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Saturday, 24 October 2009

A Team In The QPR Tradition

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Watching Queens Park Rangers dismantle Derby County with style on national television brought back the best of memories for supporters of a certain age. Inevitably it brought to mind QPR sides of the past.

To anyone under 30 it might come as a shock to find that Rangers finished second in the top flight in 1976. That team-with England's Gerry Francis driving them on- played with tremendous style and verve. An accomplished Liverpool only pipped them by a single point in May- and bizarrely were allowed to play their final game after Rangers had completed their programme.

Dave Thomas was a vibrant force on the wing and Phil Parkes an ultra-solid keeper who England would love to have now.At the back the grizzled ex-Chelsea veteran David Webb provided the steel and Don Givens was  a clever forward who later played with big success on the Continent.

In the middle of it all was Stan Bowles, one of those maverick talents who flourished in the 70s but failed to impress several England managers. His sublime ball skills and vision lit up the team.

Rangers were the acceptable face of London football to many provincial fans- a smaller club than Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea, with an air of adventure, a stadium near the BBC and White City, plus a killer strip.

In the Premiership era Rangers had another terrific side, finishing fifth in the first year of the new competition. This one was based on the all-action striking skills of Les Ferdinand and the subtle promptings of Ray Wilkins late in his career. Andy Sinton's wing play brought him England caps.

Now QPR have another side- albeit in the Championship- who are fizzing the ball about with style and accuracy. Jim Magilton's team plays with ambition and Wayne Routledge and Adel Taraabt, two Spurs refugees, are full of tricks. It doesn't always come off but it's good to watch.

QPR have moved to sixth in the table after the win at Pride Park.They are playing the sort of football that could grace the Premiership and pleases Loftus Road fans, but it remains to be seen if they can stick with this fluid style through the winter months.

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Hugh Larkin



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