In May 1993, the R’s were London’s top club finishing in fifth place in the inaugural Premier League season.But the frustration and anger amongst the Rangers faithful had been building up for some time in 1994 and it culminated with the sale of Darren Peacock. There were doubts regarding Gerry Francis’s future as Manager and the sale of Peacock to Newcastle for ¬£2.7m provoked an intense personal campaign against Chairman Richard Thompson.
I remember the distribution of leaflets before the home game with Leeds on 4th April and the word was there would be a pitch invasion. I was in the Loft that day and I think it was when the visitors went 2-0 up that protesters started to invade the pitch. I recall temporarily jumping back into the Loft to appeal for more support before returning to the protest. The back page of the ‘Today’ newspaper reported on the events as follows:
‘QPR diehards distributed shocking leaflets yesterday urging fans to run over despised Chairman Richard Thompson in their cars. As Rangers were pasted 4-0 by Leeds at Loftus Road, angry supporters paraded banners calling for Thompson’s head ‘dead or alive’. They then invaded the pitch as protests against Thompson sank to new levels of extremism.
Thompson, 28, is the target of a vicious hate campaign for selling ¬£2.7 million defender Darren Peacock to Newcastle, courting takeover bids from a mystery American consortium and – worst of all – dithering over the one-year extension of manager Gerry Francis’s contract. Thompson stayed away from Loftus Road yesterday and missed:
*Banners demanding his instant resignation
*A pitch invasion by a 200-strong mob, who forced referee Joe Worrall to whistle early for half-time
*And another sit-down protest outside the main entrance, which was still going strong 90 minutes after the final whistle.
But QPR’s main worry are the leaflets circulated by the QPR P.O.R.T group (piss off Richard Thompson) which were by far the most offensive of the demonstrations. One paragraph read: “Anyone driving and seeing asset stripper Thompson walking on the road, please make sure you don’t mix the brake pedal with the accelerator. The accelerator is on the RIGHT.” A Police spokesman said: “We know who is distributing this material and we will follow it up – although it’s not absolutely clear whether a criminal offence has been committed.”
Rangers eventually went down 0-4 and I remember the police using horses and batons to disperse us outside the ground on one occasion. Richard Thompson departed in August and Peter Ellis took over as Chairman. Gerry Francis moved on to Tottenham in November and the return of Ray Wilkins as player-manager was generally viewed as a popular choice at the time.