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The Bristol Strangler – History
Thursday, 15th Aug 2019 22:39 by Clive Whittingham

Easy to forget now, given the thawed relations between the clubs, but QPR v Bristol City was a big rivalry at the turn of the millennium, and the 2005 move of Tommy Doherty to Loftus Road only inflamed that further.

Memorable Match

Bristol City 2 QPR 2, Saturday August 11, 2007, Championship

The presence of Bristol Rovers stalwart Ian Holloway in the QPR dugout, and the two teams regularly slogging it out at the top end of the Second Division during Rangers’ most recent three year stint down there, had seen quite a rivalry build up between the R’s and Bristol City.

There had been crowd problems at a 3-1 Rangers win at Ashton Gate in 2002/03 and a game between the sides in the Football League Trophy that season saw star man Ricard Langley dismissed for reacting angrily to having his dreadlocks pulled by some fanny or other. That red card would come back to haunt Langers as it meant his second sending off of the season, in the play-off semi-final first leg away to Oldham, ruled him out of not only the second leg at Loftus Road but also the final in Cardiff.

Rangers lost in the Welsh capital and renewed hostilities with the Robins in 2003/04. Danny Wilson’s City side came out of the Christmas period in flying form, gatecrashing a top three that QPR, Plymouth and Brighton had seemed to have all to themselves with an 11-match winning run. There were some freaks among them as well – goals after 77 and 82 to turn a 0-1 into a 2-1 at Brentford early in the run, an injury time winner at Notts County, an injury time winner at home to Brentford, an injury time winner away at Grimsby and so it went on. City midfielder Brian Tinnion gave an infamous interview in which he said Plymouth and QPR were “running scared” and it could be “all over bar the shouting” by the time the three teams met each other in three crucial-looking Easter fixtures.

As we know, City choked, sparking much hilarity on the old Rivals message boards, and forging a weird bond between Rangers and the Pilgrims as they rejoiced together in City’s demise. After winning 11 in a row they won only three of their next 12. That did include the game at Ashton Gate against Rangers, which kept things alive to the last day when, for a brief moment, their early lead against Blackpool looked to have won second spot until Holloway’s boys did the business up at Hillsborough. In the play-offs they got through a semi-final with Hartlepool but lost at Cardiff against Brighton.

Much water passed under the bridge at Loftus Road between 2004 and 2007. Gianni Paladini’s boardroom coup proved to be the beginning of the end for Ian Holloway who was replaced unsuccessfully by Gary Waddock and the wonderful team he’d built up to win that promotion in 2004 and consolidate in the Championship the following year started to break apart. It needed John Gregory to come in and rescue Waddock’s fairly hopeless side, chock full of dodgy Paladini signings, from relegation which he did with a mixture of experienced signings – Danny Cullip, Adam Bolder – youngsters on loan – Michael Mancienne, Jimmy Smith – returning heroes – Lee Camp – and left field gems – Sampsa Timoska.

The manner of the 2006/07 escape, with late season wins against Leicester and Coventry A, Preston, Luton and Cardiff at home had actually bred some misguided optimism over the summer. Israeli starlet Ben Sahar was a high profile loan from Stamford Bridge, Lee Camp had been persuaded to return to the club permanently to great fanfare, Simon Walton looked a solid buy from Charlton only to break his leg in a pre-season friendly with Fulham. A friendly that Rangers won nevertheless, and so even though Lee Cook had moved on for big money hopes were reasonably high.

Bristol City had, by now, finally won their promotion back to the second tier under Gary Johnson and so there was a certain inevitability about our first game of the new season coming amidst a white-hot atmosphere at Ashton Gate, the locals keen to shove all that POP and schadenfreude from thee years earlier right back down our throats.

It looked like they would as well, when Lee Johnson – now City manager – gave them a 33rd minute lead, but Dexter Blackstock forced home an equaliser almost immediately, and in scorching August sunshine that’s how it looked like it was going to stay.

Not so. Scott Murray is one of those weird players you barely remember now, but at the time was a fearsome opponent and regular scourge of Rangers. He’d left City to join Reading after their failure to win promotion but was something of a returning hero at the club when he went back there in 2004 and helped fire them to promotion after all. When he drew his foot back 25 yards out from goal deep into stoppage time there was only one place the ball was going, and the noise when it got there was other worldly.

That was tough on QPR. Mancienne had successfully marked City’s big summer recruit Lee Trundle out of the game completely, Martin Rowlands had turned in one of the best performances of his career having been moved into central midfield from the wing, only the brilliance of City’s second half sub goalkeeper had kept the Londoners from winning the game and yet here they were ready to lose it.

Or not.

The extra, extra time added on for the raucous celebrations after the Murray goal gave Rangers time for a final corner, with everybody up. Damion Stewart, who would go on to play for City later in his career, got the all important final touch on a mad scramble to force an equaliser and send the away end into a frantic delirium as 2,000 QPR fans simultaneously knee-capped themselves on those backless deathtrap seats they used to have at that end. It was worth every injury.

Of course, as it turned out, that team assembled by Gregory that summer was one of the worst in living QPR memory. Trying to play Championship football with a defence that included John Curtis, Chris Barker and Zesh Rehman was footballing suicide . Rangers won none of their first nine, and Gregory was sacked after 5-1 loss at West Brom a week after Flavio Briatore had moved in to buy the cash-strapped club and set it on a different path entirely.

Bristol City: Basso 7 (Henderson 46, 8), Orr 6, Carey 6, Vasko 4 (Fontaine 46 6), McAllister 6, Brian Wilson 7, Johnson 7, Elliott 8, McIndoe 7, Trundle 5 (Murray 79, 7), Showunmi 7

Subs Not Used: Jevons, Russell

Goals: Johnson 33, Murray 90

QPR: Camp 6, Rehman 6, Stewart 7, Mancienne 8, Curtis 6, Rowlands 9, Bolder 8, Bailey 7, Moore 7, Nardiello 7 (Ephraim 59, 7), Blackstock 7 (Nygaard 69, 7)

Subs Not Used: Cole, Bignot, Cullip

Booked: Rowlands (dissent), Nardiello (dissent), Stewart (foul)

Goals: Blackstock 34 (assisted Bolder), Stewart 90 (assisted Nygaard)

Connections

Tommy Doherty >>> QPR 2005-2008 >>> Bristol City 1996-2005

A part of that 2001-2004 and beyond rivalry I left out was the intriguing saga of Tommy Doherty.

The Bristol-born Northern Irishman, who’d started his career at Ashton Gate, clocked up 225 appearances for the Robins between 1996 and 2005. He grew into the beating heart of the City team that Rangers had their tussles with in the Second Division, a hard nut but classy footballer rolled into one, easily one of the outstanding players at that level and a regular scourge of QPR.

When Rangers pipped Danny Wilson’s side to promotion in 2004 and subsequently consolidated in the Championship the following season, Ian Holloway cheekily returned to his home city to secure Doherty’s signature on a free transfer. A huge coup at the time for Rangers, a controversial move among the City faithful, and another flashpoint to reignite the weird rivalry between the two sides.

Doherty looked tailor made for Holloway’s QPR team at the time – nuggety and nasty, but could also play a bit. The 2005/06 season actually started well, with a 0-0 draw at Hull on day one remembered more for the dodgy chanting in the stands than the game and then a quickfire pair of home wins against Ipswich and Sheff Utd at Loftus Road. Doherty looked a class act, if a little prone to gratuitous acts of violence – referee Barry Knight had to physically intervene between him and Hermann Hreidarsson in a pre-season friendly with Charlton when Doherty tried to stick the nut on the Icelandic defender.


Speaking of which, it was during and after that Sheff Utd game that the infamous ‘guns in the boardroom’ incident occurred behind the scenes at Loftus Road, with director Gianni Paladini accusing another investor Dave Morris of hiring a gang of heavies to rough him up and force a resignation from the club at gunpoint after a summer of wrangling. The incident led to a farcical court case and raft of not guilty verdicts down the track, but in the meantime saw Paladini able to oust Bill Power and Mark Devlin from W12 and seize control of the club himself. It was all downhill on and off the pitch from there, and Doherty’s QPR career trajectory went the same way. He was sent off in a home win against Luton for, not for the first team, throttling an opponent and although he returned to the side for October and November he then picked up a bad injury.

It was during that lay off that not only was Ian Holloway sacked, but also stories started circulating about Doherty’s off-the-pitch activities, which seemed to consist mainly of smoking and playing 6-a-side football with his mates back in Bristol while he was supposed to be recovering to play for us. Or so the story went anyway. Gary Waddock had little time for him after taking over and having been sent to train with the reserves for the summer of 2006 he promptly got himself sent off again in a second string pre-season friendly at Lewes for, again, grabbing an opponent round the throat, and then later abusing the referee. He stormed onto the pitch again at full time to confront the match officials.

His time at QPR was pretty obviously done, so he spent a remarkable 2006/07 on loan at Wycombe, guiding them to a cup semi-final with Chelsea, winning their player of the year award, and maiing the division’s team of the season. Naturally. QPR released him to join the Chairboys permanently in January 2008 and he won promotion with them from League Two the season after, making the team of the year for the league for the second time.

A nomadic career since then has included brief spells with Ferencvárosi TC, Bradford, Newport, Bath and Exeter. He won nine caps for Northern Ireland.

Others >>> Luke Freeman, QPR 2017-2019, Bristol City 2014-2017 >>> Matt Smith, QPR 2017-2019, Bristol City (loan) 2014-2015 >>> Steve McClaren, QPR (manager) 2018-2019, Bristol City 1988-1989 >>> Gary O’Neil, Bristol City 2016-2018, QPR 2013-2014 >>> Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, QPR 2015-2018, Bristol City 2013-2015 >>> Steven Caulker, QPR 2014-2017, Bristol City (loan) 2010-2011 >>> Ben Gladwin, QPR 2015-2017, Bristol City (loan) 2016 >>> Hogan Ephraim, QPR 2007-2014, Bristol City (loan) 2012 >>> Tom Heaton, Bristol City 2012-2013, QPR (loan) 2009 >>> Damion Stewart, Bristol City 2010-2012, QPR 2006-2010 >>> Bradley Orr, QPR 2010-2012, Bristol City 2004-2010 >>> Matt Hill, QPR (loan) 2010, Bristol City 1998-2005 >>> Patrick Agyemang, QPR 2008-2012, Bristol City (loan) 2010 >>> Tommy Doherty, QPR 2005-2008, Bristol City 1996-2005 >>> Aaron Brown, QPR 2004-2006, Bristol City 1998-2004 >>> Tony Thorpe, QPR 2003-2005, Bristol City 1998-2002 >>> Gregory Goodridge, Bristol City 1996-2001, QPR 1995-1996 >>> Sieb Dijkstra, Bristol City (loan) 1994, QPR 1994-1996 >>> Leroy Rosenior, Bristol City 1992-1994, QPR 1985-1987 >>> Brian Williams, Bristol City 1985-1987, QPR 1977-1978

Recent Meetings

QPR 3 Bristol City 3, Tuesday August 13, 2019, League Cup first round

QPR and Bristol City went all the way to a penalty shoot out in the first round of the League Cup earlier this week. In a thrilling encounter littered with brilliant goals and slick, passing football City took an early lead when Diedhiou broke through the offside trap and rounded Kelly for 1-0. Rangers swiftly turned that around thanks to an explosive leveller from Nahki Wells and beautifully worked second from Ilias Chair but it was all square again by half time when full back Jack Hunt found the top corner in spectacular fashion. Laim Walsh got the goal of the night from a direct free kick midway through the second half to seemingly seal City’s progress but a harsh late penalty award against Walsh for an alleged trip on Wells gave Ryan Manning a chance to equalise from the penalty spot. That put us through to a shoot-out and although Matt Smith and Yoann Barbet missed for Rangers, City wasted three and were eliminated in sudden death with Luke Amos scoring the decisive kick.

QPR: Kelly 6; Ball 5, Leistner 6, Barbet 7; Kane 7 (Mlakar 60, 7), Smith 7, Scowen 5 (Owens 74, 6), Pugh 7 (Amos 60, 6), Manning 8; Chair 8, Wells 7

Subs not used: Lumley, Oteh, Osayi-Samuel, Masterson

Goals: Wells 15 (assisted Smith), Chair 26 (assisted Pugh), Manning 85 (penalty, won Wells)

Bookings: Ball 90+2 (delaying the restart)

Bristol City: Bentley 6; Hunt 7 (Baker 64, 6), Wright 6, Moore 6, Walsh 8; Eliasson 7, Massengo 8, Szmodics 7 (Nagy 72, 6), Rowe 6; Semenyo 6 (O’Dowda 63, 7), Diedhiou 5

Subs not used: Brownhill, Gilmartin, Afobe, Palmer

Goals: Diedhiou 13 (assisted Semenyo), Hunt 41 (assisted Walsh), Walsh 59 (direct free kick, won Diedhiou)

Bristol City 2 QPR 1, Tuesday February 12, 2019, Championship

When these sides last met at Ashton Gate it was the clash of the teams in the best and worst form in the league. City had won eight straight in all competitions, and would eventually make it nine with victory over Steve McClaren’s Rangers who were in the midst of a run that would eventually cost the manager his job. Things had gone against the grain for much of the game though, with QPR rewarded for an enterprising first half performance with a half time lead supplied from close range by Matt Smith after Nahki Wells had angled a header against the post. A failure to quell the influence of Eliasson after half time eventually cost the London side an equaliser but they looked all set to escape with a creditable point until, deep into injury time, referee Tony Harrington wrongly judged that Darnell Furlong had fouled Diedhiou at the back post. A ridiculous penalty, a slew of bookings for dissent, and a Diedhiou conversion later and another match had slipped away.

City: Fielding 6; Pisano 6, Kalas 6, Webster 6, Kelly 5 (Dasilva 45, 7); Pack 6 (Taylor 66, 6), Brownhill 7; Paterson 7, Weimann – (Eliasson 18, 8), O’Dowda 6; Diedhiou 6

Subs not used: Wright, Baker, O’Leary, Palmer

Goals: Eliasson 73 (assisted Paterson), Diedhiou 90 (penalty, won Diedhiou)

Bookings: Pack 62 (foul), Pisano 69 (foul)

QPR: Lumley 5; Furlong 6 (Osayi-Samuel 90+4, -), Leistner 6, Hall 6; Wszolek 6, Bidwell 5; Luongo 6, Cousins 7, Freeman 6; Smith 7 (Hemed 72, 4), Wells 5 (Eze 78, 5)

Subs not used: Ingram, Scowen, Manning, Kakay

Goals: Smith 45 (assisted Bidwell/Wells)

Bookings: Furlong 90+2 (alleged foul), Leistner 90+2 (dissent), Hall 90+2 (dissent), Bidwell 90+7 (foul), Wszolek after final whistle (dissent), Lumley after final whistle (dissent)

QPR 0 Bristol City 3, Tuesday August 21, 2018, Championship

QPR were enduring a club-record setting start to the season of four defeats and 13 goals conceded in their first four games when these sides met at Loftus Road last August. The Rs were reasonably competitive in the first half but trailed at the break when Matt Taylor forced an opener under Matt Ingram that the keeper really should have saved. Weimann made it two straight after half time with an unmarked back post header and the rout was complete in the final moment when Josh Scowen’s slip in possession set up a counter and a second for Weimann.

QPR: Ingram 3; Rangel 4 (Sylla 76, 5), Leistner 4, Baptiste 5, Bidwell 3; Scowen 4, Luongo 3 (Cousins 60, 4); Eze 4, Freeman 3, Wszolek 4 (Smith 60, 4); Washington 3

Subs not used: Lumley, Chair, Kakay, Smyth

Bookings: Scowen 56 (foul)

Bristol City: Maenpaa 6; Hunt 7, Pisano 7, Webster 7, Kelly 6; Watkins 6 (O’Dowda 76, 6), Brownhill 7, Pack 7, Eliasson 7; Taylor 8 (Eisa 90+1, -), Weimann 8

Subs not used: Dasilva, Walsh, Paterson, Moore, O’Leary

Goals: Taylor 41 (assisted Brownhill), Weimann 50 (assisted Eliasson), 90 (assisted Brownhill)

Bookings: Pisano 26 (foul), Brownhill 48 (foul), Pack 70 (foul)

Scores and Scorers

Head to Head >>> Bristol City wins 29 >>> Draws 27 >>> QPR wins 33

2019/20 QPR 3 Bristol City 3* (Wells, Chair, Manning, QPR win 5-4 pens)
2018/19 Bristol City 2 QPR 1 (Smith)
2018/19 QPR 0 Bristol City 3
2017/18 Bristol City 2 QPR 0
2017/18 QPR 1 Bristol City 1 (Flint og)
2016/17 Bristol City 2 QPR 1 (Sylla)
2016/17 QPR 1 Bristol City 0 (Sylla)
2015/16 QPR 1 Bristol City 0 (Henry)
2015/16 Bristol City 1 QPR 1 (Hoilett)
2010/11 QPR 2 Bristol City 2 (Faurlin, Taarabt)
2010/11 Bristol City 1 QPR 1 (Agyemang)
2009/10 QPR 2 Bristol City 1 (Simpson, Leigertwood)
2009/10 Bristol City 1 QPR 0
2008/09 QPR 2 Bristol City 1 (Lopez, Taarabt)
2008/09 Bristol City 1 QPR 1 (Blackstock)
2007/08 QPR 3 Bristol City 0 (Agyemang 2, Buzsaky)
2007/08 Bristol City 2 QPR 2 (Blackstock, Stewart)
2003/04 Bristol City 1 QPR 0
2003/04 QPR 1 Bristol City 1 (Padula)
2002/03 QPR 1 Bristol City 0 (Gallen)
2002/03 QPR 0 Bristol City 0** (Bristol win 5-4 pens)
2002/03 Bristol City 1 QPR 3 (Connolly 2, Gallen)
2001/02 Bristol City 2 QPR 0
2001/02 QPR 0 Bristol City 0
1998/99 Bristol City 0 QPR 0
1998/99 QPR 1 Bristol City 1 (Ready)
1981/82 QPR 3 Bristol City 0* (Flanagan, Stainrod, Allen)
1980/81 Bristol City 0 QPR 1 (Waddock)
1980/81 QPR 4 Bristol City 0 (Nel 2, Langley, Shanks)
1978/79 Bristol City 2 QPR 0
1978/79 QPR 1 Bristol City 0 (Busby)
1977/78 QPR 2 Bristol City 2 (Bowles, Busby)
1977/78 Bristol City 2 QPR 2 (Masson, Eastoe)
1976/77 QPR 0 Bristol City 1
1976/77 Bristol City 1 QPR 0
1972/73 Bristol City 1 QPR 2 (Givens 2)
1972/73 QPR 1 Bristol City 1 (Francis)
1971/72 Bristol City 2 QPR 0
1971/72 QPR 3 Bristol City 0 (O’Rourke, Merrick og, Marsh)
1970/71 Bristol City 0 QPR 0
1970/71 QPR 2 Bristol City 1 (Marsh, Bridges)
1969/70 QPR 2 Bristol City 2 (Bridges, Francis)
1969/70 Bristol City 2 QPR 0
1967/68 QPR 3 Bristol City 1 (I Morgan, Allen, R Morgan)
1967/68 Bristol City 0 QPR 2 (Leach 2)
1964/65 QPR 1 Bristol City 0 (Bedford)
1964/65 Bristol City 2 QPR 0
1963/64 Bristol City 2 QPR 1 (McLeod)
1963/64 QPR 0 Bristol City 2
1962/63 QPR 3 Bristol City 1 (Collins, Leary, Barber)
1962/63 Bristol City 2 QPR 4 (Bedford 2, Barber, McCelland)
1961/62 QPR 4 Bristol City 1 (Evans 2 Bedford 2)
1961/62 Bristol City 2 QPR 0
1960/61 QPR 1 Bristol City 1 (Bedford)
1960/61 Bristol City 1 QPR 1 (Woods)
1954/55 QPR 1 Bristol City 1 (Shepherd)
1954/55 Bristol City 1 QPR 1 (Tomkys)
1953/54 QPR 0 Bristol City 1
1953/54 Bristol City 1 QPR 2 (Petchey, Cameron)
1952/53 Bristol City 4 QPR 4 (Mountford, Cameron, Smith 2)
1952/53 QPR 2 Bristol City 1 (Mountford, Addinall)
1947/48 Bristol City 2 QPR 1 (Hatton)
1947/48 QPR 2 Bristol City 0 (Boxshall, Pattison)
1946/47 Bristol City 1 QPR 1 (Durrant)
1946/47 QPR 1 Bristol City 0 (McEwan)
1938/39 QPR 3 Bristol City 1 (Fitzgerald, McEwan, Stock)
1938/39 Bristol City 2 QPR 2 (Cheetham 2)
1937/38 Bristol City 2 QPR 0
1937/38 QPR 0 Bristol City 2
1936/37 QPR 5 Bristol City 0 (Cheetham 2, Fitzgerald, Charlton, Bott)
1936/37 Birstol City 3 QPR 2 (Cheetham, Lowe)
1935/36 Bristol City 0 QPR 0
1935/36 QPR 4 Bristol City 1 (Lowe 3, Crawford)
1934/35 Bristol City 5 QPR 1 (Bridge og)
1934/35 QPR 4 Bristol City 1 (Blackford, Crawford, Allen, Emmerson)
1933/34 Bristol City 0 QPR 2 (Devine, Blackman)
1933/34 QPR 1 Bristol City 0 (Blackman)
1932/33 QPR 1 Bristol City 1 (Blackman)
1932/33 Bristol City 3 QPR 2 (Brown 2, Grafton)
1926/27 Bristol City 1 QPR 0
1926/27 QPR 1 Bristol City 2 (Middleton)
1925/26 Bristol City 3 QPR 1 (Patterson)
1925/26 QPR 0 Bristol City 2
1924/25 Bristol City 5 QPR 0
1924/25 QPR 3 Bristol City 0 (Moore 2, Johnson)
1922/23 Bristol City 3 QPR 2 (Davis 2)
1922/23 QPR 1 Bristol City 2 (Marsden)
1913/14 Bristol City 0 QPR 2*** (Birch, Gregory)
1913/14 QPR 2 Bristol City 2*** (Miller, Birch)
* - League Cup
** - League Trophy
*** - FA Cup

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RedbourneR added 00:01 - Aug 16
Thanks Clive. It's great to see John Curtis's name again, always makes me smile, he was probably the worst player I've ever seen and yet he seemed so oblivious to his failings, cheerfully playing a game several beats behind everyone else
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Metallica_Hoop added 08:15 - Aug 16
Thanks for that. I remember one of the Aston Gate games in League One It was a tasty atmosphere indeed 'There's only one greedy bastard' they sang to Tony Thorpe (I think). In Championship manager 97/98 John Curtis always went on to play for England I always used to sign him on the cheap :D
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TacticalR added 14:28 - Aug 17
Thanks, 'weird rivalry' indeed.
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