Sunday, 29 September 2013


Queens Park Rangers 2 Middlesborough 0

I was looking forward very much to this match thinking that this was a real opportunity to finally thump a team, being at home, having built up momentum with 1-0 wins and playing a fairly weak opponent. So, on the way to the ground I placed two bets. A fiver on QPR to thrash Middlesborough 4-0, and a fiver on Barton to score a goal at any time. Having spent the first few matches consistently backing SWP due to some strange thing in my head that was saying 'he will one day score, he will one day score', I figured I would pick Barton as it was about time he popped one in for the lads.

On the way to the ground I stopped off at the mini club shop on South Africa Road, and finally purchased a much coveted Dennis the Menace top. I'm actually loving the material, but after a quick change in the Springbok loos I realised as I waited for @annieqpr and @gemcricketmad that this new design doubles up as a tight fitting dress. As per several people's feedback, just stick on some leggings and knee high boots and you'll be ready to paint the town red (and black). Seriously, what is going on with the length of the shirts? Someone suggested that it may be something to do with my height but at about 5ft5, and @qprbennyboy also claiming has a dress I am not sure this is true. Perhaps it's QPR's way of helping us save a little money by giving two options in one. Though I'd rather have received a membership pack this year like I have done for several years with my Platinum Season ticket instead.

Anyway, at the pub Annie and Gem and I were excitedly discussing the team news. It would be the first time I would witness all our new signings starting together apart from Chevanton. We discussed the fact that there were plenty of midfielders and how it was another opportunity for Faurlin to show Harry he was any good. I'll be honest, we also discussed how good looking Kranjcar is. I blame Gem for this. Having the wonderful excuse of being a mother with two boys she was able to attend the open day a few weeks ago and take lots of photos of gorgeous football players with her sons in them. And according to her, not only is Niko good looking, but he's got a certain kind of charm and charisma which we agreed was an extremely positive thing.

Little did we know what we were actually about to witness on the pitch. Kranjcar injected that little bit of creativity that we needed which seemed to energise everyone else in to trying and completing some clever stuff. There was some good passing and heaps possession. Even if the BBC didn't show that great moment around 64 minutes it will be embedded in my mind as the time when QPR fans gasped in a strange sort of horror as we just couldn't believe we were seeing such moments of skill and team play- something we had not seen for such a long time within such positive circumstances. But my neighbour to my right said to me 'I'm not even sure he's left second gear yet' and he was still playing like a demon. And as I watched him amble nonchalantly off the pitch I did wonder whether he felt a little like you feel if you've stepped back a class in a course, or been demoted to a job you did years ago. It was all too easy. I imagined him blowing his imaginary pistol as he walked up and faced the tunnel cam. But that's what charisma is isn't it?

The much used, but often questioned google dictionary supports this:


  1. Compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.
  2. A divinely conferred power or talent.

Needless to say, for Gem and I it's 'Cheerio Julio' and 'Hello Niko' for the foreseeable future. And as for the other players, well they all played their part. There were still some mistakes - Carroll was great in parts  but did make a few mistakes. Similar thoughts on Faurlin who perhaps has lost some confidence since coming back from injury and falling out favour. It is a team game however, and as a unit we worked well, backing each other up when required and forgiving little mistakes. We needed to play and win in this way so that when we get to Christmas when we play all the better teams in the league we have that confidence instilled in us. Falling in our favour is, perhaps, that we saw glimmers of a team 'charisma' at the 64 minute mark? Let us hope it is not the last time we see that. 

Yesterday, my Step Mum came to the match with my Dad as part of her birthday weekend treat. I am hoping that she comes more often as we seem to play well when she is around. I'd like to wish her a big Happy Birthday and a thank you for being there. If anyone can teach the lads a little about charisma it's her. And she'd probably look way cooler than me in that Dennis the Menace top and knee high boots. 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Good Noise

Queens Park Rangers 0 Brighton 0

Yeovil 0 Queens Park Rangers 1

During my weekend away I went to bed on Sunday night having seen Joey Barton's late night tweet in support of Stonewall's campaign Right Behind Gay Footballers. A wave of excitement hit me as I knew we were in for a week that would be full of debate and conversation on three subjects that are pretty dear to me: gay equality, advertising and QPR. Let me just say outright, that this hasn't suddenly made me love Mr Barton but it has increased my respect for him a significant little. It's hard for it not to as I'm hardly made of stone and these are subjects so close to my heart.

My brother tells me I am more of a gay rights activist than he is. Hardly. There are thousands in the UK who are truly fighting for the cause. I am only guilty of writing a little piece  on the subject in relation to football some time ago when that documentary with Barton (who was still our captain) opening up about his gay uncle came out. I also wrote about the Football v Homophobia campaign that QPR signed up to - an important initiative that tackles homophobia specifically in football. 

Was it pre-planned that the first match QPR would play after the launch of the campaign would be against Brighton? Whether it was or not, the campaign provided me with an element of distraction during what was in all honesty, a drab football affair. This time, the score line didn't even give me one goal to cheer for. But if it had, I may have missed it as I was admittedly spending a lot of time staring at players' feet to see if they had been wearing their laces. I had no idea there were so many different coloured boots, and so many different coloured laces. One could be forgiven for thinking that footballers were extremely fashion conscious even on the pitch! Despite the drab affair, the draw gave us a point and a move one point adrift at the top of the table. And it was still wonderful to be back at Loftus Road under the floodlights and hearing the noise of the crowd.

I have been undecided for a while, but now I am leaning towards Stonewall's view on this one. Why? Ever since that documentary that was aired in February 2012, one English league player (Robbie Rogers) came out, retired and appeared again to play in the US. And Football v Homophobia's facebook page has increased to just 655 likes. @tpasichelle reminded me today that 32 of 92 league clubs in the UK have signed up to Football v Homophobia, as well as the managers of England men's and women's team as well as the FA and that there has been 'lots of global action'. Sounds good doesn't it? But how many of you heard about anything that they have been doing until you read my blog? Have you seen more than one Football v Homophobia support tweet from QPR? Have you seen numerous press articles around their campaign since that football documentary which Fashanu's niece presented in such a heartfelt way? Did you see any advertising? In contrast, Paddy Power has so far this week run two 24 hour #RBGF sponsored tweet campaigns on twitter (each would cost approximately £20K) which led to millions of twitter impressions. Barton's support has meant that most of his 2.3m followers are likely to have seen his campaign tweets throughout the week. There is also plenty of advertising in print across the UK - reaching millions of adults, and not just those who are interested in football (again likely to be costing at least a few hundred thousand pounds). In addition, every Paddy Power store is holding those rainbow laces. I went to my local shop today in Willesden Green and the guy at the counter said they were running out. This, don't forget, is another space for visibility. While Barton's support is likely to come at no cost, Paddy Power's support provides leverage and scale a campaign like this would otherwise never have achieved. And, like it or not for being a bookies with cheeky advertising, scale still drives awareness. And it sure does drive conversation.

I have no doubt that these partnerships were completely intentional, and the negative response from other campaigners, whilst unfortunate, will not be considered as a failure for the campaign. Stonewall would have thought long and hard about whether these were the right partners and one of their goals would have been to ensure the campaign had a good share of conversation within the social space on the premise that all noise in this instance, is good noise. 

For me, this goes back to one key point about football as compared with other sport, or other organisations in this day and age. The fact is football is a tough nut to crack. Many consider it to be the last bastion of male, heterosexual,  beer swilling, pub drinking, macho behaviour, although I would argue that is is also extremely corporate, and much more family and female friendly these days. It is, however, run by an FA and a FIFA that doesn't really consider homophobia a key priority. Not one player is out in the UK and only two professional players in the world are, so it's not like they are even visible in the same way that players of different ethnic groups are. In addition, no one really talks about gay footballers amongst fan groups and people are so uncomfortable with the subject they don't even know how to have a sense of humour about it. In fact, most of the time the subject swept under the carpet and forgotten. How the hell are we going to fight equality in such a resistant environment? While I respect all campaign groups, and have great respect for Football v Homophobia, cutting through isn't going to happen through campaigns that aren't just a little bit disruptive. 

Evidence that this campaign is, I believe, a tipping point, is that there were announcements from the Premier League and some individual Premier League Clubs defending their position for not officially supporting the RBGF campaign. Both groups claiming that had they had more time they would have been able to support it - marketing deals and sponsorships being impacted by the initiative. It is probably somewhat true, but I do find it amusing because by defending their position it has generated PR for the campaign yet again. And it has made fans ask questions of their own clubs which they may well want answered more fully in the long-term. 

What does this mean for QPR? Probably not a huge amount in the short-term. My hope is that one day when gay footballers are able to safely come out and be visible, QPR will go down in history as a club that supported the cause. For now, it is most QPR fans' hope that Barton continues to focus primarily on his game. But I for one am proud to see a QPR player having the guts to make a point by wearing the laces, during that match on Wednesday night against Brighton. Who cares if Barton loves the attention? He's got 2.3m people who read his tweets every day. And yeah, so what if Paddy Power wants to leverage the campaign to get more people in to its shops? Betting isn't illegal here, and it isn't illegal for them to advertise either. If they've got money to spend, why shouldn't Stonewall leverage this? Call me a marketing cynic, but this is the reality of the world that we live in. And consumers are pretty clever, they can make informed decisions for themselves about brands and advertising. They also understand Paddy Power's tone and style is part of its advertising identity. If they did something that wasn't controversial it wouldn't seem right would it? That's like asking website companies to start using opera singers in their ads (oh, wait a minute...). 

And so we came to Saturday, the day when we were meant to see many players wear the rainbow laces. I sadly could not make it to Yeovil and had to contend with old school radio-listening while at the same time writing the beginnings of this blog post. I also have not yet seen MOTD, and am about to start watching the League Show. Another 1-0 win for the Rs is great news, but like many fans I am worried about the plethora of injuries (Nedum, Johnson, Hoilett). The recent score lines reflect their loss and resulting lack of of a strike force as well as creativity. 

Nevertheless, we have 20 points and sit at the top of the table, which says a lot for the importance of momentum for positive results. The RBGF campaign is creating momentum - and I have hopes it will outlive and outlast the Paddy Power and the Barton brand given that we live in an age where people own brands and brands themselves are merely their own guardians. And surely, any noise about a good cause is good noise? Just like a win is a win is a win. Right?

Monday, 16 September 2013


Queens Park Rangers 0 Swindon Town 2 (Capital One Cup)

Leeds 0 Queens Park Rangers 1

Queens Park Rangers 1 Birmingham 0


Firstly, I'd like to apologise for the lack of blog posts these past few weeks. Work and family commitments left me with so few hours in the day to be able to report on my trip to Leeds. I hope it suffices to say that it was great to be back up north and spend time with QPR friends Gary & Robbie. It was made even better by a fantastic win at a very intimidating ground. 

I should be back on, in the usual form in the coming days, and look forward to another evening game this Wednesday. There is so much to talk about, but of all the topics I'm excited about a very interesting campaign that Barton is championing in support of Stonewall, the charity that works towards equality for lesbians, gay men and bisexuals. I'll be looking at whether this campaign could be the tipping point in the history of gay football players, or whether it's just another failed attempt in an archaic football world. 

However, first up this week I'd like to welcome back my best QPR friend @gemcricketmad who has written a little piece on her experience of  Birmingham game which I begged her to do. Gemma often visits Loftus Road with her son, and I was hoping for a piece that captured how special the experience is. I was not disappointed. I hope you enjoy, and You RRRRssssss


There are 2 types of Saturday afternoons at QPR for me. Those with my 7 year old Rs fan in tow and those without. The latter usually end up in a far too late night, a never-ending lecture on my return about my alcohol consumption and Sunday being a long and total write off. The QPR Birmingham game fortunately, was the former and it got me thinking. What does going to QPR mean to little H? (I'll call him that for the benefit of this blog because it stands for his name but also for hooligan which at times I worry I am creating.)

He asked me at bedtime last week "Mummy, why are you so obsessed with QPR?" I struggled to answer and so said "do you mind that I am?" He grinned, laughed and said  "no, but can we go to the shop before the game on Saturday?"

Now for anyone who knows my son, he is obsessed with shopping and collecting and QPR provides him with the perfect platform to indulge in both these passions endlessly. Before we had even got to the turnstiles on Saturday, I was poorer thanks to one programme (for the collection) one gold badge (for the new, lucky "we'll win now" badge collection) and one QPR jacket, complete with hidden hood ("in case it rains during the game"). We are both good at finding excuses to shop.

As I had tucked him into bed on Friday night, I asked him what two things he was most looking forward to about getting back to Loftus Road (this was to be his first game of the season) and he said without thinking "Goals" and "The Springbok". I was worried by this answer on both fronts; AJ likely to be out and only having Austin to rely on (Little H has Austin on his new shirt and the same football boots so huge pressure) left me with the deep seated worry that there might not be any goals;  and The Springbok....... Yes, well, I am successfully but worryingly turning my son into a child who aged 7 begs to go on pub crawls - how irresponsible a mother am I? Actually don't answer that. But I must confess that our afternoons together are pretty sacred he and I time and I think that the fact QPR gives us that great excuse, makes us love it all even more.

So onto the game. The 1st half was a scrappy and tense affair, typical of the tough and relentless type of Championship football we are quickly readjusting to. The midfield were all over the place, we didn't look like scoring and Bobby..... well Bobby was on the pitch and only thanks to the Dunne wall of Loftus Road, Greeno and our crossbar, did we slope in at half time without being at least a goal down. So how did little H feel the first half had gone? "Great" he said "it was all great". Now I must add at this point for those who don't know me, that I come from a split family. I have an 11 year old Gooner son #fail, who is a walking talking stat man. He watches every ball of a game and can tell you anything you need to know about any match he has ever watched on TV or at a ground. His younger brother however, well lets just say, I was relieved 10 minutes in when I asked him which end we were shooting at and he actually knew. For Little H, a good first half at QPR consists of a large pack of Percy pigs, a drink of something fizzy and the promise of crisps or chocolate at half time (this explains his 3am visit to my bedside following the game to tell me he was feeling sick). 

So after a quick half time pint (mine obviously) it was onto a thankfully very different 2nd half, minus the Bob but with the addition of SWP and a shift in formation. Now I have a chequered past when it comes to missing goals around half time (other son missed 2 of the 4 England goals against Moldova)  but someone was smiling on us yesterday. As we walked towards our seat and play was well under-way, we were just in time (phew) to watch Charlie push the ball over the line - cue absolute delight from him and us all. And so the game continued in an entirely different manner to the 1st half. Joey (deep breath) played well again but saved me from a fate worse than death by not quite scoring with his mid air bicycle kick. We defended well - the lovely Ned not putting a foot wrong, midfield pace was good and generally we looked like we believed we could win the game. The moment Austin hit the deck looking injured was my most worrying, given our distinct lack of alternatives.

A highlight for Little H was the throwing of the blue smoke bomb by a Midlands fan and the pause in the game (son is also obsessed with bombs, smoke machines and rebellious behaviour) and was desperate to know how the smoke was emitted, where could he buy one, how had it been smuggled into the ground and what would happen to the man who did it.......

We chatted on intermittently - he believed he had seen at least 40 QPR goals live (if it's 20 he'd be lucky) and he seems to have erased the last 2 seasons from his memory (aside from beating Chelsea) talking nostalgically about the year we were promoted (he's forgotten we lost that Leeds game too). I am convinced he is creating many of our games out of his imagination, but actually that is no bad thing. The last 10 minutes of the game was spent with me arguing that just because we were winning, did not mean he was allowed to invade the pitch at the end; that I explained, we would save for our promotion.

So I won't bore you with the pints at the pub after (of which there were too few due to me being on mummy duty) but I must just share little  H's comment on the final whistle as he jumped up and down cheering "Mummy, now we've won, does that mean you'll take me to three pubs to celebrate?"
Secretly, I was proud. Job done.

Sneaky trip back to the pitch side after the game complete with new shiny badge and jacket (purchases)