Remembering Ray Jones - History
Monday, 7th Aug 2017 11:36 by Clive Whittingham
Ahead of Northampton's visit on Tuesday we look back at a meeting between these sides in this competition from 2006 when the late Ray Jones announced his arrival on the QPR scene.
QPR 3 Northampton Town 2, Tuesday August 22, 2006, League Cup First Round
The last time these sides met, at the same stage of the same competition on the same ground as tomorrow night, Rangers were under the guidance of rookie boss Gary Waddock.
The Ian Holloway reign which had rebuilt the squad, revitalised the club, restored Championship status and brought the feel-good factor back had turned sour. Money was tight and getting tighter, Gianni Paladini had used Antonio Caliendo and Dunga to oust QPR supporting Mark Devlin and Bill Power from the board. There’d been the whole episode with Ramon Diaz apparently coming in to replace Holloway, then a suggestion Holloway himself may up and go to Wolves, and then finally the ‘gardening leave’ nonsense when Holloway was linked with the Leicester City job.
On the pitch things had gone rather stale. The worsening financial situation, and Paladini’s “Italian way” of running the club had seen some weird and wonderful signings coming through the doors. The quality of football wasn’t particularly good to watch and there was a feeling around that Holloway simply hadn’t been as good since his assistant Kenny Jackett left to be a manager in his own right at Swansea. Waddock was appointed promising a more attractive, attacking brand of football sparking a row with Holloway, with whom he’d worked as reserve manager, when he moved on to Plymouth.
Waddock, assisted by the late, great Alan McDonald, started well with wins over Millwall and Sheffield United but failed to win any of the last dozen games in 2005/06. The usual excuses about “getting my players in” and “judge me on my team” were trotted out, but QPR simply weren’t in a financial position to do a complete overhaul of a squad and keep it at Championship standard. The decision to ostracise senior players like Marc Bircham and Steve Lomas while relying on Paladini to bring in new players backfired when the likes of Armel Tchakounte, Nick Ward, Egutu Oliseh, Adam Czerkas and Zesh Rehman arrived – all way below the standard required for the level.
But Waddock was able to bring in Dexter Blackstock, and get Lee Cook playing some of the best football of his career, and so with a win over Southend and draws with Leeds and at Preston secured following an opening day defeat, a routine win against Northampton Town at Loftus Road seemed on the cards when Cook and Kevin Gallen scored either side of half time to make it 2-0.
Rangers hadn’t won a cup game of any sorts for two years prior to this though and they allowed second half goals from Jerome Watt and Andy Kirk to draw the Cobblers level.
Step forward another one of the positives from a very difficult period for the club. Young striker Ray Jones – a tall, athletic, giant of a boy – stepped off the bench five minutes from time and within 120 seconds he’d powerfully headed in a late winner to prevent extra time. Waddock had worked with Jones at youth level as part of a team that also contained the likes of Pat Kanyuka and Stefan Bailey and had, to admiring glances from Lawrence Dallaglio and his Wasps team, physically battered and comprehensively beaten Tottenham’s youth side at the club’s Acton training ground.
Although Marcus Bean had come through and played reasonably well, Jones was the first time since Richard Langley that a local boy had stepped out of QPR’s youth set up with a genuine touch of quality and class about him. Quick, powerful, good in the air, brave, unintimidated, with an eye for goal and a steady first touch, Rangers had a real prospect on their hands. Waddock fell on his sword after a dreadful September culminated in defeat at Port Vale in the next round of the League Cup. Paladini turned to his friend John Gregory as his replacement and Gregory quickly realised the best way forward would be to pair Jones and Blackstock together in a mobile, threatening, youthful attack that could feast on the chances being laid on a plate each week by Cook on one wing and Ainsworth on the other.
Jones and Blackstock both scored in Gregory’s first match – a 2-0 home win against Hull – and then the rookie forward bagged the most memorable goal of his tragically short career, robbing Kelvin Davis by the corner flag and sliding in from an impossible angle as the R’s won 2-1 at Southampton.
There was a last-second winner at Cardiff and another three points won with a header against Colchester. Jones though started to drift out of the team towards the end of the season amidst stories of clashes with Gregory and a bit of a big-time attitude. Rangers were on their knees by the start of the following season, financially stricken and with a dreadful starting 11, but Jones still wasn’t included in the matchday squad. Tragically that meant he was free to head out with his friends on the Friday night before a trip to Burnley and he was the driver in a high speed collision with a bus that killed him and two others in the early hours, a week before he would have turned 19.
QPR lost Ray and Kiyan Prince, stabbed outside his school, in quick succession and it is always tempting when footballers are taken so young to over-egg how good they were and would have gone on to be. In actual fact, rather than become the new Les Ferdinand at Loftus Road it’s likely Jones was about to be sold to Colchester United for £250,000 to keep the club limping along for another couple of weeks. But he was certainly an enormously talented kid taken tragically early.
QPR: Cole 6, Bignot 7, Stewart 6 (Kanyuka 90), Rehman 7, Howell 7, Bailey 7, Bircham 6 (Ray Jones 84), Baidoo 7, Cook 8*, Gallen 6 (Oliseh 76, 6), Blackstock 7.
Subs not used: Paul Jones, Donnelly
Booked: Ray Jones
Goals: Cook 18, Gallen 47, Ray Jones 87
Northampton: Bunn 7, Crowe 5, Chambers 6, Kirk 7, Aiston 7, Jess 7, Burnell 6, Brett Johnson 6 (Bojic 68, 5), Dyche 6, Bradley Johnson 5 (Watt 46, 7), Quinn 6 (Gilligan 85)
Subs not used: Harper, Cross
Goals: Watt 54, Kirk 77
Northampton 3 QPR 0, Tuesday August 23, 2005, League Cup First Round
A typically hideous QPR performance in the early rounds of a cup competition clashed head on with a vintage Andy Hall refereeing display as the R’s were thrashed 3-0 at Northampton at the first stage of this competition back in 2005. As you would expect from a back four of Ugo Ukah, Mauro Milanese, Dom Shimmin and Ian Evatt, Rangers were all over the place in defence and conceded to Andy Kirk and Scott McLeish either side of a harsh sending off for Evatt. Hall, who has a long and inglorious history refereeing QPR fixtures, awarded Eric Sabin a penalty in injury time which the Frenchman converted himself just to really put the tin hat on the evening.
Northampton: Bunn 7, Crowe 7, Chambers 7, Taylor 7, Kirk 9 (Dudfield 80, 7) McGleish 9 (Sabin 72, 8) Low 8 (Gilligan 84, - ) Jess 8, Hunt 8, Dyche 9, Bojic 8
Subs not used: Harper, Galbraith
Scorers - Kirk 29, McGliesh 63, Sabin (pen) 90 +1
Rangers: Royce 3, Ukah 2, Millanese 5, Shimmin 4, Evatt 6, Bircham 6, (Baidoo 58, 6) Bean 4 , Miller 3, Brown 4 (Bignot 46, 6) Gallen 6, Moore 6
Subs not used: Cole, Hislop, Bailey
Booked - Miller, Bean, Moore, Ukah
Sent Off - Evatt
Head to Head >>> QPR wins 26 >>> Draws 9 >>> Northampton wins 30
2006/07 QPR 3 Northampton 2* (Cook, Gallen, Jones)
Eric Sabin >>> QPR 2003-2004 >>> Northampton 2004-2005
The return of Mel Johnson to Loftus Road just as Ian Holloway gears up for a first full season in charge in his second stint at the club stirred memories of the summer of 2001 when the pair of them, along with Kenny Jackett, assembled a QPR team, almost from scratch, for the forthcoming Second Division season.
Relegated, in administration, with only eight senior players under contract (and two of them nursing season-long ACL ruptures) Rangers plundered all corners of Europe looking for free transfers that had slipped down to the bottom of the bargain bucket. Over three seasons they had an astonishingly high success rate, with the likes of Martin Rowlands, Lee Cook, Danny Shittu, Steve Palmer, Chris Day, Lee Camp, Gareth Ainsworth, Marc Bircham, Kevin Gallen, Paul Furlong, Terrell Forbes, Gino Padula and Aziz Ben Askar coming together to form a team that re-united the club and promoted it back into the second tier of English football.
There were some weird and wonderful names lost to the ages along the way as well – Hamidd Barr and Leroy Griffiths came from non-league, Dave McEwen from Spurs reserves, Steve Lovell came on loan from Portsmouth only to join Dundee permanently before he’d had chance to play a game. There were some who came on trial who didn’t get deals but went on to excel elsewhere – Martin Bullock and Mamady Sidibe caused Rangers problems for Blackpool and Swansea.
And then there were some, inevitably, who didn’t really work out. Lanky French striker Eric Sabin was one of those.
Rangers lost 3-1 at Swindon in 2002/03 with Sabin tearing up one wing and terrorising Rangers feeding balls into Sam Parkin, a QPR fan who nevertheless seemed to really enjoy smacking goals in against us for various clubs (including Northampton) around this time. When Sabin became available that summer QPR decided to add him to their attack, hoping to get a bit of that raw, direct, pacey attacking play for themselves.
Swindon manager Andy King once compared Sabin, who’d kicked round in the third tier of French football before moving to The County Ground from Nimes, to Thierry Henry. Despite this, and his impressive showings against QPR, he mostly wasn’t very good for Town with just nine goals in 67 appearances. Swindon Town website The Washbag describes Sabin’s move to Loftus Road as “inexplicable” and QPR fans were soon finding out why.
Sabin did not play often (six starts, ten sub appearances) and when he did it was mostly unremarkable/traumatic. He will, however, always be remembered in West London for a sizzling one-yarder in the very last minute of an away game at Grimsby. It was QPR’s first ever win at Blundell Park in 17 attempts, a crucial three points in the promotion push, and sparked wild celebrations behind the goal which spilled out onto the pitch.
After a brief and unsuccessful loan at Boston United, Sabin was offloaded on a free transfer to Northampton where a goalscoring record of 15 in 46 starts and 22 sub appearances is relatively respectable compared to what had gone before. Typically, in a way only QPR seem to be able to master, one of those goals was against Rangers in a 3-0 League Cup humping at Sixfields Stadium in 2005.
Sabin, motivated by facing a former team, suddenly went back to looking like bloody Thierry Henry again for the evening, terrorising Ian Evatt and converting his own penalty in the second half. Afterwards Holloway said: "I'm disappointed in Eric, of course I am. He knows the truth. He has been sent off in the past for diving, his own manager told me that.”
Still we’ll always have Grimsby eh? Sabin wrapped his career up in the UK with a positively prolific nine goals in 34 appearances for Oxford United before stints with AC Arles and Nimes where it all began back in France. He wont here international caps for Martinique in his time – scoring four times according to Wikipedia although I find that hard to believe.
Others >>> Darnell Furlong, QPR 2014-Present, Northampton (loan) 2015 >>> Paddy Kenny, Northampton 2016-2017, QPR 2010-2012 >>> Kyle Walker, QPR (loan) 2010-2011, Northampton (loan) 2008 >>> Josh Parker, Northampton (loan) 2010, QPR 2008-2011 >>> Antonio German, Northampton (loan) 2014, QPR 2009-2011 >>> John Curtis, Northampton 2009-2010, QPR 2007-2008 >>> Ollie Burgess, Northampton 2003-2004, QOPR 2000-2003 >>> Giles Coke, Northampton 2007-2009, QPR 2000-2004 >>> Clarke Carlisle, Northampton 2012-2014, QPR 2000-2004 >>> Lee Harper, Northampton 2002-2007, QPR 1997-2001 >>> John Gregory, QPR (manager) 2006-2007, 1981-1985, Northampton 1972-1977 >>> Terry Fenwick, Northampton (manager) 2003, QPR 1980-1987 >>> John Burridge, Northampton 1996, QPR 1980-1982
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