QPR (3) – Birmingham City (1) – Another Night to Remember as Rangers Reach Wembley!

Football League Cup Semi-Final (2nd Leg)

Team: Springett, Hazell, Langley, Keen, Hunt, Sibley, Lazarus, Sanderson, Allen, Marsh, Morgan (R)

Attendance: 24,604

Willesden & Brent Chronicle journalist Sean Kilfeather completed his article in the souvenir match programme with the following:

‘Thus we have arrived at a night which is likely to be historic for the club and will set the tongues wagging as the older supporters remember other Trojan clashes. They will remember, of course, the year Rangers were promoted 48-49 and the year they returned to the Third Division 52-53.

Players like Ivor Powell, Roy Bentley, Clive Clark and Brian Bedford will be recalled and their exploits compared with the present squad of stars.

So tonight we find ourselves three goals ahead and a very short ninety minutes from a Wembley final. We are holding our breath, of course, but we would be very relieved if we were to get an early goal and so clinch the matter.

Birmingham will fight. That much we know.

The rest remains to be seen.’

Brian James’ match report appeared in the national press the next morning:

‘The sort of soccer that serves QPR so well in the Third Division – unsubtle but totally unafraid – will be seen at Wembley on March 4.

Then QPR contest the final of the League Cup, and so become the first side of their status to tread the field where only the famous play.

They made sure of this hold upon history last night by beating Birmingham in a match of no great merit, save its intense importance. They won against an honest and earnest Birmingham team for whom repentance had come too late.

The Second Division side had thrown away their chance three weeks ago when they lost their tempers and allowed Rangers a 4-1 lead. That lead was never in dispute last night.

The only goal Birmingham scored came ten minutes from the end and served only to provoke Rangers into a climatic effort that gave them two goals in four minutes.

If their present plans mature Rangers are soon to leave Loftus Road forever. The memory, and the meaning, of this night, amid this final season will turn their thoughts often back to their old home.

The atmosphere was so drawn and dramatic it almost had a taste. Somehow 25,000 people contrived to sound like twice that number, aided by the incessant noise of drums beating out a tribal rhythm on the terraces.

The match was a contest only for the first hour and for the final ten minutes. For nearly 60 minutes, Birmingham busied themselves with heart and enterprise around the Rangers area without breaking through, without losing their apparent conviction that their task was feasible.

Then Rangers scored a swift and simple goal through their strolling vagabond of a forward Rodney Marsh. The final minutes should have been a formal playing out of time before allowing the terraces to erupt in jubilation.

But Birmingham’s Eric Barber, an Irish irregular in their team, displayed a colossal lack of tact by scoring an equalising goal. At this, Rangers, this incredibly resilient team of much age but great talent, simply reset their shoulders and stormed away to two goals in four minutes.

The first came when Keen rose high to head in a Lazarus cross. Then Marsh beat Sharples on the half-way line and accelerated away from the pursuit to hit the ball past Herriot.

This night will not be remembered for its play. The football was hurriedly and vaguely defined, the sportsmanship on a level of mere tolerance.

But a night that gives a late, great chance in life to men like Langley, 38 yesterday; Allen, a Spurs discard; and Marsh, a reject from Fulham almost before his football character had formed; would be worth remembering for this fact alone.

Rangers’ support will swell enormously as Wembley nears, no matter whether they play West Bromwich or whether West Ham tonight achieve the impossible.

Many of the new adherents will go along with success just for the ride. It is the hard core of their support, the men who have known very little over a very long time, who deserve to feel part of the rare pride that is now the right of all at Loftus Road.

Jim Langley said afterwards: “I could cry with joy. Getting to Wembley means more than two semi-finals with Fulham. This is the happiest birthday of my life.”

Gate receipts of £7,478 were a record for Rangers. Crowds of 90,121 have now paid £21,288 to watch the six League Cup ties at Loftus Road this season.’

I remember taking a banner that my Mum had knocked up for me, and standing behind the goal at the Loftus Road End with a lot of my mates from school.

At the final whistle, many of us ran on to the pitch and the celebrations continued outside the ground. R’s fans marched up South Africa Road to the beat of the drum.

What a night, what a season and there was still that Wembley final and promotion to come!

Steve Russell

2 thoughts on “QPR (3) – Birmingham City (1) – Another Night to Remember as Rangers Reach Wembley!

  1. Great article which brings back so many memories of a wonderful season. Probably our greatest season of all time when we had that marvellous blend of old hands, the home grown youth, and, the great Rodney Marsh, put together by one of our greatest managers, Alec Stock.
    A season never to be forgotten.

  2. A great night of celebration. I recall working late that evening and only getting inside the ground 15 minutes before Kick off. What a crush on the school end terrace.

    After the final whistle a group of us rushed down to the Sulgrave Boys club in Goldhawk Rd to watch the highlights on their TV.

    Happy Days!

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