clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Oppo - QPR

Handbags has all you need to know about the history of The Battle Of The Hoops.

Ker Robertson/Getty Images

Head to Head

84 league matches have been played between Reading and QPR, a fact made all the more remarkable given the clubs didn’t occupy the same division for 30 years from 1966/67 to 1996/97. Of course, the period in question was undoubtedly the QPR heyday as they experienced lengthy periods in the First Division in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Despite QPR having a somewhat more accomplished history over the past 50 years, though, it is the Royals that hold by far the better head to head record between the clubs having won on 36 of the 84 occasions compared to QPR’s 27, with Reading averaging just shy of three goals per game.

In the modern era, however (that is from 1996/97 onwards), the goals for both sides have dried up somewhat as, in 22 matches between the teams, just 21 goals have been scored by Reading and 19 by QPR. Matches between the sides are now almost exclusively tight, scrappy affairs and the distinct lack of goals and excitement when the sides meet is by far the biggest indicator of why supporters I speak to on both sides consider this fixture one of the less appealing these days. On only eight of the 22 occasions since the sides renewed acquaintances in 1996 has either side scored more than once.

Played

RFC Wins

Draws

QPRFC Wins

RFC Goals Scored

QPRFC Goals Scored

QPR Overall

42

11

12

19

48

65

Elm Park

33

21

6

6

65

34

Madejski Stadium

9

4

3

2

6

4

Reading Overall

42

25

9

8

71

38

OVERALL

84

36

21

27

119

103

Memorable Match

December 1997, Terry Bullivant at the helm in the final season at Elm Park, and despite a somewhat miserable commencement to the season which included an unlucky home defeat to QPR, Reading were firmly entrenched in midtable, two points behind QPR who were suffering their second successive disappointing season having been considered one of the favourites to challenge for promotion. Just over a month prior, Stewart Houston was relieved of his managerial duties and had been replaced by the late Ray Harford who thus far had presided over one win and three defeats from his four matches in charge.

The match itself was a largely even affair, both sides cancelling each other out, a credit to Reading at the time given the calibre of player QPR had signed over the preceding 18 months, and it was one of those expensive signings that opened the scoring, John Spencer reacting quickest to tap in a rebound after Nicky Hammond had parried a Mike Sheron effort to his right. Reading had a comfortable opening quarter hour so the goal was somewhat of a disappointment, but they continued to hold their own without looking overtly creative throughout the first half although Carl Asaba was considerably unlucky not to equalise after creating something from nothing, taking on the QPR defence and slamming a shot against the bar just before half time.

The half came to a close with just the two key incidents, however the match was to liven up considerably after the break. The first 15 minutes of the second half was very much more of the same, two sides cancelling each other out and not looking particularly creative, but that all changed on the hour as Bullivant introduced Jason Bowen to the fray for Stuart Lovell, and in just his second appearance in a Reading shirt he made an instant impact. With his first touch, his incisive through ball down the inside left channel played Asaba in, whose shot was well saved by Tony Roberts, but the rebound fell straight to Trevor Morley who took a touch, steadied himself and slammed home for the equaliser from six yards. And that was that for the scoring.

Both sides pushed desperately for the winner, and passions reached boiling point with 12 minutes left. To this day I have no idea what Carl Asaba did wrong, but Danny Maddix took exception to an innocuous looking aerial challenge, the culmination of which saw the big defender end up on top of Asaba. Bizarrely, Maddix started raining punches on Asaba which the Royals attacker merely attempted to defend himself from but referee Barry Knight, ever popular with Royals supporters after several horrific showings throughout the previous decade, saw differently though, and sent both players off.

The remainder of the match was frenetic, QPR piling on the pressure with Reading content to take the point. Full time came with a mixture of relief and frustration as QPR were underwhelming on the day, a trait that hindered Harford’s time in charge as would win just five of his 41 matches in charge and end the season in 21st, just one point clear of relegation. Reading, as we know, suffered a horrific dip in form after the turn of the year, and unlike QPR failed to survive, finishing the season bottom of the table seven points adrift of QPR despite the best efforts of Tommy Burns and his Magnificent Seven.

They Played For Both Teams

For all of Reading’s understated history, over the last 40 years or so there has one position that has consistently produced the goods. Reading have a history of signing good strikers, from Kerry Dixon to Kevin Doyle, Dave Kitson to Jimmy Quinn, the Royals have tended to have a reliable source of goals in their side. In amongst the names of highly respected strikers is a player who will undoubtedly never have to pay for a pint in Reading again after scoring 55 goals in 127 appearances between August 2000 and May 2003. £250,000 well spent you might say. Jamie Cureton, what a bargain indeed.

Cureton commenced his career at Norwich where he earned cult hero status for dyeing his hair green for the April 1996 Old Farm Derby between Ipswich and Norwich at Portman Road. Despite this, though, his career really struggled to get off the ground and after making his debut in 1994 he only appeared a further 31 times and scored just six goals.

During his time at Carrow Road, two loan spells at AFC Bournemouth and Bristol Rovers yielded very different outcomes. Whereas AFC Bournemouth fans voted Cureton into a worst ever XI, understandable to a degree after his season yielded no goals from just six substitute appearances, Gasheads took Cureton to their hearts. It helped being a Bristolian of course, but four goals in six starts will undoubtedly have helped, and after just one month Cureton made the first transfer of his career with £200,000 exchanged.

Overall, Cureton appeared on 201 occasions for the Gas over four years, scoring an impressive 78 goals and became the first player to score a hat-trick at the Madejski in the infamous 6-0 thrashing in January 99. But the love from Rovers supporters was to turn sour as sordid (and very false) allegations against the player did the rounds. It came as no surprise that the player looked for a way out, and jumped at the chance to move 90 miles east when Alan Pardew lost the services of Nicky Forster in pre-season 2000.

The goals continued to flow at Reading despite being regularly utilised off the bench or substituted after 60-65 minutes. His final season was a less productive nine goal season, and Pardew often left Cureton out altogether preferring the lone striking Nicky Forster with Andy Hughes just behind. Cureton left after the failed playoff campaign against Wolves, and embarked on the most curious episode of his career – signing for Ian Porterfield’s Busan Icons in South Korea.

Cureton lasted just six months in Busan, scoring three goals, and it became quickly apparent that the Bristolian’s time in the far east was limited. Ian Holloway, Cureton’s former manager at Rovers, gave the player a way back to England and signed him for QPR in February 2004. Cureton ended the season with his second Division 2 runners up medal as QPR were promoted behind Plymouth Argyle. The following season was one of consolidation for QPR and Cureton’s goals dried up at the higher level once again, just five in 33 appearances, although he did manage a hat trick at Loftus Road against Coventry City.

Come season’s end, after just seven goals in 46 appearances, the now 30 year old Cureton was released. Swindon Town offered a one year contract which was snapped up, but the Robins and Cureton endured a torrid 2005/06 season. Having not found the net in his first 12 appearances, he was loaned to Phil Parkinson’s Colchester United where he regained some form, scoring seven times in 10 appearances. The loan spell reaped some rewards for Swindon as Cureton went on to score a further seven goals in 20 games, but the Robins were relegated to League 2.

Swindon released Cureton at the end of the season, and the player was snapped up permanently at Layer Road on a one year deal where a highly productive partnership with Chris Iwelumo yielded the most impressive goalscoring figures of his career, 23 goals in the Championship. For Colchester though, despite offering a new contract, they simply couldn’t compete with East Anglain rivals, Norwich, who also offered Cureton a contract, and a move back to Carrow Road was hardly a surprise. In total, Cureton scored 31 goals for Colchester in 56 appearances.

Three years again at Norwich yielded 18 goals in 76 games, a spell which also included unproductive loan spells at Barnsley and Shrewsbury, where he scored just twice in 20 matches, and with the player now well into the twilight of his career at the age of 35 Cureton signed for Exeter City for one season. However, he contributed to what was an astounding season in Devon’s cathedral city as they finished in their highest ever position of 8th in League 1, just one point off AFC Bournemouth in the playoffs.

Cureton scored 20 goals in 47 matches in 2010/11 which saw the side that had finished one position higher on goal difference show an interest as a result, and so Leyton Orient was the next stop for a far less productive year, just one goal in 23 appearances before the end of January. With Orient having a horrific season Cureton couldn’t wait to get out and jumped at the opportunity to rejoin the Grecians on loan where he would score once in seven further appearances before signing permanently again in July 2012.

At 37 years old, the goals should have started to dry up but once again Cureton reinvented himself, some excellent man management by Paul Tisdale saw the best possible results produced from such aged legs, 21 goals from 42 appearances (39 of which were starts), but alas again bigger budgets came calling at season’s end and Cheltenham became, if you’re keeping count, the 14th club of his career where he signed another one year deal. 36 appearances, 11 goals later, a 17th position finish, Cheltenham released Cureton and he headed east to Dagenham for the final league move of his career. 29 goals in two years and 93 appearances, and finally it looks like the league curtain has fallen for 41 year old Cureton.

If you’re keeping count, that’s 12 transfers, 6 loans, £450,000 of transfer fees, 845 appearances of which 641 were starts, and 287 goals. So far...if you want to see Cureton still playing, head on down to Eastleigh.

Grudge Moment

Let’s not beat around the bush here, the hoops are ours. We had them first, and while we may have strayed at times in our history the fact we had them first in 1871 means the rightful claim lies in Berkshire. In fact, the London variety of Rangers have more in common with Celtic having played in green and white hoops from 1892. Green and white hoops? They can keep them.

It’s so infuriating when they get their hoops right on so many occasions though...

Fact, Interesting or Otherwise

Since their inaugural season in the football league, QPR have played predominantly at Loftus Road, however on two separate occasions the club looked at a short distance relocation to White City Stadium on Wood Lane. The club, however, twice decided against the move, favouring remaining at Loftus Road. White City Stadium, of course, hosted one World Cup match in 1966 when over 45000 fans flocked to witness France v Uruguay (because Wembley Stadium’s owners refused to halt the regular greyhound racing season and the match coincided with a greyhound meet). Given the club’s restricted space and capacity now, the decision to remain on South Africa Road seems somewhat short sighted.