London ball

QPR tradition number 10 deserves more recognition

The Manchester United and Liverpool number 7 shirts are rightly considered two of the most legendary shirts in English football, worn with distinction by Kenny Dalglish, Kevin Keegan, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Eric Cantona and David Beckham.

Newcastle United’s number 9 is also held in the same respect, with such luminaries as Jackie Milburn, Malcolm Macdonald, Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand plundering nearly 600 goals between them with him on their backs.

But has there been a more productive but little-known club when it comes to non-conformists and gifted number 10s than QPR?

In the 1970s, a time when muddy pitches, tough defenders and powerful center-forwards were down 10 cents in what was a lean season for an England side who failed to qualify for two. World Cup performers – adored on the terraces but largely ignored by their country – were rare.

The excellent book by Rob Steen The Mavericks – English football when Flair carried flares – tells the story of seven of the men who lit up the gloom of 1970s football: Stan Bowles, Tony Currie, Charlie George, Alan Hudson, Rodney Marsh, Peter Osgood and Frank Worthington.

The fact that three of the seven players played for QPR around this time was not lost on veteran BBC commentator John Motson, who, in a match-of-the-day video titled The Entertainers, noted: “There is had something eye-catching about the Queens Park Rangers number 10 jersey.

“How do you follow Rodney Marsh?” Slow down, send for Stan Bowles.

Although born in Edgware, Currie enjoyed the best times of his Yorkshire career first at Sheffield United and then at Leeds before returning to London in 1979 to bond briefly with Bowles, who moved to Nottingham Forest later this season after falling out with manager Tommy Docherty.

He announced himself to the Rangers crowd in style with a 30-yard volley in a 3-0 victory over Fulham in his home debut after being coached by Bowles, and went on to captain the team. in the replay of the 1982 FA Cup final against Spurs in his last appearance for the club.

While success on the field has been largely slim on the field for the Rangers over the past 30 years, the gifted playmaker’s treadmill has continued to be productive.

After Marsh, Bowles and Currie came Simon Stainrod, John Byrne, Roy Wegerle and most recently Adel Taarabt and Ebere Eze, one of the Premier League’s most gifted young players, who have all lit up Loftus Road in the number 10 jersey.

Fluid locks, languid, capable of daring, capricious, unexpectedly, between them this group had the lot.

Then there was also Akos Buzsaky and, albeit briefly, Tjaronn Chery, both of whom have shown a penchant for the spectacular during their stints at the club, as has the current outgoing president Iias, who continues a tradition which dates back to 1966 when Marsh first became the recognized Rangers No.10 after joining Fulham for £ 15,000 in March 1965.

“In 1972 when Rodney left Stan came in and that took us to 1979 when we then signed Tony Currie and the baton was passed to Stainrod and then to Byrne,” the official historian said. from QPR, Chris Guy.

“It’s quite astonishing that there never was a very long gap between 1966, from the arrival of Rodney and until Wegerle left in 1991, where the Rangers did not have an iconic No 10. .

“We have returned to this in recent years with Taarabt, Buzsaky, Eze and now Ilias Chair, all of whom have continued to carry the baton to the present day.”

Wegerle, who became QPR’s first million-pound player when he left Luton in December 1989, grew up in South Africa but came to Shepherd’s Bush via the United States, where he had been mentored by Marsh at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

He was first signed by Chelsea, but he struggled for playing time in a poor Blues side who was eventually relegated from the top flight at the end of the 1987/88 season and landed at Luton for just 70 £ 000.

He had a successful spell with the Hats, whom he helped in the 1989 League Cup final, before Don Howe lured him to West London with the promise of the Rangers No.10 shirt.

Having heard about its traditions from the man who made it famous, Wegerle didn’t hesitate to wear it on his debut in a 1-1 draw with Coventry on Boxing Day.

“It was a great honor to play for QPR and I knew the lore of number 10 and playing part of that role and the story it had was a real feather in my cap,” Wegerle told Ash Rose in a recent interview. for the Open All R podcast.

“I jumped at the chance to wear it when it was presented to me.”

Wegerle says his two and a half years at QPR, where he scored more than respectable 31 goals in 71 games, were the most memorable of his career, highlighted by his superb solo effort at Elland Road in a win. 3-2 on a strong Leeds side who won the league the following season.

“I remember that goal well because Leeds were a great team back then,” he said.

“Everything was a reaction from the moment I got the ball back on the sideline until the moment it found itself in the back of the net as the tackles flew away. It was just instinct and I cherish that goal.

“I don’t think I’ve ever scored a better goal, considering the players in this Leeds side. I think there were three international captains and players like David Batty, Gary McAllister and Gary Speed, it was a very good team, just wish I had scored it at Loftus Road.

“I loved playing Loftus Road because you always got the feeling the fans wanted the team to play with flair and excitement.

“I played for a team alongside the Ferdinands up front, we had Andy Sinton on the sidelines and Ray Wilkins at the back, and we could always do things to keep the fans entertained.

“It has always been the most important thing for me. I loved scoring goals, but more than that, I loved getting the fans up from their seats and entertaining them.

Longtime fan Kevin Gallen, who was on the youth squad when Wegerle was in his prime, said the chance to train alongside him was education and one of the reasons he wanted to s ” appropriate jersey number 10 when the opportunity arises.

“I was aware of the importance of the jersey because I grew up supporting QPR and when I started going it was worn by Simon Stainrod, who was a great player, very skillful,” said Gallen .

“My dad told me about old players like Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles and Tony Currie and when I was in the youth team I always liked the number 10 jersey because of it.

“John Byrne took over from Stainrod and he was another very skillful player and then Wegerle came in and what a great player he was. He was so good and if he played now he could easily fit into the squad. Man City.

“He was a real number 10; skillful, could hire players and do things out of the ordinary.

Gallen admits his style of play was not in the mold of QPR’s maverick No.10, but said he had no idea turning him down when offered to him as a team number by Ray Wilkins for the 1995/96 Premier League season.

“I was always comfortable wearing it,” he said.

“I’ve never been a player like a Wegerle or a Byrne, but I was well aware that the number 10 shirt was special for QPR fans and that’s why I always wanted it.

“My style was more that of Stainrod. My strengths were to hold the ball and finish, but having the chance to train with Wegerle as a youth team player has helped me immensely.

“I only trained with him a few times, but tried to do things the way he did with his turns on the ball. It was a great education for me.

Gallen, who is currently employed by Crystal Palace as the club’s chief German recruiter, said the QPR number 10 shirt is recognized throughout football and the type of players who wore it are integral to the culture of the team. club.

“Akos Buzsaky was a very talented player and Taarabt in his day was as good as any of those big 10 numbers in terms of sheer ability and doing things out of the blue,” he said.

“He suited that shirt as much as anybody else.” The people I talk to in football all know the QPR and the number 10 shirt and it deserves to be held in the same high regard as the number 9 at Newcastle and others.

“If you are a football fan, you know the number 10 QPR jersey.”

The QPR maverick number 10s in numbers:

Rodney Marsh 1966-1972
Appearances: 241 goals: 134

Stan Bowles 1972-1979
Appearances: 294 goals: 94

Tony Currie 1979-82
Appearances: 98 goals: 6

Simon Stainrod 1980-1985
Appearances: 138 goals: 49

John Byrne 1984-1987
Appearances: 116 goals: 26

Roy Wegerle 1989-1991
Appearances: 78 goals: 31

Adel Taarabt 2009-2015
Appearances: 164 goals: 34

Ebere Eze 2016-2020
Appearances: 112 goals: 20