Comebacks, cup wins and late goals – my top 15 Loftus Road memories

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This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of QPR’s first-ever match at their much-loved home.

After struggling to settle on a top 10, I’ve greedily come up with my top 15 memories – in order – of Loftus Road.

They all took place between 1982 and 2003 – the period in between me being too young to understand and too grumpy to include some of Rangers’ more recent highs.

It’s very much a personal top 15 and one I think will bring back some fond memories for QPR fans of a similar age.

15: Too hot for Spurs

QPR 4 Tottenham 1 (October 1992)
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The cracking Rangers teams of the early 90s actually produced some of their best results away – 4-1 at Manchester United and two sublime performances at Everton spring to mind. But the thrashing of Spurs was a stand-out display on home soil. Coming from behind to win, the second-half showing was as good as it gets, with Gary Penrice netting twice and Ian Holloway and Ray Wilkins also scoring.

14: Celebrating the class of ’93

QPR 3 Sheffield Wednesday 1 (May 1993)
A routine win on a balmy night to seal a fifth-place finish in the Premier League, the final match of the campaign was basically a celebration of a fine season, arguably the second best-ever QPR side and, looking back, a great era, so it’s a fond Loftus Road memory included in my list despite the game itself being unremarkable.

13: Falco’s volley – and Ferdinand arrives

QPR 4 Chelsea 2 (December 1989)
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A superb win over Chelsea and a fine performance which included a brilliant goal from Mark Falco. This game also signalled the arrival of two QPR legends who would shape the memorable few years that followed; Wilkins and Les Ferdinand. It was Wilkins’ home debut, and while Ferdinand had been a Rangers player for a couple of years, his two goals were his first for the club and announced his arrival as a striker to be reckoned with.

12: The eyes of the nation

QPR 2 Liverpool 2 (FA Cup, March 1990)
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In the pre-Sky era, Rangers being on live television was a big deal. An FA Cup quarter-final against Liverpool was an even bigger deal, and Wilkins’ first-half goal meant Don Howe’s team were heading for the semi-finals before John Barnes and Ian Rush scored. But there was a late twist, with Simon Barker getting a late equaliser in front of the Loft.

11: The final-day escape

QPR 6 Crystal Palace 0 (May 1999)
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Relegation followed two years after this escape but, at the time, dropping into the third tier so relatively soon after being an established top-flight club seemed unthinkable. Rangers needed to win on a nerve-destroying final day of the season to stay up and did so in emphatic and sometimes bizarre fashion, sparking scenes of wild celebration.

10: Macca the hero

QPR 2 Manchester United 2 (FA Cup, January 1989)
A pulsating FA Cup third-round replay in which Rangers led through Mark Stein’s goal before United equalised to take the tie into extra time and then took the lead. But a second replay (Google it, kids, along with ‘when the FA Cup really mattered’) was salvaged with a far-post header in the 123rd minute by the late, great Alan McDonald. Magical.

9: A big step to Wembley

QPR 1 Liverpool 0 (League Cup, February 1986)
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A semi-final on the plastic under the lights at Loftus Road. Terry Fenwick’s goal gave Rangers a narrow first-leg win. The second leg famously ended in a 2-2 draw at Anfield, securing a trip to Wembley for the Milk Cup final, which was subsequently cancelled because of a dispute over policing costs, sparing Oxford a thrashing. 

8: Allen at the Loft end

QPR 1 Crystal Palace 0 (FA Cup, March 1982)
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Clive Allen scored an 87th-minute winner in front of the Loft in an FA Cup quarter-final. Even as a very small child who didn’t quite grasp the full significance of the absolute pandemonium, I understood something magical had happened. Great memories.

7: Bannister destroys Chelsea

QPR 3 Chelsea 1 (September 1987)
A Gary Bannister hat-trick in a one-sided derby. Rangers were so superior that day many Chelsea fans in the School End attempted to run the length of the pitch to congratulate Rangers fans on their team’s performance.

6: The Easter Monday massacre

QPR 6 Chelsea 0 (March 1986)
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Another Bannister hat-trick as Rangers ran riot, with John Byrne getting two of the goals – one of which was a brilliant solo effort. This wasn’t just a sensational, famous QPR win, it derailed Chelsea, who were going for the title at the time.

5: Pizanti’s wondergoal

QPR 3 West Ham 1 (FA Cup, January 1988)
Coming the year before the Hillsborough disaster, who knows what might have happened that day had perimeter fencing existed at Loftus Road. Its absence meant that, when overcrowding occurred because of fake tickets having been sold, fans streamed onto the pitch. Play was interrupted before Rangers prevailed in a breathtaking FA Cup tie, with David Pizanti scoring a stunning goal. This was also one of the final games I was taken to by somebody who sadly died a couple of years later, so memories of this great game have always been poignant for me.

4: An electrifying cup win

QPR 3 Nottingham Forest 1 (League Cup, November 1985)
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This Milk Cup tie was rescheduled after being postponed in bizarre circumstances two weeks earlier. It was lightly snowing and the teams had just walked out on to the pitch when suddenly the floodlights failed. During the long delay which followed, the stadium announcer repeatedly offered the shivering crowd hope that “the man from the LEB” (back to Google, kids) might be able to save the day. Alas, he couldn’t. But good things come to those who wait, and the rearranged game was an absolute belter. In those days, QPR’s away record was such that drawing at home in a cup seemed as good as a defeat (although that trend was spectacularly bucked in a replay at Chelsea in the following round). So when Nigel Clough scored a late equaliser for Forest, it seemed that was that. Enter Bannister and then Byrne with last-minute goals at the Loft end. Scenes.

3: The comeback

QPR 5 Newcastle 5 (September 1984)
Mr YouTube explains this legendary Loftus Road game best. What a day.

2: Sansom soaks Arsenal

QPR 2 Arsenal 0 (FA Cup, January 1990)
A brilliant, brilliant night under the lights at Loftus Road. Torrential rain, a terrific atmosphere – the second-best I’ve experienced at Rangers – and an FA Cup victory courtesy of Kenny Sansom thumping one in against his former club and Andy Sinton sealing it in the final seconds before diving into the Loft in celebration.

This game also seemed to highlight what a promising side was emerging under Howe. David Seaman was establishing his reputation in goal, Rangers had a formidable back three in McDonald, Paul Parker and Danny Maddix, and Wilkins was pulling the strings in midfield while Sinton and Roy Wegerle tore Arsenal to shreds. It was also the night when it all seemed to click for two players who had struggled to win over the crowd; Barker and David Bardsley. Previously ponderous, Bardsley suddenly exploded into life during a second-half spell in which he became like a man possessed. A wonderful night.  

1: That night against Oldham

QPR 1 Oldham 0 (May 2003)
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The victorious play-off semi-final, won by Paul Furlong’s late goal and Chris Day’s great save, produced the loudest, most emotion-filled atmosphere I’ve witnessed at Loftus Road. Unforgettable.