Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Emily's Top Moments of 2014

Everton 3 Queens Park Rangers 1

Queens Park Rangers 3 WBA 2

Arsenal 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

Queens Park Rangers 0 Crystal Palace 0

This year has been a strange year for QPR supporters. Most of us have felt that for the most part we haven't performed at our best, and yet we made it in to the Premiership in May, and sit 15th in the table as we close the year off. When you look at it that way, everything, it would seem, is going to plan- even though some would argue otherwise. For who cares if one is achieving if one doesn't aim for the very highest?

But rather than agonise over the whys and wherefores, here's a list of my top moments of 2014 to bring some joy during this festive time.

#5 Barnsley vs QPR and my search for Niko

At this stage we were already assured of a playoff place, so Barnsley away was an odd game to go to with nothing to play for against an already relegated team. I chose this as one of my top 5 moments because it was a wonderful day out with friends- Steve, Ben and co.. Whilst I believe that Doncaster does house one of the best fish n' chips places I've been to, Barnsley's local chippy - a ten minute walk away from the ground also serves some of the most superb fish n' chips I've ever had. I will also remember this game for my mischievous search for Niko. My friend Gary had given me a copy of the book 'Footballers Haircuts' which I was holding on to for most of the season. He gave it to me because he had noticed that Niko Kranjcar had his own copy and I was desperate to have it signed by him. I had waited for Niko before and after matches at home and away several times to have it signed, but had failed on every occasion, by either being too early or too late, or waiting at the wrong exit. At Barnsley, I tried to find the players' entrance/exit after the game and walked around the whole ground. I ended up inadvertently in front of the security barrier and right behind the team bus. I felt like a right mug and ran as quick as I could to safety to avoid being busted as a freaky stalker. It did make me think though that we're pretty good at Loftus Road at allowing fans access to players without much fuss. At Barnsley of all places- it was impossible to get anywhere close to the players unless you did what I did...

Despite my lack of success (I eventually got my signed book this season!), I did get a wonderful gift from Mr/Captain Shouty of Niko's actual shirt that he wore on the day. Sadly, it had already been washed once I received it but a few mud stains remain and I have worn it to bed a couple of times. Thank you Mr Shouty! (not a stalker promise!).

#4 Charlie Austin's first QPR hat-trick (vs WBA)

It was only a matter of time before Charlie would score a hat-trick, and what a time to do it coming up to the half way point of the season in the Premier League. He is really on fire and continues to be one of my favourite players - apart from the obvious goal-scoring record he has a great attitude and is a team player. It's just great to see his name up there, miles away from any other English player in the PL. I truly hope this is only the beginning of our love affair with this great striker.

#3 QPR vs Nottingham Forest: 5-2 win

We still haven't broken our record for playing away at Forest (unbelievable that we've never won there), but this goals-galore of a game was great fun and a rare occasion for QPR fans having lived through several single-goal games in during the 2013-2014 season. This was also one of my favourite games because old friends had joined me that day who I had not seen for many years. In addition, we presented a very large cheque to the Tiger Cubs for the Tiger Feet Walk to Charlton.

Presenting the Tiger Cubs cheque before the match

After a goalless draw away I don't think any of us doubted this game was going to be action-packed. The club had done well to generate lots of excitement and it was a great idea to have us all holding up blue and white sheets as the team entered the pitch. It was everything a playoff semi-final should be - it had teeming rain, goals, extra time and plenty of spirit (thank you Steve Black). We also reached a point where many could achieve their long-awaited dream of running on to the pitch with very little risk of arrest whilst those in the upper tiers tutted away...

#1 Derby vs QPR Playoff final at Wembley

It is no surprise that this is my favourite moment of 2014. The Bobster will be forever remembered on fans' hearts and I will never forget how my step mum went to the loo in the dying minutes to miss the goal, and how my Dad was convinced we'd score a last-minute winner. I'll never forget how my local in Willesden Green became a QPR pub for a day, and how the song 'Happy' kept skipping as we celebrated our amazing win at Wembley. I'll never forget how expensive the beer was, and how long it took to get to the tube station after the match. Many people, including QPR fans believe it was an undeserved win but I will always beg to differ. Goals win games and we scored the only one. I'll take that win proudly in exchange for all the other terrible stuff we've had to go through in the past.

As we look forward to a tough home fixture against Swansea on New Year's Day, here's a big thank you to friends for making this a fun year. And a no-thanks to the anti selfie-stick xenophobic boo-boys and the Harry/Fernandes out conspiracy theorists. Let's all step back a little and look at the bigger picture and remember the good times QPR has given us.

On that note, I'd like to offer quiet prayer for Air Asia and the passengers of QZ8501. If we truly are a QPR family, now is the time to show it.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Five Things

Swansea 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 2 Burnley 0

It's getting to that time of year where I can no longer feel my fingers when I'm walking outside and where I wear my extremely 'sexy' thick socks in bed. Home comforts become ever more appealing as deep winter sets in. It's also one of my favourite times of the year for football, as it is for so many - there is more time to spend with friends and family, with so much action to absorb.

The last few weeks have been an interesting study in human psychology. We've continued a pretty decent run of form at home, with disastrous away results which naturally means we become slightly schizophrenic. It's a meltdown one day and elation the next, with several who just continue to moan as is their habit regardless of the result, and somewhere in the background a few conspiracy theorists who believe dark forces have always been behind the club condemning us to eternal damnation. Wouldn't it be boring though if we didn't have such a melee of opinions?

I'd like to think I sit on the more positive side of opinion, and perhaps that's simply because I just don't need football to make me depressed - surely we've all got enough on our plates to want to make things even more complicated? I do realise it isn't always easy, since we are all so passionate about football and about our club. I also appreciate that the Christmas season isn't always the most happy of seasons for many (ironically), and so I've compiled what I hope is a helpful list of five things to do to cheer you up or keep yourself busy, whether QPR win or lose each of the five games we've got between now and New Year's Day.

1. Wear a Christmas jumper

A simple but effective strategy for bringing Christmas joy and laughter to yourself and others by making yourself look as silly as possible. The QPR club shop has a QPR version of this which I think is fantastic value for money as it kills two birds with one stone. I have been reliably informed by retail specialist @gemcricketmad that the Christmas stock this year is the same as 2013, so some may be disappointed with the lack of imagination. But I'll still be wearing mine to Arsenal away on Boxing Day.  And don't forget, the 12th December is also Christmas Jumper Day for Save the Children- so get wearing and get donating for a worthy cause.

QPR's Christmas Jumper, on sale at the club shop

2. Lie back and think of Charlie

Okay, I don't really mean it in 'that' way, but what I do mean is that while we've had some disappointing results, we MUST revel in the joy that is our very own very real striker. Something that we have not had for a very very long time. Can I say very again? Probably, as Charlie is not only a very great player, but he is also a very very nice person. A little shy, but we like our players to be more humble than obtuse. And so far every time I or any one else I know have met him, he has been very simply very friendly.

3. Start a petition against EA Games

I'm not a gamer. I think the last computer game I got addicted to was Tetris on the Sega Megadrive during my GCSEs. However, it is my understanding that FIFA is a huge game, and therefore must have pretty high production standards. I saw the QPR video with EA Games when they came in to scan Ned, Rob and SWP...I thought the likeness achieved was amazing! I heard that Niko was not there when the scans were done, but I am nonetheless stunned by the alternative option and artist impression (see below my tweet to EA Games). Who is the man on the left and why is he wearing a QPR shirt? I am at best offended, and at worst, horrified. I have a feeling this picture of Teen Wolf 2 was drawn by an envious male but cannot be sure. Anyone else interested in launching something on change.org?

4. Enjoy others have a meltdown

Ever since Manchester Utd stopped being 'top dog', the league has actually become rather interesting. It would be fair to say that it's still the same 6/7 clubs that hover at the top, with the rest struggling at the bottom. But, within the 6/7 there's lots of movement and no one is quite sure what will happen. So let's revel in the uncertainty of others. I mean, we think we have a meltdown when we lose but check out Arsenal fan Claude's meltdown after losing away to Stoke. Evil I know, but so so so funny.

5. Watch QPR Tunnel Cam

As discussed yesterday at the White Horse I do wonder whether the audience for the exquisitely put together Tunnel Cam is predominantly women. After all, during warmer months it is an opportunity to see a few tops whipped off, and for some close-ups of Niko and Charlie. To be fair though- there may be plenty of men with man-crushes...and to be really really fair, I do think Tunnel Cam brings you just about the right amount of behind-the-scenes access to bring you the magic of football without being too obtrusive and still leaving an air of mystery. Now at ten minutes long, you get to see the team sheet exchange, the players give each other instructions (like Niko saying to Barton 'don't go beyond me like you would if I was playing on the left'), fancy food being carried in to the dressing room post-match and Steve Black greeting all the players. And the good news is, it's only done when we have a good draw or a win, so there's never really anything to be to upset about.

So I hope you find some of these activities enjoyable, and wish you all a lovely week as we celebrate another great home win.

You RRRssss

Sunday, 30 November 2014


Newcastle Utd 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 3 Leicester City 2

I've had the pleasure of a stay-cation this past week. It's been a chance to recharge the batteries, sort out some life admin, catch up with friends and family - and enjoy a little football. Not enough credit is given to simply taking time off as most of us in the Western world are so used to jumping on that plane for a holiday in the sun. Many of us are spoilt and forget how lucky we are. Nevertheless, if you can honestly switch that blackberry off and pretend to yourself at least for a few days that you've got no reception, staying at home is a low-risk holiday.

Mine started with an early morning and a 7.30 train ride from Kings Cross to Newcastle. Arriving at Kings Cross at 6.30am I panicked when I saw that M&S was still closed but was delighted when it opened at 7am for my obligatory pre-train ride beer and wine shop. It was a great train ride up with some of my favourite QPR pals, for whom waking up that early is worthwhile. As for the match, while a point would have been a preferred earning, it was always going to be a big ask to beat Newcastle in their current form. I had promised myself when I visited Newcastle nearly 3 years ago, that I would never go again as you are so far from the pitch and it's a long way to go for a 7 storey hike up stairs and a view of Bergen but the time with friends was an opportunity not to be missed. As for the performance, I continued to take heart from QPR's continued persistence and fighting spirit. I know I know I know, it's not just about the performance as we need the points. But I honestly believe that for what we need to do - which is ultimately, to survive, the wins will come. To use a cliché we must 'take the positives' in order to turn things around eventually with points on the board.

Perhaps it's because I've been influenced by this book I mentioned a few weeks ago called Good to Great - a book that sets out some key principles around how to make good companies great companies. In its final chapters there is this concept of a flywheel. It's about continuously pushing a big heavy wheel, inch by inch...then turn by turn...then eventually the wheel is able to move and push forward on its own momentum. So, with each turn the 'flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort'. I think of this when I think about how the football fans are extremely good at panicking and moaning about a marginal loss away from home. Call me an optimist but I was a little shocked by several people claiming that the Newcastle match was the worst football they've seen the team play in ages. Really?

I do think that sometimes it behoves us to just give the players a little bit of a break - to take a step back, take a deep breath and take everything in to account. And, in some ways, I feel vindicated by the result against Leicester City. The fans and the players all felt that the hard work, grit, determination paid off and won the game for us. With Sandro and Zamora both sadly out, it was good to see Kranjcar being given a chance to play, and add some creativity to a creativity-less mid-field (and didn't he look pretty with his new haircut and shave?). Having Barton back is also encouraging for the team spirit and Henry continues to perform unexpectedly well - perhaps a dark-horse contender for player of the season? Something tells me though that our striker hero Charlie will be the one to gets the plaudit. I think many thousands of QPR fans (men and women) would happily plant one big soggy kiss on those lovely lips of his.

On the one hand, I do agree that what separates the winners from the losers, the great from the good...is the desire and the will to win. So I can see (grudgingly) why that the result at Newcastle may have felt like wasted effort, or like it was due to a lack of desire. But on the other hand ambition comes in many forms, and it is the definition of that ambition that can sometimes be a little hazy. We have to remember that it is a long season and that there is a job to be done that spans far beyond one match, or even one season for that matter. I am hopeful about our flywheel, but it has probably only completed one turn so far.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Hard work

Queens Park Rangers 2 Manchester City 2

I'm not usually able to catch QPR's official weekly show 'London Call In', and to be honest I have never cared for it too much as it always feels a little too official and censored. The QPR Podcast with Finney et al has always been a lot more fun, and something I can relate to. But this week I watched the Rodney Marsh special and was struck by something that he said about QPR fans in particular. He called our fan base a 'cult' and said there will always be that hardcore 17,000 no matter what- rain or shine, league two or premier league. The reason why it struck me is because I've always wondered whether all football fans are the same and whether the only thing that separates us is the club that we support. I'd very much like to think that we were all different, after all- how can an Arsenal fan be anything like a QPR fan? Their version of disappointment must be extremely different from ours. I can't imagine their fans saying things like ' I wish the team really wanted to play for our shirt', or 'Wouldn't it be nice to be first on MOTD?'.

Currently we're pretty happy with our team's performance on the pitch. We've only gleaned 4 points from the last 4 games, but most of us don't care because it is such a pleasure for us to finally watch a  blossoming team - with team being the operative word. Like most I can't fault anyone's performance in the last few games, but for me at the heart of it is this player called Charlie Austin who would much rather see us win a game than see himself score a goal. It is obvious that he getting fitter (no pun intended), and more confident and I am even more excited about having him with us now than ever before. But, and I have said this before, what makes it all so great is the fact the epitomises what we British folk all love - a working class hero who has been through the hardship and come out the other side. Scratch that, people love someone who has worked hard regardless of who they are, for what they have. At least I'd like to think that is exactly how QPR fans are.

Harry hit the nail on the head in his post match interview with his son Jamie yesterday. He used all the other 'excuses' around the players that he had, the fitness levels and the injuries to explain the earlier poor performances. But admitted that at the end of the day it was the simple premise that if one doesn't put in a good shift on the pitch (i.e. vs. Manchester Utd and Tottenham), one simply isn't going to stand a chance of getting anything out of a match. Last week I talked about some simple things that needed to change and that the team appears to have discovered. Add to that one overriding simple point - if you ain't prepared to put in, you ain't going to get anything out. I often wonder whether this highly digital world we live in, this world of video games and Millennials sitting next to each other who are talking to each other on their phones via whatsapp versus face to face, the idea of effort is slowly disappearing. In the UK in particular, as the work place continues to change from one of industry to one of service and technology, are we surprised that many people (not just the young), are trying to find quicker ways to provide minimal effort for maximum effect? And is that the right thing to do, or the right way to go?

I'd like to think not. And on that note I've been hearing about a documentary being made about QPR called The Story of QPR. It's a project by the The Octavia Foundation and QPR in the Community Trust working with young people 16-24 to produce a range of multimedia telling the story of QPR. It's fantastic project and I've seen a 'teaser' here on youtube: Story of QPR Teaser. But I would say that wouldn't I? Although I don't think I am biased in saying that for a small club like ours with a cult like following, we do a hell of a lot of good stuff that really matters in this world.                  

When I see effort and projects like this, it's hard to believe that there is any truth in the theory that we're all going through a bit of a change in society and  in our cultural beliefs about work and what it means. I don't know what's going to happen but I would be horrified if we see a huge value shift and we stop respecting the Charlie Austins that come our way.

But, I am comforted by what I see in football and the little world of QPR that we know and love.

Sunday, 2 November 2014


Queens Park Rangers 2 Aston Villa 0

Chelsea 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

I'm reading a book called Good to Great by Jim Collins. It's a study and guide on why some companies only stay good and how others become truly great. The book is based on years of research and study, so it's compelling and credible. Throughout the book, myths are debunked, particularly on the topic of leadership, for example: great leaders of great companies aren't always charismatic - often they are quiet, unassuming and unglamourous. In addition those who do have charisma need to be very careful with that charisma and how it is used as it can be off-putting. It goes on to explain that all the CEOs of the studied great companies, have something called 'compelling modesty' and humbleness. But what strikes me the most as I read this book is the simplicity of its findings and theories. I always think that it's easier to solve problems if we divide things up in to chunks or buckets - easier to say than to actually do of course!

Having said that, the last three Rangers matches have given us some hope. Whilst we've taken 3 points, it feels as if we've taken more because we're finally seeing a team play with some passion and pride, in addition to having a clear system for delivering results and an objective to work towards. I think it's been easy for us to point fingers at the players and presume that their hearts haven't been in it - especially after the West Ham game. The legacy of the Mark Hughes era has left me paranoid for one. But I think a few simple things have happened that have allowed the team to begin the dogged fight for survival for real...

The first is a framework with clear objectives. Within this, there are tactics, formation and team selection. Whether it be by chance, luck or the fact that Rio simply had to be dropped - there appears to be a framework for the team to work within. If people aren't given a framework to work towards, how can they deliver? If you don't know what is actually being asked of you how do you know if you are doing the right thing? From everything I've read, Harry has always been known as a man-manager than as a coach. I've heard many players say they like working with Harry because he 'let's me express myself' and 'play how I like to play'. That's all well and good but it seems to me that other than the likelihood that Fernandes had a word or two to say to Harry after that match at the Boleyn ground, there were a few others whose socks were pulled up- after all what was the point in hiring Glenn if he wasn't actually going to do his job and coach the team on this framework?

The second is that we've been able to develop what appears to be a clear understanding of what we might actually be very good at...within this I think there's something in there about our doggedness in midfield with players like Henry and Sandro frustrating teams with players of a higher quality. It also includes a better respect for Charlie and an understanding of what he can do. We know he will score goals when he's playing in a double-act up front and Bobby coming back in to the team has helped us to see that. 

Thirdly, passion appears to have been re-ignited. Gemma and I had a great view of the corner flag after Charlie scored the goal yesterday at the swamp and the look on Fer's face among others was wonderful to behold. I am looking forward to witnessing more moments like this. I did also wonder what had happened to the sports mentor Steve Black as he appeared to work wonders at the back-end of last season. And as I watched the Villa game 'tunnel cam' there he was - coming out of the dressing room just before kick off @5.30m!
As I've said before, so long as the players are united in one common goal and in an understanding that being at QPR is about survival and not much more, and if the above three things continue to play a part we will 100% be able to achieve it this year. 

I was horrified like many other QPR fans as I watched MOTD last night. I felt like chucking up when they used words like 'exquisite' and 'almost perfection'. Chelsea, the 'best team' ever to grace the Premier League, pass the sick bag.

But what of Charlie and his story? I can't help but think that while he has scored some spectacular goals for us - what makes him so bloody good is that fact that at its simplest he is a poacher. It ain't always pretty and if you think that back-heel isn't in its own way 'exquisite' that's fine MOTD pundits. I'm not sure that your confidence is required for QPR to survive and frankly I'm not sure I'd like it much anyway. 



For those that don't yet know I have made it as a finalist for the Football Blogging Awards this year. I'd love it if you could vote for me. Details can be found here:

FBA Finalists

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Fired up

Queens Park Rangers 2 Liverpool 3

Today we witnessed a heartbreaking result for the Rs. Playing a lacklustre Liverpool side, and having dominated for most of the game, a few mistakes cost us dearly. I keep thinking, we deserved to win, but I know in my heart that we didn't really- and for exactly the same reason why I think we deserved to beat Derby on that fateful day in May this year. When one is given a chance - you simply must take it with both hands.

I suppose the only difference between Liverpool today, and us in May is that they didn't look like they really wanted it at all. I saw as much character in that side as a plank of wood. If I were a Liverpool fan I'd be furious with Balotelli - he was worse than Taraabt on a bad training day (abuse to come my way soon I'm sure). Conversely, and rather surprisingly QPR came fast out of the blocks and showed real spirit for most of the game. Our players looked like they had fire in their bellies. Part of this is fitness of course- Harry picked players that had a bit of pace: Onuoha, Traore, Yun...And (praise the Lord) dropped Rio for 'a few fags with a drink but I'm still going' Dunne. Was it tombola time again for Harry? I am not sure that anyone could argue with the tactics and changes that were made to the team for today. Harry was, I admit, spot on.

Last week I was really concerned about Harry. It looked and felt as if he'd become disinterested and half asleep. Having said that, I don't for one second believe everything he says, especially on the topic of reading the papers. There is no way some of his frustration isn't stemming, in part, from what he's reading in the press. They say that sometimes it's not great to show emotion when it comes to your work life - it's only work after all right? And one must never take things too personally. But sometimes, just sometimes I think it does help to show people that you have taken it very personally as it shows that a. you care and b. that you are in it with everybody else as much as everybody else when you lead a team. And in Harry's press conference (which you can view below) I saw for the first time in a long time in him, someone who was seriously pissed off...it was so pleasing to see him red-faced and sweating, to hear him get angry about Adel's lack of effort in training, and to hear him swear and hit that irritatingly squeaky screen behind him. Hurrah! (I'd have stood up and kicked the whole wretched thing over!)

So where now for QPR? It's tough when mistakes are made, but they are easily forgiven when everyone is united in a common vision and there is effort behind the performance. It's easy to say we 'woz robbed' but I'm going to go out on a limb and say this performance will be our turning point- because if we can come back from this, and turn this loss in to a positive experience we're going to be absolutely fine at the end of the season.

Delusional? Maybe. Prepared to admit defeat just yet? Absolutely not.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Football Blogging Awards

For all those who aren't active on twitter and facebook, this is just to let you all know that I've made it to the finals of the Football Blogging Awards based on 'fan' votes, which is all very exciting and unexpected as I just entered for the hell of it.

You can vote on the website, on facebook and twitter if you follow the link below. Admittedly it's extremely difficult to work out on the website, but just pop the url of my blog inside the female category bucket (no need to vote in the other categories) and stick your email address in if you don't mind.

Football Blogging Awards

I thank you in advance for your continued support in reading this blog which continues to be such a great pleasure to write.


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Being there

Southampton 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

West Ham 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

Growing up my step father was a fan of a 1979 film starring Peter Sellers called Being There. The story was about a simple gardener (Chance) whose knowledge of the world around him is derived from just the TV that he watches and his gardening, but once his benefactor dies and he discovers the outside world, he is mistaken for 'Chauncey Gardiner' and simple observations are taken as profound and filled with the wisdom of what others around him perceive to be the makings of the future President.

I can't help thinking about this movie as I ponder over our current dilemma of what appears to be a lack of strength in the form of Redknapp's leadership. I admit that for most of last season I was relatively forgiving. I tended to trust Harry's rather erratic judgement despite the 'tombola' strategy because, for the most part, we were winning games. And of course, when we got to the end of May and that day at Wembley, the rest became history.

Part of this was because I had read, heard and observed that Harry's a pretty good man-manager. After what we had been through with the personality-less Mark Hughes, Harry had he ability to make players feel good about themselves and play with freedom. At the very least, he also had slightly better taste in the players: despite all the loans, we had kissed goodbye to the Monobrows of the world.

As many have observed however, the success at Wembley papered over cracks already in existence. It's easy to get a little depressed about this but for anyone who knows QPR well, the cracks should not be a surprise. But, as fans who spend a lot of our hard earned money supporting the club, we deserve a manager who truly embodies the spirit of being a manager, and moreover a leader, through thick and thin. At this stage in the season I am now ready to say I am not sure I have faith in Harry to lead us to safety come the end of the season.

Harry Redknapp is not Chauncey Gardiner. In his post-match interviews he is not particularly profound. Instead of reasons, he only has excuses, and instead of taking ownership he puts blame. Neither of these are leadership behaviours. Don't get me wrong, we're going to lose loads of games this season whether we have Redknapp or not, but it's the leader who is prepared to be as responsible for results as much as everyone else in the club and is prepared to admit to mistakes and ugly things that we don't always want to know, that I will personally appreciate and I believe others would too. He appears for too distant and too disinterested to be a manager of any club, never mind a club like ours that needs lots of sorting out. And frankly, we are facing the greatest challenge of all- survival.

The irony of the movie is that Chauncey Gardiner's perceived intelligence made people truly believe he was truly with them all, even though in reality nothing mattered more to him than gardening alone. Unfortunately for us, It's all too obvious that Harry simply isn't there when it comes to football. To quote Chance: 'As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.'

Sunday, 21 September 2014

In and out of love

Queens Park Rangers 2 Stoke City 2

Do not read this blog post if you aren't going to take it in the humour in which it is intended...for it is very much a light-hearted take on of being a QPR and Niko Kranjcar fan!

It's no secret that I'm a self proclaimed Niko Kranjcar 'groupie'. But I'm certainly not the only lady who feels this way. I feel blessed to be very close to @gemcricketmad who has also fallen head over heels for the baller of a Croat. The groupie world is certainly not a lonely place when it comes to this QPR player. And his re-signing on transfer deadline day sent many of us in to a massive Niko frenzy.

Frankly, it's a good thing he is around because he is truly the 'stardust' in what is currently a team with an extremely leaky defence and an obsession with playing Rio Ferdinand in every game for the full 90 minutes. And after seeing both Spurs and Man U lose to 'lower level' teams today the nerves are kicking in a little bit about the next few horrifically challenging games we have. So far, Niko has provided that little bit of magic and creativity that we should be seeing from a handful of players at the very least (injuries for Barton and Mutch certainly not helping). And after yesterday's stunning last minute goal I believe there are several men who might be experiencing the effects of serious man-crush (some hilarious tweets circulated yesterday such as: #iwanttomarniko by @qprsludger).

I was worried at the end of last season. I always said that if Niko left QPR, the love affair would be over. That would have been difficult to do but...QPR always comes first. And, after all, the reason why it's so much fun to support him is because he does play for the Rangers. And now that he is back and obviously enjoys being with us (although frankly I am not sure I know anyone, Ukrainian friends included, who wants to be in the Ukraine), it's just a bonus isn't it?

But it wasn't always that way with Niko and several fans are eating their words about his weight, his technical ability, his tactical know-how and his fitness. Over the summer break a good article was published titled What's Next for Croatia's Forgotten Genius? Some points in there that were interesting around Niko's self-awareness about this lack of speed. I also managed to get a translation of a video that I posted in an earlier blog (Collective Psychosis). Apparently in one scene he says something about the fact that every day he weighs himself and hopes that he has lost 100 grams as he has a trouble managing his weight. With Niko- the self-awareness and humble nature is a huge reason why he attracts the so many (apart from his strikingly good looks of course).  When my friend Gem welcomed Niko back yesterday 'on behalf of all female QPR fans' he shyly smiled and said 'it's great to be back'. Awwww.

But seriously, is he a forgotten talent, or is he too injury prone and too slow for the Premier League? For if he were truly a genius footballer would he really being playing for little ol' Rangers? It's a fair question to ask. But I'd say at this stage it's too early to tell and it would be great to see him consistently perform this way. But he saved our bacon yesterday - by far QPR's man of the match by (according to several twitter quotes) a 'country mile'. And he did lose the weight over the summer period and he did get fit. No, he's not that fast but I have some empathy for him. I've been a gym goer for years, and I love running and swimming. But no matter how hard I train I have always had and only ever will have just one pace. It's frustrating but I try to make up for it with pure enthusiasm!! Hardly a comparison point I know with one quite so skilful.

I guess it is just so very easy for us to pass judgement on players and their fitness levels and weight sometimes we don't even look at ourselves closely enough. And for that matter, sometimes we're just a little bit biased about one player over another? I mean - did anyone notice how Adel came back with a bum bigger than mine? Gem was certain that in pre-season training he was wearing a tummy control pair of pants.

On the other hand, does it really matter whether he isn't the fastest or best midfielder in the world? We are just QPR after all, and to have a player as good as he is want to come and play for us, is surely only a good thing. The days of  monobrow and such like are surely behind us now.

As I finish this post, I see that wins today for teams around us have moved us to the bottom 3 of the table. It's early days but I hope and pray for a bit more magic from not just Niko but others in what should be a pretty talented squad. One thing's for sure though, Niko will one day be gone, but QPR will always be in my heart.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

You're only as good as...

Tottenham Hotspur 4 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 1 Sunderland 0

Manchester Utd 4 Queens Park Rangers 0

Everybody says that confidence is critical to success in any field. And we have seen in this world only too often, the more confident but less intelligent people lead highly successful lives, versus  the cleverer, quiet, nervous and less confident ones. I certainly wouldn't put QPR quite in the realms of clever in the context of football...but something tells me we're suffering a little from that little problem of giving the 'big teams' a little too much respect.

Confidence. It's a word that's easy to throw away as an excuse for poor performance and it is rarely examined below the surface. As I write this blog post, I am sitting in an Oslo living room with friends (post-traumatic Man U match), watching the Wolf of Wall Street for a second time. We're watching the early part where he trains his friends to sell bad stocks to that rich 1% of America. With a plan, and confidence and rapport building skills over the phone, they manage to propel a dodgy business in to something that makes a lot of dodgy money.

Today's match was a shame. I was hoping for a smaller goal difference at worst, and a draw at best. But if that's what the team was also aiming for that's probably the reason why it was such a woeful performance. Even if on paper United and Spurs are obviously 'better' than us, no team will win any match when they show too much respect for the opposing team. Admittedly, we felt the loss of Mutch and Barton today. Stats are only stats, but stats don't lie either - and it's my understanding that before this weekend Barton had floated around the top of the table for players that had created the most chances in the Premier League. I admit there were glimmers of hope as I saw us try to park the bus a little. But I think we should have had Vargas starting with Charlie up front. Much as I love Clint - was it right to start him in this of all games?

I haven't yet read any post-match reports, or listened to our manager's post-match comments. Will we be able to get an indication of how he instills or has instilled any confidence in the team by the way that he speaks. He certainly hasn't got the same leadership qualities as Van Gaal who has more of a draconian appearance. But if you had a problem that needed sorting out, would you turn to Harry or would you turn to Louis? What would give you more confidence?

I don't know who said 'you're only as good as your last game'. It can't be true in the context of the volatility of life for a team like QPR in the Premier League. And even if it were, it's a pretty hard mantra to live by if you're losing most games, and are simply aiming for survival. And therein lies the issue in a way. Is it right that we've set ourselves a lowly goal? Remember three years ago when we were a bit more 'ambitious' and rose-tinted in our approach? Is it that we should have a more  more nuanced approach...is it about saying we'll try to win every game, and concede that to survive would be not an achievement, but the bare minimum requirement? It simply feels odd to be talking in nuances when confidence is surely meant to be just a way to simply be versus something that you learn...right?

We all know how the Wolf of Wall Street ends and as a result I am left thinking that there are different kinds of confidence. And that the first one we naturally think of is the one that is only skin deep.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Shattered Dreams?

Queens Park Rangers 0 Hull City 1

It's no secret that I am a big fan of 80s music. And as I got ready to go to Loftus Road today with a spring in my step I had Johnny Hates Jazz's 'Shattered Dreams' playing on my iPod. Completely corny but very enjoyable.

And when I watched Charlie Austin's penalty shot being saved, I thought how apt it was that when I sat down to watch the match my fellow season ticket holder Terry said something about about the fact that our euphoric post-Wembley feeling was just about to disappear.

The summer has been filled with re-runs of the 2nd leg of the semi final against Wigan, as well as re-runs of that amazing day at Wembley. In addition to a tiny bit of excitement around the World Cup, and great anticipation for new QPR signings and pre-season friendlies. Everyone's been celebrating. I've had my birthday...Barton's had another baby, we've got Rio bloody Ferdinand, and Remy has come back (for now at least). It really couldn't have got any better (apart from I would have liked to have welcomed a freeze on the season ticket price which would have saved me from begging for a few handouts and from paying in installments).

I am feeling far from despondent about today's result. In fact I'm particularly up beat. For one, we did not lose 4-0 or 5-0. And secondly, I haven't heard any excuses so far about the team needing 'time to gel'. We're such a different QPR to the one that was last in the Premier League, and we all know why, that it was so refreshing to see some good football and some effort being made. I am also not an expert in formations and tactics but the new 3-5-2 strategy was even obvious to me and I think will bode us really well in the future so long as we can service Remy and/or Austin appropriately. Work needs to be done on that side of things. I liked the look of Mutch, Ferdinand, Caulker...they were energetic and smart. Dunne put in a good shift and as always Barton was everywhere.

But oh Charlie Charlie Charlie...cool penalty-taker Charlie, fluffing up his lines. It was almost as if the occasion had overcome him and his nerves got the better of him. Yes, credit to the goalie of course is warranted, but Charlie hesitated. He did exactly what you aren't supposed to do. Watching his head drop in shame was a little heartbreaking. Or maybe that's just because I watch football with 'girly' eyes. At least that's what my neighbour said when I said 'Charlie's haircut is really nice' (oops). It would have indeed been a fairy tale if Charlie scored his first goal in the premier league in his first game in the premier league. It would have been the icing on the cake that was Wembley, 24th May, 2014 . But dreams can't last forever and these events in life should make one stronger and prepared to come out fighting the next time around.

This season I'm going to be particularly interested in how Redknapp man manages the team with Glenn Hoddle as coach. For all Redknapp's old school style and allegedly 'crooked' ways, I tend to trust his judgement of character. We take the mickey out of 'top top lad' and 'top top professional', but there's a lot more to what he sees than I think we give him credit for sometimes. Last year we were frustrated with his 'tombola' approach and many did not believe in what he was doing. I always believed that there was some kind of method to the madness. Perhaps that was foolish. But now we look back and know that Steve Black was heavily involved in the process, with Redknapp's support. We have to give credit to Reknapp's open mindedness related to such appointments for the cohesiveness of the team as it is today. Now with Hoddle thrown in to the mix, I wonder how they will work together and what he will bring to the mix apart from the obvious experience in the new formation. What will be the dynamic, and how will players respond to it? Leadership and management are fascinating to me. And can teach us a lot about human psychology. I have high hopes for what is to come and I think I will have plenty of material to write about.

So, after a 0-1 loss, has our bubble burst? Perhaps just a little pin prick but certainly nothing to cry about.

Perhaps I am a little deluded. But hey, I'm a QPR fan after all. And at the next home match, I think I might pick something like 'Eye of the Tiger' to get dressed to.

Welcome to the new season everyone.

Emily, Queen of the Park Rangers 

Sunday, 25 May 2014


Wigan Athletic 0 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 2 Wigan Athletic 1

Derby 0 Queens Park Rangers 1

I am sure I'm not the only one who goes through tough times and imagines that other people's lives seem to go a lot more smoothly. I am sure I'm not the only one who sometimes feels a little stuck in a rut, whilst others appear to be on a constant upward trajectory. I am sure that that I'm not the only one who sometimes feels as if nothing lucky ever happens to me, whilst others simply live 'jammy' lives. Sometimes it does feel as if life simply isn't fair. Well, I guess it really isn't.

When I started writing this blog we were in our first season back in the Premier League since we left it in the 90s. Warnock was on his way out, and although we had watched the Four Year Plan and thought we had seen it all, we had no idea what a tumultuous time lay ahead of us. It's all been said and documented: the roller-coaster that we went through at the end of that first season back, the anger that we felt with Barton for his behaviour at the Etihad and then the tortuous second season that saw us continue to bring in a truck load of outrageously undeserving footballers that had no love and no respect for our club. It all felt a little bit unfair. And, with a new season in the Championship and a much criticised team of 'Premier League' players and manager apparently not quite performing to the level they should be, with our one goal scorer out injured for nearly four months forcing us in to a play off position - it really couldn't have been more 'difficult'. To quote Clint Hill, us fans have been through the 'wringer'.

It's taken a while I think for our 'new' owners to understand what QPR is all about. And with his sore head today at the Loftus Road post-play off final celebration Tony Fernandes hit the nail on the head when he said what happened yesterday was like watching a movie, a last minute goal, against all odds, with only ten men. But Tony, it wasn't just yesterday that was a movie. For many, our whole QPR supporting lives have been just that: a quite incredible movie but not always one with a happy ending. Eleven years ago many of us experienced pain at the Millennium Stadium when Cardiff scored a winner in the final minutes of extra time. I don't remember much about the miserable journey home - probably because my mind has decided to erase the trauma. There are also several that experienced the heartbreak of our last visit to Wembley. I wasn't yet a QPR supporter and lived abroad then, but I hear from several people that we just didn't turn up. Alas, that would have made it even more heartbreaking for all the fans.

On the face of it, and with a poorly attempted objective eye, we did not deserve to win yesterday's match. Derby were all over us. From kick off to the final minute I felt like we just weren't good enough and all the criticisms laying at our door by others as well as our own fans, were justified. While I haven't yet got round to reading all the reports (I have spent far too much time celebrating and watching Zamora's goal again and again) I am hearing that the general view is that while it is the beauty of football that a team with 30% possession and only one shot on target wins a game, it is also extremely unfair on the better team on the day. All over the country people are feeling a sense of injustice. QPR simply did not deserve to win. On the other hand, if Derby did, then why didn't they? I will never ever forget standing next to my father in the match during the last ten minutes. He kept saying 'Emily, I think we're going to nick this one- I don't think Derby are going to score and if we can score it'll be now, and it has to happen now'. I couldn't help but think about the bigger picture in those last few minutes. My mother used to say I was such a philosopher and I philosophised to myself in those minutes thinking about how if you fight and fight and fight, maybe...just maybe something positive happens. I was thinking, how unfair life is, how you sometimes lose people along the way, and how it's sometimes a battle to hold your head up high. And if QPR could just get a break. If...

So, it was no surprise that when Zamora struck the ball it really did feel like I was in a slow motion movie and my heart had exploded completely. Tears started to stream down my face and I tried to stop myself knowing that there were a few minutes more left to play. It was an outrageous change in fortune but I wasn't crying because it felt lucky at all. I felt like after everything we had been through as fans, this was absolutely the result we deserved. And you know what, I felt like the team deserved it to - because they may not have been great, Derby were the better team in terms of pace and tactics, and maybe even skill. But Simpson, Hill, Dunne, Barton, Hoilett..all of them, they didn't give up. Bodies on the line, fight to the death. Stirring stuff. And the Independent called it larceny. But to me it was absolutely, no question, 100% fair.

After Zamora's goal - smiling through tears 

As I write my last blog post at the close of the season and the events of yesterday sink in I look forward to the rest of this lovely bank holiday weekend of replays and reports on our beloved club. I have in my mind that I also want to spend the summer months celebrating the wonderful experiences this season has brought in my life because of QPR. I continue to meet some amazing people who may live completely different lives to me and who I would never know except for the fact that football has brought them to me. People who are funny, kind, hard working and sometimes inspiring. Yesterday I was able to spend the day with my closest family and friends. And seeing my local pub in Willesden Green dressed up (as it bloomin' well should be!) in QPR colours and flags before and after the match was a site to behold. Singing songs together during the short 3 stop journey to Wembley was an event I may never be able to experience again in my life.

The tube journey to Wembley

I have also learned even more about the club itself- the people who run it, own it and those who do great things for the QPR in the Community Trust. I am sure many clubs have these things - but that does not mean that they have the same character and personality that we do. And I am very sure that what we have is unique to QPR. It will be extremely important for Tony, Din, Amit and Ruben to make sure they keep the ethos and values that are unique to QPR this time around in the Premier League. For me, this was the biggest mistake the last time across all three managers that we had. In the rush to try to 'make' a great team, it seemed that everyone at that level of the club forgot to remember what the club was all about and what really, truly mattered to the fans. Is it no surprise therefore that this year as the club refocused its behaviours and communications, the Tiger Feet walk raised eight times last year's amount? There's a long way to go before we stabilise but we are so very far away from where we were one year ago.

Yesterday, it was our time to have a movie with a happy ending. Talking to my friend Gem days before we both agreed that the Monday night game against Wigan was our final. Seeing the player huddle, and the fighting spirit of the team was everything we could have hoped for whether we won, lost or drew.  But to be given the gift of another win yesterday surpassed all expectations. And it felt like the end of a very long Hollywood biopic and not just a 90 minute documentary.

No, life isn't fair. But if it was always fair there would be nothing left to fight for and wouldn't life just be really boring for us all then. Tony, welcome to QPR and the QPR way.

Have a fantastic summer everyone. The BBQ tongs are coming out.



Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Five things from Santa

Queens Park Rangers 1 Millwall 1

Barnsley 2 Queens Park Rangers 3

Dear Santa,

It's been a while since I last wrote to you - just before Christmas 2013. I had just finished watching our home match against Leicester and sent you a framed photo of Niko Kranjcar and a mug with Charlie Austin's image on it for Mrs Claus's Christmas stocking. That match was like the turning point in our season - a sign that against the big clubs we weren't really going to do very well and those performances would spell the reason why we are not currently sitting in an automatic promotion spot.

Santa, do you remember when I first wrote to you in the middle of the 2012-2013 season? Things were so miserable then - I wasn't even asking for wins any more, I was asking for you to organise some entertaining football and to remove some miserable players from within our midst (Bosingwa in particular). In the end you gave us a 1-0 win over Chelsea which I was extremely grateful for. It was an evening at the Swamp I will never forget. I think you reminded us all about why believe in the magic of football and why, despite all the disappointment, anger, confusion and conspiracy theories most of us keep coming back for more.

We're in a different place right now. The season is now over.  And some would describe it as flat. There hasn't been much of an atmosphere at Loftus Road, we've won some games but lost others we shouldn't have. We rid ourselves of the players that had the most extreme cases of apathy towards QPR but still retained a large squad of Premier League failures and loanees who aren't that crazy about QPR. And we have a manager who looks as if he is queueing up expectantly for his P45. Nonetheless we are sitting in a play off position which I believe is the 2nd time we've been in the situation with a very exciting possibility of visiting Wembley if we can beat Wigan over two legs. For just a few weeks I think QPR fans are prepared to forget all their complaints and issues and live in a dream land, and I am very likely to be joining them.

Look, I know I am writing to you completely outside the Christmas season and you are busy with your feet up catching up on all the soaps and TV shows from around the world (I won't tell you what has happened to Lucy Beale btw), but the reason am writing to you is to see if you and your elves could pull a few strings for us that could make QPR fans really happy this May? In return, I promise that all QPR fans will leave extra food this coming Christmas, and that I will procure for Mrs Claus any item of clothing from Niko Kranjcar's dressing room (at risk of being arrested for stalking and burglary).

So, without further delay please could you arrange the following 5 things?
  • Would you mind giving Harry some acting lessons? I think we all know that he's ready to retire and focus on his interest in horses v. football. However, perhaps a one day session at Sylvia Young's would help in chivvying up the team a little bit before the matches (a la Ollie, or Warnock style), and providing for the rest of the country or the opposing teams at the very least the veneer that we are absolutely 100% up for the fight. 
  • Here's a really simple one- would it be possible to arrange it so that any of the players that are selected to play in the next two games (and possible 3rd game) actually want to play. I suspect there won't be many who wouldn't want to play in an exciting competition such as this but I've heard stories of one or two small cancers still about from the Hughes era. Let's leave those people at the door. Could they go wherever you sent Bosingwa last Christmas?
  • I might not be speaking for all QPR fans here, but a personal request from me would be to play all the classic songs we used to play at Loftus Road pre-match in the 1990s - the last time we were a great Premiership/1st Division team. I used to enjoy Tina's 'Simply the Best' as we watched Les Ferdinand trotted on to the pitch...it did sometimes feel like we were the best. 
  • If we do make it to Wembley perhaps you could arrange for the squad to do something that shows their loyalty and commitment to QPR. I know none are childhood supporters of the team, but blue hairspray is easily washable (I have some spares cannisters from last season's final match against Liverpool which I am happy to drop off at reception). At the very least, since many of them appear to be in to fashionable hair (of the head and facial type) perhaps all of them could be persuaded to have a proper shave in the morning and get rid of their awful beards so we can see their faces again?
  • And lastly, being fickle is part and parcel of being a football fan. But what I can't understand is people criticising other QPR fans for not being loyal by setting their own parameters about what they think a fan should be like. Would you mind removing those people from your Christmas list? It doesn't seem fair to me that someone shouldn't be considered a loyal fan if they can't make games because they can't afford it, or they have to work, or don't even live in the UK! And to be honest, in the run up to the play-offs I find this type of attitude pervasively negative. 

As I completed my last request I realised again that I didn't ask for us to win any of the games. As always, it appears to be an innate capability of a QPR fan to hope for the best, and expect the worst. Or perhaps it's just that I don't want to jinx the whole thing. This time last year I couldn't imagine a play off place and was imagining Wolves-like scenarios. It hasn't taught me a thing.

Perhaps as a final request, you could arrange some neuro linguistic programming classes for me and a few friends - we could do with being a bit more positive about stuff? I'll  even throw in a few Panini stickers of Niko for Mrs Claus's collection?

Lots of love,
Emily, Queen of the Park Rangers
encl. nos 3 X no. 61 (Panini World Cup stickers)

Monday, 21 April 2014

Putting your best foot forward

Leicester City 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 2 Watford 1

I was at a work conference a few weeks ago. We had some great speakers from various businesses. One that interested me the most was a tech company that specialises in helping start-up tech and media companies. The speaker, Jörg  Rheinboldt from Plug and Play Tech Centre, when asked what he perceived to be a winning formula, said that a 'brilliant team with a mediocre idea was better than a mediocre team with a brilliant idea'. This, as an avid QPR fan and someone who is fascinated by sports psychology and management, resonated with me. Why? Because we have spent most of the season complaining about the players in the QPR squad, largely due to their under-achievement despite their supposed pedigree. It has been somewhat obvious to us all that such pedigree does not guarantee quality football,  nor does it guarantee consistent winning and a place in an automatic promotion spot. What we have been hoping for all season is to watch a team that is just that, a great team in itself whether we are playing fallen stars like Niko Kranjcar and Benoit Assou-Ekotto,  youngsters like Max Ehmer, or up-and-coming Charlie Austin. We haven't really seen that. We've seen glimpses of it in some matches, but it hasn't been consistent enough. One might argue that the injuries that have plagued us has not allowed us to have such a level of consistency. I don't know if that's totally fair.

Companies are constantly trying to re-invent themselves to keep up with the changing world, especially media and technology companies. Innovation has been a buzz word for years, and it is ever-present in my industry. But often we hear that, in practice, you cannot force people to be innovative. It has to be organic, and sometimes (but very rarely) it's innate, or natural. It's the same with anything isn't it? You can't force a team to create a spirit. Look back on our team that promoted itself in 2004: we all look back on those players and the manager with some wistfulness. But we lived with a very different set of ingredients at the time. Perhaps we actually look back with rose-tinted spectacles given that at that point we were still under huge financial pressure as a club with a lot less options than we have now. There is nothing more powerful than a difficult battle that can unite people.

So what of our team now? Will they truly understand the magnitude of the task ahead in the play-offs? There is a job to be done - the task is simply to make it to the Premier League by winning. But for many fans, even if we do make it to the final, what we really want to see now is passion and not arrogance. There is a reason why these so-called 'Premier League quality' players are playing with us and not in the Premier League. But bearing that in mind, the fact that the play-offs is really a lottery and frankly it doesn't matter where you finish and that you must simply win the competition, means that - mediocre or not - the players must unite. And I believe our only hope is in the belief and passion that we can do it. And frankly that they, the players WANT to do it. It's all well and good Joey Barton doing some lovely stats piece on whether we can win but as he so rightly titled his piece - 'optimism' and 'belief' are actually where it's at.

The role that Harry plays in all of this is critical. The situation we are heading for will all be about preparing the team mentally more than anything else. I really hope that he is up to it as it's probably going to be his biggest task so far as a manager. We only have to look at how Mourinho's extremely sour (but very amusing) behaviour (post-Sunderland loss) probably impacts on a team like Chelsea which now leaves them 5 points behind Liverpool and unlikely to win the Premier League title. On the other hand, I can imagine Chelsea players responding to a manager like Mourinho who thrives on pointing out negative aspects of everything outside of his control in order to win his own side over. To me, it's cheap shots. But for some, it works.

One could argue that the fact that Harry has played a different team for every game hasn't helped us at all. I think all of us can understand why Redknapp played the '2nd team' he did on Saturday and the '1st team' today. But not all of us actually agree with it. Surely, at this stage in the season we should have players that are fit enough, good enough and game enough to play both matches so we put our best foot forward every time and take the consequences regardless?

That said, given today's winning result and the (let's be honest) expected loss on Saturday perhaps Harry was right to do what he did. You could say that attitude and spirit should not just be reserved for those that are picked on the day. They are things that exist on and off the pitch. But I sometimes wonder whether we truly have that? I cannot be absolutely sure.

All I can be sure of is that I'll be there, with many thousands of others, cheering the boys on and hoping, just hoping we might do it.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Best Days

Sheffield Wednesday 3 Queens Park Rangers 0

Middlesbrough 1 Queens Park Rangers 3

Queens Park Rangers 1 Wigan 0

Queens Park Rangers 1 Blackpool 1

Bournemouth 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

Blackburn 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 5 Nottingham Forest 2

As I write the list of results above I feel a slight pang of guilt for missing the chance to write about so many games. It hasn't been a case of wanting to absolve responsibility or laziness but just one of those instances where life has simply happened. A thousand and one things landed on my plate, as did a thousand and one games it seems...

People say that the older you get the faster time flies. And the older you get, the easier it is to look back on those earlier days with slightly rose tinted spectacles. Life never gets any easier, and will often get tougher. So being young, being free, can sometimes appear to be a place and time worth yearning for again.

I remember my 6th form well. I went away to school and I loved every moment of the amazing opportunity. I remember thinking about the times I would never forget, right then and there, because I was already so afraid of time passing and I didn't want the good times to end. I did actually enjoy academia. My studies and extra-curricular activities in school were my escape from another life. Perhaps that was different from others who were with me, but I am sure there were a few who felt the same way. I still look back on those days with such fond memories and made great friends that I rarely see (with some who are thousands of miles away) but know are always there. And while I enjoyed school and didn't even mind staying over weekends,  as much as possible I was picked up and driven down to Loftus Road in time for the 3pm kick off. As ever, QPR has remained a constant in my life.

The last few weeks were critical to QPR's bid to reach an automatic promotion spot. Most of us were concerned about it given the injuries we had, given the very erratic form, and given Harry's seeming lack of 'mojo' and motivation. But we had all obviously hoped we might pull something out of the bag, and hoped that a bit of bad luck might hit Burnley (who I have wrongly and out of bitterness turned in to a team I hate almost as much as Chelsea). At the time of the poor results, Sheffield, Blackburn, Bournemouth - I think we often put it down to a lack of team effort or a lack of positive team attitude. But then, for the games that we won - Middlesbrough, Wigan, I was so pleased with what looked like a fighting spirit. It's been confusing to say the least. And for the first time in a long time I've largely stayed away from the twitter world as I simply didn't want to get caught up in the mire of the range of emotions which I knew would only confuse me more.

Twenty something years on after leaving school, everyone is living their lives: doing well at work, and building their families. Living countless good times and some pretty bad times. And sometimes we've been feeling guilty for not keeping in touch, but mostly we've just been getting on with things. This week was a hard slog to reach the end. As always I looked forward very much to visiting Loftus Road on Saturday and the week off I was planning from work. Having ignored twitter for the most part, I was mostly hopeful and positive. As many know - from the start, avoiding relegation was my main goal so within myself (without the influence of others) I was still up-beat about it all. Call me a little naive and perhaps not that competitive, but that was always my baseline position. I was tired though, and still suffering from a two-week cough. However, just before the week closed I received a message from one of my old friends who was visiting London with a whole group from said school friends. They would be coming to Loftus Road and would I be coming along with them if possible? This was a complete surprise, and I cannot tell you how elated I was for the chance to see old friends together. And to be able to bring along new friends too made it a wonderful way to spend the day when we beat Nottingham Forest 5-2.

No, we didn't play the best football I've ever seen QPR play, but lots of things were positive. We scored first, and within the first two minutes. We had Charlie back, and while he didn't score a goal - he was pivotal to the general attitude and spirit of the team. Nedum scored a cracker after a great week for him (the birth of his second child). Niko was back (lots of eye-candy for the last twenty minutes). We scored 5, yes 5 goals (when was the last time?).  I suppose it was the last chance for the team to give us a statement of intent. So now the friends that said two days ago that they weren't fussed about going to Barnsley are asking if we should all buy a group of tickets soon. It was a wonderful result. And it was just amazing to share it with so many friends, some who I have not seen for over ten years. Not only that, but out on the pitch I was very happy to present a cheque together with many others to the Tiger Cubs for the walk we did from Loftus Road to the Valley back in February.

So, while my life outside of football in the run up to yesterday was ridiculously busy and filled with days that I will likely forget, in some ways that has helped me to get through the 'poorer than hoped for' results. We all knew that March was filled with so many games - a few weeks with two games, and that it was going to speed by which maybe made it easier. And in my warped way of thinking, you could say that was a blessing rather than a curse. An odd way to look at it, you would think, but time is only relevant when you take notice of it anyway isn't it? For what is life if you are not able to forget the bad moments and move on, or remember and treasure the good ones? I know that I can count them on one hand, and yesterday is definitely there, as one of the best days of my life.

PS. Apologies to those twitter followers hoping I might streak in happiness (I did say 'could', not 'would ;-))

Sunday, 16 March 2014


Birmingham 0 Queens Park Rangers 2

Brighton 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 3 Yeovil Town 0

If you are a QPR fan, chances are you'll be scratching your head about the team injuries and ruing our luck...But, yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the mercury was rising, and QPR won 3-0 playing some nice football along the way. With Yeovil's first 'goal' disallowed, it felt like luck (and the referee) were on our side this time. 

However, chances are, that when you saw Zamora lined up on the bench at 2:01pm, you thought 'Christ on a bike, we're now scraping the barrel for options'. I believe I tweeted 'Don't panic everyone Zamora is on the bench hahahahaha'. 4 people favourited that tweet, and one person replied 'Time for some comedy gold'. 

And, chances are that some QPR fans were hoping that 'fat fingered' Kranjcar would not come off the bench (whilst they downed their 5th pint and rubbed their over sized bellies). But that other QPR fans were hoping they would see the Loftus Road dreamboat in action. Neither hoping (of course) for a Traore injury that would mean he would actually play - but all cheering like maniacs after a sublime set-up of Morrison's second goal. 

However, chances are you will be very worried about the additional three injuries picked up - Green, Traore and Jenas all out for Tuesday's match against Sheffield Wednesday. And you'll be wondering just what is going on and what is causing our players to snatch these little niggles. I must say I'm  tempted to get a physio qualification and apply for a job at QPR to help the dire situation. Chances are, if Niko is still there when I do qualify, I'll probably do it for free. 

You'll be thinking just how lucky we are to have found such a nifty mid-fielder like him who is arguably better than Adel Taarabt and for me a lot more interesting as a person. But, chances are, he's way too good for West Ham to sell and we will wave goodbye to him at the end of the season and watch him play for other clubs with a little bitterness (like we do when we see Routledge when he plays for Swansea). 

Chances are, Keane isn't going to cut it, and neither is Maiga (especially if Zamora's picked ahead of him). Both players will likely be lost in the world of a loanee lifestyle and forgotten by most. 

And chances are that earlier this week when you heard about Danny Ings getting injured you knew that it probably wouldn't make a lot of difference to our position in the table, and you tried not to be happy about it (it isn't very nice to wish ill on anyone) but you did pull a little wry smile to yourself as you read the news. 

To be honest, Burnley and Leicester have run away with it, and we will probably make it to the play offs and that the road will be bumpy. But, chances are, we will draw Forest away in the first leg and lose. Or we do make it to Wembley and, again, lose. 

So, chances are, there will be a few QPR fans hoping we try to consolidate in the Champ and finish 7th - therefore avoiding the heartache of this kind of a play off competition (winning competitions not being our forte obviously). Although there will be a few who will wonder what's the point in playing if you aren't going to want to win something. 

Speaking of winning, chances are you've noticed just how committed Barton is to playing football for QPR at the moment and how passionate he is when we score a goal and when we win. Look around at all the other players, and chances are they aren't quite as enthusiastic as he is. He's grown up since the day he set foot in our club the first time, and he's also playing well - he is leaner, faster and fitter than I've ever seen. Or maybe, he's simply found his level. I suspect he won't be far off the top when it comes to voting for the Player of the Year. Looking back at what he did two years ago, and just how angry we all were - perhaps it's about time some of us realised what giving people a chance can do for us as well. 

And that's exactly what happened with when Zamora came off the bench and scored that crucial second goal (and what a blinding header it was). Chances are that you cheered through laughter almost in the same way Zamora and Barton did when they celebrated. You laughed at yourself for being the fickle football fans that you are. But you realised that anyone who pulls on a QPR shirt deserves our support and that was really the most important lesson of all. 

Although we lost more to injury (I believe we now have a full first team in the treatment room) it was, indeed, a wonderful day yesterday. And if you are a QPR fan, it was not by chance that you enjoyed watching Villa beat Chelsea 1-0. You definitely enjoyed watching Mourinho's very unhappy post-match interview and enjoyed the hashtag 'tearsforjose'. 

Mourinho's the type of manager who would say that you make your own luck in life and generally I quite agree. I also believe that good things come to those that earn it, not those that wait. But sometimes in life, you have to make sure you allow some flex for stuff you cannot account or plan for. And laugh at yourself. Chances are, you won't always be at the top of your game, so it pays to never say never. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

What it takes

Charlton Athletic 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 1 Leeds Utd 1

Tiger Cubs current running total: £15,206.66

As we enter the final stretch of the season, and QPR's run of poor results continues, my feelings are a paradoxical mixture of relief and fear. Relief because our shot at automatic promotion is likely gone and in theory it's now time to enjoy the football. Fear because if we do actually make the playoffs I am foreseeing a stressful period and heartbreak whether it's away to Forest in the first round, or a final at Wembley. I have a feeling that this is typical of most QPR fans, but I am not sure.

I am still bitter about our spate of injuries from some of our best players. And even those who might not be our best but provide some creativity: BAE, and Kranjcar for example are allegedly out due to aggravated injuries through training...It feels like all the luck is against us sometimes and at lunch post-match yesterday a friend and I had evil thoughts about breaking Burnley players' legs. How can I have stooped so low?

The manager and coaches must have moments where they feel just this. And while they cannot say it outwardly, perhaps Harry's recent short and rather depressing press conferences confirm it. A good manager, however, gets on with it. There is a job to be done, and 'you gotta do what you gotta do' with what you've been given. And if that means starting again with a set of players many of which fans barely recognise or know I guess - so be it.

Last week about forty people (including myself) took a 15 mile walk straight across London from West to East; from Loftus Road to the Valley to raise money for the QPR Tiger Cubs (QPR's team for children with Down Syndrome).  I was made aware of the QPR Community Trust project last year when I saw some of the tweets about the walk to Arsenal and I was surprised at how little was raised (looking at last year's fundraising page it reads at £2567.50) knowing that many QPR fans would love to donate if they had only known.

When I saw the announcement go up looking for walkers I felt it was right to try to help raise more money if I could, and there were many other newbies like me who joined in the challenge. I nagged friends and family, colleagues at work and baked biscuits (thanks Betty Crocker), as did many others. It felt as if our media team made a much bigger effort this year to seed out details of the walk and the fundraising for some weeks in the run up - getting players to talk about it on TV and ex players like Les Ferdinand donating. On the day itself I must say I was not prepared for just how tough the walk would be. I may have done a couple of triathlons and a few 10ks but walking almost solidly for 6 hours was one of my toughest challenges to date. The last two miles were painful to say the least, but with the kids having joined us at the Cutty Sark and football at the other end I had to focus my mind on making it to the end! 15 miles is a 'helluva' long way!

Would it also be fair to say that a season is a 'helluva' long time? Don't they always say life in the Champ is a marathon and not a sprint, and anything can happen in between the beginning and the end? Ever since we lost Charlie Austin I've been seeing balls miss the net where once he would have popped them in. And there is that little bit of sorrow in my heart. But as of the end of yesterday's match we are hearing that Simpson could be back within a week and Charlie in 4-6. Barton will also return from suspension of course -which will make a difference at Birmingham. But it's less about clutching at promotion straws now and more about having some of our first choice people back and enjoying watching them play. Right now it feels a little like those last two miles of Tiger Feet 5 where I'm not sure I can make it with the leading pack, but frankly I'll be glad to finish in one piece.

Promotion, playoffs, up or down, for me these last few weeks have been about discovering more of the positive things that QPR does in the community which I think we sometimes forget about. In our world raising money for charity is a full time business and you have to have a thick skin and still remain positive. You simply have to do what it takes to raise what you can.

A big thank you goes to Andy Watkins and Fiona Hodgson as well as Ian (the lead walker) for all their hard work, and to all the Tiger Feet walkers who made me feel welcome.

Please watch the video below to find out more, and donate here if you haven't already Tiger Cubs

Video by Nick Reinis

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The base level

Derby 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 1 Reading 3

If you ask me who my idol is that would not be a tough question to answer. If I were still in my early teens I would probably have said Madonna. But as I get older and the rose-tinted spectacles disappear I'd say my Dad was probably someone I looked up to more than anyone else. If you ask any of his friends people will say he is one of the most intelligent men they have ever known. It is true that he is well-read, clever and a bit of a know-it-all. He is rather annoying to play general knowledge quizzes with because he is the first to put his hand up all the time, and he'll respond for the other team if he knows the answer.

And as he turns 60 this year he is still out there in the working world working harder than I've ever seen before. He missed today's match against Reading as he is somewhere on the other side of the world working on new business. He sent us a message late at night on a Saturday saying he was in his hotel room working away. It is sometimes hard to believe that he has achieved everything he has simply because he works hard. At school he got prizes for everything and played almost every single sport well: rugby, cricket, cross country. And now he's this amazing triathlete who even competed for a semi-pro veteran place last year. It's a wonderful thing, these individual achievements, for a daughter to look up to. The funny thing about my Dad is that he'll be the last to say he's the most intelligent, and the first to say he works the hardest.

This week I've thought a lot about individuals and what they contribute to teams. Today was an important day as the club welcomed Tony Mills who is a terminal cancer patient for a special day out to see the Rs. I believe the journey started a few weeks ago when someone tweeted Joey Barton about him and Joey suggested organising the day for him to come and get special VIP treatment at Loftus Road. I saw the videos, as did everyone else, on Youtube, and witnessed how Joey travelled down to Eastbourne on Thursday to surprise Tony. He sat with him and his family, had a cup of tea, and made polite conversation to a man who is very very unwell. I had tears in my eyes. Being there for people when they aren't well one of the hardest things in life, never mind for someone you barely know. For me, it shows great strength of character, and I am shocked by some of the comments people made about a 'PR' stunt affair, and why the club would send a 'low-life' like Barton and not someone else. I am not the easiest person to turn when it comes to judging people's characters, but I would also be a complete hypocrite if I didn't give someone a chance who obviously makes an effort be it on the pitch (which surely by now we have seen and must admit to), or off it. I have made many mistakes in my own life and have been a horrible person to know at times. If people didn't give me a chance I would be very far from the  happier place I am now.

However, one or some individuals making an effort, unfortunately, does not equal a winning team. And on the pitch today - we saw signs of a lack of confidence and a sloppy disorganised approach. The bust-up that happened mid-match between Dunne and Benny was not emblematic of a team in it together. And I just wonder whether signs of a side of a few players who think they are better than they are (as per last season) are starting to creep in? Once we have this, it is very much like a cancer, and whatever is holding back what should be a vision of togetherness, has got to be sorted out if we don't want a very embarrassing end to our season.

For, it seems to me that in order for a team to work, we do not need players with Premier League experience who look wonderful on paper. We have this and it is clearly not working. What we do need is a set of individuals who are prepared to work harder than they currently are, with one vision and one goal. Interestingly, Stuart Pearce came to our office with Talksport this week to talk about teams and creating success. Someone asked Pearce - 'what would you do, if Joey Barton was in your team'. This person was obviously not a QPR supporter because frankly most of us don't have a problem with him at the moment. Nevertheless Pearce responded by saying that he didn't necessarily like a lot of things about Joey. He also went on to say, he was never the best, most skilful or technical player. But that in his Man City days, Joey was one of the hardest working: in early at training, last out. Constantly practising drills etc etc. It is somewhat hard to believe when he (bar today's rather worrying performance), appears to be one of our most gifted midfielders.

I believe that it is easy for us to forget that to succeed in anything, including football, only a modicum of talent is actually required. And once you have that base level - anything is achievable if you work hard or want it hard enough. I suppose you could look at many an entrepreneur and find that many weren't necessarily 'academic' but had their eye on a prize and worked darn hard to get it. Without doubt, it is also unlikely that one would be able to achieve in life without the support of others who shared that same goal. Just look at the Olympics when athletes who win a gold medal are the first to praise those trainers, physios and their family for making it happen.

I am not saying that individuals never make a difference. But if one or two people are not firing on all cylinders (and I am not saying I know who they are), something has to be done for the benefit of the team. Reading on paper are a good team, but they don't have the so-called 'pedigree' that we do. But so what? They had a goal, a vision and they had togetherness. With ten men they still dominated the game. They, unlike us, have been managed very well in recent times.

Sadly, if one or two cogs in the wheel break down it can be a huge struggle to get back on track. And without Charlie, Danny and Matty I personally feel a little bereft...and I wonder whether the players feel this too? So I want to know, just how is this being managed? How will the team be coached to believe they are capable of winning again?

I do not have the answer to this, except to say that some guts are involved and perhaps some tough decisions need to be made. While Tony Mills' time is limited, the players and staff need to spend time they have working even harder if they want to play better. Maybe they can take inspiration from fighters like Tony Mills.

A little less bickering would be nice, and a few more corny huddles will make me feel confident in QPR. Win, lose or draw I'd like to see a team playing once again.