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Bolton reject who starred in QPR promotion – History
Thursday, 15th Feb 2018 23:18 by Clive Whittingham

As we prepare to welcome Bolton to Loftus Road this Saturday, LFW looks back at the QPR career of Heidar Helguson who played for both clubs.

Connections

Heidar Helguson >>> Bolton 2007-2009 >>> QPR 2009-2013

Having made only four starts and six substitute appearances during a near two-year stint at Bolton Wanderers, during which he scored just twice, any opposition fans looking in this week may be rather perplexed by the affection in which Heidar Helguson continues to be held by Queens Park Rangers supporters.

In fairness, two years into his Loftus Road career, a similar unceremonious exit through the tradesman's entrance seemed likely for the Icelandic international here too.

The DVD extras for The Four Year Plan documentary feature a scene in Gianni Paladini's office that would be alarming for QPR fans if they weren't already oh so painfully aware of the way the club went about its business in those days and the results of that on the pitch. It's entitled 'The Striker' and it's a long scene from the cutting room floor of Paladini trying to add firepower to the QPR squad.

Now the method for such a quest at Loftus Road used to involve Ian Holloway getting out chief scout Mel Johnson's extra-large file of players he'd been to see multiple times in various Godforsaken reserve matches and picking one of his recommendations. Decent scouting is an amazing thing in football, and increasingly ignored by clubs who prefer to deal instead with favoured agents or computer programmes. At QPR, Johnson's tireless trawling of the British motorways yielded previously unheralded stars for a cash strapped club, often in times of desperate need – Martin Rowlands, Lee Cook, Lee Camp, Danny Shittu and so on.

But presumably Paladini's opinion of scouts was much the same as his opinion of CEOs, which he expressed upon the ousting of Mark Devlin from that position: "freeloaders", "leaches."

In need of a striker for a team under the caretaker management of Gareth Ainsworth and shortly to be taken over by Paulo Sousa, Paladini picked up his mobile phone to his friends and contacts in the game. The stipulation was "desperate for a striker,” though this was later narrowed down slightly to "no, no he has to be fit." Thankfully Mel Johnson is still with us, or he'd have turned in his grave.

But in amongst the colossal amounts of tat that arrived at the club while Paladini was involved Rangers actually struck lucky in their quest for whoever Gianni was on the phone to thought Helguson was a "striker who is fit" despite kicking around in Bolton's reserves.

That wasn't quite the end of things though. Shortly after the confirmation that Sousa would be the manager the club announced it had agreed a loan deal with Bolton for Helguson and he was in line to make his debut that Saturday against his former club Watford. That Saturday at Vicarage Road Rangers were hammered 3-0 with Helguson nowhere to be seen.

Three days later Sousa took charge for the first time for a home match with Charlton in which Helguson played no part. In fact, Helguson hadn't signed at all and although the club remained silent on the issue they actually came very close to an embarrassing situation where a player QPR said they had signed on the Friday actually turned out against them for Charlton on the Tuesday. Luckily the deal with the Addicks never went through either, and Rangers were able to finally complete the signing at the end of the week.

An inauspicious start then and things would get worse before they got better. On debut, as a late substitute in a draw at Crystal Palace, Helguson was presented with the ball on the edge of the area by an uncharacteristic mistake from Eagles goalkeeper Julian Speroni who was left stranded away from his goal and had almost certainly cost his team the match in the final minute. Helguson sidefooted wide of the gaping target.

Rangers were in the midst of a run without a goal away from home that would eventually stretch to a record breaking 14 hours. After Damion Stewart's headed winner in the cup at Aston Villa the R's had travelled to Birmingham, Swansea, Reading , Ipswich, Manchester United, Watford and now Palace without scoring a goal. A week later they lost 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday to extend the record still further – Martin Rowlands' penalty miss surpassed only in farce by Helguson's glaring horror from a yard out with the keeper laid flat on the floor.

Helguson rallied. He was superb in a home win against Preston, scoring twice, and netted that elusive away goal in a 1-1 draw at Plymouth. But his fitness was an issue, and he was in and out of the team. Sousa was eventually sacked after speaking to supporters outside the ground about the club singing the Icelandic striker and winger Lee Cook despite concerns about their knees. A year later, with Flavio Briatore's grand plan for QPR falling apart around his ears and a team managed by Mick Harford facing relegation to League One, the R's took to the field for a 1-0 defeat at bottom placed Peterborough with a strike force of Marcus Bent and Tamas Priskin who were both on loan. Helguson was thought of so highly by Rangers at this time they had loaned him out to Watford, one of their relegation rivals.

Nobody seemed that bothered by that. There were occasional mumblings of discontent whenever he scored for Watford – which he did 11 times in 2009/10, which would have made him QPR's top scorer of the season – but by and large the QPR fans didn’t rate him, didn't think he was fit enough, and weren't that sorry to see him loaned out. A stupidly small number of people questioned the logic of having a striker of that quality at Vicarage Road while we pissed around with Tamas Priskin.

Then Neil Warnock arrived.

Neil Warnock likes strikers. His judgement is often hit and miss – for every Jamie Mackie there's a Leon Clarke – but he likes strikers, he likes to have lots of them, and he enjoys signing them. Given the rack and stack nature of the way he put his Sheffield United attack together it's no surprise to know that he had tried to sign Helguson before, but it was still a fairly certain indication that the barrel chested forward wouldn't be spending 2010/11 on loan at Watford.

Helguson was magnificent for QPR in their promotion season. Again he lived up to his reputation of being underappreciated – with the plaudits mainly going the way of Paddy Kenny and Adel Taarabt – but Helguson was just as key to that title winning team as anybody else. There was much talk of the work of Shaun Derry behind Taarabt, clearing up the Moroccan's various tangles and keeping him in check, but, on the other side of Adel, Heidar was taking the brunt of the centre back abuse away from him. His hold up and lay game was second to none in the division and his ability to bring a ball down and use it intelligently to bring others into play was outstanding. The defenders couldn't leave Helguson alone, and couldn't defeat his muscular presence in 50/50 (or even 30/70) competitions so he was able to constantly get the ball under control in dangerous areas and then feed strike players like Taarabt and Wayne Routledge to do the damage. For good measure, Helguson scored 12 times for Rangers and twice for Iceland that campaign with a thumping header in a 3-0 win at Middlesbrough particularly memorable. His penalty technique terrified supporters, but never faltered.

He then became the victim of a series of mistakes made by Neil Warnock upon promotion. Admittedly working under impossible conditions thanks to Flavio Briatore's return to the forefront of the club's boardroom activity, Warnock was far too quick to abandon the players that had worked so hard to get the club promoted. Kaspars Gorkss was replaced by Danny Gabbidon, Adel Taarabt was soon left out altogether, and Helguson found his place taken by Jay Bothroyd.

He came back into the team at the beginning of October for a home match with Blackburn and gave QPR the lead after 15 minutes with a well flighted chip. Even then he hadn’t been scheduled to play and only got the nod late in the day when DJ Campbell, who had been slated to start, pulled up injured. He didn't look back though, following the Blackburn goal with a brace that included another bullet header in a 3-2 win at Stoke and a famous penalty winner at home to Chelsea. By January, when he rescued an undeserved FA Cup replay from a disastrous outing at MK Dons, his tally stood at nine.

Sadly it didn't move from there, derailed prematurely by injury. Helguson, unfortunately, always has did have knack of picking up a short term injury and turning it into a long term problem – it' was always a strain or a pull or a small tear, always initially diagnosed as a month-long problem at most, and not unusual not to see him again for three times that length of time or more.

That's a trait, among many others, he shares with Paul Furlong – another former Watford striker who endured difficult early days at QPR before winning the fans over in a blaze of glory. Ian Holloway described Furlong as a Rolls Royce centre forward – beautiful, graceful, stylish – and Helguson was exactly the same for Rangers when given the chance.

The decision to allow him to leave in the summer of 2013, in theory, made sense. Helguson, at 34, was, theoretically, never going to be ahead of the likes of Djibril Cisse, Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora in the QPR pecking order and didn't want to spend his final months as a professional knocking around with our reserve team.

As it turned out, Cisse's form and attitude tailed off alarmingly while Johnson and Zamora didn't magically recover from the long standing chronic injuries they'd been waved through with on arrival. Helguson's Indian summer continuing for another year could have been very useful.

His importance to QPR should be underestimated no longer. He overcame fitness problems, advancing years, a farcical managerial merry-go-round and more besides to lead our promotion side and then score the goals that kept us in the Premier League. He did it all in the same classy style, with the same fixed facial expression.

Others >>> Karl Henry, Bolton 2017-present, QPR 2014-2017 >>> Danny Shittu, QPR 2001-2006, 2011-2013, Bolton 2008-2010 >>> Les Ferdinand, QPR 1987-1995, Bolton 2004-2005 >>> Peter Reid, Bolton 1974-1982, QPR 1989-1990 >>> John Gregory, QPR 1981-1985, (manager) 2006-2007, Bolton 1990 >>> Sammy Lee, QPR 1986-1987, Bolton (manager) 2007, Dave Clement, QPR 1965-1979, Bolton 1979-1981

Recent Meetings

Bolton 1 QPR 1, Saturday October 21, 2017, Championship

In foul conditions (is it ever anything else when we play at Bolton?) QPR just about scraped a draw in the first meeting between the sides this season. Bolton had only won once in their first dozen matches but took a first half lead when slack marking at a corner allowed Darren Pratley to head in on the second phase. Rangers toiled in the driving rain looking for an equaliser that eventually arrived when Idrissa Sylla accidentally (typically) flicked in a cross from the tireless man of the match Luke Freeman.

Bolton: Alnwick 6; Little 6, Wheater 7, Beevers 7, Taylor 6; Pratley 6, Henry 6; Vela 6 (Le Fondre 83, -), Ameobi 5 (Morais 62, 6), Armstrong 5 (Noone 66, 5); Madine 4

Subs not used: Robinson, Cullen, Burke, Howard

Goals: Pratley 22 (assisted Madine/Vela)

QPR: Smithies 6; Baptiste 6, Lynch 5, Bidwell 6; Wszolek 6, Manning 6 (Washington 38, 5); Freeman 7, Luongo 6, Scowen 6; Sylla 7 (Wheeler 85., -), Mackie 5 (Smith 61, 5)

Subs Not Used: Furlong, Cousins, Ngbakoto, Lumley

Goals: Sylla 78 (assisted Freeman)

Bolton Wanderers 1 QPR 1, Saturday February 20, 2016, Championship

In the teeth of a howling gale, QPR looked all set to be beaten by the bottom team in the league when these sides last met in February 2016. The game’s outstanding player Zach Clough made light of impossible conditions to open the scoring with an unbelievable striker midway through the second half. That looked like being that until Matt Phillips plundered an undeserved equaliser with almost the last kick of the game in injury time.

Bolton: Amos 5; Vela 5, Dervite 6, Holding 6, Moxey 5; Spearing 5, Pratley 6, Davies 5, Clough 8 (Danns 84, -); Heskey 4 (Madine 53, 5), Feeney 5

Subs not used: Rachubka, Osede Prieto, Wellington, Dobbie, Woolery

Goals: Clough 68 (unassisted)

QPR: Smithies 6; Perch 5, Onuoha 5, Hall 6, Konchesky 4; Luongo 5, Henry 6 (Chery 80, -); Phillips 5, Hoilett 5 (El Khayati 62, 7), Mackie 5 (Polter 74, 6); Washington 6

Subs not used: Angella, Toszer, Ingram, Petrasso

Goals: Phillips 90+3 (Unassisted)

Bookings: Henry 21 (foul), Luongo 60 (foul)

QPR 4 Bolton Wanderers 3, Saturday October 3, 2015, Championship

Rangers had also scored right at the death when the sides met in a thriller at Loftus Road earlier that season. The struggling visitors surged into a two goal lead when first Gary Madine and then Liam Feeney scored in the opening 11 minutes, but a powerful header from Jay Emmanuel-Thomas immediately halved the deficit and, crucially, kept the home crowd from turning. Leroy Fer marked his comeback from injury by bundling in a goal on the stroke of half time and when Tjaronn Chery scored on the hour it seemed like a memorable comeback was complete. Typically rank defending allowed Wellington Silva to dash those hopes by making it 3-3 five minutes from time but deep into added minutes at the end of the match Emmanuel-Thomas beat two men with a neat turn and then whipped a powerful winner in from long range.

QPR: Green 5, Onouha 5, Angella 5, Hall 4, Konchesky 6, Henry 5, Tözsér 6, Phillips 6, Fer 7 (Sandro 76, 6), Chery 7, Emmanuel-Thomas 8

Subs not used: Doughty, Faurlin, Luongo, Perch, Smithies, Polter

Goals: Emmanuel Thomas (assisted Chery), Fer (assisted Phillips), Chery, Emmanuel-Thomas

Bookings: Chery 45+2 (foul), Tozser 55 (foul), Henry 74 (foul)

Bolton Wanderers: Amos 6, Pisano 5 (Wheater 45, 5), Gouano 5, Devite 5, Moxey 6, Danns 6, Davies 7, Feeney 6, Pratley 6 (Spearing 64, 5), Clayton 6 (Wellington 80, 7), Madine 6

Subs not used: Vela, Rachubka, Casado, Dobbie

Goals: Madine 8 (assisted Feeney), Feeney 11 (assisted Pratley), Wellington 85 (unassisted)

QPR 2 Bolton Wanderers 1, Tuesday January 28, 2014, Championship

Charlie Austin showed his nastier side, his bravery and his skill in a dramatic hour at Loftus Road when these sides met in January 2014. Bolton's faithful travelling posse for a long Tuesday night awayday were incensed that Austin wasn't punished further for a clash with Tim Ream which forced the American defender off after four minutes, but Rangers' talismanic striker soon had injury problems of his own when his long-standing shoulder complaint fell apart into an injury that would keep him out for two months and end Rangers' automatic promotion hopes. He stayed on long enough to get the game won, scoring just before half time with his arm hanging limp, and Karl Henry added a fine second after half time. Jay Spearing's late consolation was only that, but with Austin already with the club doctor by then there were more than a few nerves around the place despite four consecutive wins in January.

QPR: Green 7; Assou-Ekotto 5, Traore 6, Hill 7, Dunne 6; Kranjcar 6 (Wright-Phillips 76, 6), Carroll 6, Henry 7, Phillips 7; Johnson 6, Austin 7 (Zamora 69, 7)

Subs not used: Murphy, Diakite, Hoilett, Ehmer, O’Neill.

Goals: Austin 41 (assisted Phillips), Henry 52 (unassisted)

Bolton: Lonergan 6; Mills 5, Knight 6, Ream 6 (White 4, 4); Baptiste 5; Mark Davies 8, Danns 6 (Lee 57, 7), Medo 6, Spearing 6, Pratley 6; Craig Davies (Jutkiewicz 67, 5)

Subs not used: Bogdan, Eagles, Moritz, Vela

Goals: Spearing 85 (unassisted)

Bolton Wanderers 0 QPR 1, Saturday August 24, 2013, Championship

A wonderful flowing move finished in emphatic style from close range by Andy Johnson was enough to settle the first meeting between these two sides that season. In a typically dour contest the one moment of quality came ten minutes after half time when a slick midfield move finished with Clint Hill, playing left back, overlapped past Alex Baptiste and crossed low to the back post after linking up with Charlie Austin. Johnson could hardly miss, given the quality of the service, and it was sweet revenge for Hill on a ground where he’d previously been denied a first Premier League goal of his career in controversial circumstances. Robert Green tipped a first half shot onto the post, and clawed another free kick out from under the cross bar, to preserve the clean sheet and three points.

Bolton: A Bogdan 6; A Baptiste 6, Z Knight 7, D Wheater 7, M Tierney 6; T Ream 5 (R Hall 72 7), M Kamara 7, J Spearing 8, C Lee 7; J Beckford 5 (C Davies 67 6), D Ngog 5 (Moritz 67 6).

Subs Not Used: A Lonergan, T Mears, M Mills, O Odelusi

Bookings: Tierney 58 (unsporting behaviour)

QPR: R Green 8; D Simpson 7, R Dunne 7, N Onuoha 8, C Hill 8; S Wright-Phillips 6 (Traore 6), K Henry 8, J Barton 6, G O'Neil 7; A Johnson 7 (Jenas -) C Austin 6 (Zamora 71 6)

Subs not used: B Murphy, Y Suk-Young, T Hitchcock, A Faurlin.

Goals: Johnson 54 (assisted Hill)

Bookings: Dunne 8 (foul), Barton 21 (foul), Henry 49 (foul), Austin 58 (unsporting behaviour), Simpson 84 (foul), Onuoha 87 (foul).

QPR 0 Bolton 4, Sunday August 13, 2011

With the long discussed takeover by Tony Fernandes not yet complete QPR were left to open their first Premier League season in 15 years with a squad assembled on the shoestring budget provided by Flavio Briatore and paid a heavy price as Bolton ran riot. QPR predictably lost injury prone Kieron Dyer four minutes into his QPR debut but were arguably the better team until first half injury time when Gary Cahill curled a spectacular opening goal into the top corner from outside the area. After half time it was embarrassingly one sided. Danny Gabbidon fell over a low Chris Eagles cross and diverted the ball into his own net before Ivan Klasnic and Fabrice Muamba got in on the act. Clint Hill added insult to injury with a stoppage time sending off for headbutting Martin Petrov who’d tormented QPR all afternoon.

QPR: Kenny 6, Dyer - (Orr 7, 5), Gabbidon 5, Hall 5, Hill 5, Derry 6, Faurlin 5, Taarabt 6 (Buzsaky 72, 6), Campbell 5, Smith 5 (Helguson 72, 5), Bothroyd 6

Subs: Murphy, Connolly, Agyemang, Ephraim

Booked: Hill 52 (foul)

Red Cards: Hill 90 (violent conduct)

Bolton: Jasskelainen 6, Steinsson 7, Knight 7, Cahill 8, Robinson 6, Muamba 7, Reo Coker 5 (Pratley 83, -), Eagles 6 (M Davies 81, -), Petrov 8, Klasnic 7 (Blake 86, -), K Davies 8

Subs: Bogdan, Alonso, Gardner, Wheater

Booked: Cahill 76 (foul)

Goals: Cahill 45 (unassisted), Gabbidon 67 (own goal, assisted Eagles), Klasnic 70 (unassisted), Muamba 79 (assisted Klasnic)

Bolton 3 QPR 1, Tuesday October 31, 2000, First Division

Bolton’s new Reebok Stadium has been an unhappy hunting ground for QPR since it was opened – four visits, four defeats. The most comprehensive of those was a Tuesday night visit to that particular corner of Lancashire back in 2000. Rangers, quite remarkably when you look at the team, actually took the lead three minutes before half time when a young Peter Crouch struck for Gerry Francis’ men. In typical style though they couldn’t hang on for three minutes and Gudni Bergsson equalised before the break. Bolton took control just after the hour with two goals in three minutes from Robbie Elliott and Michael Ricketts. Bolton were working their way back to the Premier League at the time while Rangers were all set for relegation to the Second Division and administration.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Bergsson, Fish, O’Kane, Elliott, Frandsen, Nolan, Gardner, Farrelly, Rickets (Rankine 79), Hansen

Subs not used: Banks, Richardson, Barness, Passi

Goals: Bergsson 45, Elliott 62, Ricketts 65

Bookings: Ricketts

QPR: Harper, Breaker, Carlisle, Broomes, Rose, Morrow (Koejoe 72), Peacock, Langley (Wardley 81), Warren, Connolly, Crouch

Subs not used: Miklosko, Ready, Perry

Goals: Crouch 42

Bookings: Carlisle

Previous Results

Head to Head >>> QPR wins 13 >>> Draws 5 >>> Bolton wins 14

2017/18 Bolton 1 QPR 1 (Sylla)

2015/16 Bolton 1 QPR 1 (Phillips)

2015/16 QPR 4 Bolton 3 (Emmanuel Thomas 2, Fer, Chery)

2013/14 QPR 2 Bolton 1 (Austin, Henry)

2013/14 Bolton 0 QPR 1 (Johnson)

2011/12 Bolton 2 QPR 1 (Cisse)

2011/12 QPR 0 Bolton 4

2000/01 QPR 1 Bolton 1 (Ngonge)

2000/01 Bolton 3 QPR 1 (Crouch)

1999/00 QPR 0 Bolton 1

1999/00 Bolton 2 QPR 1 (Peacock)

1998/99 Bolton 2 QPR 1 (Rowland)

1998/99 QPR 2 Bolton 0 (Gallen, Sheron)

1996/97 Bolton 2 QPR 1 (Morrow)

1996/97 QPR 1 Bolton 2 (McDonald)

1995/96 QPR 2 Bolton 1 (Osbourn, Impey)

1995/96 Bolton 0 QPR 1 (Dichio)

1982/83 Bolton 3 QPR 2 (Gregory, Sealy)

1982/83 QPR 1 Bolton 0 (Stainrod)

1981/82 QPR 7 Bolton 1 (Flanagan 2, Gregory, Micklewhite, Fenwick, Allen, Stainrod)

1981/82 Bolton 1 QPR 0

1980/81 Bolton 1 QPR 2 (Stainrod, Flanagan)

1980/81 QPR 3 Bolton 1 (Langley, Burke, Neal)

1978/79 Bolton 2 QPR 1 (Goddard)

1978/79 QPR 1 Bolton 3 (Harkouk)

1970/71 QPR 4 Bolton 0 (Marsh 3, Leach)

1970/71 Bolton 2 QPR 2 (Venables 2)

1969/70 QPR 0 Bolton 4

1969/70 Bolton 6 QPR 4 (Leach, Bridges, Clement, Marsh)

1967/68 Bolton 1 QPR 1 (R Mogan)

1967/68 QPR 1 Bolton 0 (Wilks)

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enfieldargh added 07:14 - Feb 16
The a Baptiste in the Bolton line up, is that ours if so one kissed off the p,aged for both list. Not being picky like

I’m not convinced this is going to be a home win, fully expect a low scoring draw.

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Phil_i_P_Daddy added 12:33 - Feb 16
“Classy style”?! Sorry, but I’ve never understood the eulogies for Helguson. For me, he was bang average in a sea of mediocre peers at the club.
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simmo added 14:51 - Feb 16
God I love Helguson. I'd give your right nut to have him back now.

No idea how you can think he was 'bang average', Phil - he was phenomenal as a lone front man in that Warnock team . Worked hard, impeccable hold up game, amazing in the air (despite his size) and scored some classy goals.
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