Football League Cup Semi-Final (1st Leg)
Team: Springett, Watson, Langley, Keen, Hunt, Sibley, Lazarus, Sanderson, Allen, Marsh, Morgan (R)
Sub: Morgan (I)
The following match report was written by Alan Williams and appeared in the Daily Express the following morning:
‘Queen’s Park Rangers are within 90 minutes of becoming the first visitors to Wembley from the Third Division. They were roaring runaway winners last night over Birmingham’s Second Division promotion raiders.
So Rangers face only the formality (well, it ought to be) of the second leg at Loftus Road on February 7 before the prize of the League Cup final at Wembley on March 4.
Alec Stock, their manager, said: “It would suit us fine if West Ham beat West Bromwich in the other semi-final.”
I wonder whether Rangers would suit West Ham? Their four-goal second-half super-show was courageous and unforgettable. No one was more courageous and unforgettable than Les Allen, as calm and assured as he was with Tottenham.
Bill Nicholson, Spurs manager, saw the match, presumably to note the current form of transfer-listed Barry Bridges. But he must have left sighing over the success of Allen.
Birmingham had started in the joy of a third-minute goal. They finished demoralised, dejected, and very, very defeated.
And the fans from West London who swelled the crowd to more than 34,000 ended with a chant of: “Easy, Easy…..Its the R’s for Wembley.” They were right. What is more, Rangers will decorate Wembley.
But it had seemed different as a header by Bridges, from a corner by Trevor Hockey, brightened Birmingham’s quest for the one-goal lead they reckoned would be sufficient.
Birmingham’s defence was not over-troubled in the first-half, and Ray Martin and Bridges were tormentingly close to adding to the lead soon after the interval.
But Rodney Marsh struck with a brilliant header from Les Allen’s corner in the 55th minute – and Rangers were level. It was Rangers’ 100th goal of the season and Marsh’s 34th. And it was the most vital.
Rangers soared. They teased and tantalised Birmingham into embarrassing tangles.
Bridges roused Birmingham with a 62nd minute shot from close range. But Ron Hunt, mightiest of the mighty in Rangers’ defence, headed away from just inside a post. That was the end of the last threatening move by Birmingham.
Their defence was shredded by a right-wing move between Marsh and Mark Lazarus in the 66th minute, and Roger Morgan greeted the pass from Marsh by ramming Rangers in front.
Birmingham were more and more desperate and more and more open to counter-attacking.
Lazarus rocketed a low drive in the 76th minute to hoist the score to 3-1. Then Allen’s hard work had its reward in the last minute with goal No.4.
It was a tough battle, and Hunt, Morgan, and Hockey were booked. But referee Jack Mitchell retained admirable control.’
After leaving work early, a group of us set off by car to witness this historic event.
Also, I have heard it told that the QPR Supporters Club alone ran 73 coaches (Daphne Biggs had never been so busy!) and two football special trains were laid on from Euston.
This was indeed the first ever, massive away support for the R’s that I have ever encountered in all of my first ten years of following QPR FC. (I am not counting the thousands of Rangers fans at Griffin Park cheering on Brentford in the Bees versus Grimsby fixture in April 1962). I estimate easily 6,000 R’s supporters at St. Andrews that night.
When arriving inside the stadium about half-an-hour before kick-off, we quickly established ourselves amongst the main phalanx of QPR fans dominating one side of the terrace along the halfway line area.
I recall out on the pitch pre-match entertainment by a local pop performer. He sang a calypso-type number called: ‘The League Cup Final Is Where We Want To Be’ and also of course the Birmingham City anthem, ‘Keep Right On To The End Of The Road.’
Little did we know that for Brummie Blues there would be no League Cup Final at the end of the road.
The game commenced amid a crescendo of noise from the 34,000 plus crowd, but unfortunately within minutes we were a goal down. Nothing unusual about that. We often went one or two goals behind in fixtures that season and still won!
Nil desperandum. It was somewhat of a rear-guard action up to the interval, but to quote the lyrics of that famous terrace song of the era: ‘We Are On Our Way To Wembley And We Shall Not Be Moved, We Shall Not, We Shall Not Be Moved etc.’
In the second-half Birmingham City in the main were blown away. Goals from Marsh, Morgan, Lazarus and Allen gave us that 4-1 victory and put the team virtually at Wembley. (This was duly confirmed by the 3-1 win in the return leg).
When the fourth goal went in I was suddenly showered by a cluster of tiny eggshell fragments floating down like confetti. Odd? I knew not from whence they came and at that particular time of celebration I did not care much either.
Scenes of joy by the mass hordes at the final whistle, and so too on the journey homewards. Car horns blasting, coach windows with scarves hanging and banners hanging out.
At Service Stations en route, more boisterous behaviour. People doing crazed jigs of delight in car parks and there was one bloke I saw who was festooned with so many rosettes it was impossible to see the front of his jacket!
Yes, an epic chapter in the club’s history. The only sad footnote was the QPR fans tragically killed in a car crash on the way home!!!
Bernard Lambert (Kerrins)
I didn’t know the score until I watched the highlights on television later that night. I can’t remember the name of the sports presenter but he had a knowing smile on his face prior to the start of the coverage!.
(The middle pic shows Roger Morgan giving Rangers the lead)