We are the champions, champions of Europe – History
Thursday, 17th Sep 2020 18:35 by Clive Whittingham
As QPR prepare to visit Coventry City in Birmingham on Friday, we look back at connections between the two sides, past results, and Rangers’ last successfully foray into European competition with the 2005 Copa De Ibiza triumph.
Coventry 2 QPR 3, Tuesday July 19, 2005, Copa De Ibiza
Queens Park Rangers had a string of memorable trips to Coventry through the 1990s. They came from two nil down to draw in 1991/92 thanks to Gary Penrice’s super-sub act. Then they topped the fledgling Premier League at the end of its first month after a 1-0 win at Highfield Road secured by Andy Impey’s first senior goal for the club. A year later Devon White was setting a ‘Bruno, Bruno’ party in motion all the way back to Euston and the year after that Trevor Sinclair secured a third straight 1-0 win on that ground with what I believe the children now call an “absolute banger”. Of course, when we needed a win there most, at the fag end of a dire 1995/96 season, we lost 1-0, the name of Eoin Jess forever etched in Rangers’ memories, Impey this time sent off in disgrace as QPR were all but confirmed as relegated with two games left to play.
A generation on, John Gregory’s QPR side secured a priceless 1-0 victory at the new Ricoh Arena to push them closer to an unlikely escape from Championship relegation thanks to a goal from Chelsea loanee Jimmy Smith, and a couple of years later Neil Warnock’s monied side won 2-0 on the same ground with a goal from flying loanee Kyle Walker to move them one step closer to promotion back to the Premier League, 16 years after Jess had effectively booted them out of it. But why on earth would we focus on any of those in this week’s History column, when we all know the true Memorable Match between these sides came on the holiday island of Ibiza in 2005?
The Copa De Ibiza, like humans keeping killer whales in swimming pools and riding round on their backs, is one of those things that in years to come people will not believe ever existed. Even just 15 years on, it’s difficult to really understand why anybody – anybody sensible that is, in a position of authority – thought this would be a good idea. A pre-season tournament, between three British teams and a local select eleven, played in the port town of San Antonio, on the island known better than anywhere else around the world for all the things it’s known better than anywhere else around the world for. What. Could. Possibly. Go. Wrong?
In QPR’s “group” for this rare foray into competitive European action were Huddersfield Town and a coach party of elderly Yorkshire-folk, a Saint Antoni side captained by Paul Oakenfold, and Coventry City who’d brought a couple of hundred with them. These were happy times at Loftus Road. Ian Holloway had taken a club relegated to League One and in administration and built it back from the ground up into one packed with ability and character, winning promotion the previous season in grand style on the final day of the season at Hillsborough. A first season back in the Championship had threatened to go gangbusters when Rangers won seven in a row through the autumn, but an upper midtable finish was a fine achievement all the same. This was a team of Kevin Gallen, Marc Bircham, Lee Cook, Danny Shittu, Martin Rowlands, Gareth Ainsworth and others. A team of modern day heroes. Though not, perhaps, a team you’d take to Ibiza for pre-season.
Rangers made light work of Paul van Dyk, Armin van Buuren and co in their first game while Coventry dispatched Huddersfield to set up a final. To the organisers’ surprise/dismay, more than 1,000 QPR made the journey for it (of course more than 1,000 QPR made the journey for it) and when Rangers limped in at half time 2-0 down (Dele Adebola and Gary McSheffrey, just like back at home) things went off in the main stand behind the dugouts.
The game was halted to allow Coventry manager Micky Adams – his squad under lock and key after his experiences with Leicester City in La Manga the summer before – to take hold of the microphone and admonish those causing trouble and try to sooth the situation. Holloway rather liked the look of that so gave his own version, where he admitted his team had been “rubbish” but would come out second half and “give it a right good go” if everybody calmed down. Tactful.
Marc Bircham revealed on the Undr the Cosh podcast this week that Holloway then promised his players a “no curfew” night out if they turned the game round and in the blink of an eye it was 3-2 to Rangers. Even Dean Sturridge scored – twice!? – his only two goals for the club, and Kevin Gallen naturally added a third. The referee, probably quite sensibly, disallowed a late Coventry goal.
QPR – fans and players – did not keep the celebrations low key – on or off the field – as they were presented with a bigger replica of the European Cup by way of prize. This would come back to haunt them four games into the following league season when they were the first opposition to play competitively at Coventry’s vile new Ricoh Arena. Barely finished and looking in parts like a building site, the afternoon turned into an ambush for the visiting fans and players, with running battles taking place around the ground, and Coventry in fine form to smash Rangers 3-0 and exert their revenge.
But for that one night in July, not a single fuck was given. The cup was tried once more with smaller clubs from lower down the ladder – Swindon, Scunthorpe – and then dropped. Bring it back. Bring it back.
QPR first half: Cole, Gallen, Bircham (Doherty), Evatt, Brown, Furlong, Rose, Miller, Bignot, Santos, Chambers
QPR second half: Royce, Shittu, Moore, Cook, Doherty, Shimmin, Hislop, Bean, Sturridge (Chambers), Hugo, Gallen
QPR 2 Coventry City 1, Saturday January 23, 2011, Championship
Having blitzed their way through the first half of the 2010/11 season, unbeaten in their first 19 matches, Neil Warnock’s QPR endured a few more fraught encounters in the season half of the campaign as they ground their way relentlessly towards the Championship title and promotion. To go with the ten man win at Reading, last gasp Ishmael Miller goal against Leicester, and 89-minute hang on job at Barnsley came a tight and tense televised victory at home to Coventry. The visitors took a first half lead when mild mannered Marlon King stopped nicking cars and beating women up long enough to get on the end of Gary McSheffrey’s low cross and open the scoring at the Loft End. A frustrating first half against an unashamedly direct (park side) Coventry finally started going QPR’s way in injury time when Adel Taarabt collected a Paddy Kenny clearance, faced up his man on the corner of the penalty area and bent an exquisite chipped shot over perennial scourge of QPR Kieran Westwood and into the far corner. Better was to come ten minutes from time when Taarabt crafted a ball down the line with the outside of his right boot that got debutant Wayne Routledge in for an immaculate first touch round the keeper and crisp finish.
QPR: Kenny 7, Orr 7, Connolly 6, Gorkss 6, Hill 7, Derry 8, Faurlin 7, Routledge 8 (Ephraim 90, -), Taarabt 8, Smith 7(Hall 83, -), Helguson 6 (Miller 55, 7)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Clarke, Hulse, Moen
Booked: Derry (foul)
Goals: Taarabt 45 (assisted Kenny), Routledge 79 (assisted Taarabt)
Coventry: Westwood 8, Keogh 5, Wood 6, Cranie 6, O'Halloran 6, Gunnarsson 6, Doyle 5 (Clingan 67, 6), Baker 6, McSheffrey 6 (Platt 79, 5),King 8, Eastwood 7 (Jutkiewicz 46, 6)
Subs Not Used: Ireland, Bell, Clarke, Cameron
Booked: Doyle (foul), O'Halloran (foul)
Goals: King 25 (assisted McSheffrey)
Coventry City 0 QPR 2, Tuesday December 28, 2010, Championship
In the face of one of the most obvious and basic long ball games seen in recent times QPR survived a period of pressure in the first half thanks to two good saves from Paddy Kenny and a goal line clearance by Alejandro Faurlin before comfortably winning the game in the second. Kyle Walker thought he’d scored the first senior goal of his career when his shot flew into the roof of the net after a typically lung-busting run down the right, but television replays showed that he had in fact crossed the ball and the goal would have to go down against the name of City keeper Keiran Westwood. Tommy Smith made it 2-0, flicking home Adel Taarabt’s superb cross and Kaspars Gorkss missed a great chance to make it 3-0 after arriving on the end of a corner at the back post.
Coventry: Westwood 5, Keogh 5, McPake 6 (Eastwood 87, -), Cameron 7, Wood 5 (O'Halloran 70, 5), Bell 5 (Wilson 71, 4), Carsley 6, Doyle 6, McSheffrey 7, King 6, Platt 4
Subs Not Used: Ireland, Jutkiewicz, Cranie, Baker
Booked: McSheffrey (foul)
QPR: Kenny 8, Walker 8, Connolly 7, Gorkss 7, Hill 7, Derry 7, Faurlin 7, Mackie 6, Taarabt 7 (Rowlands 84, -), Smith 7 (Clarke 80, 6),Helguson 6 (Orr 89, -)
Subs Not Used: Cerny, Agyemang, Hulse, Tofas
Booked: Helguson (foul), Faurlin (foul)
Goals: Westwood 49 og (assisted Walker), Smith 61 (assisted Taarabt)
Results and Scorers
Head to Head >>> Coventry wins 44 >>> Draws 28 >>> QPR wins 36
2010/11 QPR 2 Coventry 1 (Taarabt, Routledge)
* - FA Cup
Kenny Sansom >>> QPR 1989-1991 >>> 1991-1993
For a long time England’s most capped international full-back, Sansom became Crystal Palace’s youngest ever debutant in 1975 - a record since been broken by Jon Bostock - after leading Palace to youth cup victory just a few weeks before.
Quick, calm, strong in the tackle and an excellent crosser of the ball, Sansom missed just one league game in 156, starting back in 1976, when Palace made their way from the Third Division to First and briefly topping it. His performances paved way for a £1million transfer to Arsenal, with Clive Allen going the other way despite only joining the Gunners weeks earlier and without a senior appearance to his name. In an eight-year spell in North London, Sansom cemented his place as Arsenal’s first choice left-back picking up their Player of the Year in 1981 and captaining the League Cup win six years later.
He was an integral part of Bobby Robson’s England side playing in the 1982, and 1986 World Cup finals. His record of 37 consecutive appearances between May 1984 and April 1987 has only been bettered by Billy Wright and Ron Flowers.
His relationship began to sour with George Graham at the end of the eighties and with Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon coming into the side and he left to join Newcastle United. A season later he returned to London at Queens Park Rangers where he would go on to play 80 games for the Super Hoops under Don Howe.
He was part of the QPR team that crawled through to the sixth round of the FA Cup in the 1989/90 season through a slew of replays. Cardiff were dispatched 2-0 at Loftus Road in the Third Round after a 0-0 draw in South Wales to set up a fourth round tie away at Sansom’s former employers Arsenal. QPR played for, and got, a 0-0 at Highbury in front of 43,483 and in the lashing rain at Loftus Road in the replay served up one of the classic Rangers performances of the era with Roy Wegerle in mesmeric form and Sansom hammering a goal in from the edge of the box in front of just shy of 22,000 crammed into the ground.
That was Sansom’s first goal for the club and his second came in a third replay against Blackpool in round five. Colin Clarke made it 2-2 at Bloomfield Road, but Rangers were then held themselves on their own patch by the lower division team. A toss of the coin meant a third replay in W12 and Sinton, Barker and Sansom sealed a 3-0 win. Replays as well in that quarter final as Wilkins and Barker scored in a 2-2 with Liverpool before the R’s finally, bravely, bowed out 1-0 at Anfield.
Sansom was ever present for Rangers in the 1990/91 league season right the way through to back-to-back 1-0 home wins against Man City and Coventry in early March, with a young Les Ferdinand getting the goals in both games. New signing Rufus Brevett replaced him after that for the remaining matches and Clive Wilson made the spot his own in 1991/92. Sansom moved to Coventry, the team he’d played last in QPR colours, and made 55 appearances for them over three seasons as the Premier League era dawned. There followed seven, eight and one-game stints at Everton, Brentford and Watford respectively before he retired into punditry. Sadly, addictions to alcohol and gambling, have made it a tragically unhappy retirement for one of the great English players of the 1980s.
Others >>> George Thomas, QPR 2020-present, Coventry 2014-2017 >>> Michael Petrasso, QPR 2013-2018, Coventry (loan) 2014 >>> Peter Ramage, Coventry 2016, QPR 2008-2012 >>> Leon Clarke, Coventry 2013-2014, QPR 2010-2011, (loan) 2006 >>> Jay Bothroyd, QPR 2011-2013, Coventry 2000-2003 >>> Gary Borrowdale, QPR 2009-2013, Coventry 2007-2009 >>> Martin Cranie, Coventry 2009-2012, QPR (loan) 2007 >>> Iain Dowie, QPR (manager) 2008, 1998-2001, Coventry (manager) 2007-2008 >>> Leon Best, Coventry 2007-2010, QPR (loan) 2004-2005 >>> Andy Impey, Coventry 2005-2006, QPR 1990-1997 >>> Peter Reid, Coventry (manager) 2004-2005, QPR 1989-1990 >>> Paul Furlong, QPR 2002-2007, (loan) 2000, Coventry 1991-1992 >>> Mark Hateley, QPR 1995-1997, Coventry 1978-1983 >>> Gerry Francis, QPR 1968-1979, 1981-1982, (manager) 1991-1994, (manager) 1998-2001, Coventry 1982-1983 >>> Gary Thompson QPR 1991-1993, Coventry 1977-1983 >>> Roy Wegerle, Coventry 1993-1995, QPR 1990-1992 >>> Gary Bannister, Coventry 1988-1990, 1978-1981, QPR 1984-1988 >>> Alan Brazil QPR 1986, Coventry 1986 >>> Dave Sexton, Coventry (manager) 1981-1983, QPR (manager) 1974-1977 >>> John Beck, Coventry 1976-1978, QPR 1972-1976 >>> John O’Rourke, Coventry 1971-1974, QPR 1969-1971
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