by Rollercoaster Ranger
I didn’t pick my name by chance, it is how I feel life is as a Q.P.R. supporter. We thunder along out of control, racing up and down, hurtling around blind corners. Personally I wouldn’t have it any other way. Comebacks, like last Wednesday night’s, are all part of this experience. So how does this one compare with other comebacks that spring to mind?
W.B.A. 2 – 3 Q.P.R. League Cup Final 1967
Before this match most of the country didn’t even know that Queens Park Rangers existed. Under Alec Stock’s shrewd guidance, Q.P.R. of the 3rd division fought their way through to play first division heavyweights West Bromwich Albion in the first League Cup Final to be held at Wembley Stadium. At half time the match was going as expected; West Brom were 2 goals up and cruising to a comfortable win, but the script got shredded in the second half. In the 63rd minute Roger Morgan headed home to reduce the deficit to one goal. 12 minutes later a young Rodney Marsh drove through the heart of the West Brom defence and thumped home a shot from the edge of the area to level the scores and with less than 10 minutes remaining the aptly named Mike Lazarus gleefully lashed home the loose ball in front of nearly 100,000 spectators after the West Brom goalkeeper had saved at the feet of Ron Hunt. In a remarkable turnaround, completely against the odds, Q.P.R. became the first 3rd division side to win the tournament. Has this come back ever been topped in the following 45 years?
Q.P.R. 5 – 5 Newcastle. September 1984
Inspired by Chris Waddle, Jack Charlton’s Newcastle United were 4 – 0 up at half time on the artificial pitch at Loftus Road. Rangers were dead and buried. Gary Bannister scored in the first few minutes of the second half and a Kenny Wharton own goal started to get the home crowd interested. With only 15 minutes remaining John Gregory pulled the score back to 3 – 4 as Rangers launched wave after wave of attacks on the Newcastle goal. Wharton made amends for his own goal by stretching Newcastle’s lead with a strike that should have knocked the stuffing out of Rangers with only 6 minutes left in the match. However Stevie Wicks responded almost immediately with a towering header from a free kick. With virtually the last kick of the match Gary Micklewhite burst through from midfield and coolly lobbed Kevin Carr in the Newcastle goal to level the scores. This was a tremendous fight back coming quickly on the back of a heavy defeat at Spurs the week before, but was early in the season, between two equal teams and not under the intense pressure of the modern day game.
Port Vale 4 – 4 Q.P.R. January 1997
Rangers were 4 – 0 down again at half time including a trademark Matt Brazier own goal. Port Vale returned the compliment and scored for us in the second half but with only 5 minutes to go the score was still 4 – 1. Andy Impey produced a stunning volley from the edge of the penalty area into the top corner of the goal to pull the score back to 4 – 2 and set up a barnstorming finish. Paul Murray calmly chipped the ball over Paul Musslewhite from Trevor Sinclair’s deft through ball and then John Spencer forced the ball over the line in the 90th minute after Musslewhite had produced a fine save from Daniele Dichio’s header to complete the comeback. This late, late comeback, regardless of how stunning it was at the time, has to be placed into context that it was in a league lower and not played against the back drop of impending relegation.
Derby 2 – 2 Q.P.R. August 2010
With 90 minutes on the clock Rangers were trailing 2 – 0 to Derby County. Like all of Neil Warnock’s sides, this particular Q.P.R. outfit never gave up and in the 92nd minute Patrick Agyemang powered through the Derby defence to pull a goal back. After Paddy Kenny had produced a magnificent save from James Bailey to keep the game alive, Jamie Mackie controlled a hopefully flicked header on his chest, turned inside the defence and slotted home to secure an incredibly unlikely draw. The team would have been brimming with confidence before this match after starting the season with three straight wins, and it did propel Rangers off on an undefeated run that lasted until December, but again it was early in the season without excessive pressure.
Q.P.R. 3 – 2 Liverpool Last Wednesday night
With only 10 matches remaining in the season and sitting uncomfortably in one of the relegation positions Rangers were losing 2 – 0 at home to a Liverpool side chasing a European place with only 15 minutes to go. The hard working, model professional Shaun Derry headed his first goal for five years to reduce the arrears and then French international striker Djibril Cisse rose above the Liverpool defence to head home Taye Taiwo’s cross to level the scores with just a few minutes remaining. In injury time the ball fell to Jamie Mackie who calmly fired home through Pepe Raina’s legs to secure 3 very valuable points in the battle against the drop. Before the match the players must have been desperately low in confidence, struggling under the pressure of impending relegation back to the Championship and were coming off the back of an appalling run of results and with a very difficult series of matches ahead. So is this Q.P.R.’s greatest comeback of all time? Even allowing for more recent events to naturally be given more prominence in anyone’s mind, if this match is the catalyst to Q.P.R. remaining in the Premier League then it surely must be.