NEWLY promoted Queens Park Rangers took on a Derby County side in turmoil behind the scenes at the Baseball Ground.
Newly promoted Queens Park Rangers took on a Derby County side in turmoil behind the scenes at the Baseball Ground.
Teams: Derby County v Queens Park Rangers
Date: Saturday November 3, 1973
Competition: Football League First Division
Venue: Baseball Ground, Derby.
Gordon Jago’s QPR continued to ride the crest of a wave following promotion back to the top flight for the first time since the ill-fated 1968-69 season.
Jago’s side didn’t have a great deal of experience at the top level, but nevertheless the boss only chose to bring in a solitary player – the experienced Frank McLintock from Arsenal.
Shades of 1969 were running through the back of some fans’ minds with Rangers failing to win in their opening five games, before an away win over West Ham United (3-2) kick-started their season.
Coming into the game with Derby County, Rangers had suffered only one defeat in six games, with back to back wins over Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-2) and McLintock’s former club Arsenal (2-0).
Central to their revival was the form of striker Stan Bowles, a key figure in Rangers’ promotion back to the top flight. His five goals prior to the Derby fixture were a confidence booster to the former Carlisle man.
Derby were attempting to mount a title-chasing charge, while undergoing vast transformation behind the scenes at the Baseball Ground.
Brian Clough and Peter Taylor departed the club after a series of disagreements with club chairman Sam Longston involving players and media work among other things.
The Rams fans were understandably furious that Clough and Taylor had been forced to resign after their continued success, and called for them to be reinstated and for Longston to leave the club.
Nevertheless it was Dave Mackay that left rivals Nottingham Forest to take the helm at the Baseball Ground, a place where he had made 122 appearances as a player.
Clough resigned on a high, off the back of a 1-0 triumph over Manchester United, with Kevin Hector the winning goalscorer. Since then Mackay had one win, two draws and a defeat to his name.
Jago named an unchanged side for a second game in succession with Stan Bowles and Mick Leach looking to continue their fine form in the forward line.
Derby also named a familiarly strong side with Roger Davies and Kevin Hector leading the forward line with one of Clough’s controversial deals, David Nish a £225,000 record signing, also started.
Household names such as skipper Roy McFarland, Bruce Rioch and Archie Gemmill also started for the Rams as they looked for their second win under their new boss.
Rangers managed to end Derby’s unbeaten run at home and to a man they left the field delighted but exhausted after an energy-sapping victory.
Gordon Jago waxed lyrical on his side’s display away from home against one of the division’s favourites, hailing it as the best performance of the season.
‘This was our best performance of the season, we were tremendous,’ he said.
Goals from Gerry Francis and a fifth goal in as many games for Stan Bowles helped secure a victory despite a goal from the penalty spot from Archie Gemmill.
Rangers went on to finish top dogs in London with an incredible eighth-placed finish in their first season back in the top flight.
They adapted to their new surroundings far quicker than previously and could look to a useful springboard for the future.
Derby County picked up under Mackay who steered them to a creditible third placed finish in his first season in charge at the Baseball Ground.
Final Score: Derby County 1-2 Queens Park Rangers
Derby County: Boulton, Daniel, Nish, Newton, McFarland, Todd, McGovern, Gemmill, Davies, Hector, Hinton.
Queens Park Rangers: Parkes, Clement, Hazell, Venables, Mancini, McLintock, Thomas, Francis, Leach, Bowles, Givens.
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