Thursday, July 5, 2012
A brief history of Queens Park Rangers
Admitted to Football League: 1889
Second Division: 2
Third Division: 2
League Cup: 1
Queens Park Rangers have generally reflected the earthy, edgy glamour of their corner of West London, never more so than during the late 1960s and 1970s, when they won the League Cup and very nearly claimed the championship.
They were founded in 1882 after a merger between St Jude's and Christchurch Rangers. The fact that so many players came from Queen's Park in North West London was the reason for their name. The club played at 16 different stadiums before eventually settling in the west, at Loftus Road, in 1917.
Apart from a four-year spell in Division Two just after the Second World War, Rangers were relatively anonymous until the arrival of Alec Stock as manager in 1959. He transformed the club and led them to a unique double in 1967: they won Division Three and the League Cup, when they came from 2-0 down to beat West Brom 3-2.
A year later Rangers were promoted to the top flight for the first time in their history; and although they were relegated straight away, this was a memorable period, in which the side was full of exciting talents like Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles and Terry Venables.
QPR were promoted back to Division One in 1973. A year later, Dave Sexton took over as manager and built probably Rangers' most famous side. They had a number of England internationals, including Bowles and Gerry Francis, and missed out on the title by just a point in 1975-76. QPR reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup the following season, going out on penalties to AEK Athens, but failed to repeat their title challenge: they finished 14th, 19th a year later, and were relegated in 1979.
Venables took over as manager soon after and led Rangers - while still a Division Two side - to the FA Cup final in 1982, when they were beaten by Spurs a replay. He also installed a controversial plastic pitch. Rangers were promoted under Venables and, despite his departure to Barcelona soon after, were omnipresent in the top flight from 1983 to 1995. They finished fifth on three occasions: in 1984, 1988, and 1993. There was also a League Cup final appearance in 1986 - when they were beaten 3-0 by Oxford - and an astonishing 4-1 win at Old Trafford on New Year's Day in 1992, a match shown live on ITV. Dennis Bailey became the only opposition player to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford in the 1990s.
The departure of their manager Gerry Francis in 1994, and the star centre forward Les Ferdinand in 1995, were significant factors in Rangers being relegated in 1996. For the next 15 years they were stuck in the lower reaches of the Football League, although there were occasional highlights, including an outrageous comeback from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 at Port Vale in 1996-97. Relegation in 2001 led to a three-year spell in the third tier, QPR's first since the 1960s.
They suffered from major financial problems at the same time, entering administration in 2001. Financial stability eventually came when the club was bought by Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone in 2007, and on-field success followed the appointment of Neil Warnock as manager in 2010. QPR had finished no higher than ninth in the Championship since their relegation in 1996, yet Warnock led them to the title in his first full season and, although he was not there to see them stay there, QPR stayed up the next season under Mark Hughes.