QPR vs Watford: When Rangers and Stan Bowles made a real dent in the FA Cup

15 Feb

Queens Park Rangers host Watford in the FA Cup fifth round, the club’s first appearance at this stage for 22 years – and it’s live on talkSPORT.

Loftus Road is sure to be jumping, with fans hoping to make a mark on the competition, so talkSPORT.com decided to jump in its time machine and head back to when Stan Bowles, Rangers’ greatest ever player, actually did leave a mark on the famous trophy.

Sunderland 0-3 QPR – 9 May, 1973 (Second Division)

The hosts had just shocked First Division heavyweights Leeds by beating them 1-0 at Wembley and there was a party atmosphere at Roker Park for the last game of the season four days later against newly-promoted Rangers.

Bowles was the great entertainer in a fabulous QPR side of the 1970s. Almost everything that was good came through him and he is considered by many to be the club’s greatest ever player

Bowles was desperate to spoil the party, which had been carrying on since Saturday’s shock win.

There were 40,000 fans inside the stadium 20 minutes before kick-off to see the trophy being paraded before it was left on a trestle on the halfway line between the respective benches.

And Bowles, who loved a gamble – he’d backed Leeds to win the Cup – came up with a fun way to make some quick cash and get his own back on the Mackems who’d denied him a big payout.

He bet one of his mates £10 he could knock the trophy off the table during the game. In his mind, he’d win the bet early and then try and win the game as he so often did.

However, when the match started he found himself on the opposite side of the pitch, hurtling towards the opposition’s 18-yard box and defenders closing in.

Second Division Sunderland shocked First Division Leeds to win the 1973 FA Cup

“As there was a tenner involved I’m not about to let this geographical inconvenience interfere with my mission,” he wrote in his autobiography.

“To the bemusement of the Sunderland defence, I suddenly turn back and start running towards my own goal. Now the defenders weren’t sure whether to follow me in case I’m drawing them out of position.

“To confuse everyone – my own team-mates, the Sunderland players and the crowd – I then start running across the pitch, feigning a couple of times as if I’m going to launch a ball into the box. Then, when I’m close enough, I blast a fierce left-footed shot directly into the Cup. I knock it off the table.

“The whole ground knew I’d done it deliberately. Everything goes deadly silent for a few seconds, then the Sunderland fans go apeshit! They want my balls in their sandwiches!”

If that didn’t make the home supporters angry enough, Bowles then scored twice in the 3-0 win but not before some Sunderland fans invaded the pitch to scream in anger at the referee for his decision making, including sending off Micky Horswill thanks to some overacting from Bowles following a challenge.

What if… QPR had stopped Liverpool’s era of European domination before it even began?

Players were hauled off the pitch for 20 minutes so things could be calmed down and that night, sensibly, QPR players opted against hitting the town.

“We stayed in the hotel and just drank, but the next day we had to get a police escort up to the station. It got out of hand – I didn’t know they were all mad up there,” Bowles said.

At least he got his tenner along with his face on News at Ten.

The FA Cup clash between QPR and Watford is live on talkSPORT at 19:45 on Friday 15 February

Terry Venables laughs with QPR team-mate Bowles. In recent years, the Loftus Road legend has been battling Alzheimer’s and Rangers have held a number of benefit matches in his honour

What is Alzheimer's?

The disease, named after Alois Alzheimer, the doctor who first described it in medical literature, affects the brain.

A hallmark of the disease is the build-up of amyloid beta proteins, which causes plaques.

The plaques then result in the loss of connections between nerve cells in the brain – and ultimately the death of those cells and a loss of brain tissue.

Those with Alzheimer’s also have a shortage of key chemicals in the brain, which help transmit messages.

A lack of these chemicals means the brain is unable to process certain messages how it would have previously.

To learn more about the disease, including the signs and symptoms are see here. In addition, the Bowles family have set up a GoFundMe page.