Sunday, 18 August 2013


Exeter City 0 Queens Park Rangers 2

Huddersfield 1 Queens Park Rangers 1

Queens Park Rangers 1 Ipswich Town 0

It is rare that a QPR fan can write something in a calm and positive environment. There is plenty of time yet for controversy and angst, especially as we edge closer to transfer deadline day, but I really am very happy right now.

It was a great pleasure to welcome back my best QPR buddy Gem to the fold after her summer holidays, and to spend time with others at the Shepherd & Flock post-match. Much of the discussion over the past week or so has centred around how good it feels to be winning again. As I mentioned last week, I miss the extended coverage a little, but overall life really is better. It has been a little like spending the last two years with a partner who really wasn't any good for you. You knew it was traumatic, but you kept at it anyway 'for love' and it is only when you finally leave him you realise just how lovely and different life can be. I'm not going to lie, I think it was a major feat for me to be able to write a blog nearly every week last season given just how miserable it was- result after result after result. And there we were again and again in our thousands, travelling away from home in the full knowledge that, even if we managed to get a result, we were watching a team that we no longer really recognised as truly our own Rangers.

While Gary Linekar claimed that yesterday was the start of the football season (have now un-followed), the rest of the real footballing community looked forward to the third league match of the season. As early as it is, this season so far has been as good as I had hoped it would be. I am in no rush to get back to the PL and it will be a mammoth challenge to do so. While we haven't lost yet, it is early days and it is probably fair to say there is still plenty to be done to improve the team. Perhaps it's a positive that we don't look like we're firing on all cylinders yet?

Charlie Austin has made a fine start having scored within 90 seconds at Exeter. Although it feels as if he's missing a lot of chances - hitting the bar, post, keeper etc...we appear to be better at simply keeping up the pressure and not giving up. It has probably helped that several 'passengers' have now left the club and we're left (for the most part) with people who actually want to play a decent game of football.

Speaking of wanting to play, if we can we must do something about Zamora (the man who doesn't really like football). Yesterday, in comparison to others, he lacked pace, accuracy and was generally not connecting with anyone else on the pitch. Half the time he was looking down at his feet and it was frustrating to watch. On the other hand, if he hadn't been so bad, we might not have had to chance to see Tom Hitchcock get on the pitch and score the winning goal. As hard as us football fans like to think we are, we're probably more soft than anyone else, and we like to see people succeed where they have worked hard to reach their place. While it was great to win a the last minute, this for me was the biggest cause for celebration yesterday. Having Hitchcock on the bench with two others from the youth team is just the thing QPR fans want to see - wouldn't most other football fans want to see those who have grown up through the club youth system play first team football? These are the players most likely to have their own soft spot for the club - and this must certainly help morale and team spirit. Admittedly, Hitchcock came from the Blackburn youth team to QPR, but nonetheless it is nice to see a family connection with his father also at the club. He tweeted last night 'Probably the best feeling I've ever had.' That just sums it all up.

Witnessing such joy is great, especially if it is from a team you support. I admit I felt almost as pleased when Rickie Lambert scored for England earlier this week. With his first touch, to score the winning goal was a 'dream come true' for him. And English fans up and down the country saluted him because you could see it meant so much more to him (in spite of it being a friendly), than it would have to anyone else on that pitch. That's because he represents hard graft and someone who has worked hard to get where he is. We are a nation obsessed by football, but we are also fed up with people who just don't
act or work like they deserve to be where they are. I am so thrilled for Lambert, as I am for Hitchcock. And I am quietly confident too that former bricklayer Charlie Austin will also be a great footballer for us, as well as a decent, hard working person.

I haven't yet mentioned my man of the match Joey Barton. I do not excuse what I still believe to be pretty arrogant and poor general public behaviour, but on the pitch he is delivering. He was everywhere he needed to be, and had made some damn fine crosses yesterday (and how nice is it not to have Taraabt around to strop about who's going to take free kicks and corners?). We will miss Barton big time if he goes.

I am also convinced that I actually enjoy Championship football more.  I mentioned this last week, but it's physical, it's still bloody fast, there is a lot more ebb and flow to it and we aren't playing a load of prima-donnas every week. Speaking of prima-donnas, where is Mbia?

It felt so good to score that goal yesterday. Admittedly the importance of the event was not as big as the 3-2 win against Liverpool, or our Taraabt's winner against Arsenal last season where it was hugs all-round and severe knee bruising. Regardless I hugged Terry who sits next to me every week, and a bloke to my left who I've never met before. That's because it meant just as much to me as those 'big' games in the PL.

Past Life? Who needs it?

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Don't mention the football

Queens Park Rangers 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1

I wondered at the end of last season whether I'd have the courage to continue writing this blog. It has since been an extremely relaxing and stress-fee couple of months without football. I must admit, it was only a few days ago that I honestly started to look forward to making it down to Loftus Road, with the last season having been so traumatic. We certainly did need the time to get over it all.

The last few months have been spent enjoying the first heat wave we've had in years. I've been getting to know my neighbours, catching up with non-footie friends I tend to ignore during the season and training for my swim at the London Triathlon. In addition to continuing my quest to become the barbecue goddess of Willesden Green. It has been bliss to be able to focus on things other than QPR. In fact, I didn't even bother to really keep up with the transfer gossip, and there were some days (shock horror) when I didn't even look at twitter.

But when this week arrived, and I thought about the new friend I planned to bring to Loftus Road for her first ever football match (well, from what I understand the first one where she wasn't just entertaining clients in a corporate box), I really started to get excited. Today, I brought my friend Jenny along, and what a sport she was wearing the QPR colours with me all the way. It was a blast from the start, as even from the moment we got to Willesden Green tube station, we saw fans in the blue and white hoops (and blue and white hair!). Meeting friends in The Bull almost reminded me of what it was like coming back from school summer holidays - some people had lost weight, some people had new hair...everybody was looking well. I provided Jenny with her first experience of being called a 'QPR Virgin' outside Loftus Road to the laugher of and by many fans in the queue while I bought my copy of AKUTRs, and took her to the bookies to place her first bet. In giving her the 'experience' of a match day I almost forgot about the fact we were watching a football match.

And then it hit me when @mrs_ajams came over and said 'latest news Barton is playing!' Well I certainly didn't see that coming. And I must say I was actually quite excited. Don't get me wrong...I was as appalled as anyone else (see previous post on breaking away from the chains of Joey Barton), with what did to QPR...but I do think that when can stay on the pitch he is fantastic for the Championship. And in fact, on today's evidence, the Championships suits him and the more physical nature of play appears to make refs ignore plenty of shenanigans that simply would have been 'red carded' in a Premier League game. In fact what would have probably been a red card today ended up being a yellow for the opposing team for 'simulation.' Fantastic.  Our dear friend @gemcricketmad is currently on holiday in the US and if she were here she would probably have dumped me as I nursed my pint of bitter at the bar for my positive attitude towards him. But it seems I am not alone..the very warm welcome he received when his name was called out, and the standing ovation that occurred as he was substituted confirms this.

Today was an absolute MUST WIN. Why? Because in the last two seasons, we started poorly, and starting poorly set the tone for the rest of the season. Because, in the last two seasons, and after ever transfer window when we would lose we'd hear the excuse that makes me FREAK OUT 'the team needs to gel,' and I really didn't want to hear that today. Because, in the last two seasons the thousands of fans who spent money to support the Rangers home and away despite abysmal performances deserved something better. And frankly, patience for the Manager, the Chairman and the board was and possibly still is starting wear a little thin.

Life is going to be different though...earlier this week I pressed the 'series link' for the Football League show. I thought about the fact that there would be no need to rush home from away games to watch MOTD and that I would have to contend with 20 seconds coverage of our beloved team, but that perhaps this meant more beer drinking time. I thought about the fact that there would be no more 'Match Choice' where I would be able to watch one hour of the game in its full glory around 10.30pm as well, but that perhaps it might help me to focus on some of the other decent TV that I've been getting in to on a Saturday night..or that maybe I could actually pick up a book to read. And the fact that it would be hard to get an online feed of away matches that I can't make...well, I can't think of any upside for that!

But coming back and winning the game, albeit with a slightly worrying start, and seeing most players play with commitment and pride in true Championships fashion made me remember why I loved this league so much and found so much of what we experienced in the Premier League unbearable. We filled up Loftus Road today slap bang in the middle of the holiday season, and Sheffield Wednesday fans were in typically fine form and voice (naked beer bellies included). My dear friend Jenny who says she is 'yet to be convinced' by the QPR fans about whether she should be a QPR fan felt the game was a bit like 'ping pong' and 'number 23' (Hoilett) was a real 'weasel.' In fairness, we're not in the Premier League any more, and in fact we were never really a Premier League team despite the suite of expensive players in our squad. We're now right where we belong...winning a match that isn't always pretty to watch but with some touches of elegance and plenty of speed and physicality in front of a happy crowd of real fans.

However, in the bathroom at the Springbok I bumped in to a lovely Korean lady. She said it was her first time at Loftus Road. She said she was here to see Park play. When I said he wasn't even on the bench she said 'Yeah I think he might play in Holland,' but when I told her that Yun Suk Young was on the bench I saw tumbleweeds and heard the wind whistling. I've never had a problem with our new fans from Korea. If it means they get to experience the beauty of Loftus Road I am happy for it. But frankly, most of them will disappear once he goes judging from that exchange in the Springbok bogs, and while I love to see all these amazing fans from around the world come to Loftus Road (hello Norway crew that were down this week!), please let it be the right fans in the future Mr Fernandes. Let's play on our strengths and build on what is already there, instead of trying to make something out of nothing.

As you know, I don't do 'Man of the Match' nominations on this blog, but in honour of my lovely German friend Jenny who came with me today I am selecting Andy Johnson (or Number 8 as she calls him) who she rated highly with 'Number 17' coming a close second.

Barton, you aren't going to be around for much longer probably. Controversy will continue to surround your football and your tweets and everything else you decide to do. But QPR will no doubt continue to surround itself with plenty of its own controversy, and the fans will have plenty of things to talk about and moan about. Let's just hope that this season my blogs will want to mention the football more than ever. With three points in the bag, the forecast is looking just about right.

P.S A special mention goes to @geraldinecakes from whom I purchased the most amazing QPR cupcakes for my birthday and are featured in the background of this blog. Do tweet her for orders.