I spoke to a Norwegian Stoke fan recently who told me that he was first introduced to Stoke after seeing matches in the early 70s when games were shown in Scandinavia. Such a game was the Stoke v QPR game played in late December 1973 and the last home game of the year. That match was being shown on both Norwegian and Swedish TV and advertising hoardings around the edge of the pitch in Nordic languages were an unusual feature.
The QPR team contained characters like Terry Venables and Stan Bowles, the later had something of a reputation for gambling which led a later manager Manchester City’s Joe Mercer to wryly comment that if only Bowles could pass a betting shop like he could pass a ball.
The game was also played early at 2pm because of government restriction during the 3 day week which reduced the use of Electricity during certain hours.
Stoke had a strong squad with Jimmy Greenhoff returning from injury as well as the ever dependable Eric Skeels also coming back from a lengthy lay off. Alan Dodd played at right back as the defence had performed well in the other games over the Christmas holiday period.
Bowles was busy during the opening exchanges, but it was Stoke who threatened when an exchange between Hurst and Greenhoff ended with Yorkshire man firing wide. McLintock the former Arsenal man was marshalling the QPR defence although at this stage the home side’s attack was not the most incisive.
The London team took the lead against the run of play when a build up on the left with Venables and Bowles saw Leach advance and shoot beating Farmer on 27 minutes.
It serves as a severe jolt for Stoke and with Ritchie replacing Haselgrave the pressure eventually tolled when a 49 minute cross from the very active Robertson was headed home by Mahoney.
A flare up between Pejic and Bowles saw them both booked. Stoke got close to taking the lead when a cross from Hurst was met by Greenhoff who hit the post. They did a few minutes later when a hanging cross by Robertson, who was continually getting the better of the young defender Gillard was forced home by Pejic.
QPR went down to 10 men when Bowles was injured following a collision with Dodd.
They were out of luck when a run by Frances led to a post being hit with the ball bouncing out to Farmer to firmly grasp.
Stoke increased their lead with an unstoppable strike by Ritchie on 71 and then 9 minutes before the end Greenhoff hit the 4th. Another excellent cross by Robertson was missed by the QPR defence for Greenhoff diving full length to head home at the far post
I remember this game often. I watched it from the Butler Street Paddock and remember the turn round in result. These days when we are losing at home I often put my faith in the events of this game. Unfortunately we seldom repeat such a turn round
I remember a game a few years later when the Boothen were giving Bowles merciless stick. 'Stanley, Stanley where's your wife'. To his credit he turned to us and shrugged his shoulders in a 'fucked if I know' kind of way. I liked him a lot for that response. And I think they laid off him after that. Maybe not!