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  1. 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.
  2. DON’t go breaking my heart Why oh why, Don, did you do it? Without that famous league cup final, I doubt if I would have become an Arsenal fan. I started out up for Swindon as did nearly everyone. But Arsenal kept trying to win on a muddy pitch and somehow a dogged Swindon side got a goal by Roger Smart against the run of play. It was all Arsenal but no goals until Bobby Gould scored on 86. I now cheered for Arsenal and was sure, being a top team against a 3rd division one, that now they would win. Arsenal had flu problems though, and the massive effort to get themselves back in the game seemed to take its toll in extra time. The most famous Swindon player ever, Don Rogers, who forms part of their name, scored 2 and Arsenal were beaten. The fact that I was gutted told me something. This was my team. I was born to be a Gooner. But despite wrecking my dreams, I retained a soft spot for Swindon. And I was always going to choose them for this series. Because they made me Arsenal. From now on I would cry when we lose and add an az when we win.* Their greatest day ever They gave us a harder time than the Spuds You might suspect that Arsenal are going to easily come out on top in this rivalry. You would be wrong. Yes we have far more trophies but not on the head to head. They win by virtue of going home with the League Cup and we got no trophy in our nine matches against them. 3 wins each and 3 draws. There is something likable about Swindon, though. They sport the Arsenal colours, Don Rogers, their iconic winger, has a stand named after him, always nice to see a player being recognised in this way. I could be wrong but I am not sure many clubs have stands named after players. The rest of the County Ground seen from the Don Rogers stand Now, I am guessing you would think that every metric I look for Arsenal would come out on top. And you would be wrong. Let’s talk about most league appearances by a player. We have David O’Leary on 558, they have John Trollope 1960 to 1980 with 770 and a total of 889 easily beating O’Leary on 772. More ways they are ahead Arsenal were always the innovators in English football? Eh, hello, Swindon beat us by 6 months in having floodlights in the 1950’s. They were founded in 1879, well ahead of us in 1886. And their first game against us was in 1911 in the FA Cup. They lay down a marker for what is to come with a 1-0. One nil to the Swindon would have been ringing out if it was the modern day. First blood to Swindon. Even Herbert Chapman found them hard The next came in the FA Cup again in 1929 in the 5th . Now this was the era of Herbert Chapman, with all the star names – Eddie Hapgood, Bob John, David Jack, Joe Hulme and others. We were the mighty Arsenal and they were in the 3rd division. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy? No are Arsenal and we make life hard for ourselves. 0-0 in the first game and then a little revenge in the 1-0 we got in the second with the fabulously named James Brain allowing the fans to sung our song if only they had known about it at the time. It took us 3 games to get a goal against them so they are ahead in that, too. All the rest came in my era. I remember them all. The first match was also my first blog and you can read about it here. Like I said at the start, they beat us so the first 2 trophies they played us they beat us. Swindon, you are breaking my heart. So did Bertie Mee and especially Terry Neill And so we got a chance to get revenge for ’69 in 1972, FA Cup 3rd round. On a muddy, muddy pitch, Geordie Armstrong of the double winning side, and Alan Ball, who wasn’t, got the 2 goals needed for us to progress. It was Alan Ball’s first goal for us and at least it was a bit more than a tap in like Geordie’s. So now we had 2 Fa Cup wins to their one. But they still had that trophy up on us so I put them ahead. Even the great Liam Brady couldn't stop them The next time was the League cup in 1979. We had a top side with all the Irish players. They were in the 3rd division. We were at Highbury. 1-1 and it went to replay and a classic cup game. Steve Walford scored an own goal and then gave them a deflection for their second. 2-0 to the Swindon at halftime. We had no Liam Brady for the first game and he came back for the second. Probably the best player in the league at the time, he would surely put manners on these upstarts? Eh, sort of, he played out of his skin, still referred to as the best display ever seen at Swindon’s County Ground, scored 2 goals and assisted Brian Talbot for the other but they scored one in the second half to take it to extra time. And Andy Rowlands got a late winner to mean that for the League Cup, Swindon are our daddies. A very small revenge in the Premiership You might be amazed but Swindon once got into the Premier League. In 1993-94, we played them twice. Now, they fell like a stone back down into the championship and we played our part in that a couple of days after Christmas at the County Ground. 4-0 to the Arsenal with Ian Wright and Kevin Campbell with a rare hat-trick. They conceded 100 goals, still the record. They got a little bit of revenge at Highbury in April with a 1-1 but for the Premier league, we can claim the win in the head to head. Or maybe this was their greatest day ever? But as you can see, I have to give them the lead overall. They beat us at Wembley, their most significant trophy. And they and QPR are the only 3rd division teams to win it. The FA Cup was never won by a 3rd division team. Swindon – better than us? So there you have it. A tiny team, with tiny attendances, trying to play in the mud at other tiny teams all their life, are laughing at us in the League Cup. We are a bit better than them in the FA Cup and they managed a draw against us in the Premier league, when we were packed full of top players and playing at Highbury. Be afraid, Gooners, be very afraid, if the name Swindon Town pops out of the spinning balls in any of the cups. They like beating us. Cry + az = crazy *
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