It is two months to Christmas and we are now deep in to the football season. A hectic week at work has meant a great delay in writing my blog, post-Everton match. But as the days get shorter and my walk in the mornings to work or the gym are engulfed in night-time the realisation of the miserableness of winter has given rise to a great big feeling of depression. While today brings news of surprising growth in the economy, it is still met with caution and fear. And we are surrounded by the extremely alarming and sad news of Savile's horrific exploits. Nothing, it seems, is particularly positive.
But, I start with last Sunday's match. I must say I was surprised it was a sell-out crowd. A Sunday match isn't exactly convenient for a lot of us - falling the day before the working week albeit being half-term for those with kids. QPR fans appeared to have mixed expectations: positive ones thinking it's about time we would nick a win, others already thinking about what would happen to Mark Hughes if we lost. I must say I did not include a 1-1 draw in my list of possible results. But I, like many other fans, was extremely pleased to see SWP on the bench with Hoilett starting. While I've been disappointed with Park's performance in the last few games, he had a better game against Everton and I'm hoping we simply saw a Park-blip. Sunday, however, saw me make my decision that Zamora isn't quite the ticket we need. While he might hold the ball up for us, we still lack a consistent striker that can play up front with Hoilett...I have memories of days gone by when we would watch Gallen and Ferdinand up-front and they were quite a pair for a little while. I live in hope that we will see something like that again at Loftus Road.
But, we should not have lost. Yes we can go on about the fact that we played really well, had most of the possession etc etc, but playing well means winning matches, and a big fat ZERO next to W in the table just 'ain't right.' However, by the end of that Sunday it seemed that most of us were fairly positive about the result. To me, it's a sure sign that we've finally come down from those lofty expectations we had before the the Swansea match. No we aren't likely to finish mid-table this season (and I'll eat my hat if we do), and it'll be a pretty bumpy ride from now until next May. Maybe I am over-reacting a little because events off the pitch have also made me think quite deeply about the game, the fans, and the impact on future generations.
So with some sadness, I contemplate the fact that the Olympics and the Paralympics seem so far away. All the good cheer, all the positive feeling, all the pride we seemed to feel throughout that period has all but disappeared. In my earlier piece Persecuted I talked about the John Terry case and the issues surrounding that continue to make the headlines. I've just watched QPR legend Les Ferdinand on BBC News saying he feels let down by the FA as does every black player and black supporter - and that essentially Terry's punishment does not fit what he considers to be a crime. Interestingly, he has said he wrestled with the question of whether John Terry is really racist or not...as far as he is concerned a racist comment should be met with a punishment for a racist comment, as does a drink drive crime even if it's your first time, or you didn't really mean it. He feels it's only fair that one should 'suffer the consequences' for one's actions. In all honesty, I have wrestled with this question as well of whether Terry is racist or not. I've even argued with colleagues who have felt being cleared in a court of law should have been the end of the story. But I completely understand Les Ferdinand's view. And if that is the view of many others I stand with them on this point.
It has made me think about my own background. As some know I am half Filipino and half English: half Asian, half white. But you would not know it if I never told you. I never have looked a bit like my mother (since passed), who had black hair and dark brown eyes. I was born with white hair, and the fairest of skin. And now I am older, I have the figure of a Western woman, I dye my hair blond, and I don't 'do tans'. It is my understanding that Anton and Rio Ferdinand are also of mixed race: their mother is white and father black, but they 'appear' to be black in skin colour. I can tell you that there have been times in my life where I've experienced what I call 'reverse racism.' When I am back home in Manila there will be people who assume I am 'white' and therefore make comments in Tagalog (not knowing I understand), in bars about how 'easy' must be because I am white (and therefore have loose morals of course!). I've even had close acquaintances judge me by the colour of my skin and assume I will behave X or Y because of it. Seems silly really doesn't it? On the other hand, I remember back at school I was reprimanded by the head of a posh 'society' I was part of for writing a letter of complaint to the Spectator magazine because they had continued to publish a cartoon the continuously (week in, week out), made fun of Filipino maids. I was told not to 'rock the boat', and they were surprised at my accusations given I was to all intents and purposes white.
|Me & my mum in 1978|
So you can see how a feeling of hopelessness has engulfed me. Especially because last week also brought scenes of ridiculous behaviour at the U21 Serbia/England match and saw a Leeds thug attack goalkeeper Chris Kirkland at Elland Road. I'd really like to say, it's just a few people ruining it for many others but there were thousands of fans in Serbia jeering at the whole thing, and there were several 'pals' smiling and patting the Leeds fan on the back as he ran back on to the stands. It is just so uncool and it made me start thinking that football brings out the worst in people.
But last night as I lay in bed, I listened to the QPR Podcast where they interviewed Matt O'Brien, coach of the Tiger Cubs. I had a big smile on my face as I listened to him tell us about all the great physical activities they do with the kids who have Down Syndrome, the support they give the parents, and the sheer joy and fun that the children have when the play matches and score goals. I laughed so loud when I heard about how the kids celebrate so much and for so long when they score a goal that the opposing team ends up scoring a goal in the meantime. I would love to watch that, and must find out how and when I can watch a tournament if at all possible. A big thumbs up to the QPR Podcast team for running the interview and raising awareness of the fund-raising walk this Saturday. See Chris Charles' article about this on the West London Sport website with a link on the bottom of that page to donate.
It reminded me about what sport is all about, football and football fans included. I can't allow myself to beat myself and all the great football fans up about the poor behaviour of others. But just like the wider society, we all have a responsibility to be good, decent human beings and to not put up with inappropriate, wrong an racist or prejudiced behaviour. Let's not let the things that the Olympics and Paralympics taught us fade in to a distant memory and use that positive energy to make some positive changes.
After such a polemic, pondering over the meet at the Emirates this Saturday feels rather petty...Nevertheless I will positively forecast a 1-0 QPR win. Arsenal are on a 'losing streak' and perhaps we'll cause another upset. Fingers crossed that the Tiger Cubs also manage to raise the £10,000 they so desperately need, as their story has reminded me about what's really important in life.