A NEW season in the top flight graced Queens Park Rangers and they faced West Brom under new guidance.
A new season in the top flight graced Queens Park Rangers and they faced West Brom under new guidance.
Teams: Queens Park Rangers v West Bromwich Albion
Date: Saturday August 25, 1985
Competition: Football League Division One
Venue: Loftus Road, London
Under the guidance of new boss Alan Mullery, Rangers prepared for the opening day test against West Bromwich Albion, with change still lingering in the air in W12.
The R’s had sold Clive Allen to Tottenham Hotspur after he handed in a transfer request, with deals for Birmingham City front-man Mick Harford, and opposition striker Cyrille Regis falling through.
They did dip into the transfer market to sign Gary Bannister from Sheffield Wednesday, and opted against selling Simon Stainrod to the Owls.
A fifth placed finish in 1984 meant that the R’s had a steep task to emulate the achievement of departing boss Terry Venables – but Mullery was full of hope as the season got underway.
West Brom had finished 17th last time out and Johnny Giles was looking to improve his side’s displays as they entered a new campaign.
The Baggies had been a side last season with a glut of talented players, that had truly flattered to deceive on a number of occasions – with Giles under pressure to get his players performing this time out.
Rangers started with the debutante Bannister in the front-line alongside Simon Stainrod, as they searched to get their first opening day win since 1981 against Wrexham.
If Rangers opening day record wasn’t up to scratch, then West Brom’s was disastrous, without an opening day victory since 1978, as prospective R’s forward Regis started for the Baggies.
The hosts didn’t have to wait too long for their first goal of the campaign, and it was perfectly crafted from the boot of Mike Fillery.
The midfielder hung a free-kick into the area and with the Baggies rearguard struggling to cope Simon Stainrod was able to back-heel into the back of the net from close range.
One quickly became two when Bannister’s flick-on from a Hucker delivery fell to the feet of the onrushing Stainrod, and the forward lashed beyond Tony Godden.
Stainrod also had a hand in the third as he was felled on the edge of the area, with Terry Fenwick stepping up and drilling a free-kick home from 20-yards out.
Striker Steve MacKenzie did get a goal for Albion, but it wasn’t enough to make a genuine difference as the R’s got the season off to a flier.
The feel-good factor continued as Rangers were undefeated in the first four games, but they were eventually thumped at White Hart Lane by a rampant Spurs (0-5) – before conceding another five goals against Newcastle United, only to score five as well in a comeback heralded as one of the greatest.
However one win in ten saw Mullery under pressure in the hot-seat, and he was eventually sacked following a gruelling home win over Stoke City who went on themselves to be relegated by quite a margin.
Frank Sibley steadied the ship and despite a dip in form in the final few games they narrowly avoided relegation. Four defeats from five games saw them finish one place and one point from relegated Norwich City.
West Bromwich Albion meanwhile ousted Giles by late September, with Nobby Stiles replacing him at the Hawthornes. As a result the Baggies managed to secure a 12th placed finish.
It was a false dawn as the following season the Baggies were relegated as the rock-bottom side in the First Division, triggering their longest spell out of the top flight since their return in 2002.
Final Score: Queens Park Rangers 3-1 West Bromwich Albion
Queens Park Rangers: Hucker, Neill, Dawes, Stewart, Wicks, Fenwick, Micklewhite, Fillery, Bannister (Fereday), Stainrod, Gregory
West Bromwich Albion: Godden, Whitehead, Statham, Hunt, Bennett, Robertson, Grealish, Thompson, Regis, MacKenzie, Cross.
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