two recent cup visits to say there supporters have changed is an understatement!

  4. Very true Chris. Unfortunately a few of ours have not! Chelsea fans of the “nouveau riche” era would not believe what an utter toilet that ground was at that time. Loftus Rd was an absolute palace by comparison. Martyn Busby did indeed do well at Stamford Bridge. His mum sold me my first ever pair of football boots in “Keen and Busbys” sports shop in High Wycombe in 1974!

  5. I remember listening to some older R’s fans and by all accounts Martyn Busby would have become one of our all time greats, he got a broken leg at Fulham in the early seventies and was never the same player.
    My memories of him as a kid were of him being a target for the famous Loftus Road “boo birds”.
    Martin,Was the Keen in the sports shop Mike Keen?

  6. This was the first season I saw the Rs in the flesh. I knew we were rubbish by top flight standards. And I knew we were not even close to avoiding relegation. Being from the salt mines of SE London I was on my own as a Rangers fan. Nobody supported QPR. Except of course people from places like Acton, and I had never even heard of Acton. It could have been the capital of Paraguay for all I knew. All the glory hunters were Liverpool. All the glory hunters who actually wanted to go to the match were Arsenal. All the thugs were Millwall. All those who had just discovered football as the new trend were ‘Team of the 80’s’ Palace. Chelsea fans? well they seemed to be under the illusion they supported a big trophy hunting club with hard fans. In reality until the Russian arrived they were always the smelly kid with his nose against the sweet shop window. As for The Bridge back then, yep it was a rat-hole that smelt of piss and crap burgers, but I miss football grounds like that. That day in ’79 was a moments sunshine through the cloud.

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