Saturday, 9 March 2013

A Letter from Santa's Friend

Queens Park Rangers 3 Sunderland 1

Dearest Emily,

I bet you are surprised to hear from me, the Easter Bunny. I know you didn't write to me. You don't think quite so highly of me, as you do of Santa. But one thing you maybe didn't know is that Santa and I live next door to each other. And when you wrote to him back in December he told me all about your story and the things he had arranged for the Chelsea win. I became fascinated by your story, and I've been following the Rs ever since.

It hasn't all been great for Rangers since then I suppose. A missed penalty against Norwich seemed to be a turning point for the worse. And the 4-1 drubbing at Swansea was like a nail in the coffin in some ways. I know you felt that way anyway, because your blogs were so bloody depressing I was quite close to slitting my chocolate wrists on a couple of occasions. It's a good thing Mrs Bunny had caught me close to the act, and reminded me that life wasn't all about football and your blog and that I had a duty to several children every Easter that required my utmost commitment.

However, as Santa had pointed out to you in his letter to you, you do have this tendency to be extremely pessimistic about things. I realise it isn't as if QPR have been winning regularly, but did you ever expect to get anything out of Swansea away and United at home? I think you were jumping to a quick conclusion without considering the next potential run of winnable matches. In addition to that, I must tell you off for promising people at Yates's bar in Southampton last week that you would write a cheerful blog. You really do have to keep your promises young lady, or was that a promise made under the influence of one pint too many? Dear dear dear.

To be fair, though. I think I can understand where you are coming from. From what I've observed over the last couple of months, supporting a football team like QPR is a little like an illicit love affair: it's lots of ups, but plenty of downs, with passionate fights as well as big fat snogs, it's sometimes good for you..but very often it's terribly bad for can't live with it, yet you can't live without it. I had no idea that it was quite so charged. And amazingly, the QPR fans keep coming back for more. Over 3,000 fans went to Southampton last week off the back of two lacklustre performances by their team. Just what were they hoping for? Well, I suppose it is all about the magic of football. The very thought that anything could happen and the mere possibility of a win keeps people coming back.

So I was shooting hoops last night with Santa (as you can imagine, I have a bit of a 'hopping' advantage', but hey, he gets to ride a sleigh in the sky every year). And he reminded me that the boys were playing Sunderland today. I rang up Mythical Character Satellite TV company to find out whether the game was on. Would you believe, they were going to charge me a special fee to get it on my TV, even after I had delivered several bespoke chocolate Easter eggs to their office last year? Once I had stern words with the CEO they finally acceded to sorting it out for me FOC. As I settled in to my settee I must say I did think QPR had a fantastic chance of winning, but I didn't think it would be with 3 goals, two of which could be contenders for goal of the month! (Wasn't Townsend fab?). And much as it pains me to say it, perhaps the Arctic training camp that Santa sent Bosingwa on has turned him a little. He's actually playing quite well now, but I admit once in a while we still get the sulks from him - a sort of languid stomping motion which I saw a couple of times at Loftus Road today (don't worry, he is not getting any chocolates this Easter). He really does have this odd manner about him, but I think that's also the case off the pitch. I saw the photos of him 'hanging out' by the pool in Dubai and he was looking extremely out of place wrapped in a towel both by the bar and his sun lounger. And who was that blond girl standing opposite him, surely she should have been standing closer to some of the more 'ripped' looking players who had their swimmers and no top on...As you people on twitter say #fail.

Anyway, you must be pleased with such a comprehensive win today? And I heard that QPR, for the second week in a row, will be making it on to Match of the Day first. Surely, you might start to believe that now it might just be possible for QPR to survive? I really do feel for you though, as on this current form and what with the battles around you, it really looks set to be another tumultuous end of season. It certainly isn't going to be settled early, either way. However, thank God you have got back to back wins, and a couple of away wins under Harry. It's such a unique little run for you. Looking back on Hughes, he really was awful wasn't he? What a complete mess he made of the team.

On another note before I sign off I'd like to remind you of what makes supporting QPR so great. Today you met @rafafernande82 (who flew all the way from the USA) and @julieqpr as well as @g_a_zz at the Springbok before the match, along with many other amazing friends you have made at QPR through that twitter world. Admittedly, there are several weirdos on it, and there are several people you'd rather not follow due to the plethora of swear words as well as the abuse they hurl at other QPR fans (not to mention a few idiots intent on bashing Koreans for 'taking their seats' in language that is purely racist). But for the most part, when you meet many of them it must remind you of what is special about being a Rangers fan: that sense of family, togetherness and a welcoming nature.

My one wish for you regardless of whether the Rangers stay up or not, is that the owners never lose sight of this and make sure they nurture it as much as possible. Looking around at all the other Premier League clubs this makes QPR truly unique.

And I wish you, and all the QPR fans an enjoyable last 9 games, whatever happens.

With much love,

The Easter Bunny

Encl. Blue and white hooped Easter eggs

Emily, Gary, Rafae, Sandy

Laura, Emily, Gemma

Julie, Emily, Gary, Sandy

Monday, 4 March 2013

The Fickle Finger of Fortune

Southampton 1 Queens Park Rangers 2

As I drank my pint of Doombar at Yates's of Above Bar Street, Southampton, I promised myself that this blog would be a cheerful one - win lose or draw. It was hard not to feel cheerful as I met with a few pals and absorbed the extremely inebriated atmosphere at said bar. There must have been a good thousand of us packed over two floors of the place, and I was impressed by the lack of anger at the press that had come out overnight about QPR players apparently enjoying gin-soaked nights in Dubai. It was almost as if, being deliriously happy and drunken that day, was probably about the only way us fans could face another potential away loss, this time at St Mary's. As far as many of us were concerned, fate was going to deal us another big blow.

I, however...couldn't quite feel the love of the pub, until Remy had scored the first goal. Plonked in the back yet again, in row LL I had a group of fans behind me who decided it would be fun to shout abuse at each other in that 'oh so manly' way for absolutely no reason. Words like 'you wanna take this somewhere else,' 'don't you dare talk to me that way,'  yada yada yada. So boring. I couldn't help it and had to to tell them to shut up and watch the football. I must say, I do believe that part of this 'tension' was brought about by the fact that we were playing pretty badly. Southampton had all the possession, and I just couldn't see how we could nick it. I mean, it was Southampton after all - I could understand 30% possession if it were a team of a larger stature. However, as a friend had pointed out to me, this is the type of football we are going to see whoever we play from now until the end of the season. Ugly, defensive football where we hope to make a break with a couple of decent strikers up-front.

Thoughts on the match - for the most part, I thought we were pretty abysmal. Yes we played with the above-mentioned tactics, but we barely strung a couple of passes together. Players seemed to be falling about and struggling with Southampton's very physical style of player. It was scary - especially for the last 6 minutes. And this is what we have to experience for the next few games no doubt. Mbia was lucky not to get sent off, Park was not great apart from his fabulous run against the odds and subsequent assist later in the game. People are saying that they saw passion for the first time, but I am not sure I did. I thought our forwards were very casual for the most part, and lacked a sense of urgency. Credit to Park though, last twenty minutes he showed some fight which I didn't expect, and perhaps that rubbed off on the others. One big positive though - not relying for once on Taraabt or Mackie. So while our win may have much to do with the hands of fortune - not picking those two was a revelation and perhaps changed our fate as much as anything else that day.

After the match, we heard Redknapp dispute some of the claims somewhat, although it is my understanding that the club has not yet made an official announcement or rebuttal about the article on Dubai shenanigans. I am one of those that was pretty quick to believe it - mainly because there are direct quotes, and let's be honest, it's hardly rocket-science to suggest that footballers = partying, booze and women! So most fans were in a pretty cheerful mood about the news and Redknapp's own rebuttal. As for me, I am still worried about the dressing room split. I suppose most big clubs with players from around the world will have their cliques, just like any office or work place. However, in my heart of hearts I wish that we had a Rangers team that really was just that - a team, that bonded and partied and got drunk together. The fractious dressing room is not new news. And this is supported by a fan who saw and met the team whilst on holiday in Dubai. Click here for more info: WATRB. But it's a shame that it's splayed over the Mirror and it makes all of us fans fight and doubt each other. One minute we're freaking out on twitter about it, the next we've just won and all is forgiven...

Oh no...I'm starting to notice that this blog isn't cheerful. Perhaps it is because it's a Monday and we've still got almost a whole week to go before we are back at Loftus Road. Please don't vilify me for making a few more negative observations about the match and the management of the club. As you know from my piece in Indy Rs last week I still have very strong reservations about the way that the club is marketing itself and managing it's external comms, particularly in the space of social media. And to confirm Adam Hulme contacted me very politely today letting me know that the tweet he put out for bloggers to cover social launches was not related to QPR specifically. Hence he has now set up a new Adam Hulme QPR account to make it clear what his tweets are about. Thanks Adam for the email and I really do appreciate it.

I do still feel sorry for those boys though. Poor little lambs, I really think they need some proper marketing help. I am shocked that Fernandes has not planted one of his marketing managers to help given that in Asia the social strategies for his businesses are highly regarded.

People are going to absolutely kill me for not making this blog a happy one, but I can only write what comes from the heart. And while I am so pleased that the Rangers won over the weekend, I am worried that a win will simply mask the other deeper problems we have.

But hey, read me next week after a potential win at home against Sunderland and I'll probably be back to usual form, such is the fickle life and feelings of a fan. And since Santa has well and truly hibernated, I believe that we owe the Easter Bunny a potential letter?

Ideas on a postcard...

You RRRRSssssss

Friday, 1 March 2013

Where did it go wrong for QPR, a Marketing Person's Perspective

Queens Park Rangers 0 Manchester Utd 2

This week's blog post can be found on Independent Rs Review website.

Thanks to the team there for asking me to write the feature.