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Falco's goal seals crucial win for injury-hit R's - History
Monday, 25th Oct 2021 14:36 by Clive Whittingham

Ahead of a visit from struggling Sunderland on Tuesday, LFW looks back to 1990 when a monumental injury crisis had dragged Don Howe's QPR into a relegation scrap with the Mackems.

Memorable Match

QPR 3 Sunderland 2, Saturday December 29, 1990, First Division

There’s something about these two sides and matches that are crucial to the way the bottom of the league table will look. Back in 1990, when Sunderland were the Christmas week visitors to Loftus Road, alarm bells were ringing throughout W12 after a dire run of form.

Manager Don Howe had found his team cursed by a series of injuries to central defenders. First choice pair Alan McDonald and Paul Parker had been ruled out for the rest of the season with injuries picked up in the same game with Crystal Palace. New assistant manager Bobby Gould opened his little black book of lower league gems to bring in Andy Tillson from Grimsby and Darren Peacock from Hereford but the latter was almost immediately sidelined himself along with Danny Maddix. Howe returned to his former club Arsenal for a loan of Gus Caesar but as he is now remembered by fans of both clubs as one of their worst every players you can guess that this wasn’t a particularly successful move either.

Howe and Gould desperately needed a result. The decimated defence had been leaking goals at a frightening rate and as Sunderland arrived in the Bush for the final match of the calendar year they found a QPR team without a win in ten matches dating back to October when Roy Wegerle’s famous goal had contributed to a stunning 3-2 win at Leeds. Sunderland, under Dennis Smith, had been promoted to the First Division the year before and were struggling themselves – without star striker Marco Gabbiadini for this one and destined to finish second bottom of the table and return to the second tier at the first time of asking.

With just one point from the previous five matches the Mackems turned out to be ideal fodder for Rangers who managed to cobble together a less than inspiring back line that included Tillson, Caeser and Maddix for this match. Caesar immediately conceded a Loft End penalty by fouling Gabbiadini’s replacement David Rush but Paul Bracewell saw his spot kick brilliantly saved by Jan Stejskal diving full length to his right.

Eight minutes before half time Howe’s men made Sunderland pay for their profligacy when Wilkins chipped a partially cleared corner back into the area and Maddix rose well to nod home but they couldn’t hold out until half time and Caesar was once again culpable for the goal. Colin Pascoe, now Liverpool assistant manager, tapped home from close range after Stejskal had parried an initial shot from distance, but it was Caesar’s fresh air kick under no pressure when the clearance seemed a straightforward one that set the moment up.

This was to be a game of three penalties and the second of the match also went Sunderland’s way after half time. David Bardsley tripped Rush right under the nose of referee Roger Milford, and Bracewell allowed club veteran Kevin Ball to have a crack from the spot – he made no mistake in front of the Sunderland fans. It seemed the run of two points from a possible 30 was about to become two from 33 for QPR.

Sunderland though, as teams at the bottom of the table often do, found a way to let Rangers back into the game. Andy Sinton certainly made the most of John Kay’s nudge in his back in the penalty area but there were few complaints from the visitors about the spot kick award and Roy Wegerle confidently smashed in a fifteenth goal of the season – seven of them from the penalty spot.

Then 15 minutes from time Bardsley atoned for his earlier error with a measured ball to the back post where Mark Falco slid in with a trademark scissor kick to seal a much needed home win.

Rangers lost their next two games over the holiday period but with Darren Peacock returning to the defence to partner Tillson and Les Ferdinand starting to emerge as a genuine striking talent alongside Wegerle the second half of the campaign was a whole lot happier. A draw with Man Utd in the first weekend in January commenced a run of one defeat in 13 matches, eight of them victories, to lift the R’s to a comfortable final position of twelfth.

QPR: Stejskal, Bardsley, Sansom, Tilson, Caesar, Maddix, Wilkins, Barker, Falco, Wegerle, Sinton

Subs: Wilson, Meaker

Sunderland: Norman, Kay, Ord, Bennett, Ball, Owles, Bracewell, Armstrong, Davenport, Rush, Pascoe.

Subs: Hardyman, Hawkes

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 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)

Sunderland 0 QPR 2, Tuesday February 10, 2015, Premier League

QPR had lost all 12 of their away games in the Premier League by the time they headed up to Sunderland for a midweek match in February 2015 – Harry Redknapp describing matches away from Loftus Road as “bonus games” before slumping off in a sulk at the end of the transfer window when he hadn’t been allowed to spend yet more money on his failing squad, coming up with some bullshit excuse about his knees being too bad for him to continue. In the first match without him, Leroy Fer powered a header in and Bobby Zamora whipped a spectacular volley into the top corner and lo, Chris Ramsey was one for one on the road as caretaker manager. Not so difficult after all as it turned out.

Sunderland: Pantilimon 6; Réveillère 5 (Brown 63, 5), O’Shea 5, Vergini 3, Van Aanholt 5; Bridcutt 5; Johnson 6, Larsson 5; Gomez 5 (Alvarez 46, 6); Wickham 6 (Fletcher 82, -), Defoe 6

Subs not used: Mannone, Coates, Agnew, Graham

Bookings: Larsson (foul), Alvarez (dissent)

QPR: Green 8; Isla 6 (Doughty 85, -), Ferdinand 7, Caulker 6, Yun 7; Phillips 8 (Wright-Phillips 52, 6), Barton 8, Henry 7, Kranjcar 6; Fer 8 (Zarate 75, 6); Zamora 6

Subs not used: McCarthy, Traore, Hill, Taarabt

Goals: Fer 17 (assisted Phillips), Zamora 45 (assisted Phillips)

Bookings: Zamora (unsporting conduct), Ferdinand, Barton

QPR 1 Sunderland 0, Saturday August 28, 2014, Premier League

QPR ended a nightmare week which had seen them thrashed at Spurs, knocked out of the League Cup at Burton, sell Loic Remy to Chelsea and mourn Ale Faurlin’s latest cruciate knee ligament injury on a bright note with a victory against Sunderland at Loftus Road back in August that season. It was Rangers’ first win of the Premier League season and was sealed in first half injury time when Leroy Fer nodded down Joey Barton’s corner and Charlie Austin swept home his first ever top flight goal from close range.

QPR: Green 8; Isla 7, Ferdinand 7, Caulker 7, Hill 7; Barton 6, Mutch 7, Fer 8 (Taarabt 90, -); Hoilett 6 (Traore 83, -), Phillips 6, Austin 7 (Zamora 69, 7)

Subs not used: Onuoha, Murphy, Henry, Dunne

Goals: Charlie Austin 45 (assisted Barton/Fer)

Bookings: Mutch 56 (foul)

Sunderland: Mannone 7; Vergini 5 (Altidore 82, -), Brown 6, O’Shea 6, Van Aarnholt 6; Cattermole 7; Larsson 6, Rodwell 6 (Giaccherini 69, 7), Johnson 5, Wickham 6; Fletcher 6 (Buckley 69, 6)

Subs not used: Pantilimon, Jones, Bridcutt, Gomez

Bookings: Cattermole 36 (foul), Giaccherini 90 (diving)

QPR 3 Sunderland 1, Saturday March 9, 2013, Premier League

Although QPR endured a torrid time during the 2012/13 Premier League season, winning only four games and amassing just 25 points, one of those wins and four of those points came from the two games against Sunderland. At Loftus Road in March that year the R’s made it two wins from as many games with a 3-1 success, following the previous week’s victory on the road at Southampton on a day when The Mirror led with damaging allegations about player behaviour during a warm-weather training camp in Dubai. Things didn’t look good at Loftus Road when Steven Fletcher knocked in Adam Johnson’s cross at the Loft End amid defensive disorganisation but the R’s were back on terms within ten minutes when Spurs loanee Andros Townsend fed the in form Loic Remy to equalise. Townsend was having a superb game on the wing and he scored his first goal for the club, in spectacular fashion, with a dipping Loft End volley 20 minutes from time. When Jermaine Jenas also lashed in from the edge of the area in the very last minute the win was sealed and a remarkable escape looked on. Sadly, subsequent 3-2 defeats in crucial, winnable away games at Villa and Fulham undid that brief period of good work and condemned Harry Redknapp’s side to relegation.

QPR: Green 6, Bosingwa 7, Samba 7, Hill 7, Da Silva 6, Townsend 8, Park 7, Mbia 7, Hoilett 7 (Wright-Phillips 76, 7), Zamora 7 (Mackie 72, 7), Remy 7 (Jenas 79, 7)

Subs not used: Murphy, Onuoha, Granero, Bothroyd

Goals: Remy 30 (assisted Townsend), Townsend 70 (unassisted), Jenas 90 (unassisted)

Sunderland: Mignolet 6, Gardner 6, O’Shea 5, Bramble 4, N’Diaye 5 (Vaughan 77, 6), Larsson 6, Colback 6 (Bardsley 81,-), Johnson 6, Sessegnon 6, Graham 4 (Rose 57, 6), Fletcher 6

Subs not used: Westwood, Kilgallon, Cuellar, Mangane

Goals: Fletcher 20 (assisted Johnson)

Bookings: N’Diaye (foul), Gardner 71 (foul)

Sunderland 0 QPR 0, Tuesday November 27, 2012, Premier League
These two shard the spoils from a fairly dire game at the Stadium of Light in Harry Redknapp’s first match in charge of QPR earlier that season. The R’s threatened first but goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was equal to an instinctive shot on the turn by Djibril Cisse. Rangers were forced to replace their goalkeeper Julio Cesar at half time but his replacement Rob Green and he dived bravely at the feet of Steven Fletcher immediately after coming on to maintain the deadlock. Stephane Mbia fired wide from range and substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips could easily have won the game in stoppage but he shot low at Mignolet’s legs when through into the right channel.

Sunderland: Mignolet 7, Bardsley 6, Kilgallon 6, Cuellar 6, Rose 7*, Cattermole – (Colback 5, 6), Larsson 5, Gardner 5 (Saha 78, 5), Johnson 5 (McClean 70, 6), Sessegnon 5, Fletcher 6

Subs not used: Westwood, Bramble, Vaughan, Campbell

Bookings: Cuellar 50 (foul)

QPR: Cesar 7 (Green 46, 7), Bosingwa 6, Nelsen 7, Hill 7, Traore 7, Mackie 7, Diakite 6 (Park 66, 6), Granero 6, Mbia 7, Taarabt 6 (Wright-Phillips 77, 6), Cisse 6

Subs not used: Ferdinand, Fabio, Derry, Hoilett

Bookings: Diakite 54 (repetitive fouling), Hill 67 (foul), Mackie 80 (foul)

Sunderland 3 QPR 1, Saturday March 24, 2012, Premier League

Following a memorable comeback victory against Liverpool at Loftus Road during a midweek round of fixtures, relegation haunted QPR travelled to Sunderland in March 2012 with renewed optimism. That was sadly blown away during the following 90 minutes in which Sunderland were better in every department. They opened the scoring before half time when Nicklas Bendtner headed home a deep cross and any hopes of a Rangers comeback were extinguished ten minutes into the second half when Djibril Cisse collected his second red card of the season for a wild two footed tackle. Sunderland made their extra man count with late goals from James McClean and Stéphane Sessègnon with only a spectacular late free kick from Taye Taiwo giving the travelling R’s fans anything to cheer.

Sunderland: Mignolet 6, O'Shea 6 (Campbell 27, 6), Kyrgiakos 6, Turner 6, Bridge 6 (Meyler 70, 6), Gardner 7, Vaughan 7, Colback 7, McClean 8, Bendtner 7 (Elmohamady 82, -), Sessegnon 8

Subs Not Used: Gordon, Wickham, Kilgallon, Ji

Booked: Kyrgiakos (unsporting conduct), Bridge (foul)

Goals: Bendtner 41 (assisted McClean), McClean 70 (unassisted), Sessegnon 76 (assisted Vaughan)

QPR: Kenny 6, Young 5, Onuoha 4, Ferdinand 5, Taiwo 6, Taarabt 6 (Wright-Phillips 60, 5), Derry 6, Diakite 6 (Buzsaky 52, 5), Mackie 6, Zamora 5 (Bothroyd 82, -), Cisse 5

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Hill, Gabbidon, Barton

Sent Off: Cisse 55 (serious foul play)

Booked: Diakite (foul), Young (foul), Zamora (unsporting conduct)

Goals: Taiwo 79 (free kick, won Zamora)

QPR 2 Sunderland 3, Wednesday December 22, 2011, Premier League

QPR suffered a heartbreaking late loss in the first meeting between these two sides following the London outfit’s promotion in 2011, although in truth Neil Warnock’s side were lucky to still be in the game when Wes Brown rose unmarked at the near post to head in a last minute winner from a corner kick. Sunderland, under the new management of Martin O'Neill, made a fast start and profited from slack marking by Matt Connolly to take the lead after 20 minutes when Nicklas Bendtner headed in from another set piece. The back four didn't improve much thereafter and allowed Stéphane Sessègnon a free run on the Loft End goal after half time for 2-0. The game appeared well and truly up for Warnock's men but turned on its head in a bizarre four minute spell in which Ale Faurlin set up Heidar Helguson for the first and then Jamie Mackie dived full length at close range to head home an unlikely equaliser. Suddenly the home side seemed like the like winner but more slack marking at corners cost them at the death.

QPR: Kenny 7, Young 6, Gabbidon 4, Connolly 5 (Bothroyd 90, -), Traore 7 (Hall 80, -), Barton 5, Faurlin 6, Derry 6, Wright-Phillips 6 (Taarabt 46, 7), Mackie 6, Helguson 7

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Hill, Campbell, Smith

Booked: Faurlin (foul), Young (foul)

Goals: Helguson 63 (assisted Faurlin), Mackie 67 (assisted Helguson)

Sunderland: Westwood 6, O'Shea 6, Bramble 6, Brown 7, Bardsley 6, Larsson 7 (Gardner 75, 7), Cattermole 6, Vaughan 5 (Colback 71, 6), Richardson 7, Sessegnon 8, Bendtner 8

Subs Not Used: Carson, Kilgallon, Ji, McClean, Elmohamady

Booked: Sessegnon (foul), Cattermole (repetitive fouling)

Goals: Bendtner 19 (assisted Richardson), Sessegnon 53 (unassisted), Brown 89 (assisted Richardson)

Sunderland 2 QPR 1, Saturday April 14, 2007, Championship

These two sides were heading in opposite directions when they met at the Stadium of Light in 2007. Sunderland, in their first season under Roy Keane, had recovered from a desperately bad start to the campaign and topped the table heading into our April trip to the north. QPR had spent most of the season struggling against the drop but had put together a run of form at just the right time under John Gregory and were just about safe going into this game. You could tell as well, with Sunderland looking nervous and QPR much more relaxed the visitors fought back to equalise Dean Whitehead’s early goal for the hosts with a Martin Rowlands penalty midway through the first half. In the end, as he had done at Loftus Road earlier in the season, Grant Leadbitter struck the killer goal with 13 minutes left to play. Sunderland won the title and have been in the Premiership ever since, QPR avoided relegation and were bought out by Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone in August that year.

Sunderland: Ward 6, Simpson 6, Evans 7, Edwards 7, Whitehead 8, Murphy 6 (Stokes 77, -), Nosworthy 7, Collins 7, Connolly 8, Wallace 7 (John 46, 5), Yorke 6 (Leadbitter 61, 8)

Subs not used: Fulop, Elliott.

Scorers: Whitehead 7, Leadbitter 76

Bookings: Simpson 80 (foul)

QPR: Camp 6, Bignot 5, Cullip 5 (Kanyuka 43, 4), Stewart 6, Timoska 6, Rowlands 7, Bolder 6, Lomas 6 (Idiakez 83, -), Smith 6, Moore 5 (Furlong 69, 5), Blackstock 6

Subs: Cole, Nygaard.

Scorers: Rowlands 22 (pen)

Bookings: Cullip 41 (foul), Bolder 42 (foul), Furlong 76 (foul)

Previous Results

Head to Head >>> QPR wins 14 >>> Draws 8 >>> Sunderland wins 14

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 >>> 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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