‘Keep clear of Shepherd’s Bush tonight’ – QPR at Wembley 1967
Wednesday, 21st May 2014 20:52 by Clive Whittingham
Ahead of QPR’s first trip to Wembley in 28 years this Saturday, LFW looks back at the club’s four previous visits to the national stadium, starting with their only victory back in 1967.
QPR 3 West Brom 2, Saturday March 4, 1967, League Cup Final, Wembley
The 1960s and 1970s were glorious times to be a QPR fan by and large as the club moved from its previous status as Division Three South minnows into the big time and almost finished up as champions of England. There were ups and downs along the way of course but the club we know today was shaped during those two decades under the guidance of chairman Jim Gregory.
It was Gregory’s takeover of the club and the management of former army major Alec Stock that brought the R’s their one and only domestic cup triumph to date and two successive promotions. Stock had cup pedigree having famously knocked Sunderland out of the 1949 FA Cup while with Yeovil and his good work with the youth team at Loftus Road paid dividends when Gregory arrived and supplemented it with money for bigger name signings such as Les Allen from the double winning Spurs team, and Fulham pair Jim Langley and Rodney Marsh.
QPR started the 1966/67 Third Division season with a draw against Shrewsbury in the first match and a defeat to Watford in the second. It gave little indication of what was to follow as Alec Stock’s team went onto secure a historic league and cup double, winning promotion into the Second Division and claiming the League Cup at Wembley into the bargain.
The run to a two legged semi-final with Birmingham City had been long and arduous. A famous 4-2 giant killing against Leicester City with goals from Rodney Marsh, Les Allen and Mark Lazarus had been the highlight but Rangers had also ploughed through Colchester, who’d been vanquished 5-0 with four goals from Marsh; Aldershot, where a replay at Loftus Road was required after a 1-1 draw away from home; Swansea Town, who were beaten by goals from defenders Mike Keen and Tony Hazell; and Carlisle United.
Birmingham were a Second Division side themselves, managed by Stan Cullis and backed by millionaire owner Clifford Coombs. They’d spent big on Bert Murray and Barry Bridges from Chelsea and Nottingham Forest winger Trevor Hockey among others and were therefore heavy favourites in the semi-final and in fact led 1-0 at half time in the first leg up at St Andrews. But QPR cut loose in the second half, with Allen, Marsh and Lazarus on the scoresheet again along with Roger Morgan in a 4-1 win. That set up a second leg at Loftus Road where QPR simply had to see the job through.
Initially there were nerves, with Birmingham throwing caution to the wind. But ten minutes after half time Rodney Marsh turned and hit an instinctive snap shot that caught goalkeeper Jim Herriot badly positioned and flat footed. Now 5-1 on aggregate there really was no way back for the visitors. Inside right Eric Barber did find an equaliser for them but gaps started to appear as they chased the impossible creating space for Mike Keen to head home Roger Morgan’s cross and Marsh to stride onto Hazell’s pass and smash in a third.
Rangers had destroyed Birmingham all over again, winning 3-1 to seal a 7-2 aggregate success.
This was a truly exceptional QPR team that not only boasted Allen, Langley and Marsh, who scored ten goals in the eight games leading up to the final, but also included great QPR favourites like Mark Lazarus, Roger and Ian Morgan, Mike Keen and Frank Sibley.
In the final however they came up against their toughest test yet, First Division West Bromwich Albion and their legendary striker Jeff Astle in front of 98,000 fans. By half time the game had gone much according to the script with the Baggies two goals to the good thanks to a brace from Clive Clark who’d played previously for QPR and would return to Loftus Road later in his career. Clark scored after seven minutes, collecting Doug Fraser’s pass and firing past Peter Springett, and then again before half time after sneaking through the Rangers’ offside trap.
But miraculously Rangers fought back in the second half. The warning signs had been there in the first half when Marsh had an acrobatic overhead kick disallowed for offside and West Brom were living on their nerves when Roger Morgan scored with a header on the hour from Allen’s free kick. Then Marsh scored one of the all-time great Wembley goals from long range after a mazy dribble through the West Brom half with 15 minutes still left to play. The Baggies felt aggrieved that the crucial third goal was allowed by referee Walter Crossley, Mark Lazarus slamming the ball home after centre half Ron Hunt put in a physical challenge on the goalkeeper Shepherd, but there was no stopping Rangers by this point and the cup was theirs.
Interest in the competition had been dwindling prior to this, and a place in the Fairs Cup (later the UEFA Cup) was added as a prize to give teams and incentive to compete more for the trophy. QPR though were denied their first European entry because of their lowly league status and West Brom went forward into Europe instead. The League Cup was only just the beginning though – Rangers won the Third Division title that year and rocketed straight through the Second Division into the First the following season.
QPR: Springett, Hazell, Langley, Hunt, Keen, Sibley, Sanderson, R Morgan, Lazarus, Allen, Marsh.
Roger Morgan later told The Times: "The young players would inspire each other. There were about five or six of us who had grown up together, and there was tremendous team spirit. Alec was prepared to put his faith in youth, but we learnt from the experienced players around us."
The late Mike Keen, club captain on the day, added: "Even though we were in the Third Division, we were playing some quality football, and there was a good attitude in the team. We had come back from 2-0 down in other games that season and were told to simply go out and enjoy the day.”
Winning goal scorer Mark Lazarus told the http://www.fansnetwork.co.uk/football/queensparkrangers/news/31902/carry-on-rele All R’s Podcast: “It was a magical day all the way round: 2-0 down, winning 3-2, it doesn’t get any better than that. Our cup final was just getting there, it was beating Birmingham over two legs, when we went to Wembley and came in 2-0 at half time, other times Alec Stock would have done his nut and mainly have picked on me, but at Wembley there wasn’t much said. He said go out and enjoy yourselves, this is our day.”
Frank Sibley told the club’s matchday programme this season: “Alec had a unique style. He wasn’t a coach-type manager. But he knew how to manage men and that has been proven as he did very well at Queens Park Rangers. Alec was a very honest and intelligent man. He used to frighten us at times. But he was a real good bloke. I will always remember that I got injured in the semi-final when someone ran their stud right down my right thigh. So Ron Woolnough, our physio, said to Alec Stock, ‘Alec, he’ll have to come off. He’s losing too much blood.’ But Alec came over to me and he said, ‘You’re alright son, aren’t ya?’ And I replied, ‘Yes, Alec.’ That was the sort of bloke he was. He commanded total respect from all his players.”
Earlier this week we asked fans who had been at the game to come forward and tell us their memories of the day. The response was outstanding. Read the full thread http://www.fansnetwork.co.uk/football/queensparkrangers/forum/112908/your-help-n or a selection of contributions below…
QPRSludger: The highlight of the run up was undoubtedly the 4-2 v Leicester followed closely by Mark Lazarus’ run up the wing in his jockstrap v Carlisle
I was 13 and the brother of a school friend of ours got the tickets. I remember waiting frantically for him to come home on the day of the final, watching the walk go past in East Acton.
We were at the Rangers end just to the right of the tunnel where the teams come out. The atmosphere was fantastic - I'm getting goose bumps now.
The things I can remember are the beating of the drum and what seemed like the whole ground singing ‘Rooodneeeeee’. That chant wasn't really about Rodney, it was like a war chant that encompassed who we were at that time.
I remember crying at half time and wondering how an ex QPR player could be so cruel to score two goals against his ex-club on such an occasion. The Morgan header from a corner was the start. Rodney's goal was, and still is, the best goal I have seen scored at Wembley. I remember Ron Hunt clattered the goalie and was lucky to get away with it - Lazarus turning away…
I was too young to go to the pub afterwards but got home and watched the replay that night with my mum and dad.
Sudbury Hill R: I'd only months before been taken to my first R's game in October 1966 as a seven year old (beat Leyton Orient 4-1) and back then used to go to more Reserve games as they were safer and were very popular with good crowds. I remember the semi-final as dad went to Birmingham for the second leg. The result, although obviously brilliant was somewhat tarnished by the death of some R's fans returning south by car. I can't remember the full details now but this stuck in my mind more than the result, even to this day.
I remember when final tickets were on sale, myself and older brother pleading to go to the game. You could queue outside Ellerslie during the day for tickets but also, Jim Gregory, never one to miss a quick buck, put tickets on sale inside the ground during an evening Reserve team game meaning you had to pay to get in before joining the queue for final tickets. It would have only been pennies but it all adds up. In those days you could also buy tickets directly from the Wembley Box Office in person. All of the admin offices and changing rooms were under the old Ellerslie Road stand back then as no other stand had been built.
Adult terrace tickets were five shillings (25p) and the best seat in the house 25 shillings (£1.25p).
On the day of the game four of us went in my cousin’s very old Ford Anglia and eventually entered the stadium. Can you imagine the look on my face? Dad thought it safer if us kids were at the very back but obviously didn't factor in that we wouldn't see anything as we were only small. He then managed to clear away the barbed wire from on top of the wall and sat us high up for a great view.
The actual game is now a blur part from the winning goal as we didn't know if it had been allowed and kept looking at the man in the white coat to see if he changed the score at the far end scoreboard.
I wasn't old enough to celebrate much but I was excited about a large helium balloon given to me after the game by the vendor who was using it as a display. He said he wanted to cheer me up thinking I was a West Brom fan. I had it for weeks after until my brother popped it. I was distraught.
Worton Ranger I went to all the home games. The highlight was the game v Leicester where the impossible became possible. At school all my friends supported the big London teams (at the time Spurs were the natural home of the glory hunters). There were household names in the Leicester team like Gordon Banks and Derek Dougan. My best memory was when we scored after the ball hit the bar bounced onto Banks and went into the net. I was sat on a crush barrier supported by my dad (couldn't see otherwise) and nearly fell off.
I’ve no idea how we got tickets, but we were to the left of the goal where all the goals went in I had made a white flag out of a sheet with QPR on it in black tape. I managed to waft it over the people in front spoiling their view. I like to kid myself that it can be seen on the video of the game. I remember not understanding why Rodney's first half ‘goal’ didn't stand and thinking it was a foul leading up to the winner. My son (a fellow R of course) now works with Jay who helped to make and carry the famous coffin and will be there on Saturday.
At school I wrote a 26 page account of the game for English that helped me to win a prize (beating Michael Portillo and Clive Anderson by the way and look where they ended up!).
R’s Staines: Highlight would probably be the game at Birmingham - packed like sardines but what an atmosphere.
There was about 20 of us that went and queued for tickets outside the ground in Ellerslie Road about 11pm after we had been to the pub. We had a car parked up the road so took it in turns to go and have a kip. Sometime during the night a bit of a kick about started and then the police turned up told us to keep the noise down and then joined in the kick about.
The atmosphere was incredible and then there goals went in and the fans went a bit quiet but as we came back into the game and our goals went in and that chant of ‘Rodnee, Rodnee’ grew and grew.
I took a three foot copper hunting horn with me (imagine trying to take that into Wembley on Saturday) and my Gran had made this banner out of a blue and white hooped blanket with QPR and a silver cup on it. I wasn't great at playing that thing but it did make a lot of noise.
We made our way back to Shepherds Bush and I think we might have stopped a few times for some liquid refreshment on the way and then it became a bit of a haze until very late the next day.
ShotKneesHoop: Most frustrating moment? In the days of pre Sky, there was no rolling news. The semi-final first leg at Birmingham was a 19.30 midweek kick off. BBC did not announce the result, but ran a midweek football highlights special in black and white at 22.00 on BBC1 and the whole family was watching in the front room - plus Auntie Vi doing the ironing . Birmingham had gone into an early 1 -0 lead at St Andrews and with Lazarus rushing down the wing, and about to cross the ball to Les Allen in the box, Auntie Vi finished the ironing, switched off the iron and then pulled out the electric plug ...... to the TV. Screams of abuse at her from the Shot Knees family as the screen went blank so she said "If you don't appreciate what I've done, I'm going home" so she stormed out the door. By the time the TV set had warmed up, we'd missed the first two goals, but there was jumping around as we realised that we'd won 4 -1 that night. We got her to go to Wembley as recompense, but I don't think she knew the damage she did that night.
CyprusMel: Although the Leicester game was a cracker, for me the best was Birmingham away 4-1 win, we were a few minutes late because of traffic and had just parked our backsides down when Barry Bridges scored but in those bygone days it didn't matter because of the quality of the team you were always going to be able to get one back.
As an aside eight of us were traveling up to Birmingham meeting at Gypsy Corner and I asked my dad Len to arrange for a mini bus to take us there. He turns up with a 52 seater coach. I said dad there are only nine of us including you and he said “I know son but it's all I could get.”
Even after Clark scored his second Rangers had chances and just before half time Les Allen had a shot which hit the crossbar and went over. As the two teams came off the field at half time there was a marked attitude between the sides, West Brom looked serious and thoughtful and Rangers came off all smiles and waving at friends and family in the crowd as though they knew it wasn't over by a long way.
It wasn't over by a long way and when Morgan nodded in you felt the crowd urging the team on and the noise levels rose once more, even the most pessimistic of fans thought yes, we can do this. That wonderful piece of magic by Rodney which went in off the post to make it 2-2 and by the way he said after the game that he aimed for the post and with the silky skills he was gifted with who's to say he didn't.
The winner as you all probably know came from a bizarre situation when Ron Hunt who was told not to go forward by Alec Stock chased a loose ball, collided with the Brom goalie the ball fell to Mark Lazurus who gleefully dispatched it into the net, cue unprecedented noise levels. The game ends and we are the cup winners. Many Rangers fans were in tears with the emotional turmoil of the match and as a nineteen year old I was very close myself. The celebration took place in our house on the Harold Wesley estate in Park Royal NW10 with a nice cup of tea.
CFW: My love affair with Rangers started in the early 1960'w when when Les Allen was transferred from Spurs. Les and his family lived a few doors along the road to my parents and were good friends with us. My dad used to take me to watch him when he played for Spurs and then one day he told my dad he was going to QPR a small club who were then in the third division (old money)!!
I can remember my dad driving Les and myself to the games, in the bar afterwards having drinks with Mr Langley (as I used to call him) and all the other players - a small bar under the stands. We would wait for a couple of hours before the three of us driving home - these were great days and everyone at the club were so friendly and welcoming it was like being part of the team.
I was only 14 when the League Cup started and I managed to go to every match home and away except the Leicester match which I think was an evening match and I had to go to school the next day and was told it would be too late for me. Real shame because Les had a real good game and scored.
I remember the long trip to Birmingham - my dad paying some young thug to look after his car during the match, not a very nice area. Great game and I remember it pouring with rain on the way home and my dad's wipers packing up. He drove all the way home really without being able to see - god knows why!!!
The final was a real good day. Les sorted out a coach for the large Allen family and selected friends along with tickets. This was my first trip to Wembley and I remember the Lazuras brothers sitting close to me thinking they were proper gangsters. Mark's mum was a large Jewish lady who was no nice and always asked me how I was and I enjoyed speaking to her every other week when I saw her at the club.
The game itself was fantastic - I remember crying at half time being 2-0 down but I also remember the wonderful rush and pleasure winning the game 3-2. That day will live with me for ever. I still have the local newspaper clippings with photographs of the coach getting ready to head for the match.
My dad is now 88 and although he is a Gooner he still speaks to Les from time to time and I saw him a few years ago at my parents Diamond wedding anniversary party that I organised for them. Spoke to him for most of the night to be honest!!
Because we also knew Clive my oldest son supports the R's and my twins Spurs due to Clive being there when they first started following football. One of them spoke to Clive in Homebase recently and he can still remember playing football in my parents back garden.
That time at Rangers was so special to me - money has changed football - not for the better in some cases. I loved those four years when they were promoted, bought in Marsh etc and wish the club was still the same. Not sure how we will do against Derby but will still be hoping for a good result.
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