QPR (2) – Birmingham City (2) – “It’s a Hollow Feeling to Think that I’ll Never be Out Here Again” – Frank McLintock

Team: Parkes, Hollins, Gillard, Kelly, McLintock, Webb, Thomas, Leach, Masson, Eastoe, Givens

Sub: Abbott

Attendance: 14,976

Originally scheduled for 3rd May 1977, Rangers eventually took on Birmingham City at Loftus Road later that month, in the last match of the season. James Lawton wrote the following report for the Daily Express:

‘For years it has been an obsession with Frank McLintock to get the timing right. He wanted his leaving of the game as he played it, good and professional and with something to spare. So he guarded himself against the time.

He thought it all out. But the truth is that when the time came in the grimy sunshine of Shepherd’s Bush last night, he could scarcely bear it.

Before the game with Birmingham City, only significant because it marked the passing of this great professional, the guard slipped, and the blood drained from his face.

In the dressing room he broke from his ritual of preparation to tell me: “This is it. This is the time that I feared, and I’ve prepared myself for.”

“But you know, it’s as bad as I thought it could ever be. I feel as though I’ve been kicked below the belt.”

At 37, McLintock knows that he is really only opening up a new phase of a career that has carried him to the top rank of Soccer professionalism.

A run of more than 600 league games which made him the perfect captain and an international player of skill, but above all, marvelous passion.

He probably walks straight into First Division management – a spectacular tribute to his character and his deeds. But whatever he achieves in football he knows that it will never be quite the same as the game which goes on out there on the pitch.

He says: “It’s a hollow feeling to think that I’ll never be out here again. For 20 years, playing has been everything to me. I’m an emotional man. And I’ve never had to fight those emotions more strongly today.”

Howard Kendall struck a superb 26th minute goal to give Birmingham a shock lead in last night’s 2-2 draw at Loftus Road.

Rangers got level early in the second-half when Don Masson crashed a spectacular high shot from 18 yards.

Then they took the lead in the 74th minute when Dave Webb rose at the far post to head home a left-wing cross from Dave Thomas.

Roy McDonagh headed an 88th minute equaliser for City.

Police battled to hold off hundreds of chanting QPR fans who invaded the Loftus Road pitch after the final whistle.

Dave Clement, the QPR defender, has withdrawn from the England squad for the Home Internationals and the summer tour of South America.

Clement, who has a hip injury, is the second Rangers player to drop out – Gerry Francis pulled out with a groin strain.’

After reaching the semi-final of the League Cup and the quarter-final of the UEFA Cup, the R’s finished the season in14th place of Division One.

Steve Russell

(Shown above is the front cover of the original match programme)

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