QPR (4) – Brann Bergen (0) – ‘Well, here we are “In Europe” at Last – and only about Nine Years too Late!’
UEFA Cup 1st Round (1st Leg)
Team: Parkes, Clement, Gillard, Hollins, McLintock, Webb, Thomas, Leach, Masson, Bowles, Givens
The match against Brann Bergen on 15th September 1976, marked an historic night for Queen’s Park Rangers FC. The programme notes commenced as follows:
‘Well, here we are “In Europe” at last – and only about nine years too late. (For the benefit of our Norwegian spectators, we should explain that Rangers qualified for European football by winning the Football League Cup in 1967 but we were not allowed to participate as no one had thought to make provision in the regulations for a Third Division club, as Rangers were then, winning a major trophy.)
However, it was well worth waiting for and we shall now hope to show the UEFA participating countries what they have been missing as a result of Rangers’ absence from their competition for so long!’
David Miller later filed the following match report:
‘Stan Bowles scored an almost casual hat-trick – his second for the club in three years – as QPR disposed of the Norwegian amateurs.
But Rangers’ arrival at last in European competition – nine years after they qualified in vain as Third Division winners of the League Cup – was marked by the quietest night their terraces have known in a long time.
Rangers won comfortably but without mastery and have reason to think carefully about their second-leg against the part-timers.
Manager Dave Sexton admitted: “I think we’ll need all those goals in Norway,” and he could well be right.
The lead might well have been two instead of four as Brann showed that they knew a fair bit about the game and created enough chances to have embarrassed their lofty opponents.
Brann manager Billy Elliott, an ex-Sunderland winger with an opportunist history of goals in the years just after the War, said: “I’m satisfied, and though I don’t think we’ll win, no one can say we don’t have a chance at home.”
That chance would have been multiplied substantially but for an incredible miss five minutes after half-time by Ingvald Huseklepp, Brann’s right-side striker, with the score 2-0.
Steinar Aase broke clear past Dave Webb and as Phil Parkes came off his line, slipped the ball square to give Huseklepp the most invitingly sitter. But from four yards the luckless Norwegian missed not only the goal but very nearly the ball.
After near misses by Dave Thomas and Webb, Stan Bowles hit his first of two in four minutes just when the crowd was first calling for Peter Eastoe.
Thomas worked clear on the left, crossed to the far post, Webb hit it back and Bowles glanced it from seven yards.
The second came as Givens, his speed regularly unhinging the Norwegians, pulled the ball back from the right for Bowles to side-step and score from ten yards.
Somehow Rangers never flowed, though always looking likely to score.
With just under half an hour to go, Bowles, close in, nudged in his third from Givens’ header following Don Masson’s corner.
It was less than the stuff of schoolboy fiction, and not long after vagabond Neil McLeod, an itinerant young Englishman who has found his way to Bergen via a spell with Marseilles reserves, nearly beat Phil Parkes. Only a fine save turned the ball over.
Just before the end a goalkeeping error allowed Masson to snatch a fourth from the inevitable Don Givens header.
Rangers were gratefully flattered.’
As for the 2nd leg two weeks later, Martin Percival wrote the following article for the Indy R’s website in January 2012….