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. 


  1. I will comment once I stop sulking that I've not been mentioned (jokes) xx

  2. Actually, fab blog post, and as I was half way through writing my own, apart from the Jenny bit, it's pretty close to what I've written dammit, will go finish my own now that this inane grin is off my face, just a wry smile left!
    Great to see you again lovely :)
    Annie xxx

  3. I was very quick off the mark writing the blog this week! Was lovely to see you too Annie. Crazy lady #rangersgirls

  4. Great to read about a win! I'm sorry I didn't speak to you in the Bull on saturday. I spotted you there, 70% sure it was you, at least, but you were in mid conversation when I walked in and the next time I looked round you'd moved on. Next time fingers crossed I'll be able to say hello! :)