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.

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