Queens Park Rangers 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0
...it was the worst of times'. Kept echoing through my head throughout the match today, even before Taarabt scored from a fantastic free kick. The match itself was filled with everything that a QPR match is expected to bring these days to Loftus Road: agony, ecstasy, pleasure and pain - all in one go. As I've said before I am quite sure that plenty of people suffer increased blood pressure during matches, and there were several 'shrieks' from the crowd when we thought for a millisecond that perhaps we were done for as Tottenham came so close to scoring.
But I also thought about the fact that this was my last home game (as I'll be on holiday during the Stoke game) and wistfully looked back on my experience so far in this season which could quite easily be compartmentalised in to two halves. In January I started writing this blog, and in one of my first blogs after the first cup tie against MK Dons I asked whether this was the turning point in our season. The football we played at that game was ugly, QPR favourite Ale Faurlin got a serious injury, and I think if I remember correctly, it was Warnock who said that the last minute goal from Helguson was perhaps a turning point. Little did we know, however, that the real turning point lay in the massive changes that were to come in the form of new management and a host of new players. At that point in time, our season well and truly became a dogfight, while the previous half was about a QPR team unsure about what it stood for with a varied and less than spectacular run of results.
'...it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,'
...I then made my journey up to Newcastle not long after, taking the coach for the first time. It was the first of quite a few games where Mark Hughes spent time tinkering with the team, testing out the squad and understanding who could do what. The irony is that those who have really shone through have been our Championship players: Derry, Buzsaky, Mackie and Clint Hill have been invaluable and quite frankly up until a few games ago they were the only ones who looked as if they gave a damn. It's amazing how it appears to have taken so long for everyone else to really show some passion. It's taken so long for the penny to drop that if QPR go down it's not just the club that might suffer, but their own careers as well. It would be unfair to say that our 'shiny' new team of Premier League big boys haven't performed in more recent games, but poor behaviour and a flurry of red cards has made them (Cisse you know who you are) look foolish. But we've also had some bad luck, and Derry being sent off at Old Trafford was the icing on the cake in terms of poor referring decisions. However, it seems we're getting used to playing with ten men. When Taarabt was sent off today, there was perhaps a moment of confusion from the crowd and just a little anger, but as my neighbour said 'it's almost like we just shrug it off now we're so used to it'. By that stage though, I was honestly starting to believe we could really win this match and I remembered all the tweets coming in saying #believe all week.
'...it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,'
And speaking of tweets, I spent some time at The Green just before today's match, meeting with many people who I've been getting to know in the virtual world. The #qprtwitfam is well and truly established, and putting faces to names and seeing people 'come to life' was a great experience. Hello to everyone I met, I am so looking forward to seeing you all again soon. One of the greatest things about being a Rangers supporter has been meeting fans who are just as obsessive as me. Sadly, apart from my father, I've never had any close friends who have supported this greatest of teams, and so making new friends has been a highlight of my season. My experiences travelling away on the coach have also been a real hoot, especially given that my first coach trip meant being filmed by Sky Sports News at the ungodly hour of 4.30am at Loftus Road. There I was at the 'back of the bus' getting to know other crazy supporters. So even though I haven't yet experienced an away win this season it has been a wonderful season of light for meeting like minded individuals who share the same hopes and fears as I do. It's just like QPR to keep us hanging until the end of the season though...while we have lived through a true winter of despair, the recent home wins against the big teams have brought us a spring of hope.
'we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way'
And so we look ahead, with three games to go. And who can honestly say after these past performances that they aren't winnable? But the first one next Sunday in the hellish depths of Stamford Bridge will likely be the toughest test yet. I shall be there, arm in arm with my dear father who has chosen to grace me with his presence at an away game for the first time ever.
'- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of
its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for
evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.'
But alas, we are so far from the end of the season as far as knowing what the future holds for Queens Park Rangers. We have left it till the dying end to save ourselves, and will likely because of this, have to suffer from another 'iron on' sponsors logo on our shirts next season whether we are up or down. Will we be looking back on this season thinking it's much like the one we're in then? My emotions on that subject are completely contradictory. While I hope for a season in which our biggest issue in the Premier League is mid-table mediocrity, I also think it would be dead boring. And if we end up back in the Championship, will I be pining for the excitement of the Premier League?
This is life as a QPR supporter. And the only thing that I am sure of is that I love this club. And while it's been the best and the worst season I've ever lived through so far that one fact will always remain true.