Queens Park Rangers 1 Everton 1
This is the first Saturday in a while that I've actually felt pretty good at 4.50pm. No, we didn't win today, but the lads played lots of good football and worked extremely hard. I saw them play with a bit of passion and we all know that's been somewhat lacking in the last few weeks.
For me the difference was in our starting line up. While we are currently not in an ideal situation with a lack of forwards due to injuries and indiscipline, starting with Traore and keeping Taiwo on the bench was the right idea and probably a revelation for Hughes. QPR 'veterans' Derry and Buzsaky back in the team just felt more comfortable than last week's midfield. While these players wouldn't necessarily be first choice because of the 'sending offs', it actually all worked out quite well. There were a few wobbly moments but there were long periods in the game when I really thought we were going to get a second goal and win.
So all in all, a good day's work, and we still got a point out of it. Every point counts and I feel much better and more confident than last Saturday. I really hope today's game is the turning point.
Funnily enough, I thought one of the turning points today was the appearance of QPR Squirrel. Shamefully while the lads were playing some of their best football the rest of us (including me) were having fun watching the real '12th man' run in to the net. I have to say it added nicely to a general feeling of relief I had for a change - in the sense that we were finally playing well, and we still had the full team on the pitch. It's amazing how such juvenile things put a different slant on things. I am looking forward to seeing @QPRSquirrel blossom in to a QPR legend and hope he brings us luck in the coming months.
Today I took my old friend from university to the game. He's not really in to football and doesn't support a team but has always been open to a fun day out and naturally if he's anywhere near me and anyone asks, he's a QPR supporter! I had never taken him to Loftus Road before but I do vaguely remember taking him to a game many years ago when I think we were in League One. I believe it was an away game somewhere up North but I can't for the life of me remember where. My dear friend is in (some QPR fans would say) the unfortunate position of possessing the surname of Morrow. And being someone who was never particularly passionate about football, standing in an away stand watching and supporting QPR as we were then one can imagine the utter fear he felt when all he could hear behind him was 'f***ing Morrow'. Indeed, I remember this player only too well, not just because he was absolutely awful but also because that day my dear friend Mr Morrow felt mildly abused by these London fans with their 'Southern' accents spouting out expletives. Little did anyone know it but Steve Morrow was about to score a goal (his only for the club). And again I don't know whether we won or lost...I can't even remember where it is (so if someone does know this fact: the one place Steve Morrow scored his goal for QPR please get in touch @elmodedude). I do remember thinking just how strange a turn of events a football game can bring and how addictive football is because of that.
So my friend who is visiting from Leeds only found out this morning that the Rangers have since moved up quite a lot in the world. 'I did wonder why you were playing Everton, but I didn't think to ask'. I enjoyed the few hours we spent on the tube and at the Springbok where I gave him a concise history of the last 12/13 years since I last took him, kidding myself a little bit that he was actually interested. I told him about all the managers and the billionaire owners, about the battle to get out of League One and going in to administration. I was just about to launch in to recommending to watch the Four Year Plan but realised that was just asking a little too much.
However, he did wear one of my scarves, and as we sat in a new seat at block JU for the day (not being able to get two seats together in my usual place), I was extremely impressed with his very loud 'Come on your Rs'. The view from behind the goal was a welcome change, and the atmosphere was also different with younger people about (I am told C block is for 'fossils'). I liked it. And as my friend and I took our seats and he asked me to remind him exactly what colours we'd be wearing so he doesn't cheer for the wrong team, I thought about how this time around he might feel a little different watching the Rangers from this perspective. This time, we are at home. This time, we're in the mighty Premier League. And this time even if he isn't interested in football he knows who Shaun Wright-Phillips and Joey Barton are.
It just reminded me of what a long long way we've come as a club, as fans...and that for all the disappointment we feel and all the abuse we heap on the team week in week out, being where we are now is truly and wonderfully fun. And I am blessed to be a supporter of a great club, with a great new owner and special fans.
Thank you QPR