Carlton Palmer was ‘stitched up’ in 4am bender with Rod Stewart before match

At first glance, Queens Park Rangers’ home match against Sheffield Wednesday on New Year's Day in 1994 does not appear anything out of the ordinary.

The 12pm Premier League game at Loftus Road seems pretty run-of-the-mill.

Rangers took the lead in the 69th minute when Les Ferdinand turned in a rebound following a strong save by Kevin Pressman from Michael Meaker’s shot.

Wednesday had only been beaten once in their previous 13 league matches and fought back admirably through a textbook header from Mark Bright and a low finish from Gordon Watson.

The visitors hit the post through Graham Hyde, but it didn’t matter as they picked up a 2-1 away win in west London.

That result must have come as a particular relief for Wednesday’s Carlton Palmer, who had just about managed to get through the game without being sick.

The supporters didn’t know it, but eight hours previously Palmer was stumbling out of a nightclub in central London having spent the early hours partying with rock star Rod Stewart.

But like the true professional that he was, Palmer turned up and got on with it, playing the full 90 minutes as a centre-back for Trevor Francis’ side.

The England international was not the only Wednesday player out on the lash that night, but it just so happened that his partners in crime, Chris Waddle and Chris Woods, were not needed against QPR – a fact he only learned at the 10.30am team meeting.

"I was stitched up by Waddle and Woods,” Palmer told West Brom podcastWoodman Cornerof that fateful night, which did not end until 4am.

“They both knew that they weren’t playing. I thought we were all in the same boat until the team was named on the Saturday.

"The lads were going to go and have a few drinks at the pub that was local and it ended up being a session.

“So at 4 o'clock in the morning I'm coming out of Tramps nightclub and we've got a game at 12 o'clock against QPR.

"Then we get a team meeting the next morning and them two aren’t playing. They both failed fitness tests and knew they weren’t playing, and I was playing, so it was a nightmare."

Nightmare is certainly a good way of putting it. Palmer made it through the game, but, while you can’t tell fromthe highlights, it was a real struggle.

Palmer has a lot to thank Des Walker for. The centre-back saw Palmer throw up by the side of the pitch during the warm-up but managed to get his team-mate through the game.

He told theDaily Mail: “Des put his arm on my shoulder and said: ‘Just follow Les Ferdinand around as best as you can and I'll do the rest’.

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“The worst moment came in the second half. They turned on the floodlights and the sudden brightness dazzled me.

“I didn't know where I was. I was facing the wrong way until Les said: ‘Let me give you a hand’ and gently turned me through 180 degrees.

“I also remember spotting Woods and Waddler in the dugout, p***ing themselves and giving me an extravagant thumbs-up.”

It was a remarkable achievement to get through the match against a striker as good as Ferdinand, given what had happened only hours before.

The paparazzi, who were following Stewart around, got an expected story when they snapped Palmer, still wearing his club tracksuit and being carried on Woods' back at 4am.

Stewart is a big football fan – and a big drinker – which are both facts Palmer only learned as the night wore on.

"Woodsy was in there and Woodsy knows Rod Stewart, who was in there with his missus,” he explained on the Woodman Corner podcast.

"I didn't know, I saw some bloke with his hair all over the place and as we were coming out we got photographed.

“They weren't there for us, they were there for Rod Stewart, it just so happened we gave them a story."

Not Palmer’s finest moment and he has since opened up about his battles with alcohol after having a heart scare, which was attributed to an irregular heartbeat.

That night with Stewart turned out to be a turning point of sorts, with Palmer setting himself new rules: to train every day and never drink shorts.

Those rules appear to have done the trick. But we don’t know if Palmer has forgiven Waddle and Woods for their part in his nightmare at Loftus Road.

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