QPR goal hero recalls FA Cup glory against West Brom
Clive Allen scored over 200 goals – but he admits one of the scrappier ones will always be among the highlights of his illustrious career.
Allen netted the winner when QPR last faced West Brom in an FA Cup tie in 1982, helping to create history as the Loftus Road side reached their only final to date.
Second Division Rangers had gone into the Highbury semi-final as firm underdogs, but they went ahead late in the game when Albion defender Ally Robertson’s clearance rebounded off Allen into the net.
The Baggies had been unable to break down a rock-solid QPR defence marshalled by Bob Hazell, who man-marked danger man Cyrille Regis out of the match.
Allen, now 51 – who had also struck the only goal in the quarter-final against Crystal Palace – told london24.com: “Along with making my England debut, reaching an FA Cup final with my first club was right up there.
“Playing in an FA Cup final was every boy’s dream and to experience my first with QPR, the club I’d done my apprenticeship with, was a special feeling.
“You always dream of getting to Wembley but, as a Second Division side, you wonder if it’s ever going to happen – and West Brom were a very good top-flight team at that time.
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“We were very well prepared by [manager] Terry Venables. We did a lot of work on how we were going to combat West Brom and deal with Regis, and we carried out our game plan.
“It wasn’t a great game and my goal wasn’t one of the best – yet in one sense it was one of the greatest I ever scored because winning through to a Wembley final made it a fantastic day for the club.
“I remember closing the defender down – he wasn’t going to pass it to the keeper and I think he was trying to knock it out to Derek Statham at left-back.
“I literally just stuck out my leg to try and block the ball, it hit me flush on the kneecap and flew, it ricocheted into the bottom corner – the keeper had no chance.”
Rangers’ chances of reaching the final had looked unlikely after they were held 1-1 at home by Middlesbrough in the third round, but they triumphed 3-2 in the replay at Ayresome Park.
Venables’ side needed another replay to get past Blackpool in the fourth round, but they won it 5-1 and gathered momentum with home victories against Grimsby (3-1) and Palace to reach the last four.
The Rs were underdogs again in the final against cup holders Tottenham, but Terry Fenwick’s header earned them a 1-1 draw before a drab replay was eventually settled by a Glenn Hoddle penalty.
By then, Allen – who would go on to score for Spurs in their 3-2 defeat by Coventry at Wembley five years later – was restricted to a spectator’s role, having fractured his ankle in the opening stages of the first game.
He recalled: “I turned my ankle in the second minute and I was hobbling for most of the first half. When I had an X-ray at half-time it showed a break and the ankle was three or four times what it should have been.
“It was absolutely devastating to be injured in my first FA Cup final and there was no way I wanted to come off, but I was really struggling and I was subbed pretty quickly.
“But I’m still very proud that I had the chance to play in two finals – especially because of our family history in this competition. My dad (Les) won the double with Spurs and my cousin Paul was the youngest player to appear in the final when he was at West Ham.
“Because of the financial implications of finishing as high as you can in the Premier League, that’s always going to be the priority these days – but there is still something magical about the FA Cup.”