Saturday, 7 May 2011

QPR promoted: reflections of a fan

It was a dark and threatening evening one September Tuesday in 2006 when I took my seat for the game against Birmingham in 2006. Ian Holloway had just been sacked and the club was still reeling from talk of guns being produced at boardroom meetings and predictions of financial meltdown. Steve Bruce's Birmingham jumped all over Rangers and I left my seat in the paddocks when it started to rain with 15 minutes to go. Later that season we were lucky not to be relegated to League One which Holloway had only just brought us up from.

I met Ian a few weeks later when he opened a football project for deaf kids for the deaf children's charity I worked for then (Ian has a deaf child) and he still seemed hurt, but not angry. Just confused. Emotions that are familiar for QPR fans who have followed the club in the last few years.

The succession of managers in the seasons that followed was a bizarre experience with the club again flirting with relegation on more than one occasion. Events off the field confirmed the club as a basket case, with announcements of a love for Adolf Hitler from Bernie Ecclestone coupled with charges of corruption for all round strange guy Flavio Briatore.

And then Neil Warnock came. On every game I have been to this season there has been belief verging on disbelief. Belief that we can win each encounter but disbelief that the madness years, which lets not forget included one of our players being head butted and then locked out of the changing rooms by one of the managers, was finally over.

Today's game, which brings the club back to the top division for the first time since the mid 1990s, when grey man John Major was PM and the Spice Girls were all that defined Cool Britannia, ended with elation yes, but for those of us who've been through the mill this decade, including the FA's own incompetence for the past few months over a points deduction that they basically ran out of time to impose, a sense of exhaustion frankly. As I type this, on a day which began in my barbers on Uxbridge Road as the QPR unofficial open top bus drove past (see vid below) and ended in the same seat I've sat in throughout that roller-coaster ride, the memories of that dark tuesday evening came flooding back.

It was raining then. It's not now.

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