Bircham's stoppage time winner - History
Thursday, 29th Oct 2015 00:40 by Clive Whittingham
As QPR head to Brentford for the first time in a decade on Friday night, LFW looks back at Marc Bircham's last second scorcher there from the Ian Holloway era.
Brentford 1 QPR 1, Saturday February 14, 2004, Second Division
QPR were on their way to winning promotion rom the Second Division when these sides last met on Valentine’s Day 2004. Brentford, in lower midtable, were at the tale end of Wally Downes tenure as manager. But the game was much more even than it should have been on paper. Rangers, following the recent departure of coaching mastermind Kenny Jackett, had developed a worrying tendency to try and sit back on single goal leads and the latest surrender of points occurred when Kevin O’Connor equaliser Paul Furlong’s first strike straight after half time.
Brentford: A Julian, M Dobson, I Sonko, J Kitamirike, M Somner, A Rougier, J Tabb, E Hutchinson, S Hunt, B May, K O'Connor
Subs not used: A Frampton, T Wright, L Blackman, M Peters, S Nelson
Goals: O’Connor 51
QPR: C Day, T Forbes, M Rose, C Carlisle, G Padula, M Rowlands, S Palmer, M Bircham, K Gallen, P Furlong, E Sabin (J Cureton, 75)
Subs not used: M Ifura, D Marney, T Thorpe, N Culkin
Goals: Furlong 20
QPR 1 Brentford 0, Tuesday November 11, 2003, Second Division
Earlier in the season Rangers won a hotly contested midweek game at Loftus Road thanks to a typical poacher’s goal from Tony Thorpe just before half time. This one always remembered by the visiting fans for Marc Bircham and Martin Rowlands taunting them at the end with badge kissing and celebrations in front of the School End – Rowlands had moved from Brentford to Rangers on a free transfer the season before.
QPR: C Day, R Edghill (S Palmer, 75), T Forbes, C Carlisle, G Padula, M Rowlands (G Ainsworth, 69), M Bean, M Bircham, K McLeod, T Thorpe, K Gallen
Subs not used: R Pacquette, N Culkin, E Sabin
Goals: Thorpe 42
Bookings: Carlisle, Bircham
Brentford: P Smith, M Dobson, J Kitamirike, I Sonko, M Somner, K O'Connor yellow card (T Wright, 66), E Hutchinson, J Tabb (S Evans, 66), S Hunt, B May (M Harrold, 81), A Rougier
Subs not used: J Smith, A Julian
Bookings: Somner, O’Connor, Hunt
Head to Head >>> Brentford wins 21 >>> Draws 23 >>> QPR wins 21
2003/04 Brentford 1 QPR 1 (Furlong)
2003/04 QPR 1 Brentford 0 (Thorpe)
2002/03 Brentford 1 QPR 2 (Shittu, Bircham)
2002/03 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Bircham)
2001/02 Brentford 0 QPR 0
2001/02 QPR 0 Brentford 0
1965/66 QPR 1 Brentford 0 (R Morgan)
1965/66 Brentford 6 QPR 1 (R Morgan)
1964/65 Brentford 5 QPR 2 (I Morgan, Keen)
1964/65 QPR 1 Brentford 3 (Keen)
1963/64 QPR 2 Brentford 2 (Bedford 2)
1963/64 Brentford 2 QPR 2 (Bedford 2)
1961/62 Brentford 1 QPR 4 (Bedford 2, McCelland, Reeves og)
1961/62 QPR 3 Brentford 0 (Towers, Bedford, Evans)
1960/61 Brentford 2 QPR 0
1960/61 QPR 0 Brentford 0
1959/60 Brentford 1 QPR 1 (Golding)
1959/60 QPR 2 Brentford 4 (Bedford 2)
1958/59 Brentford 1 QPR 0
1958/59 QPR 1 Brentford 2 (Kerrins)
1957/58 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Cameron)
1957/58 QPR 1 Brentford 0 (Petchley)
1956/57 QPR 2 Brentford 2 (Longbottom, Dargie og)
1956/57 Brentford 2 QPR 0
1955/56 Brentford 2 QPR 0
1955/56 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Cameron)
1954/55 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Clark)
1954/55 Brentford 1 QPR 1 (Clark)
1951/52 Brentford 0 QPR 0
1951/52 Brentford 3 QPR 1* (Shepherd)
1951/51 QPR 3 Brentford 1 (Gilberb, Shepherd, Smith)
1950/51 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Davies)
1950/51 Brentford 2 QPR 1 (Addinall)
1949/50 Brentford 0 QPR 2 (Hatton, Wardle)
1949/50 QPR 3 Brentford 3 (Pattison 2, Pointon)
1948/49 Brentford 0 QPR 3 (Hudson, Pointon, Duggan)
1948/49 QPR 2 Brentford 0 (Hartburn, Hudson)
1945/46 Brentford 0 QPR 0*
1945/46 QPR 1 Brentford 3* (Pattison)
1932/33 Brentford 2 QPR 0
1932/33 QPR 2 Brentford 3 (Goddard, Brown)
1931/32 QPR 1 Brentford 2 (Cribb)
1931/32 Brentford 1 QPR 0
1930/31 QPR 3 Brentford 1 (Goddard, Howe)
1930/31 Brentford 5 QPR 3 (Coward, Wiles, Nixon)
1929/30 Brentford 3 QPR 0
1929/30 QPR 2 Brentford 1 (Rounce, Goddard)
1928/29 Brentford 2 QPR 2 (Coward, Herod og)
1928/29 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Smith)
1927/28 Brentford 0 QPR 3 (Goddard 2, Burns)
1927/28 QPR 2 Brentford 3 (Lofthouse 2)
1926/27 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Hawley)
1926/27 Brentford 4 QPR 2 (Patterson, Goddard)
1925/26 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Burgess)
1925/26 Brentford 1 QPR 2 (Johnson, Birch)
1924/25 QPR 1 Brentford 0 (C Brown)
1924/25 Brentford 0 QPR 1 (H Brown)
1923/24 Brentford 0 QPR 1 (Birch)
1923/24 QPR 1 Brentford 0 (Parker)
1922/23 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Marsden)
1922/23 Brentford 1 QPR 3 (Parker 2, Birch)
1921/22 QPR 1 Brentford 1 (Smith)
1921/22 Brentford 5 QPR 1 (Birch)
1920/21 QPR 1 Brentford 0 (Birch)
1920/21 Brentford 0 QPR 2 (Smith 2)
* - FA Cup
Brentford 1 QPR 2, Saturday April 19, 2003, Second Division
Ian Holloway will be part of the Sky Sports team covering Friday’s match, and he could certainly tell Chris Ramsey a thing or two about coming into a Brentford QPR game under pressure.
Holloway is remembered fondly in W12 for his playing days, but more so his time as manager when he picked a club up off its knees, built one of the most fondly remembered teams in the club’s recent histories, and promoted it back into the second tier with a fine 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday in May 2004. But would he have been allowed to get there, or even to the play-off final defeat to Cardiff the year before, by present day QPR?
After all, when Rangers faced Brentford at Loftus Road just before Christmas in 2001 they’d gone 11 matches without a win. This was no ordinary run either – it included two cracks at Vauxhall Motors in the FA Cup culminating in a penalty shoot-out defeat in the replay, a 4-0 loss at home to Cardiff, a 3-0 shellacking at Notts County, a 0-0 draw against a Luton side that had one man sent off after 30 minutes and another just after half time leaving them to play the whole second half with nine men and survive as Brett Angell lumbered about the place…
The QPR board at the time kept faith with their man. Chief scout Mel Johnson got his little black book out again and produced a young Lee Cook on loan from Watford. The 1-1 draw at home to the Bees stretched the winless run to a dirty dozen, but Marc Bircham had opened the scoring and it felt like Holloway was making progress once more.
The club’s reward for that faith shown in its manager came after Christmas, with a winning run almost as remarkable as the catastrophe that had gone before it. Gino Padula, largely ignored to this point, came into the side because of injuries and cemented his place and cult hero status with swashbuckling displays from left back. Paul Furlong, a boo-boy target to this point for his Chelsea past, started to score and couldn’t stop.
The wins were scrappy at first – successive 1-0’s at home to Stockport and Barnsley in instantly forgettable encounters, an antirational 2-0 at Peterborough, a last-gasp Richard Pacquette goal for a 1-0 at Plymouth. But they were wins all the same, consecutive wins, and confidence was building. Rangers really hit their stride in a howling gale at Chesterfield, scoring four times to warm the cockles of the exposed faithful on the terrace behind the Saltergate goal. A week later they ran four through Port Vale at Loftus Road.
The team was really starting to motor. Furlong was sublime in a 3-0 win at Huddersfield, Cook likewise in a 4-1 at home to Cheltenham and although he then had to return to Watford at the end of his three months, Johnson came up trumps again with Everton’s Kevin McLeod and the run continued. Richard Langley scored a memorable hat trick in a win at Blackpool, and then a last-second winner that went down well at the old Ninian Park ground a week later.
Holloway’s Rangers were now in the hunt for the final play-off spot but were hamstrung by the autumn results. Ordinarily their form would have been good enough for automatic promotion but they found themselves in a remarkable two-way battle with Tranmere for the final spot. Rovers had already taken six points from Rangers and didn’t lose any of their final 15 games of the season. Everytime QPR won, Tranmere won as well.
On April 19, QPR had the added complication of a London derby to contend with. Brentford have enough beef with QPR as it is but the fires had been stoked by two tightly fought fixtures the season before. The chairman at Griffin Park at the time, Ron Noades, had also complained to the Football League about Rangers being able to sign Danny Shittu from Charlton for a fee while still in administration – the generous Winton family footing the cost of the deal. Brentford thought they had Shittu in the bag themselves and were disappointed to miss out. The complaint subsequently led to a change in the rules forbidding clubs in admin from signing players for fees, and further stoked tensions as the Rangers fans massed behind the goal on the then-open Ealing Road terrace.
Things looked good when Shittu rubbed salt into the wounds by climbing high to head home in typically emphatic fashion from an eighth minute corner, and then running the length of the field with his shirt off to celebrate. But Brentford, managed by QPR fan Wally Downes, stuck to their task and forced a scrappy equaliser nine minutes from time through Mark Peters. As news filtered through that the full time whistle had gone at Notts County and Tranmere had won 1-0 – a twelfth match without defeat – it felt like a decisive blow had been struck.
In fact, that was still to come.
Deep into stoppage time, in front of the QPR fans, Padula swung over a final corner. It was flicked half clear at the near post and ordinarily such balls drift away to nothing. On this occasion though, for reasons known only to himself, born and bred QPR fan Marc Bircham had peeled away and loitered in the far corner of the penalty box. Not noted for his attacking ability or goalscoring, few would have expected what came next. Bircham drew back his foot, lowered his head over the ball and executed a technically perfect half volley back through the crowded area and plum into the postage stamp top corner.
Standing directly behind the goal, halfway up the terrace, I remember a split second of silence as we took in what had happened. Then absolute pandemonium. Fans spilled out onto the pitch almost as quickly and euphorically as the players were trying to climb in with the fans. The whole scene was complete carnage. QPR had won.
They kept winning as well, and in fact were so pre-occupied with the Tranmere race for sixth didn’t realise quite how close they were getting to second. But for a 0-0 draw in the final home match against Crewe, when referee Andy Hall produced his annual hatchet job on the Rangers team and dismissed two players – Clarke Carlisle for the heinous crime of failing to retreat at a free kick and then challenging the goalkeeper for a cross – the final day 2-1 win at Colchester would have sealed automatic promotion.
Defeat in the play-off final at Cardiff followed but Holloway added Gareth Ainsworth to one side of his team that summer and, just to sooth the waters a little, Martin Rowlands from Brentford to the other and won automatic promotion with a much stronger team and squad a year later.
Brentford: P Smith, M Dobson, I Sonko, S Marshall, M Somner, K O'Connor, J Tabb, J Fullarton, S Hunt, M Antoine-Curier (S Evans, 68), M Peters
Subs not used: M Williams, L Fieldwick, A Julian, A Frampton
Goals: Peters 81
QPR: C Day, S Kelly, C Carlisle, D Shittu, G Padula, R Langley, S Palmer, M Bircham, K McLeod, P Furlong, K Gallen
Subs not used: A Thomson, T Williams, N Culkin, R Pacquette, M Rose
Goals: Shittu 8, Bircham 90
Bookings: Bircham, Shittu, Kelly
Referee: Howard Webb
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