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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 January 2008, 07:29 GMT
"We tore Chelsea to shreds"
By David McIntyre

John Byrne
Byrne was a fans' favourite at QPR
John Byrne knows a thing or two about beating Chelsea, so how can his former club QPR somehow overcome them in their FA Cup third-round encounter?

"Pick me and Gary Bannister!" he jokingly told BBC Sport.

"'Banno' and I probably couldn't run for a bus now. But we loved playing against Chelsea, that's for sure."

They certainly did.

Bannister netted two hat-tricks against them for QPR, one of them in a 6-0 mauling of the Blues at Loftus Road in 1986, in which Byrne scored twice.

It will remain QPR's greatest victory over their neighbours unless the current team achieves the unthinkable on Saturday.

606: DEBATE
QPRdan3
Weeks before the six-goal demolition of a title-chasing Chelsea side, Byrne also hit the net in a League Cup quarter-final tussle with them, which Rangers won in a replay on their way to the final.

"The cup game was great itself but the 6-0 win a few weeks later was amazing and thinking about it brings back great memories," said Byrne.

"We tore them to shreds. Doug Rougvie, who was playing at centre-back for Chelsea, was a fearsome player and he was absolutely furious. By the end, Doug was looking for blood.

"We had the Milk Cup final coming up a couple of weeks later. Banno and me didn't want to get injured so having destroyed Chelsea, we spent the last part of the match avoiding Doug, who was an angry man.

Doug Rougvie
Rougvie: not a man to mess with
"We stayed away from him. Banno went to play on one wing and I went and played on the other!

"It was an unbelievable game to play in. We just played so, so well and everything we did came off. They couldn't handle us that day."

Byrne's tormenting of Chelsea was not confined to his QPR days.

The former Republic of Ireland forward's equaliser for Sunderland in an FA Cup quarter-final at Stamford Bridge in 1992 took the tie to a replay.

Sunderland, then a Second Division team, won the return match and went on to face Liverpool in the final.

"I always seemed to do well against Chelsea," Byrne recalled.

"I scored for QPR at Stamford Bridge one year and of course there was the goal for Sunderland. I did seem to have the Indian sign over Chelsea when I played against them.

"Games between QPR and Chelsea used to be great and the atmosphere was brilliant - especially at Loftus Road.

"The ground is so tight with the crowd practically on top of you and you can't beat the place for atmosphere.

"They were great days for Rangers and I've some great memories of my time there."

Byrne's swagger and his strike partnership with Bannister formed part of an era in which QPR were often west London's leading club.

This is the FA Cup and anything can happen

John Byrne
For the best part of two decades they fared better than their counterparts from SW6 and put them to the sword on a number of occasions.

Rangers finished above Chelsea in 15 of the 22 seasons prior to their relegation from the top division in 1996.

How times have changed.

This weekend the two clubs meet in the FA Cup, 12 years after Chelsea won a third-round clash 2-1 against a QPR side on their way to relegation from the top flight.

Since losing their Premiership status, Rangers have been in - and almost returned to - administration and the third tier of English football, suffering a multitude of problems on and off the pitch.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have grown into one of Europe's top clubs, taking on the likes of Barcelona and AC Milan while QPR have faced the likes of Chesterfield and Wrexham.

The gulf between the clubs is currently massive and Saturday's game has the makings of a mismatch.

The hope for Rangers is that the gap is about to close and that the recent takeover by Formula One magnates Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, followed by further investment from steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, will help them become an established Premier League club again.

"I feel really sad to see QPR down there," said Byrne.

Chelsea's Michael Duberry (r) challenges QPR's Mark Hateley (c) and Nigel Quashie in 1996
QPR last played Chelsea in the FA Cup in 1996
"I know some of their fans will hate going to Chelsea as the plucky underdogs. A few years back you'd never have thought that would happen.

"QPR have never been a massive club like Chelsea but they were always associated with good teams and good football.

"That was the case before my time, when they had Stan Bowles and other great players, and after that in the early 1990s.

"I'd love to see them get back where they belong and hopefully with the investment, they can do it.

"You need that investment to not just get to the Premier League but to stay there. You have to spend and keep spending these days and hopefully QPR will now be able to do that.

"You have to say it's going to be very difficult for them on Saturday because Chelsea are a great side.

"But come on, this is the FA Cup and anything can happen. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for them."



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