HIGH-flyers Queens Park Rangers hosted Blackpool early in the season in a bid to bounce back to the top flight.
High-flyers Queens Park Rangers hosted Blackpool early in the season in a bid to bounce back to the top flight.
Teams: Queens Park Rangers v Blackpool
Date: Tuesday August 26, 1969
Competition: Football League Division Two
Venue: Loftus Road, London
QPR led the Second Division four games into the 1969-70 campaign, looking to dispel what was a disastrous campaign in the top flight.
The R`s rode the crest of a wave to promotion in 1968, with Rodney Marsh at the forefront of the Rangers achievements as they finished runners up to Ipswich Town.
With Marsh out for the majority of the dismal First Division season, and Rangers changing manager from Bill Dodgin`s caretaker effort to Tommy Docherty`s infamously brief spell, eventually leaving the R`s plight at the door of former striker Les Allen.
He couldn`t save QPR who won only four games collecting 18 points in total, with the 4-0 home defeat against Chelsea a disappointing landmark in a relegation season.
The new season brought renewed vigour with Marsh back to the starting line-up and Rangers knocking three past Hull City and Millwall at Loftus Road, with an away win at Watford seeing the R`s to the league`s summit.
Blackpool sat in mid-table after a positive start to the season as they looked to build on an eighth placed finished in 1969.
They too were seeking a replacement to a long-serving boss with Stan Mortensen having only two seasons before being replaced by Les Shannon, this was a far cry from the nine year stint by former Pool defender Ron Suart.
Only four games in and the Tangerines suffered one defeat at the hands of Norwich City, but three home games yielded positive reward with wins over Portsmouth (2-1) and Birmingham City (2-0) and a draw against Blackburn (0-0).
QPR named an unchanged side from the one that edged out Millwall at Loftus Road (3-2), with Barry Bridges and Rodney Marsh looking to continue their formidable partnership in the front-line.
Bridges had three goals in the last two games and was looking to continue his outstanding form, and take the pressure of expectancy off Marsh.
One of Les Shannon`s first act as Blackpool boss was to bring in former Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City and Everton forward Fred Pickering. The England international started in style alongside Alan Suddick scoring in the aforementioned defeat to Norwich City.
The Tangerines could also call upon another England international, the veteran defender Jimmy Armfield. The Pool legend had plied his trade for 15 years at Bloomfield Road while earning 43 caps for his country, culminating in his selection for the 1966 World Cup – which he sadly missed out on through injury.
Blackpool could indeed boast a defence as impenetrable as the Iron Curtain, as it was put at the time, and so it was a surprise when Rangers raced into a 2-1 lead into the break. With the likes of Marsh and Bridges in full flow – with Pool`s only reply coming courtesy of Pickering from the penalty spot.
In wet and slippery playing conditions at Loftus Road with the rain lashing down on the surface, the R`s ran riot in a barnstorming second period. Four more goals for Rangers took them to six for the day.
Marsh completed his hatrick for the day, entertaining the crowd in familiar fashion for the first time since promotion to the top flight back in 1968. He was ably accompanied by the impressive Bridges who made it five goals in three games, completing his brace.
Venables rounded off the game from the penalty spot, as Rangers hit one of the division`s hot prospects for six.
Indeed sections of the press came out with some excellent analogies for the R`s display:
“It was like trying to stop an avalanche with a golf club.”
“Rangers are knocking on the door of Division One already with the irrepressible gaiety of a drink trying to get back into the party.”
After initial success QPR began to falter in their chase for promotion and finished ninth despite a plethora of attacking talent. Despite Marsh`s showing in the above fixture it was Bridges who finished R`s top scorer with 24 goals – four more than Rodney.
Blackpool may have lost the battle, but they ultimately won the war, achieving promotion to the top flight as runners up, finishing two points clear of third placed Leicester City. Pickering was their talisman with 17 league goals as an impressive defence saw them into the top-flight.
Final Score: Queens Park Rangers 6-1 Blackpool
Queens Park Rangers: Kelly, Watson, Clement, Venables, Hunt, Hazell, Bridges, Sibley, Leach, Marsh, Clark.
Goals: Marsh (3), Bridges (2), Venables (pen)
Blackpool: Thomson, Armfield, Bentley, Craven, Alcock, McPhee, Burns (Milne 63), Brown, Pickering, Suddick, Hutchinson.
Goals: Pickering (pen)
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