With one more game to do and the fate of QPR still uncertain, I try to take a positive look back on this season!
It has been a funny old season. Well, ok, “funny” isn`t the right term to describe the last twelve months, I guess! Frustrating, disappointing, nerve-wracking, excruciating, perplexing – far more appropriate, don`t you think?!
And yet, here we are, with one week to go to the end of what has been a long, long season, still clinging on to the hope that we will retain our Premier League status. I could go on about Norwich and Swansea, who will be playing in the Premier League next season, and compare their respective pre-season preparations and seasons with ours – but I won`t! Will that help us next weekend? Nor will it help our cause to drag through the mire of poor decisions at Board level since the FA announced, on a very warm and sunny Saturday in May last year, that we were not guilty of anything that warranted any points deduction from “Faurlin-gate”; but which did seem to contribute in a variety of ways to the parlous state of our current league position! I do not want to enter into debate about the merits or otherwise of Warnock`s sacking and Hughes` appointment. What good would that do now – as if we had a say in the matter anyhow?!
Instead, I want to try to look for the good in this enigmatic season of ours. Personally, I have enjoyed trips afield to stadia that have more than one stall in the Ladies Toilets (I have a rather unpleasant memory of Colchester`s old shambles of a ground!) or know how to serve a cup of tea on a cold, winters afternoon (that reminds me of the time, at Sheffield Wednesday, when the bloke serving me used his bare hands to fish out the tea bag from my cuppa and then looked horrified when I told him I didn`t want that particular cup!) This season, we officially added Superhoop50 to our away team of Amy and me and Jezza and his boys – and Superhoop50 added the novelty of a bottle of red wine to help wash down my infamous, homemade smoked salmon bagels! I hope he does not forget the vino next Sunday!! I have loved having Loftus Road full to bursting and with noise levels that literally made our ground rock!
I enjoyed the novelty of watching games with Amy from the comfort of my Hotel bedroom in Montreal; of nearly killing each other (and my I-Pad) when Helguson scored that all-important penalty against that lot from the King`s Road! Or jumping around in the snow outside the Governor`s Mansion in Ottawa when we heard that Mackie had equalised at Swansea – and that was thanks to my wonderful mates in England keeping me updated via BBM and text! But I have also enjoyed going to games (both home and away) with Amy by my side since she returned from her sojourn in Canada. It isn`t the same watching QPR on your own – you have to have someone suffering alongside you or it is not half as much fun!
A personal highlight has to be beating Arsenal at the end of March – for the sheer beauty of being able to grin gloatingly at my beloved husband and younger daughter – who are still irritated at the thought that they lost that game! Amy and I were delirious as first Taarabt and then Diakite put two past Szczesny. We sat in the car, saying nothing but tweeting plenty and grinning hugely and annoyingly! I still feel that cheeky grin surface when I remember the joy of the victory in the family Arsenal v QPR battle – the first league battle at Loftus Road between our teams in 15 years!
I have loved my new-found celebrity status – the YouTube clip of Amy and my post-Helguson-penalty celebrations against Chelsea has, to date, racked up over 2,000 views (have people got nothing better to do than watch us watching nervously, hugging each other for support as we wait for Helguson to take the penalty and then shrieking hysterically when he scores?!!) My brief appearance on Match of the Day 2 (filmed prior to our recent match at the Hawthorns) comes a close second! And happily, through my constant presence on Twitter, I have met and made loads of friends who, like me, share the equal torment/delight of being a rabid QPR fan! I have even had the dubious pleasure of being the only QPR fan to whom Joey Barton has directly tweeted – although I am not certain if that is a good thing or not!
On the playing side, I have enjoyed the renaissance of Adel Taarabt who returned from the AfCon to a very different QPR from the one he left. He has slowly improved these past few months – like a good wine – and against Stoke on Saturday I felt that he gave possibly his most mature performance for us this season. He certainly does not look at all out of place in the Premier League now, as he did earlier in the season; which is also true of Ale Faurlin – a real revelation until that fateful MK Dons match. He took to the Prem like a duck to water! And Mackie, Hill (more mountain than hill of late!) and Derry have been incredible – who said these players couldn`t cut it at this higher level?
Of our acquisitions, more recently, Samba Diakite, who had an ignominious debut, has shown very pleasing signs of being an excellent acquisition and I was delighted to read that Hughes hopes to secure his permanent signature irrespective of where we ply our trade next season. Ferdinand seems to have put that Terry debacle to the side (at least until the court case) and grown in stature, particularly since playing alongside Clint Hill. Cisse has driven me mad with his amazing goals and diabolical red cards – as he probably has everyone! Joey Barton has more recently, in my opinion, become the player and captain we all longed him to be. I no longer suck in my breath with dread when he takes the odd free kick or corner and, although I haven`t checked recently, I am sure his “pass completion” stat will have improved radically – I think he has hardly put a foot wrong since returning to the side that faced Arsenal after Hughes dropped him.
The signs for the future of the Club are good: we have regained our Academy status for our youth and are hoping, sooner rather than later, to have acquired property to provide a proper, Premier League status training ground for our squads. The Board seem certain that relegation would not adversely affect us financially – at least, that is, I presume, so long as we return to the Premier League fairly promptly, should our fate be that we are relegated next week! And I have certainly enjoyed watching Philip Beard`s varying emotions during recent home games – he has certainly taken to the QPR “rollercoaster”!
These past few games have been nerve-wracking – I think I can honestly say I have not “enjoyed” them as such. I have sat tense, clutching my mobile phone ready to check other scores or post a comment on Twitter, watching Amy wreck plastic bottles as she nervously twists them into shapes bearing no resemblance whatsoever to their origins! I have bumps and bruises galore from jumping up wildly and smacking my legs and knees on the seats in front of me after we have scored in recent games – handy thing that tube of Arnica bruise cream! I have spent endless hours looking at the varying permutations, mathematics, predictions and odds. And it all comes down to one thing – next Sunday`s away game against Manchester City.
As Peter Ramage tweeted yesterday: there is the easy way, there is the hard way and there is the QPR way! Never a truer word!! I do not believe we will win at City next week – not for one single second! But football is a funny old game and, because of that alone, I will go to the Etihad stadium with hope – hope that we survive; hope that we don`t get walloped like we did against Chelsea (groan!); lots of hope that Stoke beat Bolton (more importantly, probably than our result!) But if the worst does come to the worst, and we are relegated next Sunday afternoon, come August 2012 in the Championship, I will still be in my seat in with Amy sitting in her seat next to me; and I will still sit down with Jezza when the fixture list is released next month and work out which away games we are definitely going to and which we might be going to. I will still be a loyal and rabid QPR fan – nothing changes. It`s in my blood!
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