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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ex-QPR (and Arsenal!) Frank McClintock Profiled and Interviewed "They were four of the best years of my life..."

Yet another very fine profile and interview from the QPR Official Site. This time, QPR's Championship Winning (almost) Defender Frank McClintock.
Signed by Gordon Jago after we won promotion, McClintock helped QPR consolidate in the (old) First Division, and then under Dave Sexton, almost win the Championship, and almost win in Europe. A sign of how much on-the-field leadership, QPR in those days had, was that Mclintock was not actually captain of QPR (That was Terry Venables and then Gerry Francis)

QPR Official Site BLAST FROM THE PAST - Frank McClintock
In our latest instalment of exclusive past player interviews on www.qpr.co.uk, former R's legend Frank McLintock comes under the spotlight.
Few players achieve legendary status at more than one Football Club - Frank McLintock is the exception to the rule.
When McLintock arrived at Loftus Road in 1973, he was already a legend of the beautiful game on the back of his memorable nine-year spell with North London giants Arsenal.
When he retired from professional football in 1977, his glowing reputation had reached arguably even greater heights in W12.
Described by former R's boss John Gregory as 'the first player I'd buy if I had the pick of any QPR players past and present,' McLintock joined Rangers for a paltry £20,000 in the summer of 1973.
"Bertie Mee (the Arsenal Manager) didn't think I was capable of playing in the top flight any more, but I knew I could still produce the goods at the highest level,'' McLintock told www.qpr.co.uk.
"It (joining QPR) was a simple choice to make - I didn't want my family to leave London.
"I knew very little about QPR as a Club, but they'd recently got promoted so I saw it as a great opportunity, a great challenge if you like.
"I didn't go there expecting much, but I received one of the biggest surprises of my life.''
Indeed, having carved out a successful playing career down the road at Highbury, many viewed McLintock's move to Loftus Road as a step in the wrong direction.
However, in a QPR side full of flamboyance and guile, McLintock embodied the desire and will-to-win that saw Rangers - in Frank's own words - emerge as one of the 'greatest teams in the land.'
"The quality within the QPR squad was something else. It took me totally by surprise,'' he told www.qpr.co.uk.
"Gordon Jago was a real gentleman and Bobby Campbell the coach made me feel really welcome.
"I arrived at QPR intent on proving a point to Bertie Mee and as it contrived a few years later, Arsenal dropped down the table and we were up there competing for the title.''
After finishing eighth and eleventh respectively in McLintock's first two seasons in W12, Rangers mounted a serious charge for title in the 1975/76 campaign.
"We were the best football team in the country that year, probably in the whole of Britain. It was a magnificent team to play for.
"There was a great spine to the side. Phil (Parkes) was probably the number one keeper in the land at the time, up there with (Gordon) Banks as the best ever.
"Myself and Webby (Dave Webb) formed a nice little partnership at the back and Don Masson and Dave Thomas were class too. Don made the step up from division three side Notts County look so simple - it was amazing.
"And then we had Gerry (Francis) and Stan (Bowles) - two of the best players ever to have graced the game. Gerry was just a fraction behind Stan, but they were both absolute class - a joy to play with.
"It was a joy to behold playing in that team and the team spirit at the time was as good as I'd known throughout my playing career.''
With just three matches of the season remaining, Rangers held a slender one point advantage over fellow title contenders Liverpool.
Victory in all three fixtures would guarantee them the coveted Championship - but as fans of the beautiful game know only too well - football is anything but straightforward.
Easter Saturday 1976 presented Rangers with a tricky away trip to Norwich City - and as R's fans now know - it was an afternoon which saw their title dreams all but evaporate.
"We just made a mistake against Norwich in our final away game,'' recalled McLintock.
"Dave Clement didn't get enough weight on his header back to Phil (Parkes) and their striker nipped in to score.''
For the record, Norwich ran out narrow 3-2 victors, while Liverpool thumped Stoke City 5-2 at Anfield.
Rangers now had to win their last two matches and hope that Liverpool lost one of their two remaining away games.
The R's did all they could by beating Arsenal on Easter Monday, but the Reds also produced the goods, scoring three without reply against Manchester City.
On the last Saturday of the season, QPR were at home to Leeds United and in front of their largest gate of the season - 31,002 - eased to a 2-0 win.
Unbelievably though, Liverpool weren't playing their all-important final match of the season until ten days later due to international commitments. The wait was almost unbearable: "It was a crazy situation really - the type that wouldn't happen in the present day,'' recalled McLintock.
"I owned a pub at the time. There were about 35-40 journalists down there for Liverpool's final game of the season against Wolverhampton. They'd all come along to get my reaction to winning another piece of silverware, or so I hoped!
"We were all listening to it on the radio. They were one down with 15 minutes to go, but scored three to win the Championship and the rest is history.
"It was such a disappointment, but so typical of that Liverpool side.''
Despite that setback, McLintock insists he has nothing but fond memories of his time in W12.
"They were four of the best years of my life,'' he said.
"I was so happy during my time at QPR and that's me speaking straight from the heart
.'' QPR

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