4 March 1967 might seem like a random date picked out of the air from 50 years ago. And QPR 3 WBA 2 to some might seem like a random list of letters and numbers. However, those who were at Wembley Stadium that day, or local people of a certain age, or avid Queens Park Rangers fans will know that on 4 March 1967 Queens Park Rangers beat West Bromwich Albion three goals to two to win the Football League Cup final.
At that time Rangers were flying high in the old Division 3 (equivalent to League 1 now) and West Bromwich Albion were mid table in Division 1 (equivalent to the Premier League now). West Brom had already won the League Cup the previous year.
It was a day after my birthday and I was at Wembley along with my dad, brother and my close friend as part of the 97,952 crowd to see this memorable match. By half time West Brom were two nil up and as Rangers were the underdogs. Most of us were expecting a complete whitewash. In fact my brother was already talking about going home. But when Rangers returned to the pitch for the second half amazingly they started attacking from the whistle. Winger Roger Morgan scored in the 63rd minute and local hero Rodney Marsh equalized in the 75th minute. He described that goal as ‘the defining goal of my career’. As the tension grew in the stadium Mark Lazarus scored the winning goal for Rangers in the 81st minute.
So Rangers had won their first major trophy and under manager Alec Stock then went on to top the 3rd Division that season. By coincidence they topped the league at the end of the 1967 season with 67 points. In three consecutive seasons they went from Division 3 to Division 1. It was the golden age of football in Shepherds Bush.
Some would say it was the most memorable day in the history of Queens Park Rangers but others younger and more cynical would say it’s very unusual for Rangers to win anything. In fact the game itself was unusual for many other reasons.
QPR. and WBA are the only two teams in the football league who routinely are recognized by their initials. It was the first time Rangers had ever played at Wembley and the first major tournament that they had ever played in. In fact Rangers were the first third division club to play at Wembley.
The 1967 League Cup Final was only the seventh League Cup competition; the six previous finals had been played mid-week over two legs. It was the first to be played at Wembley and the first final to be played on a Saturday. And Rangers made history by becoming the first 3rd division side to win the League Cup.
In the previous two-leg 1966 final ex Ranger’s player Clive Clark played and scored to help West Brom beat West Ham 5 – 3 on aggregate. In the 1967 final it was Clive Clark who scored both first half goals for West Brom. Incidentally, Clive Clark lodged in Thorpebank Road whilst playing for Rangers in the late fifties.
The amazing second half comeback by Rangers saw Roger Morgan, Rodney Marsh and Mark Lazarus score for Rangers and Captain Mike Keen lifted the cup. Strangely out of the team of 11 players only these four players had a name beginning with the letter M.
The winning team consisted of Springett (goalkeeper), Hazell, Langley, Keen (captain), Hunt, Sibley, Lazarus, Sanderson, Allen, Marsh and Morgan. Goalkeeper Peter Springett played for Rangers from 1962 to 1967 and his brother Ron, also a goalkeeper, played for Rangers from 1955 to 1958 and from 1967 to 1969. Ron Springett later went on to open a sports shop in the Uxbridge Road.
The Springett brothers both being goalkeepers never played in the same team together. In fact there are very few brothers that have ever actually played together and even fewer twin brothers. Twins Roger and Ian Morgan were wingers who regularly played together in the Rangers team. Roger actually played in the final but Ian was the substitute that day.
For the final Rangers played in an all-white strip whilst West Brom played in their regular away strip of red. They had used the red away strip since the late 1950s but after their defeat in 1967 changed to an all-white strip. By a strange coincidence in the 1968 final Leeds who wore an all-white strip beat Arsenal who wore red tops.
When Rangers won the cup it caused a problem for the Football Association. Previous winners qualified for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, but the competition rules stated that the winning team must come from the highest tier of that country’s league. So Rangers were not allowed to play and Nottingham Forest, Leeds United and Liverpool qualified for the following season’s Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
I mentioned earlier that Clive Clark once lodged in Thorpebank Road. In the late 1950s and early 1960s many Rangers players lodged in Shepherds Bush. My own parents took in Rangers lodgers (read about my memories).
In 2014 The Octavia Foundation in partnership with QPR in the Community Trust were putting together a documentary on the story of Queens Park Rangers. I gave them an oral history of my memories of Shepherds Bush and living in a house with Rangers players. I also lent items for a small exhibition at the stadium. As a result of that I was invited to the premiere of R’STORY that took place at Westfield in 2015. At the after party I was honoured to speak to Mark Lazarus and shake the hand of the man that I saw score the winning goal at Wembley all those years ago.
P.S. As a very quirky coincidence West Brom’s goalkeeper that day was Dick Sheppard and ‘Sheppard’ is the earliest known reference to Shepherds Bush i.e. Sheppards Bush Green (1635).
[Peter Trott, Local Studies volunteer]