Clint Hill's ghost goal - History
Thursday, 13th Sep 2018 11:22 by Clive Whittingham
Memorable meetings between QPR and Bolton are few and far between but ahead of Saturday's trip to whatever they're calling their ground these days we fulfil our contractual obligation with a look back to the Clint Hill controversy of 2012.
Bolton Wanderers 2 QPR 1, Saturday March 10, 2012, Premier League
The final throes of Bolton's Premier League existence were a traumatic affair. Two goals up against a West Brom side with nothing to play for in their final home match, they contrived to concede two goals in the final ten minutes just as QPR were scoring with the final kick of the game at home to Stoke City to turn one point into three.
It moved Rangers out of the drop zone with a game to play, and meant Bolton needed a win at Stoke City on the final day and to hope that Mark Hughes' side didn't win at Manchester City. Given QPR's away record, and City needing to win to seal the title, it felt like all the Trotters needed was a win at the Britannia Stadium to stave off the drop for another year.
What happened next, at the City match at least, is the stuff of Premier League legend, with QPR leading the game until injury time before the famous Aguero moment turned the whole thing around. What gets lost in the mists of Premier League hyperbole, was a highly controversial afternoon in the Potteries where Jonathan Walters scored once having certainly fouled goalkeeper Adam Bogdan in the build up, and then again in the second half from a generously awarded penalty. Referee Chris Foy, who'd sent off two Chelsea players and awarded QPR a penalty in a famous 1-0 win earlier in the season, had done the R's well again.
Bolton, with their single point, were down. Those trite words about such things evening themselves out over the course of a season ringing very hollow indeed.
But the QPR faithful had their own injustice to flag up in the aftermath – in addition to Bolton Wanderers supporting referee Lee Mason awarding Manchester United a laughable penalty against the Hoops at Old Trafford, and sending Shaun Derry off into the bargain, despite Young being three yards offside and diving under no contact.
In March Bolton and Rangers had met in a televised six-pointer at the Reebok Stadium. Hughes' team, with a daunting run of home matches against Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal and Stoke to finish off with, felt victories were crucial in matches against the likes of Wolves, Blackburn and Bolton through February and March. Typically, they'd end up losing all the 'easier' ones and beating all the big clubs at Loftus Road.
But they should have at least drawn in Lancashire that afternoon. Linesman Bob Pollock, and referee Martin Atkinson, both somehow failed to spot that Clint Hill's first half header from a corner had crossed the line, despite Bogdan diving back into his net to punch it forwards onto the underside of the bar. The television replays of the incident would have been laughable if they weren't so serious.
Even more incredibly, Atkinson was sent to that summer's European Championships as England's in-goal extra official, charged with checking whether close calls had crossed the line or not. He's shown his complete blind spot with this rule again recently, allowing Manchester City to beat Everton in a League Cup Semi Final with a cross retrieved from behind the deadball line – "bring it back on and play on lads".
Darren Pratley and Djibril Cisse traded goals either side of half time before Ivan Klasnic, on as a late substitute, was allowed to run unchecked by a static Joey Barton to slam in a winner four minutes from the end. For any Bolton fans reading recalling that Cisse was marginally offside for his goal… Atkinson then denied the visitors an obvious penalty deep into injury time after a rash tackle by Pratley.
QPR, naturally, were relegated a year later anyway. Hill, who'd never scored a Premier League goal in his career at that point, subsequently achieved that milestone in a 3-3 draw at Aston Villa in 2015.
Bolton: Bogdan 7, Steinsson 6, Wheater 6, Ream 5, Ricketts 6, Reo-Coker 5, Mark Davies 7, Pratley 6 (Klasnic 80, -), Miyaichi 7, Ngog 6 (Muamba 89, -), Petrov 6 (Eagles 71, 6)
Subs Not Used: Jaaskelainen, Knight, Kevin Davies, Sordell
Booked: Pratley (foul), Wheater (foul)
Goals: Pratley 37 (assisted Petrov), Klasnic 86 (assisted Miyaichi)
QPR: Kenny 6, Onuoha 6, Ferdinand 5, Hill 6, Traore 6 (Taiwo 79, -), Barton 5, Diakite 6, Derry 5 (Buzsaky 79, -), Wright-Phillips 4 (Mackie 80, -), Cisse 7, Zamora 7
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Young
Booked: Onuoha (foul), Diakite (foul)
Goals: Cisse 48 (assisted Wright-Phillips)
QPR 2 Bolton 0, Saturday February 17, 2018, Championship
It took dogged persistence, a Bolton sending off, and the introduction of Paul Smyth from the bench to secure an important win for QPR when these sides last met in February, keeping the relegation battle at arm’s length from Ian Holloway’s team. Bolton only won one away game in the whole of last season but a catalogue of missed chances, particularly from Matt Smith, had them hanging on at 0-0 even after Mark Davis had been sent off for a knee-high lunge on Massimo Luongo. Eventually the deadlock was broken by Joel Lynch, heading Smith’s header back across the goal into the net from close range. Smith finally did get on the scoresheet himself, piling in at the back post to gobble up a sumptuous cross from Little Smyth – remember him?
QPR: Smithies 7; Onuoha 7, Lynch 7, Robinson 6; Wzsolek 6, Bidwell 6 (Smyth 64, 7); Scowen 6, Luongo 6, Freeman 6; Washington 5 (Eze, 82 -), Smith 7
Subs not used: Ingram, Furlong, Baptiste, Chair, Osayi-Samuel
Goals: Lynch 72 (assisted Smith) Smith 90+1 (assisted Smyth)
Bolton: Alnwick, Burke, Wheater, Beevers, Little, Derik (Morais 81), Henry, Vela (Karacan 45) Robinson, Walker (Le Fondre 69), Ameobi
Subs not used: A Taylor, Dervite, Howard, Clough
Bookings: Henry 36 (foul)
Sending Off: Little 54 (serious foul play)
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 last 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
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
Head to Head >>> Bolton wins 14 >>> Draws 5 >>> QPR wins 14
2017/18 QPR 2 Bolton 0 (Lynch, Smith)
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)
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 2017-2018, 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
Pictures – Action Images
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