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Sheron's Easter resurrection - History
Wednesday, 13th Mar 2024 15:47 by Clive Whittingham

Ahead of Saturday's trip to Sunderland, LFW looks back to 1998 when QPR gave their relegation battle a shot in the arm with an unlikely fightback at the new Stadium of Light.

Memorable Match

Sunderland 2 QPR 2, Friday April 10, 1998, First Division

Denied the services of Richard Ord, a big summer signing from Sunderland on whom more shortly, Rangers struggled throughout the 1997/98 First Division season.

Heading into a televised Friday night game at Sunderland things didn’t look promising. Rangers had won just two of 21 games since Boxing Day, although that bizarrely included a 5-0 home win against promotion chasing Middlesbrough. They travelled to the Stadium of Light without a win in five attempts and very firmly in the First Division relegation zone.

These were still the days when you could extract performances and results from football players by shouting at them and throwing tea cups around so Peter Reid was doing particularly well as manager of Sunderland who came into this game looking good for automatic promotion. Having been relegated from the Premiership the season before Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest and Sunderland were now locked in a three-way battle to bounce straight back up.

It's a tremendously stereotypical thing to say about a trip to the North East for football, but good God the weather was awful that night. The game was televised in the early evening on Good Friday but despite the April date the conditions were unforgiving. The QPR fans huddled together for warmth on their first visit to the brand new Stadium of Light as a sharp, biting wind brought hard sleet in over the roof of the opposite stand and directly into our faces. I can remember being close to tears through the pain of little shards of ice cutting into my face during the second half and many Rangers fans spent the majority of the second period below decks watching the match on the television screens on the concourse.

Sunderland had already won 1-0 at Loftus Road earlier in the season thanks to a late goal from Niall Quinn and that partnership up front of the giant Irishman in his prime alongside a young Kevin Phillips was far too much for the better teams in the Championship to cope with, never mind Ray Harford's hapless QPR outfit. Quinn scored the first goal of the evening on the half hour and then intelligently hooked home a second after half time to set Sunderland on their way to what seemed like a comfortable and inevitable victory.

But Harford's final role of the dice that season had been the signings of Vinnie Jones from Wimbledon and Neil Ruddock on loan from Liverpool in the hope it would inject some fighting spirit and grit into a limp wristed and often half committed QPR team. Harford got the job at Loftus Road after taking West Brom to the top of the First Division table. After a defeat at Loftus Road he told chairman Chris Wright he'd have QPR in the Premiership in no time at all given the chance to work with a forward line of John Spencer, Kevin Gallen and Mike Sheron. That assertion seemed laughable as the club and team continued to fall apart around his ears after he arrived but on this night at least the latter player came good for him.

With nothing to lose and nerves starting to effect the title chasing Sunderland players, Sheron ran through on goalkeeper Lionel Perez twice in the final 15 minutes and finished well on both occasions to snatch an unlikely point from a 2-2 draw. The result was costly for Sunderland who subsequently drew 3-3 with West Brom in their next game and then lost at Ipswich which meant despite accruing 90 points over the course of the season they missed out on automatic promotion altogether with Forest and Boro going up in first and second. They were hot favourites to win through the play offs anyway and beat Sheffield United in a two legged semi before losing on penalties to Charlton at Wembley after an epic 4-4 draw.

QPR meanwhile completed an unlikely escape from relegation. The stalemate at Sunderland was one of six consecutive draws secured after the arrival of Jones and Ruddock culminating in another memorable 2-2 at Manchester City where the losing team faced relegation, but a point would be good enough to keep QPR up at City's expense. Despite falling behind in the first minute Rangers fought back thanks to the classic Jamie Pollock own goal. A draw meant the R's were safe and City were down, despite Bury's 1-0 win at Loftus Road on the final day of the campaign.

Sunderland: L Perez, C Makin, M Gray, L Clark, D Holloway, D Williams, N Summerbee, K Ball, N Quinn, K Phillips, A Johnston

Subs not used: A Rae, J Craddock

Goals: Quinn 28, 55

QPR: L Harper, D Bardsley, K Ready , N Ruddock, I Baraclough, V Jones (S Slade, 71), G Kulcsar, N Quashie , M Sheron, K Gallen (M Rose, 88), T Scully Subs not used: D Dichio, S Morrow

Goals: Sheron 75, 83

Classic encounters

LFW regular and AKUTR’s columnist Dave Barton has set up a QPR Memories YouTube channel, with a mixture of clips, classic games, and old highlights packages. His three recent meetings with Sunderland are embedded below, give him a subscribe on YouTube or follow @QPR_Memories on Twitter.

Recent Meetings

QPR 1 Sunderland 3, Saturday September 16, 2023, Championship

Jack Colback came bearing gifts to his former club as Sunderland came from behind to win at Loftus Road during the bleak Gareth Ainsworth reign at QPR. Rangers had taken a rare and unexpected early lead thanks to a nice goal from Kenneth Paal, but any hope of going on to win the game were all but extinguished by Colback’s ludicrous foul and straight red card after just 21 minutes. A further blow was dealt by Jack Clarke’s deflected equaliser eight minutes into first half injury time. Dan Ballard and Abdoullah Ba both scored in the second half as the Mackems comfortably pulled off into the distance.

QPR: Begovic 5; Kakay 6, Cook 6 (Clarke-Salter 76, 6), Fox 6; Smyth 4 (Dykes 60, 5), Field 6, Dozzell 6, Colback 3, Paal 6 (Larkeche 68, 6); Armstrong 5 (Kolli 69, 6), Chair 5 (Willock 68, 5)

Subs Not Used: Dixon-Bonner, Walsh, Duke-McKenna, Adomah

Goals: Paal 12 (assisted Chair)

Red Cards: Colback 21 (serious foul play)

Yellow Cards: Armstrong 33 (foul), Kakay 79 (foul)

Sunderland: Patterson 6; Hume 7, O’Nien 7, Ballard 8, Huggins 5 (Roberts 45, 7); Neil 6, Ekwah 5 (Pritchard 14, 8); Ba 7, Bellingham 7 (Semedo 83, -), Clarke 8; Burstow 6 (Aouchiche 61, 7)

Subs not used: Bennette, Seelt, Triantis, Bishop, Rigg

Goals: Clarke 45+8 (assisted Huggins 45+8), Ballard 57 (unassisted), Ba 81 (assisted Aouchiche)

QPR 0 Sunderland 3, Tuesday February 14, 2023, Championship

I guess, if you wanted to be kind, you could make a case that this one hung on Ilias Chair’s second half penalty miss. At that point the score was only 1-0 to the visitors after Seny Dieng’s poor fumble allowed Luke O’Nien a first half tap in. Had Chair scored from 12 yards, instead of seeing the shot beaten aside by Patterson, then Rangers would have been level and with momentum going into the final half an hour. Wishful thinking, not only because he didn’t score, but also because Neil Critchley’s side had been dire all night, and a distant second best to the visitors. It really was more luck than judgement that it stayed 1-0 for as long as it did, and sure enough the addition of Diallo from the Sunderland bench was one superior player too many and the Mackems pulled deservedly well clear with two late goals from our one-time loanee Jack Clarke. It would prove to be Critchley’s final home match in charge.

QPR: Dieng 5; Laird 2 (Kakay 45, 5), Dickie 2, Dunne 3, Paal 4; Field 4, Dozzell 3 (Johansen 81, -), Iroegbunam 2 (Armstrong 76, 4), Chair 4; Martin 5, Lowe 4

Subs not used: Archer, Dixon-Bonner, Gubbins, Adomah

Bookings: Field 63 (foul), Lowe 71 (delaying the restart/time wasting at 1-0 down), Dozzell 72 (prat), Johansen 82 (attempted murder), Paal 90 (assault), Dunne 90+1 (argument)

Sunderland: Patterson 7; Hume 6, Ballard 7, Batth 7, Alese 6 (Cirkin 81, -); Roberts 8, O’Nien 8, Pritchard 7 (Neil 69, 7), Ba 7 (Diallo 63, 7); Gelhardt 5 (Ekwah 81, -), Clarke 8

Subs not used: Bass, Bennette, Lihadji,

Goals: O’Nien 34 (unassisted), Clarke 82 (assisted Cirkin), 90+2 (assisted Neil)

Bookings: Clarke 69 (foul), Pritchard 90+1 (argument)

Sunderland 2 QPR 2, Saturday August 13, 2022, Championship

QPR staged the most unlikely of comebacks from two goals down when these sides met at the Stadium of Light at the start of the 2022/23 season. The hosts, unknowingly about to lose manager Alex Neil to Stoke, eased into a two-goal lead in the first half as Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms cut through the visiting defence to score a goal apiece. It stayed like that until two minutes from time when Ilias Chair scored QPR’s first direct free kick in three seasons to bring the R’s back within one. Chair then put in the fateful stoppage time cross that saw goalkeeper Seny Dieng head home a remarkable equaliser — the first goal scored by a goalkeeper in the history of the club. There was still time for Dieng to make a remarkable double save at the other end to preserve the point.

Sunderland: Patterson 6; Ballard — (O’Nien 9, 6), Batth 6, Cirkin 6; Gooch 7, Neil 7 (Embleton 88, -), Evans 6, Clarke 6; Pritchard 7 (Wright 88, -), Stewart 7, Simms 8 (Roberts 60, 7)

Subs not used: Bass, Diamond, Alese

Goals: Stewart 31 (assisted Neil), Simms 40 (assisted Pritchard)

Bookings: Clarke 26 (foul), Evans 41 (foul), Gooch 86 (foul)

QPR: Dieng 8; Kakay 5, Dunne 6, Dickie 6, Travelman 4 (Bonne 90, -); Johansen 5 (Dozzell 75, 6), Field 5, Chair 6; Adomah 5 (Roberts 46, 7), Dykes 6, Shodipo 5 (Armstrong 81, 7)

Subs not used: Masterson, Gubbins, Walsh

Goals: Chair 88 (direct fk (!!), won Roberts), Dieng (!!) (90+2 assisted Chair)

Bookings: Field 30 (to shut the crowd up), Dickie 37 (foul)

QPR 0 Sunderland 0, Tuesday October 26, 2021, League Cup

One of the worst pieces of officiating you’ll ever see in the game cost QPR a trip to Arsenal and first League Cup quarter final since 1987 when Sunderland came to Loftus Road in October 2021. A tight game with the League One high-flyers looked to have been settled ten minutes from time when Albert Adomah’s goalbound shot was blocked on the line by a handball, and Charlie Austin netted the rebound. But linesman Mark Dwyer incorrectly flagged Austin offside after a long delay, and referee Keith Stroud failed to bring the play back for the original handball. QPR then made a horrible mess of the penalty shoot out and were eliminated.

QPR: Dieng 7; Kakay 6 (Adomah 72, 7), Dickie 5, De Wijs 6, Barbet 5, Odubajo 5; Amos 7 (Duke-McKenna 84, -); Willock 6 (Dozzell 73, 6), Chair 6, Gray 5 (Austin 62, 6), Dykes 7

Subs not used: Johanson, Ball, Archer, Dunne, Drewe

Bookings: De Wijs 15 (foul)

Sunderland: Burge 8; Winchester 7, Alves 6 (Doyle 69, 6), Wright 7, Hume 6 (Cirkin 24, 8); Neil 8, Evans 7 (O’Brien 65, 7); Gooch 7 (McGeady 65, 7), O’Nien 7, Dajaku 8 (Prichard 69, 7); Stewart 7

Subs not used: Flanagan, Harris, Hoffman, Wearne

Bookings: O’Nien 17 (foul), Gooch 39 (dissent), Stewart 90+4 (foul)

QPR 1 Sunderland 0, Saturday March 10, 2018, Championship

A star was born at Loftus Road when these sides last met here in March 2018. Luke Steele’s latest personal disaster, springing from his box and handling a bouncing ball for an obvious red card, opened the way for QPR to hammer another nail into Sunderland’s relegation coffin. The killed goal came on the hour as young Ebere Eze opened his senior account for the club, playing a one two off Matt Smith on the edge of the area and smashing in at the near post.

QPR: Smithies 6; Furlong 6, Onuoha 7, Robinson 6 (Lynch 46, 5), Bidwell 6; Scowen 6, Luongo 6; Freeman 5, Eze 7 (Manning 89, -), Smyth 6 (Osayi-Samuel 72, 6); Smith 6

Subs not used: Cousins, Washington, Ingram, Wszolek

Goals: Eze 62 (assisted Smith)

Bookings: Freeman 61 (foul), Onuoha 74 (foul)

Sunderland: Steele 3; Matthews 6, Kone 5, O’Shea 3, Oviedo 6; Cattermole 3, Asoro 6 (Camp 51, 7), Williams 3 (McGeady 30, 6), Ejaria 6, Honeyman 6; Fletcher 4 (Maja 87, -)

Subs not used: Jones, McManaman, Gooch, Robson

Red Cards: Steele 49 (deliberate handball denying goalscoring opportunity)

Bookings: O’Shea 70 (foul)

Sunderland 1 QPR 1, Saturday October 14, 2018, Championship

Only QPR can explain how they failed to add to Sunderland’s misery and win at the Stadium of Light back in October that season. The R’s created and missed a catalogue of chances across the 90 minutes, converting just once when Idrissa Sylla headed in Luke Freeman’s first half corner. With the Sunderland fans openly revolting and ironically cheering the few passes their team did complete it looked like a rare away win was on the cards until, just after the hour, Aiden McGeady did what he’d done for Preston the previous season and whopped one in from distance against the run of play.

Sunderland: Steele 5; Matthews 5, Jones 5, O’Shea 5, Oviedo 5; Honeyman 5 (Williams 58, 6), Ndong 5, Cattermole 5, McGeady 7; Vaughan 5 (Grabban 45, 5), Watmore 8 (McManaman 79, 6)

Subs not used: Love, Gibson, Ruiter, Gooch

Goals: McGeady 61 (unassisted)

QPR: Smithies 7; Baptiste 7, Lynch 7, Bidwell 7; Luongo 7, Scowen 8, Manning 6, Freeman 7, Wszolek 6 (Osayi-Samuel 76, 5); Mackie 5 (Washington 67, 5), Sylla 7

Subs not used: Lumley, Furlong, Smith, Ngbakoto, Wheeler

Goals: Sylla 37 (assisted Freeman)

QPR 1 Sunderland 2, Tuesday September 21, 2016, League Cup

Two cup victories counts as a run deep into the competition for QPR and a creative ticketing strategy for a home tie against Premier League opposition brought a big crowd to Loftus Road for the visit of Sunderland in September 2016. Beatable Premier League opposition as well, given the Mackems’ appalling league form, and Rangers did take the lead on the hour when Sandro volleyed in from a corner. A false dawn in several respects — forced to play for more than an hour, Sandro fell in a hole and Paddy McNair, who’d never scored a senior goal in his life, bagged two in quick succession to turn the game around for David Moyes’ side.

QPR: Ingram 6; Kakay 6, Caulker 6, Lynch 7, Hamalainen 5; Sandro 6, Cousins 6 (Chery 85, -); Wzsolek 6, El Khayati 4, Washington 6 (Luongo 79, 6); Sylla 7 (Polter 74, 5)

Subs Not Used: Smithies, Onuoha, Borysiuk, Paul

Goals: Sandro 60 (assisted Lynch)

Sunderland: Pickford 6; Denayer 5 (Love 69, 6), O’Shea 6, Djilobodji 6, van Aanholt 6; NDong 8, Kirchhoff 6, McNair 8, Gooch 5 (Cattermole 69, 7); Watmore 6, Asoro 5 (Maja 69, 7)

Subs not used: Jones, Mika, Kone, Greenwood

Goals: McNair 70 (assisted Watmore), 80 (assisted NDong)

Previous Results

Head to Head >>> Sunderland wins 16 >>> Draws 10 >>> QPR wins 14

2023/24 QPR 1 Sunderland 3 (Paal)

2022/23 QPR 0 Sunderland 3

2022/23 Sunderland 2 QPR 2 (Chair, Dieng)

2021/22 QPR 0 Sunderland 0**

2017/18 QPR 1 Sunderland 0 (Eze)

2017/18 Sunderland 1 QPR 1 (Sylla)

2016/17 QPR 1 Sunderland 2** (Sandro)

2014/15 Sunderland 0 QPR 2 (Zamora, Fer)

2014/15 QPR 1 Sunderland 0 (Austin)

2012/13 QPR 3 Sunderland 1 (Remy, Townsend, Jenas)

2012/13 Sunderland 0 QPR 0

2011/12 Sunderland 3 QPR 1 (Taiwo)

2011/12 QPR 2 Sunderland 3 (Mackie, Helguson)

2006/07 Sunderland 2 QPR 1 (Rowlands)

2006/07 QPR 1 Sunderland 2 (Jones)

2004/05 QPR 1 Sunderland 3 (Shittu)

2004/05 Sunderland 2 QPR 2 (Furlong, Rowlands)

1998/99 QPR 2 Sunderland 2 (Maddix, Gallen)

1998/99 Sunderland 1 QPR 0

1997/98 Sunderland 2 QPR 2 (Sheron 2)

1997/98 QPR 0 Sunderland 1

1990/91 Sunderland 0 QPR 1 (Tilson)

1990/91 QPR 3 Sunderland 2 (Maddix, Wegerle, Falco)

1984/85 QPR 1 Sunderland 0 (Byrne)

1984/85 Sunderland 3 QPR 0

1983/84 Sunderland 1 QPR 0

1983/84 QPR 3 Sunderland 0 (Fenwick, Stainrod, C Allen)

1979/80 QPR 0 Sunderland 0

1979/80 Sunderland 3 QPR 0

1976/77 Sunderland 1 QPR 0

1976/77 QPR 2 Sunderland 0 (Bowles, McLintock)

1972/73 Sunderland 0 QPR 3 (Bowles 2, Thomas)

1972/73 QPR 3 Sunderland 2 (Bowles 2, Givens)

1971/72 Sunderland 0 QPR 1 (Busby)

1971/72 QPR 2 Sunderland 1 (Marsh, O’Rourke)

1970/71 QPR 2 Sunderland 0 (Leach, Venables)

1970/71 Sunderland 3 QPR 1 (Leach)

1968/69 Sunderland 0 QPR 0

1968/69 QPR 2 Sunderland 2 (L Allen, Clarke)

1956/57 Sunderland 4 QPR 0*

* - FA Cup
** - League Cup


Richard Ord >>> Sunderland 1987-1988 >>> QPR 1998-2000

Richard Ord was ostensibly a one club man. He signed forms at Roker Park in 1986 fresh out of school and made 284 appearances for the Mackems over the next 12 years. Having grown up playing in the centre of midfield he found more opportunities at Sunderland as a centre back, and made his debut in a 7-0 home win against Southend in the Third Division in November 1987.

Ord won two promotions during his time atg the club and also played in the 1992 FA Cup semi final. But having played regularly in his first two seasons as a pro Ord found manager Dennis Smith’s faith in him wavering and he played mostly reserve team football in his early 20s before Peter Reid took over as boss in 1995. He was a key member of Reid’s 1996 promotion winning team.

Sunderland only stayed in the Premiership for one year initially despite amassing 40 points. Reid stayed and took them through to a memorable play off final against Charlton a season later but Ord began having trouble with his back and didn’t even make the bench for the Wembley final.

Ord told the Sunderland Echo in 2007 what happened next when Ray Harford made a bid to bring him to Loftus Road.

“I didn't even make the bench for Wembley and I was gutted,” he said. "I spat the dummy a bit, to be honest, and I made a decision that I've always regretted. Ray had been my England Under-21 coach and was a fantastic bloke and great coach. He got in touch and asked about me. I don't think Reidy wanted me to leave and I know that Bobby Saxton didn't, but they were fair and said it was up to me. I went to see Ray and he wanted me in his side and was going to make me captain, so I made the decision to go. I still had four years on my deal at Sunderland and time to turn things round, which I think I could, but I was upset about not being involved in the side and I made the hardest decision of my life, to go."

He waved goodbye to the north east which had been his home for his entire life and signed for Queens Park Rangers for the thick end of £1m. Harford had made a centre back signing his top priority that summer with Alan McDonald pensioned off to Swindon by Stuart Houston who made subsequent unsuccessful attempts to replace the legendary Northern Irish international with first Matthew Rose and then Steve Morrow. Houston had been sacked midway through the 1997/98 season and QPR had survived relegation by the skin of their teeth with Liverpool’s Neil Ruddock playing at the heart of the defence on loan.

Harford spent the majority of the summer pursuing Bolton’s no-nonsense centre half Gerry Taggert. He would become a figure of hate at Loftus Road later in his career after a high profile on-field spat with Marc Bircham during his Stoke days, but he would have been an excellent signing for Harford and Rangers at the time. In the end they lost out to Leicester who went onto win the League Cup, upset the Premiership big boys and qualify for Europe under Martin O’Neill who based his team on a fearsome defence of Taggert, Matt Elliott and Steve Walsh.

Rangers meanwhile went for Ord who, on paper at least, was also a very sound signing. Except, in true QPR style, disaster struck. Within 15 minutes of his first ever appearance in a QPR shirt in a pre-season friendly at Aylesbury Ord badly ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments. Several attempts to return to training were made over the next two seasons but he never managed it and eventually retired two years after joining Rangers, aged 30, without a single competitive QPR appearance to his name.

"To be honest, it was a miracle I passed the medical with QPR because my back wasn't good; I had a prolapsed disc,” said Ord. "But I went down to QPR really fired up for something new, and it was all finished before I'd played a game for them. I gave it two years down there and had six operations, but it was never going to be right and I was finished. I came home and had a couple of years with Durham, but I couldn't train between games and the knee went again, so that was it."

The worse news for Rangers was that the outlay on Ord represented the last big spend of chairman Chris Wright’s illfated reign at Loftus Road. The purse strings were tightened thereafter as the club plummeted into debt and, eventually administration and relegation. Harford, and then Gerry Francis who succeeded him midway through the 1998/99 season after a disastrous start, were left to coax performances out of a back four made up more often than not of Morrow, Rose, and the ever accident prone Karl Ready.

Others >>> Jack Colback, QPR 2023-present, Sunderland 2008-2014 >>> Jake Clarke-Salter, QPR 2022-present, Sunderland (loan) 2018 >>> Jack Clarke, Sunderland 2022-present, QPR (loan) 2020 >>> Jimmy Dunne, QPR 2021-present, Sunderland (loan) 2019 >>> Josh Scowen, Sunderland 2020-2021, QPR 2017-2020 >>> Nedum Onuoha, Sunderland (loan) 2010-2011, QPR 2012-present >>> Anton Ferdinand, Sunderland 2008-2011, QPR 2011-2013 >>> Tommy Smith, Sunderland 2003-2004, QPR 2010-2012 >>> Pascal Chimbonda, Sunderland 2008-2009, QPR 2010 >>> Djibril Cisse, QPR 2012/13, Sunderland 2008/09 >>> Liam Miller, Sunderland 2006-2009, QPR 2009 >>> Richard Ord, Sunderland 1987-1998, QPR 1998-2000 >>> Danny Dichio, QPR 1993-1997, Sunderland 1998-2001 >>> Peter Reid, QPR 1989-1990, Sunderland (manager) 1995-2002 >>> Clive Walker, Sunderland 1984-1986, QPR 1986-1987 >>>John Byrne, QPR 1984-1988, Sunderland 1991-1992 >>> Chris Woods, QPR 1979-1981, Sunderland 1997 >>> Leighton James, QPR 1977-1978, Sunderland 1983-1984

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