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Allen on Francis, Wilkins, hat tricks and 90s highs – Interview
Monday, 16th Nov 2020 09:03 by Clive Whittingham

Our latest Patreon deep dive with a former QPR player has a 90s theme, as we look back at Gerry Francis’ wonderful team and the steady decline thereafter with its number ten, Bradley Allen.

LFW has been conducting written interviews with figures from QPR’s past and present for 16 years and publishing them free-to-view. This year, in addition for the first time, we’re also making the audio from these interviews available to all three tiers of our Patreon subscribers as podcasts as a thank you for your support. Listen to the interview via our Patreon by clicking here or read it for free below…

Early days

We usually start by asking how you got spotted, but given who your father and brother were is it unfair to deduce that that’s how you got spotted?

I was actually a schoolboy at Spurs and training there a couple of times a week. As I was coming towards the age of leaving school I was showing potential and there were a few London clubs interested in me. Obviously, the links to QPR through my father, brother and Martin my cousin was there at that time as well, rather than signing at Tottenham I thought the pathway for me would be better at QPR. I went there at 16 and don’t regret that at all. I debuted quite young and early as a 17-year-old.

Is that surname a blessing or a curse for a young kid trying to forge his own way at the club?

There was a degree of pressure. But with the support I had I could cope with that. I had big steps to follow, both my brother and father had tremendous success in the game, but I had their support and really enjoyed it as a schoolboy getting the chance. QPR had an amazing youth team coach Frank Sibley and he gave me a chance to play at a young age with some really talented players.

Who’s coming through with you at that point?

We had quite a few British boys, the likes of Tony Roberts and Brian Law. Then we had some Irish lads, Kevin Kingsmore, John Murray, Greg Costello, that were all not only playing for QPR but getting international opportunities as well. That group won the Southern Junior Floodlit Cup and a good number of the players progressed and went on to play professionally.

Lots of boot cleaning and chores, or is that a stereotype?

No it was like that. You had duties as an apprentice, cleaning changing rooms and boots, you had daily tasks obligated to do. What I do think has been lost in the current academy set up at many clubs is the young players are not in the company of the senior players as we once were. The learning from the peers, socially, being around those guys and talking to them, isn’t as prevalent now, and getting a chance to be with them on the training pitch. Some of the more talented players might get that chance at a young age, but nowhere near as much as we were lucky to have. I was lucky to have that as a really young player at QPR.

Who’s in that dressing room at that time?

I made my debut as a 17-year-old. Trevor Francis was in charge and he gave me that chance. There wasn’t a great depth to the QPR squad, I got picked on potential, I’d admit I wasn’t ready physically to go into the first team and hold down a place regularly. I wasn’t able to do that at that age, I got three sub appearances which I was proud to achieve, but it probably wasn’t for another couple of years that I developed more, became a bit stronger physically and mentally. When Gerry Francis was in charge I felt I had more substance about me and was able to stick around and play more games on a more consistent basis.

You made three sub appearances 1988/89, all away, all defeats, Wimbledon at Plough Lane, Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest at The City ground, and Man Utd at Old Trafford. That’s quite the baptism.

Yeh I was thinking about this last week with Wimbledon finally returning to Plough Lane, I mentioned to a few people that I made my debut there. The Forest game was a cup game, I came on for Ossie Ardilles I think who broke his leg in that game. The Man Utd game was another cup game on a Monday night where we were on the end of a heavy defeat. Some really experienced players involved in those games, it really hit me that you were up against the big boys now. That was the Crazy Gang era at Wimbledon, a very good Forest team, and Man Utd at that point had Gordon Strachan, Bryan Robson.

What’s more terrifying as a 17 year old, away dressing room at Plough Lane, or Old Trafford?

Probably lining up against some of those Wimbledon players at Plough Lane. It was terrifying. I was 5ft 5ins, looking at the size of some of those guys. They were pumping music out of the dressing room into the tunnel, you lined up very close to those players. It was all part of their tactics.

Don Howe replaced Trevor Francis and had a great reputation within the sport, what was he like?

I feel very, very lucky to have worked with Don. He’s one of the most talented coaches of his generation. To see him work… the intensity of his coaching sessions… the age that he was, don’t forget, I think he’d already recovered from a bypass operation at that point. He definitely helped improve a good number of players in that era. We were very lucky that we got the chance. He worked at international level, did an outstanding job with Bobby Robson and Terry Venables. He was always across football and was highly thought of. To come in for that brief time like he did really helped the younger lads at QPR.

We’ve got a young Les Ferdinand coming through at this stage, Roy Wegerle, what’s it like as a teenage boy training with these players?

Some great players, and all kinds of different skillsets. Wegerle for me was one of the most talented, almost maverick-like, players I ever trained or played alongside. Les’ career really took off after the impressive loan experience he had out in Turkey. He came back in super condition and really determined to prove himself. We’ve already mentioned Trevor Francis who’d had an illustrious career and won a European Cup. Mark Falco had come to QPR having done particularly well at Tottenham, he’d played with my brother at Spurs and was a great front player for holding the ball up. Powerful left foot. Seeing those guys day to day helped my development enormously, the way they worked and scored their goals. You have to factor in the different type of finishers these guys were – you had some who were brilliant headers of the ball, powerful ball strikers, and others who could take players on and manoeuvre their shooting opportunities. Trevor Francis could hit the ball so cleanly. Roy Wegerle only liked to score if he’d nutmegged two defenders first and sat the goalkeeper down. Super talented and an amazing laid back attitude, not a care in the world, but the goals reel from his time, the one he got at Elland Road was off the charts. If he did that now they’d be talking about the goal of the decade.

You’d probably be loaned out a few times these days, I guess back then there wasn’t that need because we had a competitive reserve competition.

I speak about this now with the young players I work with. For a while, ten years or so, clubs at the highest level have realised that when these young players are ready the benefit is going and getting first team experience at clubs elsewhere in the football pyramid, playing with senior players for points, playing for managers who might be struggling and a few games away from the sack, the pressure is on. For a young player’s development that’s helped so many top players to kick on. The pathway was slightly different in my time because the competition and standard of reserve team football was quite high. I played in a couple of reserve teams at QPR that struggled but under John Hollins and Frank Stapleton we had a couple of good seasons. What the senior players knew, whether they were coming back from injury or out of the first team, was they had to do well to get back in and be considered. The younger players, meanwhile, got the chance to see the good habits of the senior players. The standard was much higher and the step from reserve to first team was much closer.

Is it a shame that’s no longer a thing, or am I being nostalgic?

No you’re not, it is a shame. They’ve tried in different guises. You’ve got the EFL Trophy with the bigger clubs putting U23 sides in that competition. But it’s not a league itself across a season, it’s a cup competition. The clubs are trying to consider new ways where key competitive football exists for players between 18 and 21.

First team

You wait a while for a full debut, a win away at Luton in 1990/91 when we’d been on a dreadful run of form, and you finish that season with your first goals against Villa and Sheff Utd.

I’m sure my first reserve team game for QPR was at Kenilworth Road as well, so there was a coincidence there. The chance came to play consistently in the first team. The game against Villa, David Platt had scored in that game and I remember cutting in at the Loft End and hitting a right foot shot into the top corner. Once you do that your confidence levels really start to grow. You develop a belief that you’re worthy of being in that company of player and level of competition. Being a homegrown player as well, having that journey through the system, I knew what it meant for the QPR fans to have a young player. Fans really love and remember their home grown players, they have an affinity towards them.

Do you want the ball as a young kid in your first games, or are you hoping it doesn’t come near you in case you make a mistake? I guess professional footballer mentality is a bit different to normal person mentality.

You’ve got to try your best to relax and play freely. Most importantly, take a chance if it comes along. At that time, in a healthy way, we had attacking options. We had players that not only were on the subs bench but also out of the team and playing in the reserves who were good players. If you didn’t take your chance there was always somebody else ready to go. That had to be correctly managed, but it raises everybody’s level.

Don out, Gerry in, how was that?

Gerry had been a young player himself coming through the ranks at QPR. The greatest QPR team in the 1970s, England captain. He’d done well at Bristol Rovers, more than cut his teeth, done an apprenticeship. With his links with the club he was really ready for that chance. He was really smart, he came in and assessed the squad, he had a good eye in terms of talent spotting players with potential in the lower leagues which he continued to do at QPR, and balanced that with key experienced players. I felt proud to be a part of that squad at that time. It went under the radar a little bit how good a side we were. We played some amazing football for a good few years. They were great times.

Gerry was known for bringing in players he’d worked with before, and immediately added Dennis Bailey and Garry Thompson to the attack, is it frustrating for you having worked your way in to see players the manager knows come in over the top of you?

That’s the game. That’s the game. That’s the competition I spoke about. You have to be prepared to overcome that to get into any good team. There were others as well – he brought Ian Holloway, Gary Penrice, who contributed enormously to the improvement of the side. It was great for me as a young player to have that. It helped my game tremendously.

You certainly took your chance when it came along. First start of the season, one of my all time favourite Loftus Road games, champions-elect Leeds absolutely destroyed, and a nice goal from an impossible angle from yourself.

That was a special game. Ask any of the players from that era, they’ll tell you the same. Playing under the lights at Loftus Road was always amazing. We knew Leeds were a good team that had had success and had some experienced, strong, physical players. But we totally schooled them. We out-footballed them that night. Ray Wilkins was like velvet with his passing, Andy Sinton on the wing, the goals that we scored, it was a game to remember.

For the goal, playing with Ray, it must be nice to set off knowing he can just put it there for you like that. Do you remember what he’s saying to you afterwards, he’s got his arm round you making some sort of point?

Ray used to wear these Italian boots, as you’d expect, and he had cue-ball control on them like Ronnie O’Sullivan, he could spin the ball, clip it, drive the ball, it was always perfectly into your path if you were moving appropriately. I got on the end of one there, it was an acute angle but being at the Loft End it was great moment. It was probably Ray in his nice but quite critical way saying if you make those runs I’ll put it there for you. An extraordinary guy. Somebody we all looked up to.

I’ve got to ask about a pair of goals at West Ham as well, one of them ridiculously similar to one Clive got at the same end.

Yeh bit spooky that one - same end of the ground, the manoeuvring of the football and bobbling the shot in. The only slight difference was the pitch was a bit better than when Clive did the similar goal before me. He was somebody I looked up to, dad would take me around to watch him, as a young boy going to Loftus Road seeing him start, score a hat trick on his debut at 17, the spell he had at QPR and elsewhere, you do try and mirror some of those things because he was an ace finisher with a fantastic career.

How’s the mood going into that first Premier League season? I was very optimistic. We were building a very decent side with a good balance to it, some young players starting to prove and show they were good enough. We had experience in key positions.

It became a battle between three or four of you to see who started up front with Les. Gary Penrice and Dennis Bailey initially, Kevin Gallen later on, how was that?

It was a bit of a frustrating time for me having got there, achieved it, started to fulfil the potential. You had these other players who were all really good, Kevin Gallen as we know was super prolific and a QPR boy, at youth team level he was strong and physical, we all knew from an early age he was a strong first team contender. At this time I started to suffer groin injuries. It just curtailed me a little bit at a really important stage of my career. I missed nine months, had four groin ops, it really set me back. Credit to those guys, they played and took that chance. They scored goals, and it was always the case that you had to score and play well and whoever did that stayed in the team alongside Les.

Still 11 goals in the first Premier League season, happy with that?

That was my best return for QPR. We finished fifth. That was unbelievable for QPR. The Premier League had a different look about it, some of the clubs around it at that time, but that shouldn’t get away from how consistent we were and the football we played.

Couple of hat tricks earlier the following year, one against Barnet in the cup when frankly I can never remember being as soaking wet at any other point in my life, and then a superb day up at Everton.

Yeh the pitch just about held up that night. A lot of surface water. We got on with it. Then a hat trick at Everton which was a really good ground for a number of us. Andy Sinton and Les Ferdinand also scored hat tricks against them around that time. Our team was flying at that point, we had games in that era where we really connected. There was a strength and resilience about the team. We felt we could go toe to toe with the best.

Did lose at Swindon on the Tuesday mind.

We did. That was tough. Maybe we’d put too much into the weekend.

Why didn’t that team go on and win something? Obviously there was a constant selling of players…

It was quite tough. We were obviously pleased for those players to be given that chance to move on after the football they’d produced for QPR. A number of them went on and did fantastically well which was good to see. The club was working within those parameters. I think the frustration came with the reinvestment back into the first team squad. In hindsight over the next couple of years, I would say particularly around my last season at the club, there wasn’t quite enough of that. It meant we didn’t have enough quality and squad depth and that resulted in the club being relegated.

Is there frustration in the dressing room? Huge protests from the fans at the end of that season, are you having those conversations yourselves?

You sit in any dressing room with a group of players and you know on any given day whether you’ve got a chance of winning the football match or not. You look around, you see the state of players minds, you know if people are confident, if there’s a belief there. If there are too many moved on and the balance tips towards too many young players who don’t have that experience, you know yourselves. Remember, we were in the top league, and all the other teams were improving and getting better. It cost QPR, they just stood still in that period of time, and ultimately they dropped out of the top flight.

I remember you scored a goal off the bench at Nottingham Forest in a Super Sunday and Andy Gray said “if you’re an unhappy player there’s nothing better than getting an important goal for your manager”, so are you frustrated at this point?

Yeh, definitely. But that’s what I was always taught, when a chance comes be ready and prepared for that. That was a nice moment. We played pretty well that day, very, very unlucky to lose, a late Stan Collymore goal cost us. It proved to be a bit of a downfall for us that defeat, it really dented the confidence further.

Gerry leaves not long after that, how was that for everybody? Any mixed feelings given you weren’t in the team? Was a change of manager good for you at that point?

He played a big part in not only my development but a number of players’ development. Talk to players from that time, Andy Sinton, Les Ferdinand, we were really grateful for his coaching, the teaching we received, the improvements we all made as footballers. It was a big loss. What Gerry had done well was placed himself, on the budget he was working on at QPR, as a contender for a bigger job. The opportunity came for him to go to Spurs and he took it. Things move on quickly and you have to make sure whoever the new manager is coming in maybe your opportunity might change. Ray came in quickly and took charge, he’d watched a few reserve games and knew me from his playing time, and he trusted me in the situation we were in. I’d struck up a good friendship and understanding with him when he played, he saw what I could offer to the team. The position QPR were in, he knew he needed goalscorers around.

How was he different from Gerry, or even different from Ray the player? Behind the scenes Ray had an edge to him. He could be very demanding. It was needs must, we needed points on the board. The personable touch, the experience, the guidance he had and his manner with the players as a player, he didn’t have to distance himself from the players but he had to be clever in how he managed that and the relationships. As Gerry had done with him, he valued the experience of the senior players, he knew he would need them. He’d give them a day off here and there, make sure they were ready when the key games came around. Similarly those he needed to push a bit and be more demanding of he was able to do that and show that to the group.

Who’s in charge of that dressing room?

Macca and David Bardsley were very strong. They could be very demanding of you and the standards set. But they also understood if you were at full tilt and giving the maximum they would always be behind you and back you. They were wonderful guys, it was part of the fabric of the dressing room in those days. It would make you or break you. At that time and that era that’s how it was, it would shape you, you had to find ways to survive and cope with that. It was all in good jest and great fun. They were brilliant at it, they were like a double act. I remember once Andy Sinton came in with a wonderful pair of crocodile skin shoes that he was very pleased with. They managed to steal them and get them upstairs onto the photocopier so when we came back in everybody had a picture of Andy’s shoes under their bench and those two were whistling Jimmy Nail. It didn’t go down too well with Andy I don’t think.

Turning sour

Why did it go wrong for Ray? Les Ferdinand and Clive Wilson left, was it as simple as that?

They were big players. Les was the focal point of the QPR attack. He was consistently getting a high return of goals, it helped us enormously, and without his strength, his pace and power, we tried different permutations, but ultimately the amount of goals that went out of the group and squad that cost us.

The signings we made that summer, none of them worked. Particularly Mark Hateley and Ned Zelic who they’d obviously spent big money on.

It needed the purchase of a player or two who could come in and offer those sorts of strengths that Les so brilliantly possessed, in the short term just to keep us up, then reassess it. Those signings didn’t work out and the results suffered as a consequence.

It’s a long standing criticism that Ray was too wrapped up in still being a player. We signed Simon Osborne who looked a good player, but rarely picked him because he played Ray’s position. Am I being harsh?

I’m not sure on that one Clive to be honest with you. Simon was a talented midfield player, I’d known him coming through our development years, playing against him in county and regional football. He was desperate to play like any of us. He was frustrated at that time, he never got a consistent run in the side. But Ray had a sole focus on doing the best by the team. He felt if he could contribute and play an important part he would, but he also knew the inconsistencies in results sometimes meant it was better to use other personnel.

When do you know you’re in trouble?

Pretty early. The group knew it as well. As the season rumbled on it was becoming fairly evident. The point you make about recruitment, it may have been different if there’d been a freshening up, more new players crucially in the positions the team really needed. You just know. You get a feeling. There was an imbalance within the group. We had younger players eager to play but in that situation you can have too many of them and in key matches where we were desperate for a win we couldn’t quite get over the line. Just a couple of senior players to guide us through could have papered over the cracks in the short term.

I don’t want to rake over old graves, but there was a heartbreaking penalty miss against Chelsea, one of three that season at really crucial moments in games…

It was a real blow. It was a big game. We’d generally had a pretty good record against our arch nemesis. We were always in those games. That was one to forget. Around that time and beyond there was a realisation sinking in that it wasn’t to be and we were going to struggle to stay up. I remember it to this day. I’d had a lot of frustrations that year with injuries. I was so desperate to come back, play and score. You just rush at it and snatch at the chance. It was a big miss. It cost us.

Latter days

Why did you leave that summer?

I was coming out of contract. The Bosman Ruling had been agreed. I never had an agent those days but there had been some interest from minor European clubs in Holland and Belgium about taking me on a free transfer. QPR caught wind of that. Alan Curbishley had watched me across that season because on rehabbing from the injury I’d played a few reserve games. His team had gone quite well and been around the play-offs in Division One. They knew my pedigree, showed an interest, and it got to the stage where QPR thought that rather than me running the contract down and maybe taking a chance on going to European team for nothing they opted to take a transfer fee and I agreed to move. With Charlton being in London and Alan Curbishley as a young coach cutting his teeth, I felt at that time it was a good move for me.

Did you want to go?

Honestly, no. I loved playing for QPR. I wanted to stay there for ten years and do a testimonial. I loved playing for the club and had a passion for playing there. But I wanted to play football. Where QPR were, I was seeing the changes coming, I thought it was time to challenge myself and make a change. In hindsight maybe to have stuck around and played with Kevin and Danny Dichio, both showing tremendous potential and promise, might have been a good thing. I could have challenged them and offered some advice from my journey. The injury was a big blow for Kevin but he got back and scored a stack of goals and did very well for QPR. There was a weight and burden of expectancy on those two players at a very young age which I’m sure they’d admit was tough for them.

You come back and score for Charlton on your first game back, very QPR that, and there was none of this not celebrating business, was that a bit of a ‘fuck you’ because you thought you should still be there?

A bit of frustration came out in the celebration. I remembered the good times I had there, the relationship I had with the fans, and perhaps wished I was still there playing for them and representing them, because of that affinity that built up and developed over a number of years.

I had an inconsistent time at Charlton. Alan did an amazing job there getting them promoted. I played just over 40 games, scored a few goals, but it was stop start. I had problems with my foot, my knee, my ankle. Players came in, like Clive Mendonca, and flew. They were prolific and I became a bit of an understudy. It was a similar end to the one I’d had at QPR, a combination of injuries and the contract running out, the chance to move came up and I took it again because I was 27 and wanted to play.

As a Grimsby lad it annoys me to this day we didn’t buy Clive. We spent more money on both Hateley and Mike Sheron than Charlton did on Mendonca.

Such a good finisher. He’d proven his worth at Grimsby with Alan Buckley. Obviously scored an amazing hat trick in the play-off final for Charlton. It was a big ask for me to get in front of him. He was a strong player, trained hard, rarely missed games. A great signing for Charlton.

Grimsby’s my hometown so be nice, but how does a London lad end up at the end of the line out there?

I was a free transfer, I signed for Alan Buckley. I played more football in my three years there than I ever did at Charlton. They had some very good attacking players, the likes of Jack Lester, Lee Ashcroft and Steve Livingstone. It wasn’t the biggest of squads but they had good experience there. When you look beyond those three years, where Grimsby had been before, and where they dropped to, it was a really good time for the club. Staying in Division One was a remarkable achievement considering the size of the club and the budget it was operating on at that time. I really enjoyed it. It made a man of me. I’d always been a southern softie, playing my football in and around London, brought up in Essex, I went up north with my wife and very young daughter at that time and it was tough and totally out of my comfort zone but it was really good for me and my development as a human being. I certainly don’t regret that experience.

Blundell Park will make a man of anybody right, brutal place.

It is. Playing there in the winter months it’s cold let me tell you.

Alan Buckley isn’t that well known out of Grimsby but he played quite forward thinking, progressive football, albeit he had quite an old school sergeant major persona.

He was, he was total football, certainly not a long ball coach at all. It was all about playing from defence into midfield and then into the strikers, linking up and combinations around the penalty box. It suited the way I enjoyed playing the game. We had some decent performances. Blundell Park was always an advantage, visiting teams never used to like coming which was always good for five or six wins a season and that gave us a chance to keep the Division One status.

Homesick though?

A little bit. The away fixtures could be tough because we’d generally travel on the day of the game which went against us a little bit. But there were players who’d been there a long time and knew the score, the likes of John McDermott, Paul Groves, Stacy Coldicott, Kevin Donovan, Dave Smith, Kingsley Black. They were good footballers and we played some stylish football.

You played against QPR twice in 2000/01 when we were relegated again, I remember you told some friends of mine after you’d absolutely trounced us 3-1 up there in October that you feared for us that season.

I just sensed the vibe within that group of players then. The team was spiralling. They were on a poor run of results. It was really rather sad to see how it had dropped to those depths.

The game at Loftus Road I can scarcely recall a goalkeeping performance like it. I still call it a Danny Coyne when an opposition keeper does that to us. Him against Peter Crouch for 89 minutes and Grimsby score with their only attack. Any mixed emotions?

That was another game, having been a former QPR player and going back there, where I went back and got a victory. Danny Coyne I’m still in contact with now, top guy and excellent goalkeeper, he just had one of those days where he refused to be beaten.

Your career rather winds down after that, how come?

The three years at Grimsby petered out a little bit. I was coming out of contract but it was the summer of the ITV Digital collapse. Grimsby had effectively spent the money they thought they were guaranteed, built a wage bill and a staff, and then had a situation to deal with. I was 30, on a free transfer list which suddenly had 600-odd players on it. It’s similar this summer with players coming out of contract in the time of Covid, there’s no money down the football pyramid. I trialled at a number of clubs, did some time with Oxford, Brighton, started at Peterborough with Barry Fry where they’d initially offered me something long term but then had to downgrade it to a short term deal. I didn’t play very well there. I had a go at Bristol Rovers. Effectively my professional career came to an end. I did a bit at non-league which I didn’t enjoy. I got to the stage where it wasn’t for me any more. I had aspirations to stay in the game, I’d done my badges and worked with young players. Sometimes fate happens in life, other opportunities came my way and I chucked myself into those.

I asked Hogan Ephraim this, but as a teenager you’d have done anything to play professional football, and now here you are 12-13 years later thinking it’s not for you any more, is that difficult to get your head around, is there a depression and misery that comes with that or am I hamming it up?

Many players, if they’re honest, have challenges with that. I was fortunate to play for 15 years. Did I fulfil my potential? Probably not. Did I play enough games? I would have loved to play 400-500 games, I finished up just over 200 and scored 60-odd goals. I would loved to have been many more. I might have achieved something in those 15 years, a cup win or a real special moment to savour. But there were good moments there. Those challenges I went through as a player have really helped me as a person, and they’ve helped me having coached now for 17 years and working with young players at Spurs to pass those stories on. I take enormous satisfaction from that.

What would you change given the chance?

Perhaps when those injuries initially happened I just rushed it. I was too eager. If I’d have just slowed down or somebody had got hold of me and said ‘look, just take your time with this, you’ll get back to playing’. The knock-on effect it had over eight or nine years of my career, further injuries I sustained, perhaps I played a part in that myself. You have to deal with these things and learn from those mistakes you make.

QPR fans these days know you as a regular pundit on our games with the BBC, what do you make of present day Rangers?

I think they’re in a better position than they have been. I know the fans still think, with the history we’ve got in the Premier League, that they should be back in there. The Championship now has some very big teams in it spending beyond their means trying to get to that promised land. QPR have been run more prudently in recent seasons, I think there’s a better handle on it. I think one positive, long overdue, is slowly but surely some homegrown players have been developed which is great to see. That’s given the team an underpinning which, worst case scenario, keeps them in the Championship. Now what we’ve got to try and do is cleverly build upon that and towards being a contender for the top six positions. Unfortunately, I think that will need an investment from outside. In the current climate that’s probably not going to happen. QPR are going to have to roll with how they’re doing it at the moment in the short term. Let’s hope in the medium term they can come through, still be at this level of football, and get a season where they challenge for promotion.

For the team it would have been a real bonus if Eze had stuck around for one more season. I look at the Championship this season and there is a chance for an outside team to do quite well. Look at the top six, the three relegated teams are all there and yet none of them have actually started the season particularly well. Covid, no fans, has levelled the playing field somewhat. It gives a side with a togetherness and unity a chance to go close and cause an upset.

No fans is definitely a factor. Loftus Road, particularly with the midweek games, can really help a team like the current QPR team get over the line. The minimum that has to happen is another season of consolidation. I’ve watched a couple of games this season, I saw the R’s up at Coventry on a Friday night, and I was just worried there was a bit of vulnerability there. When we connect and get a game together going forward we create and score goals and we’ll be in most games, but we just concede goals that give us too much to do. You have to factor in the squad that Mark Warburton is working with.

What’s your career highlight?

The hat tricks were special. Getting international recognition at youth and U21 level. But to be honest, it’s that group of players that I had the pleasure to play alongside. The Premier League has changed, it’s a huge juggernaut now, and occasionally you’ll get a club like Bournemouth in there for a few years and have success, but QPR back in the day was a remarkable achievement. I know the fans from that era really remember and value that.

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francisbowles added 11:21 - Nov 16
Thanks to Clive and Bradley. I remember those days quite well. Bradley was a really good finisher. I remember a game at 'a bridge too far' when we were really poor, losing 2-0, I think, and he gets a ball played into his feet, back to goal about 25 yards out and he swivels and strikes a shot in one movement that flies into the top corner.

It wasn't only the injuries, he played at a time when there was real competition for the strikers roles.

flynnbo added 16:25 - Nov 16
Always been a fan of Bradley, a much underrated player.

NewYorkRanger added 11:49 - Nov 19
Really interesting interview - thanks for posting Clive. Bradley comes across very well. He seems very considered and knowledgable, and has a very balanced perspective.
I loved going to watch in those days - the highs and the lows from Everton away to Swindon away in the space of a few days. One of the most memorable things about the Everton game was how appreciative the Everton fans were of what a good team they had just been taken apart by. Shame we had to go and spoilt it with a typical QPR moment at Swindon.

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