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QPR Clive Allen

Early Memories

It’s safe to say I was born into the game. Two weeks before Mum gave birth to me, she was at Wembley for the 1961 FA Cup final to see my Dad play for the victorious Spurs side. I was then born at 3pm on Saturday 20th May so it’s safe to say I felt it was destiny that I became a footballer and of course my father, uncle, brother and two cousins all played professionally as subsequently did my son.

My earliest memories are of my Grandfather taking me to Loftus Road to watch my Dad, Les, play for QPR. He went on to become player manager at the club and Queens Park Rangers became like a second home for me. I spent Christmas day at Loftus Road, I’d got a new kit as a present and went along with Dad to watch training. When training finished I was allowed on to the pitch in my new kit and got to have a kick about with Rangers legend Rodney Marsh! I grew up knowing Rodney and went on to work with him on Sky’s Soccer Saturday.

Signing for the R’s and a dream debut

I actually signed schoolboy forms with QPR the season we very nearly won the league title. It was the 1975/76 season when we just lost out to Liverpool by a point. We had a fantastic squad, Phil Parkes, David Webb, Frank McLintock, Dave Clement, Dave Thomas, Gerry Francis, Stan Bowles, I can recall the names of that whole squad so easily, it was such a talented side.

I played schoolboy football for the club and went on to play in the youth team and then the reserves before graduating to the first team. Ahead of my full home debut I’d made a few appearances as a sub, the first of which was at Bristol City when I found myself up against Norman Hunter at centre half! My first appearance as a sub at Loftus Road was against Chelsea and as I ran on, Ray Wilkins who was playing in midfield for Chelsea whispered to me “good luck son, first of many appearances I’m sure”. That really stuck with me and we’ve remained good friends.

It was four games from the end of the season when I found out I’d be making my full debut. It was one of the most memorable games I ever played in. I was told on the Friday night I’d be starting in the home game against Coventry City. The pitch was absolutely awful, a real quagmire and Coventry were wearing that horrible chocolate brown away strip. It took me a while to get going and we found ourselves two nil down but it turned into one of those days where everything goes right and I finished the game scoring a hat-trick, which I guess really announced myself as a QPR player, it pretty unbelievable really. I’ve still got the match ball, it remains a prized possession.

The FA Cup and the plastic pitch

Ironically, one of my best moments in a QPR shirt came at Highbury. I’d signed for Arsenal and then moved on without playing a competitive game for them. After a season at Crystal Palace I returned to Loftus Road and joined a squad that went on to have one of the most successful periods in the history of the club.

Terry Venables was in charge and we were playing on the plastic pitch at Loftus Road. We were a team that were pretty unstoppable at home and went on a great cup run that took us all the way to Wembley. We took on a very strong West Brom side that included Cyril Regis in the semi final at Highbury but we had one of those days where all went well. The manager set us up to get a result. The ball hit me flush on the knee from a cross from about 18 yards out and went in. We were on our way to Wembley which was an incredible experience.

The following season we carried the momentum of that cup run into our league form and won what was the old second division (now the championship). We had a fantastic run of results and won the league quite comfortably in the end to get ourselves back into the first division. It felt like the whole club was going from strength to strength.

In that second spell back at the club, I played alongside Simon Stainrod up front, we had an absolutely fantastic defence, with Peter Hucker in goal, Warren Neil and Ian Dawes were two brilliant ball players as full backs, that’s what you needed on the plastic pitch, you needed players who could deal with the ball comfortably. Then there was Steve Wickes and Glen Roeder as centre halves. Glen had his one trick that everyone knows. where he stepped over the ball I don’t know how many times! John Gregory was a tremendous box to box player, I think we had a great balance to the side. Gary Waddock was at the heart of the midfield in a holding role, I don’t think he ever got the recognition he deserved as a fantastic Queens Park Rangers midfielder. We were almost unbeatable at home.

International Debut

At the end of that fabulous season I was called up by England for their South America tour. I made my debut for England in the Maracanã Stadium against Brazil. Whenever people ask me where did I win my first England cap, I only have to mention one name – John Barnes! I don’t think anyone remembers me making my debut, but they certainly remember John’s spectacular goal, which is absolutely right as it is one that England supporters will never forget. What should have been my first touch in the game should have been a goal, Bryan Robson, the England captain was clean through and only had to roll it square to me and I’d have had a tap in, unfortunately he opted to shoot and missed, but what can you say to your captain when he’s just made a lung busting 50 yard run up the pitch! We won the game 2-0 in Brazil. It was probably the ultimate memory

Clive Allen

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1 Comment

As a kid, I used to caddy at Sudbury Golf course at weekends to get some extra pocket money. The advantage of Sudbury, was that each year, the club hosted the London football clubs golf competition. I asked the club pro if I could act as the referee in the group Clive was playing in. He agreed, but when I turned up in a QPR shirt, the wisdom of the decision was questioned. Clive was and still is, one of my all time fave QPR players. He was a great goal scorer and of course, a scorer of some great goals. He also just happened to be, a genuinely nice fella. At the time, my father and I had season tickets right by the players' entrance at Loftus Road, so he recognised me a bit and it was without doubt, one of the more enjoyable afternoons I had walking around a golf course. At the end of the event, we were all having a drink in the club house and I mentioned that we had a six year old neighbour who was a Clive Allen fanatic and if it would be ok to bring the boy down to meet him at the training ground at Birkbeck? Clive said of course it was and so the lad's mum let me bring him to the training ground. Back in 1981, Clive was hot property so my little neighbour, who was loud for a six year old, was up and knocking on my door at 8am with excitement. We ambled down to the training ground and I brought the kid into meet Clive. "Hello Barry how are you?" opened the free scoring hoop. He had remembered the little lad's name which meant so much to him. Barry stood there mute and unable to compute what had just happened. Clive kept talking to him but Barry remained in a trance. I interjected by saying, "Barry I think you're Clive's biggest fan and until now, his loudest!" The poor kid was awestruck, rendered utterly useless. Clive chatted away to us, signed everything Barry had brought for signing. We walked back up the Oldfield Road to home and when I brought him to his mum, Barry was still quiet. Shortly after that, I was with school mates at the London Fives and if you ever went then you'll recall that the teams would warm up under the stands. The five of us we walking round the arena trying to suss which server looked most likely to serve a group of 15 year olds some ale when from nowhere, I hear 'Hey John?" I walked back to my mouth-opened chums having had a quick chat to Clive, and left them with the "Oh it's Clive, a mate of mine from QPR!" Three goals Clive scored I was privileged to have been in the stadium to see. The one at Cambridge, Manchester United and West Ham. Class finishes that showed what a natural goal scorer he was. While Bobby's late, late winner last May will live long in the memory, I guess Clive's goal at Highbury remains for me, the goal that saw the biggest out-pouring of emotion and volume of any goal scored by QPR in the forty odd years I have supported the club. The fact that it was scored by someone I knew, made it that little bit more special. So much so, that even when he did rattle in a couple against us up at the Lane and gave us the v-sign, I wasn't quite able to reciprocate. It remains a mystery to me why he never got more of a chance with England. Sure he lacked the pace of Lineker, but Clive was too naturally gifted as a goalscorer to have been so overlooked. Great memories, of just the best and most natural goal scorer I think QPR have ever had. And the very best of luck with this excellent campaign. JH

– John Honney, March 1 2015 at 09:55

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Clive Allen is supprorting the Sporting Mermories NetworkClive Allen is supprorting the Sporting Mermories Network