QPR (1) – Arsenal (1) – “I’ve Had a Few Words with the Referee” – Gerry Francis

Team: Seaman, Bardsley, Wilson, Wilkins, Ready, Yates, Impey, Holloway, Barker, White (Allen), Penrice

Attendance: 11,442

On 27th April 1994, Rangers took on Arsenal at Loftus Road. Neil Custis wrote the following match report:

‘Fuming Gerry Francis had to be restrained by a policeman at the end of a controversial clash. QPR boss Francis was furious with referee Ian Borrett after having two penalty appeals turned down.

As Borrett headed down the tunnel, Francis followed him screaming in his ear and was stopped only when a policeman grabbed his arm. But the verbal attack continued until Borrettdisappeared out of earshot.

Later, a calmer Francis said: “I’ve had a few words with the referee.” But he was clearly angry at both controversial spot-kick decisions. First, a clear foul by Steve Morrow on David Bardsley in the area went unpunished.

Then, with about seven minutes to go what looked a clear Lee Dixon handball was also waved away.

Francis added: “When David Bardsley was fouled I would have put a few quid on it being a definite penalty.”

“And the handball against Lee Dixon – I have seen some given for that. Having seen it again on video, it was definitely a penalty.”

Just one of those penalties would have given QPR their first victory against Arsenal in eight games. And that is exactly what QPR looked as if they would achieve after only three minutes when Gary Penrice headed them into the lead.

He was playing upfront only because of injury to Les Ferdinand and fans were just settling into their seats when a pinpoint cross from Barker saw Penrice rise unchallenged to head home.

And by half-time they could have had three as the Gunners turned in an uncharacteristic jittery first-half performance.

But within a minute of the re-start Paul Merson scored the goal that kept his side on an amazing 19-match unbeaten run in the league.

What a fantastic strike it was as he picked up the ball 25 yards out and jinked past three players before rifling an unstoppable shot into the net.

It was Merson’s first game in five after suffering from tonsillitis and his display will give Graham something to smile about as he looks forward to next Wednesday’s European Cup Winners’ Cup final against Parma.’

Rangers were at the time top of the South East Counties League, above the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea. They had won 22 of their 28 games and scored 115 goals in the process. They went on to win it, six points ahead of Tottenham.

One week before the Arsenal game, I remember them beatingWest Ham 3-2 in the 2nd leg of the South East Counties League Cup final, and therefore winning 6-4 on aggregate.

The attendance at Loftus Road that day was nearly 4,000. Kevin Gallen scored two of the goals and Kristian Wood chipped in with the other.

Steve Russell