Anthony Hobbs talks QPR – what's gone wrong in recent years, bad signings and mergers
What has been the main reason for the club’s steady decline over the past few seasons?
The then chairman Richard Thompson failed to invest in the squad six or seven years ago, at a time when a moderate outlay might have paid dividends through revenue generators such as UEFA Cup qualification (don’t laugh, we weren’t that far away). His successor, Chris Wright, was much more willing to invest at first. Sadly, he and his managers almost seemed a bit too desperate to buy players and showed all the judgement of the bloke who bought £70,000 worth of Railtrack shares the day before they went belly-up.
Which recent player was the worst buy?
There are probably more useful things to do with £1.5 million than spend it on a 35-year-old called Mark Hateley, as we did in 1996. Burning it, for example, or maybe throwing it into a river to assess its buoyancy.
Have there been any good points about the tie-up with a rugby club?
Well, we’ve had a cup-winning team containing international players based at Loftus Road. For a change. And the grass seems to be in better condition. Er... and there’s nice padding around the ground to cushion players who go careering into the advertising hoardings.
Is the club safe from talk of mergers or is that still in the background?
The Milton Park Keynes Wimbledon Rangers stuff seems to have gone away for the time being. I think ground move proposals are more likely than merger ones at the moment.
Will the club start to lose fans to other clubs if they stay in the lower divisions for more than a season?
Sadly, I fear the answer is yes. Rangers need to throw everything into their community and schools programmes now, to ensure that generations of west London kids grow up knowing right from wrong. Of course, rational adults are well able to understand what Fulham, Chelsea and Brentford are about. But we need to think of the children.
Milestones and Millstones
1882 Club formed as St Judes (patron saint of lost causes). Become Queens Park Rangers in 1886.
1899 Join the Southern League, finishing a nondescript eighth and thus setting the scene for the next 100 years.
1926 Forget to enter the FA Cup.
1948 Win promotion to the Second Division. Tried it for four years, didn’t like it much.
1967 Blimey. Rangers are Third Division champions and League Cup winners, coming from two down to beat First Division West Brom 3-2.
1968 In the First for the first time. After a “rabbit in the headlights” season, go back down with a princely 18 points.
1973 Promoted again. Perhaps this time we’ll get the hang of it. Three years later finish second, one point behind Liverpool. Hardly been mentioned since.
1977 Reach UEFA Cup quarter-finals, chucking away a 3-0 first leg lead to go out to AEK.
1982 Make history by laying in-no-way-whatever-a-joke-of-a-surface Omniturf. Lose Cup final to Spurs, letting Chas ’n’ Dave back into the charts.
1983 Promoted under Terry Venables. Two seasons later, back in Europe! This time chuck away a four-goal first-leg lead against Partizan Belgrade.
1986 For the only time, we are cup final favourites. Bookies retire to Barbados as we lose 3-0 to Oxford in the Milk Cup.
1992 Duff Man Utd 4-1 at Old Trafford. Even Dennis Bailey hits a hat-trick.
1995 Les Ferdinand sold. Relegation.
1996 Join forces with Wasps and float on the stock exchange. Remember, your investment can crash completely as well as just go down
Stan Bowles ~ A great player, possibly made even greater in people's memories by some of the rubbish that followed him. Gambling problems, model girlfriends, unruly hair, arrogance, football ability, He had it all.
Richard Thompson ~ If he had the slightest understanding why football is important to so many people, he could surely have presided over a trophy-winning side. He could have been popular as well. But he just didn't get it.
From WSC 178 December 2001. What was happening this month