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 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)