League Cup fourth round, 1993

QPRvWednesday9328 November ~ This was the tale-end of an era when most First Division teams still took the League Cup seriously, and clubs like Sheffield Wednesday tried, according to the programme notes, “to live up to their pre-season label of Championship contender” (and writers still referred to the title as “the Championship”). QPR manager Gerry Francis was, meanwhile, mildly dissatisfied that his team were only eighth in the table, when at the same stage in the previous season they’d been sixth.

Francis was on pensive form in his column The Francis File. Wednesday “on their day are capable of beating anybody”, he writes ahead of the 2-1 defeat. One month later on New Year’s Day the teams met again at Loftus Road in the league and repeated the exact same result. The following April the QPR lost 3-1 at Hillsborough. Wednesday were “on their day” quite a bit that season when up against Rangers.

Francis also noted that “however we perform, the most important thing about any Cup tie is the final result”. A win being, under the rules, the only way to progress to the next round. He goes on to invoke the words of the sagacious Clive Tyldesley, who had said the previous Saturday on Match of the Day that “Loftus Road can have a great atmosphere when there’s a good crowd”. And if QPR played in red and were located in Lancashire they might have a dozen or more league titles to their name.

Still, no one buys a match programme for its profundity, or updates on the human condition. “The most important thing is to take each game as it comes,” says defender Alan McDonald, warning against over-expectation. And the most important thing when reading the official club publication on a December night is the sense of warmth you get from the reassuringly familiar phrases that have been part of the game’s beige rhetorical fabric for 100 years.

When refs weren’t refs “Fitter” Paul Durkin’s interests “include crosswords and playing golf”. Oh my.

Targeting the fan demographic “GoldStar are pleased to be the official suppliers of TV and video equipment to QPR Football Club.” Pleased, but not delighted. Oh well.  

Result QPR 1 (Meaker) Wednesday 2 (Jemson, Jones)
Crowd 13,253.
QPR Stejskal, Bardsley, Wilson, Wilkins, Peacock, McDonald, Impey (White), Barker, Ferdinand, Allen, Meaker
Wednesday Pressman, Nilsson, Palmer, Walker, Worthington, Waddle, Hyde, Jones, Bart-Williams (Poric), Jemson, Bright

Ian Plenderleith

Ian Plenderleith's "Rock n Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League" is out now, published by Icon Books

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