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  • Head to head rivalries Arsenal vs Queens Park Rangers

    Augustine Worth

    Arsenal vs QPR

    The not rich club from west London


    Terry Venables was a player  and manager for QPR


    I have a soft spot for QPR. I worked for a time in Shepherd’s Bush in London and their ground Loftus Road, was close by. On Saturdays when there was a match on, our local pub would be closed to avoid trouble which meant we had to find one a bit further away. Having a few beers after work being traditional on a Saturday. I didn’t find their supporters to be much trouble and we had some good tussles on the pitch.


    A good striker for Ireland as well

    They also seemed to have many flamboyant players who have stuck in my mind, the Irishman Don Givens, Gerry Francis, Terry Venables, Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles, Les Ferdinand, Trevor Sinclair, Dave Thomas and a player called Clive Allen who had a connection to Arsenal that was interesting. I will get to it later. I had some friends who were big QPR fans and they were a team who had spells of making life difficult for us.

    We sent them down

    Certainly our first 2 meetings did not go well. 2-0 in the FA cup 1st round in 1921 where they lay down a marker.  Then the following year we got them again in the first round of the cup and this time a 0-0 and a replay. We won that 2-1 and I guess we were showing them that we could match them.  It didn’t matter too much though in the end as the next time we got them was 1968 in the old First Division. We had been poor enough since the early fifties and a long way from the great Arsenal teams of the past. They were young, hungry and had come up from the 3rd division in successive seasons having achieved their only major trophy on the way, the League Cup in 1967. We did the double over them and they went straight back down. So I reckon that was our modern day marker as we helped them on their way. I am sure there are QPR fans who still remember that.


    Their greatest ever trophy was the League cup in 1967 with this team

    But they did come back up in the seventies with our own Dave Sexton as manager. They had lots of top players including some mentioned above and managed a little parallel with us in our greatest match against Liverpool in 1989. In 1976 they were top by one point after 42 matches but Liverpool still had a match to go against Wolves which they won to pip them to the title. We beat them and they beat us that season but if they had done the double over us it would have been their first and only top division title. In December 1976 they beat us 2-1 in the League Cup, their only time to play us in that competition so they can claim victory there.


    Dave Sexton was a superb manager for QPR


    And sent them down again

    The seventies was a pretty strong time against us with 5 wins and 3 draws and we had the same. Even stevens, I suppose but we did record our biggest league win against them in 1978, 5-1 with Brady one and Stapleton and Rix getting 2 each. This was 1978-79 and we did the double over them, sending them down again to the second division. Plenty of their supporters will remember us badly for that season.

    They got a sort of revenge when they came back up in 1983, doing their first double over us. The following season it was one apiece, then we had 2 doubles in a row. We did manage a win and a draw against them in 1989, our famous year, so they did us a favour. Overall the 80’s head to head were a bit better for us but they were a good side considering the smallness of their ground and their lack of tradition amongst the big boys.

    Finally they showed us they could play

    They beat us 2-0 in a 4th round replay of the Cup in 1990 so that was payback for our good results against them. And then they beat us in the league that season 2-0 to have two 2-0 in a row.

    We did the double over them the next season but they then went on a long unbeaten spell against us from August 1991 to April 1995, easily their best time against us. They beat us 3-1 in both matches in the 1994-95 season but it was to be their last good spell against us. They went down in 1996 courtesy of our win and a draw and didn’t come back up until 2011. And we got revenge for their last FA Cup win, in 2001 with a massive 6-0 win at Loftus Road in the 4th round. Which made us equal in the Cup at 2 wins apiece.

    And so they came up in 2011 and stayed up until 2015 but only managed one win 2-1 at Loftus Road in 2012. We won all the rest.

    The Mystery of the Transfer that wasn’t

     And so we are better, yes, in 53 matches we won 24, drew 14 and lost 15. They won our only League cup tie against them so they can claim that metric. We won lots of trophies to their one. And we weren’t kind to them in their relegation seasons so I figure their old time supporters who remember such things  would love to do us over. Their biggest foes, though, would be their close neighbours, Chelsea and Fulham in west London.


    A rare picture of Clive Allen in an Arsenal shirt

    But I said I would mention Clive Allen, a story without an answer to this day. In 1980, Terry Neill had sold Liam Brady and wanted a statement buy. He chose Clive Allen from QPR, a dynamic and free scoring 19 year old who had scored 34 goals in 55 games for them. He played a couple of pre-season games for us and then, bizarrely, was swapped with Crystal Palace’s Kenny Sansom. Nobody understood it, including Allen himself. He wanted to play, to prove himself at a big side, but was shunted to Terry Venables Palace. Lots of the protagonists in this story produced books, including Allen himself, but nobody came up with a convincing explanation as to what happened.


    Terry Venables never shared the secret about Clive Allen

    He got his revenge

    He felt aggrieved with Arsenal, though, and when he pitched up at the Spuds in 1984, he got some revenge. In 1986-87 he scored 49 goals over all competitions for them, a record that even Harry Kane hasn’t beaten. He said he always wanted to beat Arsenal after that strange transfer. I can not offer any explanation either. Surely Arsenal could have afforded both Sansom and Allen? Sansom was a fullback and they don’t normally attract huge transfer fees. And we needed someone to knock in the goals. Maybe typical Arsenal stinginess was the answer but probably we will never know.


    Terry Neill also never shared the secret

    It is a derby I miss, though, and I hope they come back up again, and, honestly, I’d love to go to that nice little ground at Loftus Road once more, and watch us be Arsenal, and send them home crying.




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