Queens Park Rangers 2 Barnsley 0
This year has been a very long one for me. Having not had a holiday longer than 3 days and with 4 weeks to go till the big one, I started this week feeling pretty exhausted. The two things that kept me going were the thought of the Fans Forum on Thursday which I was very kindly invited to by the IndyRs crew, and a second consecutive home game on Saturday.
In all honesty, it was such a hectic week that I had not thought to consider what questions I would ask. But I did, in fact, have a cunning plan. Many of you know that @annieqpr and I both wrote articles on the Rainbow Laces campaign recently. Annie's was published in the Brent & Kilburn Times. Both of us also showed our support for the initiative by tweeting about it regularly during that main campaign week. Annie received a lot more negative feedback than I did. A handful of people decided to disagree with her views (perfectly entitled), but many of those insulted (Iron Hoof: What is it with these female so called QPR fans who want to bring outside issues into football?) and others should be arrested (Paul:gays should be put down like dogs that dont breed). Annie fought back and I applaud Annie for standing her ground. For me, however, I wasn't going to let one or two people who simply enjoyed winding someone up ruin my general view that most QPR fans believed in what we were saying. And judging from the conversations with everyone I spoke to last night (male, female, straight and gay QPR fans - oh yes we have them!!), this was very much confirmed. On the other hand, my plan for the forum was not to ask questions, but to do a stats piece. The last forum was an exceptionally fiery one. Many questions were directed at Phil Beard, and they asked about everything from shirts in the club shop to player school visits. Admittedly, many people complained about the quality of the questions, but surely this demonstrated that people were interested in other 'outside issues' and felt that they had a relevance to the club. So for this fans forum, I was hoping to note down how many questions were 'off the pitch' questions asked by male as opposed to female fans to demonstrate to ironically named 'Iron Hoof' that there are several 'outside issues' that matter to many QPR fans. My hopes were scuppered when I was told Phil Beard was not going to sit in the panel this time. So as I rushed in to the building, red faced having run down South Africa Road from the tube literally 5 minutes before the start and I sat down and thought 'what the hell am I going to ask?'
Needless to say it was hardly revealing or ground-breaking, nor was it really a forum as Indy Rs so eloquently put it. This was more of a Q&A session with an on-form Redknapp pulling the strings and making everyone laugh. Beard spoke for a few minutes and gave us nothing that we didn't already know. He was as stiff as a board. Green's body language (miserable face, arms crossed), showed us he really didn't want to be there, and this got worse whenever Cesar was mentioned. Charlie Austin looked nervous and very shy. Redknapp was in his element and very relaxed. So as the comperes attempted to wrestle attention away from someone in front of us who wouldn't stop bantering with Harry about horses running at Kempton or Wolverhampton the mic fell to me. Amidst the general banter I realised there was no point in trying to ask anything serious, and I was most interested in seeing how Charlie would react to a question that required him to show more personality than just a simple 'yeah, I'm really chuffed to be here and obviously want to score lots of goals' yada yada yada. Little did I know that my completely innocent question about Charlie Austin's famous goal scoring celebrations was going to turn in to possibly the funniest moment of the night. If you have not seen it, minute 22 of Part Two was the defining moment. And as Harry attempted to tear me to shreds for talking about 'sliding movements' and claimed I that 'like them sliding movements' I wasn't going to let Charlie get away not with not answering my question. And when he answered 'Saturday' to a round of applause from everyone in the room I had not only inadvertently put myself in the middle of a joke full of sexual innuendo but I had also inadvertently turned myself in to an Charlie-fancying obsessed fan (apparently no one else had seen that Youtube video 'Charlie Austin The Goal Machine Parts 1 & 2').
As a long working day at Friday wore on and I began to look forward to the match on Saturday I realised that I was actually so excited to see whether Charlie was going to a. score and b. do the 'sliding movement' goal celebration (why oh why did I not just say 'knee-slide?). Surely, if there was ever a match where he had a chance of scoring from open play, and not just scoring one goal but maybe a hat-trick it would be against bottom-placed Barnsley. Having no goals by half time was a worry and as I tucked in to some fabulous cupcakes from Geraldine's Cakes I hoped and prayed we would see a better performance at half time. I could see Danny Simpson's frustration, especially in the first half as so much of the play was happening in the centre and Hoilett had to come on to help create a bit more space and take the play out a little wider. And when Charlie scored, I was absolutely elated when he kept his promise and did his knee slide goal celebration. My neighbour turned round to me and said 'I think your phone is going to melt now'. And before long @officialqpr tweeted a pic of said knee slide to me. I was over the moon.
|From @officialqpr Charlie's slide yesterday|
But let's take a step back a bit. It's not even as if the 'knee-slide' is a particularly original or exciting goal celebration. It also isn't Austin's only type of sliding movement. In fact if you view Part 2 of Charlie Austin the Goal Machine you will see that he also has a knee slide/forward chest slide ensemble. So I wondered this morning when I woke up: what prompted me to ask that question in the first place? I realised in the cold light of day that it's been a long time since we've had such a prolific goal-scorer. Helguson was maybe the closest we've come in more recent years but there is something exciting about having someone in the fold who has such a great record and still has his best years left. And as I mentioned in my second blog of the season, Austin appears to be a decent and hard working person, and we like that at QPR. Having slightly 'stalker-ish-ly' scoured the internet for information on our bricky from Hungerford he has had the usual footballer brush with the law having been done for assault in a nightclub back in June this year. But for a young person he also appears to have been through quite a bit, having lost his first child with his partner to cerebral palsy at the age of 21 (see article here). So, I suspect there's a lot more to Mr Austin then most of us would immediately assume.
But alas, I digress in to issues outside of football don't I?
Ultimately, we all support QPR because we love watching QPR play football. It's the goals that get scored and the clean sheets achieved that put points on the board. But let's not think that matters off the pitch have no impact on the ethos, ethics and motivations of players on it. If we believed that they did not, it would be almost impossible to explain what happened to us in last two seasons. I would also argue that if one uses such an argument then many things that QPR in the Community Trust does would be a waste of time and is irrelevant. Clearly, this is not the case and it is an extremely important and valuable resource.
As for me, while I must say I had never thought of Mr Austin as much of a looker, I may now need to revert to having him on my screensaver at work again (I had replaced him 2 weeks ago with a view of the beach I will be lying on in four weeks time). It looks like I've got a bit of competition as a few lovely ladies at the pub had him on the top of their list of 'hot QPR players'. Never mind. I think I'm more interested in seeing Charlie score us plenty more goals than I am in him taking me out for date on 'Saturday night'. But thanks for the offer Harry, triffic.