Plum selection

The ever-promising Chris Plummer has gone down and down and is now out of Queens Park Rangers, but Anthony Hobbs and his fellow Rs have a soft spot for the fellow

Centre-half Chris Plummer could justly claim to be the very-nearly man of QPR over the last ten years. His final appearance for Rangers – at Layer Road, Colchester at the end of last season – completed a series of just over 50 first-team appearances, spread over an eight-season period that started with Rangers in the Premiership and finished with us in Division Two.

Over that period, Plums went from promising youngster, through just plain promising, to useful squad player and then “popular club man”. Yet, despite his rather modest collection of first-team games and the nagging feeling that his potential remains untapped, many Rs fans were sad to see him depart at the end of last season.

Plummer signed as a professional with QPR in 1994, after progressing through the youth ranks. In 1996, he won half a dozen caps for England Un­­der-21s and made his first-team debut, in the Premiership, for Rangers. When the Rs found themselves heading for Division One at the end of the 1995-96 season, there were plenty of observers who thought that our relegation might offer Plummer the opportunity to build up his experience and confidence in the First Division, before returning a couple of years later – with a resurgent QPR – as a fully fledged Premiership defender. What could possibly go wrong?

Well to start with, not long after we kicked off in the second tier and after a series of hope-over-expectation signings (Mike Sheron for £2.75 million, anyone?), it became clear that our best hope of escaping the First Division was into the one named Second. Things were not go­ing well. Managers came and went, taking with them any continuity of team selection, so Plummer seemed to just sort of slip into and out of the side almost un­noticed.

A series of injuries didn’t help – just as Plummer appeared to establish himself in the side, he would pull a hamstring or develop a hernia or break an ankle. And perhaps his longest injury-free run came as a reserve-team player, since it unfortunately coincided with rival centre-half Karl Ready’s best run of form for the club. It was hard not to feel sorry for Plummer – he seemed to be the unlucky man of the Rs. When he did play, Plum­mer always looked steady and capable. He was good in the air and had decent positional sense. Per­haps a lack of pace was his major shortfall, but the Premiership and the English game generally is littered with examples of slowcoaches who have eked out a decent career – God knows, Rangers have employed enough of them over the years. So there was never any tangible reason why Plummer shouldn’t have a suc­cessful career with Rangers – and yet he just never quite did.

Eventually, Rangers discovered the trap door to Division Two and fell into administration. As a player signed when the club was in a better financial and league position, Plummer’s wage be­gan to look increasingly incongruous as a reserve-team or squad player. Fin­ally, at the end of last season, after a brief loan spell at Bristol Rovers and with financial considerations paramount, Plummer had to go.

Once again, he hadn’t done much wrong – in fact he hadn’t done much at all, which was the problem. Fifty league appearances over eight seasons tell their own story. That said, I can’t think of many players who could play so few games over such a period without at­tracting any “Why is he here?” wrath from sup­porters. Most recognised that, throughout his time at Rangers, Plummer remained a decent player – but ultimately not an indispensable one. I’m sure all Rangers supporters would wish him well at his new club, Barnet. And since he’s still only 26, perhaps he can cling on to that “promising” tag for a little while yet.

From WSC 200 October 2003. What was happening this month