QPR‘s 1896 Friendly at Harrow Athletic: ‘By Brakes, Carts, Bicycles, Trains & the Humble Shanks’, they swarmed down’

Team: A. J. Kips, H. Teagle, F. Tyler, A. Knight, T. Harvey, A. McKenzie, C. Davies, A. Gilmour, B. Carr, W. Ward, E. Wallington.

QPR’s 1895/96 season was made up of various cup competitions and a number of friendlies.

On 15th February, Rangers travelled to Harrow Athletic. A comprehensive match report, (and interesting references to the 400 travelling QPR fans), appeared in the Harrow Observer the following week:

‘He would be but a poor football enthusiast who could pay his 2d for admission to the Harrow Athletic ground on Saturday, and then go away at the finish dissatisfied with the bill of fare provided.

For an ordinary “friendly” the amount of interest displayed throughout the game was phenomenal, and at the finish, when the visitors scored the only goal of the day, the scene beats anything witnessed on the ground.

To this display of interest and enthusiasm we are indebted to the large number of followers who accompanied Queen’s Park Rangers to Harrow. By brakes, carts, bicycles, trains and the humble shanks’, they swarmed down, fully 400 taking advantage of the beautiful day.

At no period of the game did interest lag, and by a sort of mutual arrangement between the home spectators and the visitors from the City, one set chose the top line of play and the others the bottom. It need scarcely be said that they vied with each other as to who could make most noise.

This top and bottom line affair, however, did not justify the result, for at the conclusion the positions were reversed, not as regards the spectators, but the actual result of the game.

The most rabid partisan of the homesters will not grudge the visitors their victory, for they gave us as fine an exhibition of football as we should expect to see from a Southern League team, a position which they may hope to aspire to if they can always rely upon the class of players who were doing duty for them on Saturday.

Whilst congratulating the “Queen’s” on their win, and without distracting one iota from the credit attaching thereto, it must be said that the homesters had hard luck on more than one occasion, and the goal accredited to the visitors only came about through a misunderstanding between the home backs. But as I said before, their play, fully entitled them to the win.

Saturday was a day for the Football poet to rave about – not a breath of wind to help the play either way; a fine piece of turf whereon the players could show their sprinting abilities to the full; a day which brought out at least 800 spectators; a day which even satisfied the newspaper men; in fact, a day which suited everyone and everybody.

But too much sentiment is bad. My readers will think I am never coming to the serious part of the business. It was pretty well half-past three when a start was made, and Mr Harry Bentley had charge.

“Skipper” Smith won the toss, and set the visitors to defend the pavilion goal. From the kick-off Fred Hughes got well into the visitors’ half, but the ball was not allowed to remain there long, the Rangers transferring and shooting over the bar.

From the goal kick, Kavanagh went sailing down the wing, and was about to shoot at close range when he was knocked over, and the ball was got away.

Smith gave a corner, but the visitors shot wide, and again Kavanagh got in a fine run, following good play by F. Hughes and Griffiths, but Knight spoilt the final shot.

Woodbridge and Smith were hard pressed for a time, Kavanagh again relieving, but only temporarily, for both Ward and Wallington shot high over the bar.

Salt had a bit more than he could manage in the two former gentlemen, and at this time most of the danger came from the visitors left, Ward muffing a fine opening.

The home right again got down, and Kavanagh put in one of his very best centres, but the advantage was not improved upon, and then following “hands” Darville shot over

R. Hughes gave Kips a shot to deal with, and then the visitors again swarmed around Stableford, a fine shot from Ward only just missing.

Bentley and Woodbridge were sorely tested, and then Stableford gave a corner in saving, and from this Wallington skimmed the bar with a beauty, another one shortly afterwards going just over the top of the net.

Salt, in trying to clear, sent the ball into the goalmouth, and Stableford had to concede a corner, but this proved of no more benefit to the visitors than the others before it; and following good play by Dick and Fred Hughes a corner came about at the other end, a second following from a good attempt by Kavanagh, but neither was improved upon, and half-time arrived with a clean sheet.

When play was resumed, Darville went centre-forward, Sid Smith centre-half, and F. Hughes full-back.

Harry immediately got in a splendid run, and put in an oblique shot which Kips only reached with the tips of his fingers, but – alas! R. Hughes was just a wee bit too late to catch the rebound.

The “Queen’s” shot over when in a good position, and then Kavanagh and Griffiths got away a bit, but not for long.

Play had to be stopped on account of Teagle being hurt, and then the visitors had to finish the game with ten men only, it being found that the full-back had ricked one of the leaders of his leg.

Although with this disadvantage the “Queen’s” monopolised the greater portion of the play, Stableford saving grandly. From a pass by “Young Grif.” Kavanagh put in a fine sprint, and when about to shoot was tackled by two of the visitors, a corner resulting, which was got away.

Stableford was then loudly cheered for a splendid save, he scooping the ball out in the nick of time, and the leather was sent up the field. Wallington and Salt then had a race for possession, but the former succeeded in getting in his shot, Carr sending wide.

Darville, Hartley, and Dick Hughes tried hard to relieve the pressure, but the “Queen’s” were not having any, the Harrow goal having a wonderful escape, one shot skimming the bar, and another striking the outside of the net.

Following a free kick for “hands,” Kavanagh was the 60th part of a second too late in trying to catch a fine header by Darville. Only once more did the home team trouble Kips (he running out to a shot from Griffiths), the rest of the game being noticeable for the splendid running and centering by Wallington, and the gallant efforts of the home backs and custodian to keep a clean sheet.

However, ‘twas not to be, for in the last minute of the game a throw-in occurred to the visitors, and owing to a misunderstanding between the home backs, Carr had a clear opening and succeeded in beating Stableford with a shot the latter had no “earthly” with.

Then followed a scene of the wildest excitement, the visiting supporters showing their appreciation of this feat by the waving of handkerchiefs, throwing up of hats, umbrellas, and sticks, and cheering in a hearty manner; in fact, a stranger might have thought it was the deciding goal for the Senior Cup.

Time was then called, and the visitors retired winners of one of the most exciting games played on the ground this season.’

What a wonderful description of the Rangers fans celebrating that last minute goal!

Steve Russell

(Thanks to Colin Woodley for his assistance)