Monday, 30 December 2013

Collective Psychosis

Nottingham Forest 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

Watford 0 Queens Park Rangers 0

  1. psychosis
    sʌɪˈkəʊsɪs/
    noun
    1. 1.
      a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
      "they were suffering from a psychosis"

On three occasions this season I've been questioned by the same man who has told me that I don't write my blog often enough. He did it after the Watford game yesterday at the pub when I bumped in to him - flashing his phone in my face to show he had saved my blog as a home page and saying 'You don't write very often do you?'. If that's his sense of humour it isn't very funny and it made me wonder whether that's what it feels like when fans moan and tweet their players about how badly they are playing. It felt very much like some of these strange comments coming out of people's mouths at the matches right now, or on twitter that are in the vein of 'Austin, you're s***' and 'Austin, just can't score goals'. Really? I mean really? When we bought Austin we all beamed at the thought of an average of a goal per two games and with a record so far of 20 games played and 10 scored in the league I am really not sure he isn't delivering on that promise. And when I started this blog, I don't think I ever promised a weekly or a game by game match report...nor did I actually offer a match report at all. This was going to be purely and simply my own view of the game - sometimes commenting on the matches of the week or the day but more often than not, focusing on other things happening in my life that in some way relate to my love and support of QPR.

Twitter has been amusing of late. Sometimes personal messages between friends have been the most amusing. Messages like: 'Is it safe to go back?', or 'Don't look, it's just awful' or 'What a t***'. Seems that this latest spate of poor results for the Rs is making most of us react pretty wildly - some calling for Redknapp's departure, some asking for Adel to come back (really, replace one 'fat boy' for another?). Indeed we are, as @mcrae1000 (also known as Mr Shouty) has called it, undergoing a phase of Collective Psychosis. Because we are so upset about the recent results we're starting to search for answers in areas that are likely to destabilise rather than help our situation. And searching for answers as if we were fighting for survival in this league, never mind promotion to the next.

I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Forest and Watford away games, and neither were pretty nor effective although the latter perhaps a little better than the former even if it it was boring. I tend to agree with most fans that a striker is needed but not because Charlie Austin is rubbish, but because we simply need more than one and right now we've got the leg of one (Zamora) and half of another (Johnson) as a second option. In theory Redknapp's decision to play 6 mid fielders was probably right given the situation but yet again there seems to be a little problem with some of the tinkering he is doing - why was Kranjcar forced to play up front when it is clearly a position he does not enjoy playing it nor is his forte? Could Matty Phillips have played that role instead, with a pace that we've been lacking in that area without Austin? Also, after all these games it still looks as if Simpson is frustrated and we haven't quite figured out what to do on the right side. I also can't quite figure out what is stopping us from playing a more attacking or aggressive game. Is it actually to our detriment that we have so much Premier League experience in a Championship club and is what they are trying to do far to intricate and clever for what we need? Or is it that they really are being casual and lacking effort? I am of the belief that it is the former that is the bigger issue and this is probably a huge learning curve for many players. What seems to have happened is that growing confidence in the results have made them much too delicate in the style of play. If I look back at the first Sheffield Wednesday game for example I was excited by the 'go get 'em' attitude of the players. Now they're passing back to Green and Benny way more than most of us would like. But, could it be confidence even at this level? If they have any respect for the other teams in the league perhaps it is. A conundrum indeed.

At this current point in time, and until I have huge cause for concern (i.e. the threat of relegation), I intend to laugh quite a bit and have some fun. And one thing that has given me a huge amount of mirth is this video I found on Youtube which looks to be some kind of 'Portrait of Niko Kranjcar' as part of a series of portraits of players for the Croatian team. It looks like it's fairly old as he looks slightly slimmer and younger, but it starts off with a visit to what may well be his favourite hairdresser.  I am not a speaker of the Croatian language but one can have endless fun guessing what they are saying as she 'brushes' his hair and when he subsequently messes it up on his way out. There is even a one-on-one interview with the hairdresser where I imagine she might be discussing his favourite shampoo and conditioner, or perhaps how it is so easy to cut his hair when he is such a handsome fella... Later on, we see him reading a book (footballers do read after all!). I can't make anything out apart from 'Pillars of the Earth' which is perhaps his favourite novel, and later there is a Q&A - with one question I was able to translate about 'cuticles and callouses'. Nice. What this has to do with football I do not know, but it is fabulous fun and I'm particularly fond of the whistling soundtrack in the background.

(video below viewable on desktop)





But seriously, who are we to question the job of the footballer? It's so easy for us to paint a picture of someone we think we know and respect. It's so easy to expect something from someone without really understanding what they have been asked to do, or what their actual intentions are. However, supporting a football team wouldn't be fun if none of us had an opinion. And so I say to you - Mr blog critic, thanks for reading the blog but if you don't like how often I write, go and find another blog to read. I never put a gun to your head and asked you to read it. But if you'd like to spend some proper time sitting down 'sans alcohol' and reading all 63 posts from the past two years I'd gladly do so with you. 

Thanks for reading the irregular blog,

Emily




Saturday, 21 December 2013

Dear Santa (2013)

Queens Park Rangers 0 Leicester 1

Dear Santa,

It's been just under a year since I last wrote to you. And I know I was a bad girl because I actually wrote to you after Christmas day and you were still kind enough to give us an amazing away win at Chelsea just after New Year's Day. I will never forget how special that evening was. I don't think I've ever been so excited watching QPR play in my whole life and I enjoyed watching Chelsea fans looking very miserable on the District line home.

But, alas. A lot has happened last year. As you know, we didn't manage to save ourselves. And all those horrid players who you tried to punish (Bosingwa and the Siberian training camp etc.) pretty much set up our downfall. By the time Harry arrived it was all too late. And as the world continued to turn and we saw Pistorius kill his girlfriend, Syria continue to suffer, a huge typhoon destruct the Philippines, and Mandela die...we have been rebuilding our team back in the world of the Championship in to something that is unrecognisable (really) to the team we traumatically supported in season 2012/13.

Santa, I can't imagine what it's like up there in the North Pole but I understand from records I've been reading that you basically you live in the North Pole with Mrs Claus, a few elves and the Easter Bunny who lives next door. I know this because he actually wrote to me last Easter after we beat Sunderland 3-1. But it must be a bit lonely up there when you haven't got many people that you can socialise with at the same level? I mean, with the Easter Bunny laying millions of eggs for probably half the year, and with Mrs Claus being obsessed with Eastenders I wonder whether it sometimes feels a little lonely? The reason why I say this is that this year has been an amazing year for me in that I've become pretty close to some very special people through QPR. And while I am blessed to have so many wonderful friends from all walks of life, I often feel even more lucky to have friends who are about as crazy as I am about the Rangers.

Today was a wonderful case in point. Today wasn't a great day for football itself, no. It can't be said that any of us were content with the result. My friend @gemcricketmad will not be happy for QPR that Barton was sent off, but she will feel vindicated as she truly believes he is a bad man and that it was only a matter of time before it would happen. I, on the other hand have, as fickle fans do, changed my opinion of him somewhat, and thought while it was probably deserved it was perhaps unfair in the grand scheme of life given his great contribution to the team so far this season. I fear that Barton is not the kind of person who would be on your good boy list but I beg you to re-consider as in my view he has done much good work for charities and important causes this season. And for me that is truly commendable.(Please don't however, give him his wish to go back to Marseilles in January - that I CANNOT allow). But back to the game today...while the first twenty minutes looked promising with both Kranjcar and Austin looking like they were firing on all cylinders, squirrel-gate appeared to have, not only stopped play for five minutes, but arrested any chance of any kind of momentum. In the cold, windy and wet conditions as I huddled in my five layers of clothing with rain p***ing down on my face I kind of felt this wasn't going to be our day.

But, there were other things that had been planned for today. That friend I mentioned earlier @gemcricketmad and I, had promised ourselves that we would make a big effort to make it to Loftus Road early to greet some of the players are they entered. Okay, I lie. We promised ourselves we'd make it to Loftus Road early to greet Niko Kranjcar and Charlie Austin. I know I know Santa, it's not very becoming of two ladies who are seriously in to their football to be ogling at two footballers. But I am telling you the God-honest truth that we're not sure there has ever been a more good looking team playing for QPR. And several ladies in the South Africa Road block C ladies toilet who overheard my conversation with @sandyhoops can probably vouch for us on this matter. I know it feels a little like we're turning on Buzz Lightyear (Julio Cesar) - and where is he by the way - has he asked for a transfer this Christmas?, but to be honest as good as he was it feels like he's a player from another era that most of us would much rather forget. To cut a long story short, here are the photos of us as blubbering wrecks meeting our 'idols' outside Loftus Road. Needless to say security asked us to move as we were actually standing in completely the wrong place - apparently we hadn't noticed the official 'meet n' greet' area. It's a good thing both chaps are really rather friendly and nice that they put up with two ladies who were about to melt in to the pavement outside the players entrance.

me and charlieeeee

Gemma and the dreamy Niko

As I met my friends outside Loftus Road after the match, I'd almost forgotten the frustrating match against Leicester as meeting Charlie and Niko was still fresh in my memory and I was so proud of myself for not running away in shyness. Post-match I had an amazing lunch of fantastic authentic Italian pizza to look forward to with my QPR friends in Notting Hill and I was not disappointed. Lunch was full of laughter, jokes and banter. It continued to be cold, wet and rainy outside but I felt truly blessed to be with such good people.

Call me cheesy, corny, soppy...whatever you want. But at this time year I can't help but reflect on all the things that have happened in the past twelve months. Many of us work hard for a living and sometimes struggle to support ourselves, some of us have lost friends or family to another life, and some have struggled through our own illnesses and other difficult issues for lots of reasons with our own families. There are some fans I know well and there are others that I read about through social media who are going through such hardships. What I write does not provide anywhere near enough weight to the seriousness of such things. But what I can say is that it is the wonderful time spent together with my QPR friends that will always be the most special and happy of memories. And I am so sure there are many others who will say the same.

Santa, this isn't a note to ask for anything this Christmas. Because the truth is I know I am lucky and I have all that I need to make this Christmas one I will not forget. Perhaps you were smiling down on Gemma and I when we had arrived just in time to meet our favourite players. And while you didn't give us a win today...I know how you work (remember last year!), and I have a funny feeling we may turn Forest over on boxing day against all statistical odds.

Here is wishing you and everyone who reads this blog, a wonderful Christmas.

Lots of love,
Emily

PS. Please find enclosed a framed photo of Niko and a mug with Charlie's image on it for Mrs Claus in case you were struggling for gift ideas.





Monday, 16 December 2013

Chipping Away

Queens Park Rangers 3 Bournemouth 0

Queens Park Rangers 0 Blackburn 0

Blackpool 0 Queens Park Rangers 2

It feels like a lot has happened in two weeks. Following what was an an extremely disappointing performance at Doncaster Harry appeared to have heeded some advice and tinker a little with formation and tactics. We've also seen Carroll come back from injury, Phillips score us fantastic goal, a match with more than a two-goal lead, and Austin to continue to work hard for us up front and score us goals.

Many of us are saying it still doesn't feel as if we've left first gear. It is true, it feels as if, for all the pedigree we have, we're still lucky to win some matches. The football isn't always pretty either. But who are we kidding? No one ever said Championship football was pretty - in fact every time the lads try something fancy it tends to backfire and be overly complicated. And yet here we are, sitting at the top of the table.

The older I get the more convinced I am that in order to achieve your goal one must be consistently hard working. And by consistent I mean that dogged determination to keep plugging away and trying even when the chips are down and by whatever means required. And I suppose that's the way I see it in our struggle to do better as a club than we did last season. I hesitate to say 'our struggle to regain Premier League status' because the thought does still with me with fear as I remember the trauma of last year. But I have an ever increasing faith that our club is doing the right thing and building a real team of dedicated players.

The last few weeks also saw Tom Daley tell us he has a boyfriend. Personally I think it's an amazingly brave thing to do for such a young boy. I know so many people who are much older than Tom and they haven't the courage to tell their own family...never mind coming out to the wider public of colleagues and friends. I cannot imagine what a painful internal struggle it must be to hide who you are from people that you love or from the public if you live your life in the limelight. What I have found amusing in the past year as fans and footballers have debated the subject is that men tend to say something like 'Well, I don't care what they do in bed, doesn't matter to me - so why bother announcing it?' That's their way of saying they aren't prejudiced in their views but at the same time they sweep under the carpet a world which they do not wish to know about or understand. And I say to them, how would you like it if you could never tell anyone about your wife and how happy you are with her? It isn't just about sex but about identity, friendship and family.

I still think we are a long way from changing some of these attitudes in the football world but there are lots of little things happening that seem to be slowly turning the tide. Numerous pieces have been written in the press and in both football and non-football related blogs. An article by Matt Dickenson in the Times suggested that Daley's act could 'inspire the end of football's last taboo'. There was also the controversial Rainbow laces campaign and the Football vs Homophobia campaign...But most recently I stumbled upon a twitter account @GayFootballerUK. @GayFootballerUK is an anonymous account apparently belonging to a 'Secret Bisexual Premier League Footballer. He has 362 followers only but the Huffington Post has also picked up on his account. He only started the account in late November this year and he has been greeted by Simon Thomas of Sky Sports News warmly whilst others have been intrigued by the cryptic clues about his upcoming matches, and any injuries he has.

Intriguing it is. I did wonder whether the account was a wind-up. But even for the most idiotic it wouldn't be funny. And if it were a wind-up one would imagine he would be doing everything he can to gain plenty of new followers, which clearly he is not. My hope is that it is genuine and that he gets as much support as possible whatever he decides to do. Perhaps if he has enough support anonymously it will make him the first Premier League footballer to ever come out whilst still actively playing.

For some, it's not news, no. But for others the issue is still a matter of life or death. This, along with all the other stories, is the world chipping away consistently at the issue. While I am sceptical about a Premier League footballer coming out any time soon, I am convinced that if it does happen, the world will be a better place for it.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Cake

Doncaster Rovers 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

At work I am discovering the world of econometrics. Not an easy concept to understand but in basic terms an econometric model helps businesses to understand what, out of a number of variables, is driving results and return on investment. For marketers, this may be in the form of brand health or sales for example. Econometricians describe the process of modelling as something akin to baking a cake, where after receiving the data they then do all sorts of complicated mathematical things to understand what's driving what, and where there is a correlation.

With the way QPR are playing at the moment, I can't help but think about this concept of a cake. Across the social space, fans are debating about what the problem is - is it tactics and formation or is it simply attitude or effort? An econometrician would look at all of these things and try to understand which elements are causing problems for us. Although, of course - with having won almost all games, the combination of variables would currently be perceived as positive if indeed our ultimate goal or measure was to win games, and not just to play exciting football.

As I alluded to last week, the team does seem organised and regimented. People know their positions, but we don't seem to be playing out of them where I think we should be - when we've got a chance to take a risk, or run at the opposition and score goals. I would also suggest that the last two matches have seen a few players pull in more lacklustre performances: some fancy passes but just not ones that are dangerous enough for the Championship. Yes Niko, your bum looks great in the QPR shorts but perhaps a few more sessions down at the gym will improve performance? Playing with only one up front may also be taking its toll. While we have suffered a bout of injuries many players are back or coming back from them, and yet Harry has decided to stick with the past. This is so unlike the former Tottenham manager who we know likes to take a gamble and has always put forward an attacking team. Then there is the personal stuff we don't know about that goes on behind closed doors- were there players that had crap going on at home which made them lack focus yesterday, or did someone get annoyed that they were left on the bench and didn't start which got up everyone's nose before the match began? Who knows?

On the other hand, so far, this type of approach has allowed us to win by narrow margins. Until yesterday.

So, what is it that is going wrong out of all the possibilities? I would suggest an econometrician would be hard pressed to figure it out for QPR. They are right though, it is like a cake in that it's probably a combination of everything together that is driving this general malaise in football results as well as style of play. We do have one problem though. Econometrics also assumes that for all brands there is a base level of sales or results. This is the base level that continues to happen no matter what other variables or factors occur in time- that base level relies on ongoing sales, repeat purchases as well as the power of the brand. I am not sure that any club other than perhaps the Uniteds and Reals of this world can boast a base level of results. Most other football teams have too much volatility in their existence. However the one constant which has always amazed me and makes me extremely proud is the hardcore base level of loyal QPR fans. For such a small club we bring over 1,000 people for most away games and Fernandes and his team can rely on a near-sell out crowd for most matches. Unfortunately, good football results cannot solely rely on fans. .

I witnessed an argument yesterday at the Keepmoat. One person was claiming we were playing negatively, another was saying it might be ugly but it's winning us games. I agreed with both until we lost. And taking into account all of the above, we can't rely on a base level of play because frankly we haven't got it. I believe Harry has to take a bit more risk and use the players to their full potential. And that has to be not just in terms of formation, but in terms of tactics and in terms of who's playing and what ever the hell is motivating them. Everyone knows the best chefs are those that experiment with new ideas and ingredients, right?

Here is everyone before the match at a great fish restaurant in Doncaster called Fish Bits

Outside Fish Bits in Doncaster



Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Paying it forward

Reading 1 Queens Park Rangers 1

Queens Park Rangers 1 Charlton Athletic 0

It's a little late on a 'school night' to be writing but I'll try to make this one short and sweet. I couldn't help but feel required to pay it forward today after the events of the last few weeks.

I was back at Loftus Road last Saturday having been away on holiday to the Philippines. Yes, the Philippines. For those that don't know it's also my home - I am half Filipino and have family and friends there. But luckily for us we are mostly based in Manila which was largely untouched by the typhoon. I received several messages from friends in the QPR community making sure we were all ok, and was amazed to see just how generous not only the QPR community has been but the whole of the UK with their donations to the DEC appeal. Everyone has already seen plenty of new coverage so there isn't a lot more to say except thank you.

On to football matters, having missed most of the Reading game having watched a juddering stream on my iphone from a Philippine island I was very much looking forward to watching the Charlton game. It was not the most thrilling of matches, and while there was nifty passing taking place it all felt a little bit like we were (as we had been a few times in the last couple of seasons) being a bit too clever - one too many passes and some of those passes going backwards rather than forwards. Is it me, or are we lacking confidence and a bit of aggression going forward?

I was praying for a long-awaited goal from 'my Charlie' and was so pleased to see that he scored a screamer from 30 yards out. Alas, no #slidingmovement for me, but according to Mr Barton a change of boots and laces to Rainbow ones appeared to have done the trick once again for him. Interestingly, the commentator on the Football League Show announced that Charlie had scored with his right foot, but had pointed to his left - perhaps he didn't know the real story about the laces and the fact in in some way Charlie was paying it forward by wearing the laces again.

One of the things you may not know about what is happening in the Philippines is that one of the biggest problems we have with the huge amount of natural disasters that take place there (we had an earthquake not long ago in the same region that took over 2,000 lives, and two years ago typhoon Ondoy killed over 400, we also have several active volcanoes one -Mount Pinutubo- erupted in 1991 killed several hundred), is the displacement of tens of thousands of people from their homes and livelihoods. And because we are such a complicated array of thousands of islands it's extremely difficult to get aid to those that need it. So it was with much appreciation that I watched the video at half time of the work that Air Asia are doing partnering with the Philippine Red Cross as well as using their own planes to help with the cause.

Of course I feel very proud to see QPR players doing their bit to galvanise individuals and to listen to the near silence at Loftus Road while the video played. But I am not surprised. It is, after all, what our community is about. People are paying it forward everywhere, even when perhaps they don't receive too much themselves.

Let's just hope positive attitudes permeate all aspects of the game on and off the pitch. Perhaps we'll see less playing it backward at Doncaster this weekend as I pay it forward and visit my Grandma.

Sweet dreams and thank you again.



Sunday, 3 November 2013

Reunions

Wigan 0 Queens Park Rangers 0
Queens Park Rangers 2 Derby County 1

This week's blog post comes courtesy of the man responsible for my QPR affliction (oops I mean addiction), Tony Foster. 

We aren't able to cover the Wigan game but hope you enjoy his view of yesterday's match. 

Wishing all the hoops fans a happy weekend from beautiful Asia. 

Emily 

-----------------

Funny things, reunions: whether it’s the class of 88 meeting for their 25th, or the annual get-together of a company’s ex-employees, with or without alcohol, they seem always to yield mixed results, mixed feelings. There are always some people you are looking forward to seeing: even if only to know how they are ageing (and hoping it’s worse than you), and others you are not.

In football, reunions are almost a constant feature of matches. Peripatetic footballers, and managers very often come up against their former clubs, or former team-mates from other way stations along their football journeys. Today was  one such occasion, and therefore perhaps not so unusual, as Steve McLaren,  a very short while ago part of the coaching staff at QPR, and allegedly sorely missed, brought  improving Derby County to Loftus Road. McLaren,  who will unfortunately always be remembered  as the Wally with the Brolly, at least once had the England job which Harry had apparently coveted. In another of those coincidences, El Tel, a famous QPR alumnus and more fondly remembered as England manager, watched from the directors’ box.  Would McLaren come with so much inside information on QPR’s players, style and orientation as to deny the Rangers of a much needed 3 points? With all this top level coaching quality on parade, were we in for a treat?

McLaren probably would not have expected Harry to set up with what looked for all the world like 4 front men, with MattPhillips  and Junior Hoilett both attacking on the flanks with Charlie Austin and Jermaine Jenas through the middle. With Joey Barton energetically supporting from midfield, Rangers not surprisingly had a great deal of the play and were rewarded with a goal by Jenas after only 10 minutes. Instead of going on to increase their lead,  Rangers allowed Derby to break and the apparently blind officials did not see the Derby attacker climb all over a Rangers defender to head across goal for Dawkins to equalise. How could these three men not see what 18000 others clearly saw? Was it guilt that made the referee then book 4 Derby players in the rest of the first half?

Rangers were all attack again after the break, but the game looked more scrappy in the strong,swirling wind. Clint Hill put Rangers ahead with a far post header, but it was one of those games that never quite looked safe. Control was at a premium and there was only one player on the field for my money who could clearly control his play and his passingthroughout : take a bow Saint Joseph. There are still Rangers fans who doubt, or even don’t like Joey Barton but it’s about time they were won over. Once again, and we’ve seen it several times this season, he was the most skilful player on the pitch by a country mile, and enhanced that natural talent with energy and whole-hearted passion. Just remember, Joey, sometimes you have to keep that passion in check. If you are serious about your philosophy studies, perhaps focus on Zen Buddhism rather than Sun Tzu.  Keep that red mist at bay and you might just see us back into the Premiership. On today’s performance, I wouldn’t be backing us at 5/4 to win the Championship: these are far too skinny odds, but let’s face it, winning games is fun.


@tonydedude

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Streams

Millwall 2 Queens Park Rangers 2

Burnley 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

I made a last minute decision to make my way up to Burnley this week. It was partly due to the fact that otherwise I'd be missing five games because of my upcoming holiday. This will not make me popular, but a huge benefit to not having children is that I am not tied down by school holidays and seasonal changes which means I can send a big two fingers at those who are stuck here suffering the winter blues while I bask in the Philippine sunshine. This, potentially isn't the greatest time however to be leaving the boys behind, so it appears I will have to contend with trying to get some kind of internet stream while I am away for all those games I will miss.

I've always said I don't miss the Premiership, but do miss the coverage that it brings. And with regard to this blog it has been tough to write it with some semblance of personal knowledge when I haven't been able to watch a game (even on a crappy internet stream). On the other hand, I never promised that this blog would be a match report blog, but a blog about the experiences of an honest fan who has her own realities of life to contend with. So as I made my pilgrimage to Burnley yesterday and thought about what I was going to say about the Millwall match having listened to it on the radio,  I reminisced over the days when we used to play away and to get any running commentary we would have to call Rangers Club Call. That unbelievably expensive premium line that started with Les Ferdinand saying 'This is Rangers Club Call, sponsored by Ericsson'. We would always ring towards the end of the match so we wouldn't run up a huge bill but it must have cost my father a small fortune.  I remembered when we started getting the internet on the dial up (which really wasn't that long ago), and listening on QPR Player to the famous Port Vale game in 1997 when we came back from 4-0 down to save the game and finish it at 4-4. It was such an exciting match in the end, but it was also exciting to be able to hear it on our juddering stream in my Dad's little office at home where I was back from Uni. for the holidays.

And so I pondered about how listening to matches on the radio, now that the world is again, no longer interested in Championship club QPR, was actually not such a bad thing. In an 'old school' way it's quite nice to be able to imagine what was actually happening and dream of the magic taking place while listening to the commentators voice. And so it was that Millwall was both quite exciting (having taken the lead twice), but extremely frustrating. And nearly twenty years after that Port Vale game this is now how my father and I communicate whilst we sit in different parts of London:

Excuse the editing (just in case little ones read this)

It would be wrong of me to comment much on the match, apart from that I believe these three away matches  (Millwall, Burnley, Wigan) were always going to be really tough, and that I think Austin is really getting in to his stride (despite yesterday's loss). I am glad to see him scoring again in open play. May we please see more of those, and more #slidingmovements. Amen.

Since I last wrote, I am hearing news of Charlie's engagement to long time girlfriend and mother of his child. Congratulations to them both, and may this bring more fruitful results on the pitch for QPR. As Charlie said on London Call in - if things are going well off the pitch, they tend to go well on them. I have been wondering just how much Burnley have missed him. However, by yesterday's result Burnley are doing quite well without him and for town of circa 75,000 and almost a quarter of its population at Turf Moor they put on a great show and it was a pretty electric atmosphere when they scored.

My view on yesterday is that there is still room for us to improve, but I think most people know that has been the case for some time. And leaving Austin isolated up front for every game is a huge amount of unnecessary pressure. However, I am not sure whether we were just a bit sleepy or whether we were trying to be too clever, but we made quite a few mistakes...seemed to lack pace and managed to leave Simpson stranded out there on the right (which I've seen a few times season). We're sort of playing a bit lop sided. I am not tactician but if I can see it, there must be something wrong.

Apparently there are a few people thinking it's the end of the world for us, but for me it's a lesson learnt and a slap on the wrist. The Championship is NOT an easy league, and I've always felt from now until Christmas will be the making (or not) of our season. We're playing all the top teams soon and if we can't get our act together for those, we won't be getting promoted.

The game was littered with fouls, tackles and a little bit of temper. This obviously game through in the radio commentary as my dear QPR friend Gem listened from home and texted me about what they were saying. Apparently QPR were going hard on the tackles as opposed to Burnley. I thought, what match are they watching?? This was happening on both sides. When Barton received his yellow apparently they were saying it should have been a red card, and that he was being an 'arse' or something to that effect. I could just imagine the commentators taking a bit of creative licence and turning it in to something bigger than it was and helping vindicate Gem's long standing hatred of the man. I don't know how they commentated on the throwing of a half filled bottle of coke (with the cap on), right in to Barton's head, but had that been some big Premiership player it would have made front page news and a right old fuss would have been made. Had it been me standing there I would have absolutely lost it. And I don't have a criminal record, am not a recovering alcoholic, and do not have anger management issues. While it might be a little bit nostalgic to listen to the radio like the old days to hear QPR play, I think I must remember commentators aren't always there to tell you what is actually happening on the pitch, they are there to entertain you!

Of course, there is nothing better than being there yourself. And, if you were there, you would have also seen the breakdancing Burnley mascot who did a mean caterpillar, and was sent off. I only found out later that apparently this was for handing the linesman his glasses (sour official!). This guy has a sense of humour obviously...and his fake jail time is pictured all over the press this morning. In addition, Burnley fans thought it would be rather amusing to bring an inflatable male body part to the ground. I must say, it was rather refreshing not to see another blow up doll.

However, yesterday will only be remembered as a match in which QPR didn't play very well, and Burnley stuffed us by two goals fair and square. I can live with this because we've moved on from last season and we've got players who care a bit more about us and have a bit more gumption. And even if we don't get the wall to wall coverage we have done for the last two seasons, we've moved on such a great deal from Les's Rangers Club Call, I think I can survive with the digital media centre that most of us fans have created for ourselves to keep up with the team news.

As we prepare for a potentially big storm that reaches England & Wales tonight, I wish you all a safe and pleasant Sunday and many good live QPR streams.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sliding Movements

Queens Park Rangers 2 Barnsley 0

This year has been a very long one for me. Having not had a holiday longer than 3 days and with 4 weeks to go till the big one, I started this week feeling pretty exhausted. The two things that kept me going were the thought of the Fans Forum on Thursday which I was very kindly invited to by the IndyRs crew, and a second consecutive home game on Saturday. 

In all honesty, it was such a hectic week that I had not thought to consider what questions I would ask. But I did, in fact, have a cunning plan. Many of you know that @annieqpr and I both wrote articles on the Rainbow Laces campaign recently. Annie's was published in the Brent & Kilburn Times. Both of us also showed our support for the initiative by tweeting about it regularly during that main campaign week. Annie received a lot more negative feedback than I did. A handful of people decided to disagree with her views (perfectly entitled), but many of those insulted (Iron Hoof: What is it with these female so called QPR fans who want to bring outside issues into football?) and others should be arrested (Paul:gays should be put down like dogs that dont breed). Annie fought back and I applaud Annie for standing her ground. For me, however, I wasn't going to let one or two people who simply enjoyed winding someone up ruin my general view that most QPR fans believed in what we were saying. And judging from the conversations with everyone I spoke to last night (male, female, straight and gay QPR fans - oh yes we have them!!), this was very much confirmed. On the other hand, my plan for the forum was not to ask questions, but to do a stats piece. The last forum was an exceptionally fiery one. Many questions were directed at Phil Beard, and they asked about everything from shirts in the club shop to player school visits. Admittedly, many people complained about the quality of the questions, but surely this demonstrated that people were interested in other 'outside issues' and felt that they had a relevance to the club.  So for this fans forum, I was hoping to note down how many questions were 'off the pitch' questions asked by male as opposed to female fans to demonstrate to ironically named 'Iron Hoof' that there are several 'outside issues' that matter to many QPR fans. My hopes were scuppered when I was told Phil Beard was not going to sit in the panel this time. So as I rushed in to the building, red faced having run down South Africa Road from the tube literally 5 minutes before the start and I sat down and thought 'what the hell am I going to ask?'

Needless to say it was hardly revealing or ground-breaking, nor was it really a forum as  Indy Rs so eloquently put it. This was more of a Q&A session with an on-form Redknapp pulling the strings and making everyone laugh. Beard spoke for a few minutes and gave us nothing that we didn't already know. He was as stiff as a board. Green's body language (miserable face, arms crossed), showed us he really didn't want to be there, and this got worse whenever Cesar was mentioned. Charlie Austin looked nervous and very shy. Redknapp was in his element and very relaxed. So as the comperes attempted to wrestle attention away from someone in front of us who wouldn't stop bantering with Harry about horses running at Kempton or Wolverhampton the mic fell to me. Amidst the general banter I realised there was no point in trying to ask anything serious, and I was most interested in seeing how Charlie would react to a question that required him to show more personality than just a simple 'yeah, I'm really chuffed to be here and obviously want to score lots of goals' yada yada yada. Little did I know that my completely innocent question about Charlie Austin's famous goal scoring celebrations was going to turn in to possibly the funniest moment of the night. If you have not seen it, minute 22 of Part Two was the defining moment. And as Harry attempted to tear me to shreds for talking about 'sliding movements' and claimed I that 'like them sliding movements'  I wasn't going to let Charlie get away not with not answering my question. And when he answered 'Saturday' to a round of applause from everyone in the room I had not only inadvertently put myself in the middle of a joke full of sexual innuendo but I had also inadvertently turned myself in to an Charlie-fancying obsessed fan (apparently no one else had seen that Youtube video 'Charlie Austin The Goal Machine Parts 1 & 2'). 

As a long working day at Friday wore on and I began to look forward to the match on Saturday I realised that I was actually so excited to see whether Charlie was going to a. score and b. do the 'sliding movement' goal celebration (why oh why did I not just say 'knee-slide?). Surely, if there was ever a match where he had a chance of scoring from open play, and not just scoring one goal but maybe a hat-trick it would be against bottom-placed Barnsley. Having no goals by half time was a worry and as I tucked in to some fabulous cupcakes from Geraldine's Cakes I hoped and prayed we would see a better performance at half time. I could see Danny Simpson's frustration, especially in the first half as so much of the play was happening in the centre and Hoilett had to come on to help create a bit more space and take the play out a little wider. And when Charlie scored, I was absolutely elated when he kept his promise and did his knee slide goal celebration. My neighbour turned round to me and said 'I think your phone is going to melt now'. And before long @officialqpr tweeted a pic of said knee slide to me. I was over the moon. 

From @officialqpr Charlie's slide yesterday

But let's take a step back a bit. It's not even as if the 'knee-slide' is a particularly original or exciting goal celebration. It also isn't Austin's only type of sliding movement. In fact if you view Part 2 of Charlie Austin the Goal Machine you will see that he also has a knee slide/forward chest slide ensemble. So I wondered this morning when I woke up: what prompted me to ask that question in the first place? I realised in the cold light of day that it's been a long time since we've had such a prolific goal-scorer. Helguson was maybe the closest we've come in more recent years but there is something exciting about having someone in the fold who has such a great record and still has his best years left. And as I mentioned in my second blog of the season, Austin appears to be a decent and hard working person, and we like that at QPR. Having slightly 'stalker-ish-ly' scoured the internet for information on our bricky from Hungerford he has had the usual footballer brush with the law having been done for assault in a nightclub back in June this year. But for a young person he also appears to have been through quite a bit, having lost his first child with his partner to cerebral palsy at the age of 21 (see article here). So, I suspect there's a lot more to Mr Austin then most of us would immediately assume. 

But alas, I digress in to issues outside of football don't I? 

Ultimately,  we all support QPR because we love watching QPR play football. It's the goals that get scored and the clean sheets achieved that put points on the board. But let's not think that matters off the pitch have no impact on the ethos, ethics and motivations of players on it. If we believed that they did not, it would be almost impossible to explain what happened to us in last two seasons. I would also argue that if one uses such an argument then many things that QPR in the Community Trust does would be a waste of time and is irrelevant. Clearly, this is not the case and it is an extremely important and valuable resource. 

As for me, while I must say I had never thought of Mr Austin as much of a looker, I may now need to revert to having him on my screensaver at work again (I had replaced him 2 weeks ago with a view of the beach I will be lying on in four weeks time). It looks like I've got a bit of competition as a few lovely ladies at the pub had him on the top of their list of 'hot QPR players'. Never mind. I think I'm more interested in seeing Charlie score us plenty more goals than I am in him taking me out for date on 'Saturday night'. But thanks for the offer Harry, triffic. 





Sunday, 29 September 2013

Charisma

Queens Park Rangers 2 Middlesborough 0

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

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

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

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

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


cha·ris·ma  

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





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

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


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Good Noise

Queens Park Rangers 0 Brighton 0

Yeovil 0 Queens Park Rangers 1

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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










Monday, 16 September 2013

Treasure

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

Leeds 0 Queens Park Rangers 1

Queens Park Rangers 1 Birmingham 0

#rbgf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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