Monday, 19 November 2012

One Crazy Game

Queen’s Park Rangers v Newcastle United

The date is 22nd September 1985.  The venue is Loftus Road and the infamous ‘plastic pitch’.  The visitors are Newcastle United.

Newcastle were promoted in 3rd place from Division Two the previous season.  That ended a period of 6 seasons out of England’s top division.  QPR themselves had only come back up a season earlier, when Newcastle missed out by just 3pts.

Newcastle had begun the season with 3 straight wins against Leicester (3-2), Sheffield Wednesday (2-1) and Aston Villa (3-0), before turning their form right around with 3 straight defeats, to Arsenal (0-2), Manchester United (0-5) and Everton (2-3). 

QPR had lost just once but it was a 0-5 thumping at Tottenham.  They’d drawn at Liverpool (1-1) and Watford (1-1) and won both home matches against West Brom (3-1) and Nottingham Forest (3-0).

QPR were now managed by Alan Mullery, after Terry Venables had taken up the Barcelona job during the summer of 1984.  They had future manager John Gregory in midfield and still had much of the side who lost in the FA Cup Final to Spurs in 1982.  Newcastle were managed by Jack Charlton, and included future manager, Glenn Roeder as well as future England stars, Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle.

Charlton lined up his side with three centre-backs in an attempt to stem the flow of goals against them.



Neill      Fenwick            Wicks               Dawes

Micklewhite       Gregory             Fereday            Fillery

Bannister          Stainrod




Wharton            McCreery          MacDonald

Saunders                                                          Brown

Haddock           Roeder              Anderson



Three minutes in and a long kick from the keeper, finds Waddle on the left.  He skins Warren Neil, crosses to the far post where Neil MacDonald heads Newcastle into the lead


Most of the play by-passes the midfield as both teams try and beat the opposing defences.  Then QPR have a good shout for a penalty turned down as Bannister is pulled down in the area, but the referee waves it away and gives a free-kick to Newcastle as Bannister picked the ball up to appeal.

Rangers’ pressure gradually forced the visitors back and Carr was called upon to make a couple of important saves.  Then a long ball from the Newcastle defence was headed down by Waddle to MacDonald, who then put Waddle through and as the keeper came out, he coolly slotted it home.  18 minutes in and Newcastle were 2-up


By now Newcastle seemed in complete control and had dispensed with the long ball as QPR struggled to gain some sort of hold on the game.  Five minutes after the 2nd goal, Newcastle get a free-kick in the centre circle.  Glen Roeder floats it into the area where Neil fails to clear his header convincingly and it falls to Wharton on the edge of the area, who volleys it onto the near post.  Just to sum up QPR’s day so far, the ball falls kindly to the nearest player who is Waddle and he calmly slides the ball home for his 2nd goal in quick time.

Rangers tried to claim offside, but they just looked to have given up already.


Almost immediately, a long ball from the back is headed on by Stainrod to Bannister who lobs Carr in the Newcastle goal.  But the referee has already blown for a foul on Stainrod rather than play the advantage.  To say the home fans weren’t pleased was an understatement and their anger was further stoked when Carr easily dealt with the free-kick.

As the half reached a conclusion, QPR were really struggling to force a way through the Newcastle defence, whereas the visitors always seemed to have more space when coming forward.  During a Newcastle attack, they had a throw-in down near the QPR’s left-side corner flag.  The ball was half cleared but only to Waddle, on his own about 25yds out.  He controlled the ball, and in that languid style of his just curled a left-foot shot inside the far post, past the despairing Hucker.

Rangers had lost just 7 times in 63 games on their artificial turf, yet here they were 4 down at half-time.

QPR   0  -  4  NEWCASTLE

Somewhere in Rangers folklore they talk about a teamtalk Alan Mullery gave at half-time, and it came in this game.  Whatever he said had the desired affect as QPR were a completely different side in the second 45 minutes

As the second half kicks off, Rangers are immediately positive, forcing a dubious free-kick which culminated in a good save from Carr as they finally work the keeper.

Waddle continues to cause the home side problems, but then Hucker kicks downfield and Stainrod heads on for Bannister to try and chip the keeper, who just gets a hand to his shot.  Bannister’s momentum takes him on and as the ball drops, he is there to head the ball into the empty net.


Rangers seem to be really up for it now and the crowd has been lifted too.  Carr is forced to make a good save lowdown to his right to deny Wicks.

QPR are beginning to get time on the ball, something they just didn’t have in the first half and there then a really comical moment.  QPR are attacking down the right and there is so much more movement than they showed before.  A nice series of passes sees Micklewhite into the area, but Roeder forces him wide and the ball runs loose.  Suddenly, Haddock appears facing his own goal and attempts to blast the ball towards his corner flag, but it hits Wharton full in the face, and ricochets off past Carr for the home side’s 2nd goal


Not to be outdone, QPR almost score a more impressive own-goal themselves, as Wicks attempts a back-pass (allowed in those days) from the centre circle but meets the ball on the half volley and it loops up and almost beats Hucker, who just gets his fingers to tip it over as he back-peddles.

QPR then have another goal chalked off as Stainrod scores but the ref penalises them for some reason.  Even watching the coverage back it’s unclear what the infringement was, but I assume the ref knew.

But then with just over 15 minutes to go, John Gregory makes a run from deep and is not picked up.  Carr comes charging out of his goal and Gregory simply chips it over him and the comeback continues


QPR are completely dominant.  There are players moving in all positions, and even the long ball game isn’t working for Newcastle as a Rangers player always seems to be on the end of it. 

Into the final 10 minutes and under this pressure some magic from Peter Beardsley.  The ball is hoofed clear from Newcastle’s defence to the halfway line.  Wicks beats Waddle to it and as the ball bounces to the left of the centre-circle, Waddle makes a run forward as he sees it’s Beardsley who the ball has run to.  Beardsley looks up and plays a 30 yard ball into the vacant right-wing position where Waddle takes it down and dribbles into the area.  As the defender commits himself, Waddle jinks outside to the bye-line and squares the ball where Wharton scores a simple tap in.


Newcastle must’ve thought they’d finally won it, but straight from the kick-off, Rangers get a free-kick on the edge of the area.  Gregory plays it wide to Micklewhite who crosses to the far post and Steve Wicks gets up to head in for the home side


As Newcastle were desperate to run the clock down by lumping the ball into Rangers’ half, the home side were still pressing for a point they looked nowhere near deserving 45 minutes earlier.  Substitute Ian Stewart, played a through ball which Gregory dummied to allow Micklewhite to run onto into the area, and yet again this afternoon, Carr was chipped for the equaliser.


No one in the ground could really believe what they’d seen.  The Newcastle players looked utterly dejected, some QPR fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes and all this just for 1pt.  A fantastic afternoon’s entertainment.

The reaction from both managers couldn’t have been more different.  Newcastle’s Jack Charlton was not pleased at all

"Saturdays game was a total embarrassment, absolutely diabolical. I have never seen anything like it in my 32 years in the game. I went mad at the players because there were times when they were going to give me a heart attack. They just stopped playing"

Big Jack obviously thought the problems went deeper than just the one game.

"There are so many things wrong at Newcastle it is incredible. People are asking me where I intend to start with the problems, but I just don't know. It will take years to put right. Some of the players couldn't even breathe in the second half. I don't know where they got their education from before, but, believe me they'll get it from me in the months to come."

QPR manager Alan Mullery added

"These kind of games are great for the fans but they give managers heart attacks. We needed a miracle in the second half and we got it"


QPR : Bannister, Wharton o.g., Gregory, Wicks, Micklewhite

NEWCASTLE: MacDonald, Waddle (3), Wharton

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