Saturday, 25 February 2012


Queens Park Rangers 0 Fulham 1

Afer the match today I took a different route home. Instead of going in to town to come back out west again to Willesden Green I got off at North Acton and bussed it via Harlesden. It was a beautiful afternoon, which followed a beautiful sunny day in London. And after another devastating loss I thought I'd take a route which would give me a bit more time to ponder over things. And I also thought soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of what is meant to be 'QPR territory' might fill me with some semblance of optimism.

Reading all the tweets on the way back, and hearing everyone's comments on the usually dreary walk down South Africa Road it appears most of the fans are now getting used to the fact that next season will will once again be in the Championship. It also appears that most people believe that is ok, so long as the team goes down with a fight. Time and time again, we're not delivering on passion, and I could feel all of us fans in the ground just wanting to sing more and support more. But it was so hard when it looked as if, at times, the players just gave up.

In truth, I think they didn't give up. But I think they sometimes tried to play too much 'clever' football. It seems that the trip to Portugal paid dividends in terms of giving the team a few ideas on some clever flicks and passes, with Taarabt leading the charge in that respect. But a little bit like the way Mark Hughes speaks in press conferences, it all sounds and looks so good, but isn't actually delivering on the promise.

My beautiful late mother was a unique woman. As often is the case between mums and their daughters, we often clashed but were always there for each other when it counted. Many things pissed her off about the things I did, including wearing boots all the time, and not always wearing make up. She also got pissed off with me when I tried to be too clever. Sometimes we'd have a debate. It could be about anything: what's on the news, family gossip, or music that we like or not. I'd come up with all sorts of clever arguments as to why my point was the best one, and I wouldn't give up thinking of wily ways to win. While my mother was a very well educated woman, this tactic absolutely riled her. She used to say frustratingly, 'you're just too...ah ah...too um...intelligent!!'. I would burst in to laughter when she said that. Looking back now, I know the point was that each side of the argument was as right as the other, but she just wondered what the point was in trying to be so clever when you could make your point in a much more simple way.

Let's take a look at another Google definition. Google defines the world clever as follows:  

  1. Quick to understand, learn, and devise or apply ideas; intelligent.
  2. Skilled at doing or achieving something; talented: "she is clever with her hands".
Certainly, it seems obvious to me that the current QPR first team do not lack in above. I wince slightly at reading the words 'intelligent' and 'skilled', simply because you would think that we were none of those given the current form and the fact we have suffered defeat after defeat. But it is fair to say that there were glimpses of some beautiful football today from the lads. Although there is no point in playing that way if you aren't going to deliver - and unlike me as a bolshy teenager arguing with my mother - they didn't even have the fight to turn all the skill in to a real result.

I am ok with going down if we do. And I am under no illusions that we're going to have an easy time there either and go back up - we know from experience what it's like to assume it'll be an easy ride. But I wonder whether there needs to be a reality check in that dressing room? I also think that that reality check needs to include not starting with a few 'big name players' that were promised a consistent place in the team. There is a reason why these players weren't playing first team football in their previous clubs.

Looking back. What a shame it has been such a poor day given it initially had all the wonderful ingredients that could have made it great.

And on that note, this week I saw on the official QPR website that we signed up us one of the clubs to support the Football V Homophobia campaign. A few weeks ago, I wrote about how proud I was of a club and a captain that supported a change in attitudes towards this subject within the game. And I was excited when I read the news of our support, and quickly checked out the official page, the Facebook page and anything else I could find on it.

Boy, was I sorely disappointed. The Facebook page has a total of '93' likes. 93?? I dread to think of the amount of traffic that the official page is getting as well. But you know what? It's got nothing to do with the fact that us fans don't believe in the sentiment. Sadly, it's got everything to do with a campaign that conforms to stereotypes. My brother pointed it out straight away when I showed him the links - 'Ugh', he said, 'Why did the logo  have to be pink?'. Not just the logo, but the website, and the t-shirts and hoodies for sale.

I completely applaud Amal Fashanu for her crusade and her openness and am also glad that Stonewall supports the campaign as well. But in the Independent she says: "The really, really sad thing is when you have people who are actually not gay but fear that they might be categorised as such if they speak up. They don't want to stand up against discrimination. Why? Them saying, 'Listen, let's kick homophobia out of football', that's not going to make them gay." But that's exactly the point Amal - unfortunately, you have got run a campaign that is going to connect with people and fans, so that they don't feel like there is this kind of 'categorisation'. And it seems to me, that the reason why you haven't got more Facebook fans and many clubs aren't signing up is because people need something that speaks to them more than just pink and fluff. Quite frankly, this issue is about discrimination in all its forms, and the Football v Homophobia campaign has got to drive itself up in to a much more serious discussion in order for people to really listen.

It feels like another shame, that such an important cause is being seriously overlooked given that the climate could be very close to the tipping point in terms of how we as a football-going culture deal with the issue. Then again, perhaps we don't really have all the ingredients just yet and that's why it's important that as many teams do get involved in the campaign (fluffy or not).

That said, I've always thought that it will have to take a really big player coming out to really blow things out of the water. Most people relate to other human beings more than 'campaigns', and I can think of one very famous and very clever player at Real Madrid who, once he retires, will likely share his story with everyone.

All in all, as with the Football V Homophobia campaign QPR fizzed out like a damp squib. I really hope that in the next few days, we simply focus on getting a job done, being real and winning as opposed to trying to be too clever.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

'Same s*** different team'

...I heard someone say as I walked up South Africa Road today after the match we lost so convincingly to a side which, for the first 30 minutes, we looked like comfortably beating. Expectations were so high today given the money invested recently, and when the teams were announced at the start, I turned round to my neighbour and said 'Wow, listen to that?'. We were all smiles for some time, and I was starting to pinch myself because we looked so good and classy for a good period of time. It was like a fairy tale when Zamora scored. I started to think about whether the Wolves supporters were as scared as we were when we used to play big teams in cup games when we were back in the Championship or League One.

Alas, my reverie was short-lived. I woke up when Cisse was sent off for grabbing an opponent's neck after being fouled. And  from there we just got decimated, literally fell apart and this continued on in to the second half. Surely, such a team of experienced players, would be able to manage a sending off, and rearrange themselves to ensure at least defensively they were solid? It wasn't like we lost a defender in the first place, and we were still one-up.

We could go on about how badly various members played (Barton, Taiwo, you know who you are). But in fairness, this is a team sport, and what wins games is teams, not individuals. And I realised as I freezed my t*** off walking to the tube, that Mark Hughes, his staff and everyone at QPR has an absolutely mammoth task to get us anywhere near the level we need to be to stay up. We certainly aren't there yet, because good teams don't just fall apart at a sudden change in the game. For a moment, I thought 'Joey, it's all well and good saying that with 11 men it would have been a cricket score but with a team full of 'stars' like we have, it shouldn't have to rely on 11 men to defend a lead'. But actually, you know what. We do have to. There hasn't been enough stability in the club that we can't really blame individuals - just yet.

So, as a fan. How has this week been? A roller-coaster as usual. If there isn't a transfer deadline to get excited about, there's something about JT (not Justin Timberlake) in the press, or we can always rely on our ever outspoken captain Joey Barton. And while I am glad that today, even though we've lost, has been about a proper football game with proper fans watching a match, something that he has done off the pitch has made me an even prouder Rangers fan.

Some time ago, my boyfriend (now an ex), and I had a row. And it was a row about gay men in football. I can't remember how the topic had come up, but I said something flippantly like 'of course there are gay footballers'. And he adamantly and pretty angrily disagreed. I said, 'hey they might not be out but they are around'. Needless to say, that relationship was never going to last. Not long after that, I did watch another documentary which I can't remember the name of that talked about gay people in sports. It touched on football, but not in as much depth as what aired last Monday night. 

On Monday night, BBC3 aired a one-off documentary Britain's Gay Footballers. I had heard that Joey Barton was going to appear on the show, but it wasn't the only reason why I was keen to watch. I have a brother who is openly gay, and have always been extremely supportive of him, and a big advocate for gay rights, so when it comes to important topics such as this, I am always interested to know what people have to say. And being a massive football fan...I was all the more expectant.

So..although Amal Fashanu is no Christiane Amanpour I really did appreciate the honest and candid way she dealt with the subject. I also thought that Amaechi really did tell it like it really was about the FA and the Boardroom that makes it so hard for gay footballers to come out. But most of all, I felt like a really proud Rangers supporter when Joey Barton was interviewed and so honestly said what he felt about his gay uncle. For all his faults and sometimes cringe-worthy tweets, he is using his position of power, sometimes, to a really good cause. And I appreciate people who do that. And in this world, I am afraid that you can't be loved by everyone (famous or not famous), and if you've got a lot of people who love you, you are also likely to have a lot of people who hate you too.

What does this all amount to for QPR and for us fans? Perhaps not a lot. Perhaps much more than we think. My brother actually sent me a text saying that he saw the show and he felt proud of QPR (even though he doesn't give a hoot about football). I'd like to think that someone like Joey Barton, or other footballers like him come to play for our team. Why? Because we are a team from one of the greatest, most cosmopolitan and outward looking cities in the world. And because we should be proud to be a progressive and modern football club.

My brother warned me not to write about this topic as he said it might alienate 'my fans'. But I don't think I've got too many fans just yet to alienate (in my dreams), and quite frankly looking at the twitter trends on Monday night the majority of people quite clearly and openly supported the show.

Perhaps it isn't quite 'same s*** different team' then? Perhaps it's 'different s***, different team' and we've still got some positive big things to look forward to, both on and off the pitch. 

I hope so.

Emily, a proud Rs supporter.