It’s taken me a few days but I think I’m happy now – no! That’s an understatement!
I seem to have been on an emotional rollercoaster these past 10 days. Before Cardiff – after Cardiff – before Hull – after Hull. Oh, don`t talk to me about after Hull!
I was nervous before the Hull game but nevertheless headed to Loftus Road with my daughter, Amy, in very good spirits. We decked the car out in blue & white and, as we drove to Shepherds Bush, we enjoyed hooting other similarly decked out cars or chatting to other Rs fans at traffic lights! There was a carnival atmosphere en route and, as we headed to the Springbok to meet up with old VitalQPR friends and new Twitter buddies, we sensed that same carnival atmosphere in the streets around the ground.
After a few drinks, a few photos, being kicked off the balcony of the ‘Bok (for health and safety reasons?!!), we wandered into the ground to soak up the atmosphere there. Inside you could sense the heightened sense of anticipation – the almost feral excitement. As the teams came out to a raucous reception, it was difficult not to feel that you were standing on the threshold of something very special – and when Wayne Routledge cut through the Hull defence to slot away the first goal of the game there was no reason to believe that this wasn`t going to end the way we had all dreamed. Victory last Monday would have given us not just promotion but the Championship title as well – at home, in front of a partisan, highly-charged loyal crowd of QPR devotees.
But Hull hadn`t read the script and when they equalised, late on in the 2nd half, all our dreams came shattering down around our feet like broken glass. I instinctively reached out and grabbed my friend`s arm – the same friend who decades ago (!) introduced me to this passion of mine called Queens Park Rangers. Sometimes I thank her for that throw away comment at school – “I go to see a team called QPR with my Dad” which led me to want the same, drag my Dad to QPR and, well the rest as they say, is history – and sometimes I curse her (well, a few times I do admit over the decades!) But as Hull equalised I knew I couldn`t let her take the blame for the empty feeling that started to seep into my every pore! I`m too long-in-the-tooth now to realise that QPR never do anything the easy way – never!
And yet, when I returned home after the game, knowing that it really wasn`t all doom and gloom – knowing that we were theoretically promoted just not mathematically certain of that promotion – I still felt as we had lost! I felt as if we had been relegated – I kid you not! And it didn`t surprise me at all to hear interviews with various members of the First Team squad that they felt very similarly after the game as well. They knew they`d “blown a golden opportunity” – to win the title at home – and they were somehow going to have bounce back to face Watford away (of late our “bogey” team) in an effort to put the promotion party and title celebrations back on track.
I felt empty inside, flat. I`d built myself up so high before the game and after it, I fell to earth with such a bump that it took all week for me to find even the semblance of a smile. I kid you not! My Watford-supporting colleague at school kept avoiding me – she said she`d never seen me so lifeless and, despite being a mad Watford fan, really hoped and prayed we`d win on Saturday at Vicarage Road as she couldn`t bear the thought I might come in to school on Tuesday (3rd May) as gloomy and dull as I`d been last week! Superhoop50 will attest to my misery – as will Jezza and my poor, long-suffering husband – who, being an Arsenal fan and therefore suffering on his own account this season (!), really couldn`t see why I was so glum! After all, we`d have to lose both of our last games something like 4-0 each whilst Cardiff &/or Norwich would have to win both of their last two matches with a similar score line! Impossible? No, I thought, this is QPR after all!
And so to yesterday and Watford! By yesterday morning, I was numb. I had expended so much negative emotion during the week that I felt – well, nothing! I wasn`t excited getting dressed up in my hooped shirt. I wasn`t excited wandering through Watford, finding somewhere to eat with Amy, Jezza and the boys, or walking with fellow Rs fans to Vicarage Road. The game kicked off – I didn`t feel nervous although I was glad I was allowed to stand (even though we were seated near the front). And I sang my heart out for the boys because the words weren`t sticking in my throat from nerves, as they had at times at Cardiff or against Hull!
And then, something happened. Not on the pitch but inside – it was like a light-switch (or an emotion-switch) had been flicked on! And half-way through the first half I thought, why am I being like this, I want us to win so badly it hurts – it really hurts – and we may lose today because this is Watford and they`re our “bogey” team. And then, the nerves came flooding back and I felt better! I felt alive! Isn`t that crazy? And I sang louder and more energetically and I cheered like an idiot when first Taarabt and then Smith scored those two vital, precious goals – you know the ones – you`ve probably watched them on tv and the internet over and over again as I have -those two goals that have sent us rocketing into the Premier League as Championship Champions.
And I`ve ecstatic, I`m excited, I`m sitting here decked out in blue and white, with the biggest, soppiest grin on my face, putting my thoughts down to share with you all. And Amy`s just walked in, grinning like a Cheshire Cat, all decked out in blue and white too (we`re about to pop out for a “celebratory” lunch – well, I had a celebration with friends last night but now I need to celebrate with my daughter!!) And you know what – whatever the FA enquiry brings on Friday (yes, sorry, I had to bring that spectre up) – no-one will be able to take away from us our awesome achievement this season.
We`ve lost 5 out of 45 games to date. We kept 25 clean sheets. We have 88 points as of today with a goal difference of +40, having scored 70 (yes, seventy!) goals and conceded 30 – not bad for a team who scraped avoiding relegation this time last year. I am proud to say that I am a QPR fan – so thank you, Sara, for your throw away comment all those years ago! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.