Monday, 7 May 2012

Intermittent access

Queens Park Rangers 1 Stoke City 0

I write this from the Far East mid way through a relaxing holiday that is just what the doctor ordered. I promised myself I'd write a blog and haven't missed doing so since I started in January of this year. But this could be my toughest task yet given that it took forty of minutes of the first half to finally get a connection to the game online, and the second half consisted of stuttering access...we could just about get running TV commentary but I saw very little passing or movement, and I missed the goal on the 88th minute when the connection pretty much ground to a halt. So no different from your recent average QPR match then?

So I am so not going to pretend that I know anything about how the boys played. Apart from being able to read the reports online (eventually), and also seeing a few highlights from an NZ website (which showed Barton in a very good light) including the player's prostrations of relief at the final whistle, I really haven't a clue from a personal level what happened.

I had lovely day though, all in all. It started with getting to know the chaps who work here at the resort I'm staying in. At breakfast, they suggested a new beach for me to visit on the island and said they'd take me over at sunset. I was happy to go along, but warned them I needed to be back in time for the big match. Football is not a massive sport here in the Philippines. Ironically despite the average height of the Filipino, basketball is. But football or 'soccer' has grown in popularity with the help of the Premier League and the Champions League brands and the growth of Cable TV sports offering Premier League matches every weekend. So it was with some excitement but very little knowledge that the boys started to talk to me about football. They had no idea who 'Quinn Park Ranger' were, but were hungry to understand what it was all about - how fans spend copious amounts of money watching their teams play, and whether we had anything to do with Barcelona or Real Madrid (one day young Paduwan, one day).  'Greg'  met me at 3pm to make our way over to this new beach. He was wearing a yellow Chelsea shirt. This was far from ideal as you can imagine. And I quickly told him in no uncertain terms that this had to change soon. I was keen to make sure that he understood the implications of wearing it that day but to be honest I pretty much got a blank face until the point at which I said, please don't wear that this evening when we all sit down around the computer to watch the game together. Message received, loud and clear.

So as night fell, and we drew close to kick off, a group of us sat around the computer in the middle of a 'jungle hilltop tent' and I had all my links ready to go just in case some worked better than others. It was a hot & sticky night, and there were a few mosquitoes around. But wifi was working, and we had pizza and fried chicken at the ready, and the stage was set for the big showdown.

Or not.

The build up to the match was all excitement and nerves. And then. No streaming video. I tried QPR Player and managed SOME radio coverage but this was fairly intermittent too. So I relied on twitter to keep me in the loop. We did get some pictures by the second half, albeit literally 'screenshots'...But by the 80th minute, I have to say I had given up on  our life in the Premier League. With Bolton still winning at that point I was one of those who was tweeting 'Bye Bye Premier League'. I know there is a small army of fans who would be quite happy to see us winning games back in the Championship instead of going through what we're going through now. But really, judging by all the reactions that I am seeing online, most of us don't want to go back. Who would want to? With all this wonderful attention we are getting after 15 years our of it...NO WAY. I am loving every minute of it. So when I finally saw everyone saying Cisse had scored you can imagine my ecstatic reaction. Needless to say the group of people around me had no idea what was going on as all they could see was a video screenshot of the match that had stopped moving around 82 minutes. Bless 'em. They sat through it all patiently with me even though there was neither good football, nor any real decent streaming coverage to watch.

And then I missed Loftus Road like a big hole in my heart. I imagined all the fans running on to the pitch (exciting but slightly premature methinks), and the players relieved that Bolton had drawn at the last minute, and everyone from the #qprtwitfam having a drink at The Green afterwards. I stayed up for another 2 hours (we're 7 hours ahead here), trying to watch video highlights but I was only disappointed with what was a really poor connetion at that time of night for some odd reason.

I sit here now at breakfast, finally able to show the guys video highlights of the game and shots we made (a few potential corkers from Taarabt & Barton!!). The lads here started saying 'Gametime Hoops', and I thought - you guys have been doing your homework on QPR, only to realise they were talking about something to do with the NBA (how little I do know...). So perhaps it will be a while yet before I can fully convert them over here.

So I am now looking forward to another day in the sun but also missing home very much and feeling so nervous about this weekend.

But, at 82 minutes in yesterday, who would have thought we would still be in the mix at all? The drama that is football, and that is the Premier League is really why we love the game so much (whether we admit it or not). But did I honestly think when I started writing this blog in January that by the time I was on holiday we'd still be fighting for our lives right to the death?

You just couldn't make it up could you?

QPR in the Philippines

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