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First thoughts on the newbies..
at 13:49 2 Feb 2017

...and Goss in particular (because we've seen Feeman play at this level for other clubs).

Despite his first touch being a bit of a Gerrard v Chelsea slip nightmare, his second was an absolute pinpoint accurate howitzer of a diagonal out to the left wing. He looked very encouraging: good touch and awareness, constantly moving into space to receive the ball and start things off, forward looking with his passes, and instinctively dropped back into the defensive line when cover was needed. We've obviously missed that type of player since Faurlin...

As for Freeman I didn't pay as much attention to him but also looks to have a good touch. Tried a few tricks that didn't really work, but signs of encouragement there too. Not sure what his best position might be, Goss looks like the base of a midfield three would suit him best, be interesting to see if he can play in a two (and who his partner might be).

Obviously loads of ups and downs to come but we may have made some decent additions in this window...

Matt Smith looked large on the bench!
Pubs open tomorrow before the game
at 17:15 28 Feb 2014

Need a spot for a pre match drink and my usual places (The Richmond/Defectors) don't seem to open early enough the lazy gits.

Any suggestions? Much appreciated.
Two tickets for Arsenal game available
at 10:42 1 May 2013

I have two tickets for the Arsenal game that are currently going to waste, good seats up in NU block in the Loft, row Q.

Send me a PM if interested.

Apologies Clive for using the forum for advertising!
Arsenal game date change?
at 18:42 26 Mar 2013

Game is listed as 'subject to date change' - anyone know why this might be and when a decision will be made? Is it just TV schedules haven't been sorted for that weekend?
John Guidetti
at 02:29 2 Dec 2012

Thinking forward to January, this guy could be a good shout on loan.
Man City striker, was on loan at Feyenoord last year and got 22 in 24 games or something, plus 10 assists.
He then got laid low with a virus which has kept him out until recently but he's apparently back fit and set to be loaned out in Jan.
I know the Dutch league isn't all that, but possibly a good squad addition without lumbering us with yet more long-term contracts and fees? From what I've seen of him he's good with both feet, has wiry strength and a proper striker's instinct.
Only question is how badly that virus has affected his overall strength, sounds like a bad one that nearly brought his career to an end.
Mancini has apparently said he'd prefer him to go on loan in Prem so he can learn how to play in this league...
QPR and the Devil - some light reading you may identify with
at 19:28 29 Oct 2012

I was clearing out some old files and came across a piece I had written about Rangers in the aftermath of the promotion season. It was a creative assignment for a class taken at university in the USA about the Devil's Pact in Literature and Life. The brief was simply to 'adapt the legend of the devil's pact to a personal, contemporary or historical situation or moral issue'.

It's a ten min read or so and as it's a creative piece i have taken some slight liberties with the facts but the majority are true.

Reading it back it explains why I am a Ranger for now and evermore...

Comments welcome!

The Devil Wears Blue and White
As I contemplated this creative assignment I realized I wanted to find something in my own, 21st century life that felt like some sort of Faustian pact. Dancing with the devil, however, is not something I indulge in that often though as a slightly unhinged college student I can declare that Satan and Smith have had their duels in the past and shall, I daresay, meet again.

So I asked myself where do I go when I want to nourish my desires? Where do I go to experience the raw highs and lows of life? And then it struck me: my pact with the devil lies at Loftus Road in London.

Loftus Road is the home stadium of Queens Park Rangers FC, a football (soccer) club that I grew up in the shadow of (quite literally, we’d occasionally find balls from wildly inaccurate shots squashing my mother’s prized azaleas – causing the devil to drive steam from her ears and raise horns from her head, might I add). As a 7 year old boy, I was given a football shirt of the team by my best friend’s father (my parents had no interest in the sport) and taken to my first game. For ‘given’, read ‘forced into’ and for ‘taken’ substitute ‘dragged’. And that was it – I was sold. The game was at night, a Tuesday night in fact, and nineteen thousand young men and about ten young women braved the wintery elements to scream their lungs out in support of the Superhoops (as we are known due to our distinctive blue and white hooped kit). The floodlights that illuminated the carpet-like turf the game was played on seemed to stretch right up into heaven, and by the time the club’s talismanic centre forward soared prodigiously above the opposing team’s defenders to thump a header into the back of net and break a tie 3-2 in our favour, I was completely, utterly, inescapably enraptured.

That prodigious centre forward – Les Ferdinand – I still watch video clips of today. Those were the halcyon days of the club, finishing 5th in the English Premier League, the biggest and best football competition in the world, the best team of twenty or so who called London home. It was a medium-sized club punching above its weight, the kind of plucky, skilful underdog the English love to back.

How the mighty fall. Three years later the Chairman of the club revealed his true colours by selling the club’s best asset (my hero ‘Sir Les’) for around $8million, using the proceeds to pay back ‘loans’ he had put into the club (originally they were ‘gifts’) and scarpered away. The club, without funds to replace the star player, went into freefall and were relegated that year. The following year they barely survived in the 2nd tier, and the year after that they succumbed to fate and dropped again to the 3rd tier, swapping the glamour games of a few years before against teams like Manchester United and Liverpool with trips to the stalest former fishing community of bleak north-west England, Grimsby, town population 15,000 and double the number of dead cod.

But I was a fan. A diehard, certifiable lifelong supporter of the team. Football supporters in England, the hardcore ones that turn out every week to follow their team whether on home soil or far-flung post-industrial wastelands, are a completely different breed to sports fans in America. They will never switch their allegiance no matter where in the world they end up. They are a family, a special tribal entity that will band together in the most unlikely of circumstances, from all walks of life bound to the club often by chance or ancestry. It’s very simple: once you are taken to the game, whether it be a happy accident or forced by family or friends, and you get the bug, you’re done. You are part of a partisan group that goes through the full gamut of emotions every time their team steps onto the field. At football matches in England, the stadium is 80% full of ‘home’ fans, and 20% ‘away’ fans from the opposing team. These two groups are strictly segregated, often by rows of police in riot gear. It is truly tribal.

And this sense of identity, of camaraderie, of experiencing the indescribable feeling of celebrating a last minute goal with thousands of people you don’t know at all but whose intimate expression of humanity at that very moment matches your own is something base that humans crave. We look for identity everywhere we go. Gender, race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexuality – we are all defined by the groups that we are part of. And being a football fan is one of those groups – but unlike those other things it is, or should be, a matter of choice. I, surely, can follow and support whatever team I like as a 23 year old young man. But I can’t. I just can’t. I’m stuck with this one thanks to a decision someone else made for me. And what do I get from it? The high, the high is just incredible. That winning feeling, that partisan offensive chanting against the other team, that rush you get as the crowd roars around you -this is where I go to at once fuel my base levels of testosterone, to expend my negative energy, to crave a positive emotion so pure it should probably be illegal. But I am at its mercy entirely. The mercy of whoever owns the club. The mercy of the players. The mercy of the referee, of the opposing players, of the governing body of the sport, the weather, the time of day, the curse of injuries and anything else under the sun that could affect the outcome of a 90 minute game of football.

I’m truly at the mercy of it all. My emotions run from the tap of QPR. If they are playing, my mind is there, my heart beats a little faster, I must know the result the instant it is physically possible. And the lows…the lows are stomach-churning, dark pools of woe so deep Jules Verne wouldn’t have made it even one tenth of the way to the bottom.

And these last few weeks, this has been the most relevant thing in my life outside of the classroom. Sitting here thousands of miles away from it all, watching the current season come to the end. You see, QPR have made it make to the Premier League, as of ten days ago. After 15 years of pain, of times wasted watching a claptrap bunch of overpaid mercenaries looking for one last cheque before their sordid careers come to a close pulling on MY team’s shirt and embarrassing the club one awful game after another, after a tale of near-bankruptcy, of characters at boardroom level that make the folk at Enron look like angels, of tales of dressing room unrest, fights with the Chinese Olympic football team, after one promising young player was stabbed in the heart trying to break up a fight, after another young talent was stolen away from our QPR family by a drunken maniac behind the wheel of a car, after coming so close that we could touch the shiny coattails of our former glory and falling back down so far we forgot what we used to look like, after all of that, we are back.

But it wouldn’t have been QPR without putting us through the emotional ringer. You see, our fate this year was decided in a courtroom, not on the football pitch. On the pitch, we won the league, pure and simple, we were the best team. The Football Association, however, decided to investigate the transfer of one of our players, trumpeted as a marquee signing two years ago for the sum of $5million to appease fans who wondered why the new, mega-rich owners (Lakshmi Mittal, steel magnate, top ten richest people in the world, and Bernie Ecclestone, billionaire owner of Formula 1 Racing), hadn’t been splashing the cash everywhere. As it turns out, our maverick, completely incompetent Chairman simply fudged the numbers, telling the fans he cost a lot more than he did. The FA, sensing blood, tried to turn what was simply a matter of lying to the fans into a concrete breaking of the rules that could result in a points deduction – hence denying us our place in the Premier League, convened an independent commission to investigate the issue, with epically awful timing, the week before the season was due to end.

So picture this: penultimate game of the season, a few days before the commission begins. We need to win to secure an unassailable points total. We do win. 15 years of pain distilled into one crystal clear moment of unadulterated joy – except not. Emotions hung, drawn and quartered – we’d won, but now we face court. And then the court proceedings, CLOSED to the public, over a five day period. I can honestly say, those were the slowest, most emotionally tense 5 days I have experienced in all my life. For yet again I found myself at the mercy of something not in my control in the slightest. People checked Facebook. They checked Twitter. Journalists made up lurid stories from one extreme to the other based on ghostly ‘sources’ – nobody had a clue what was going on. The waiting was pure torture. And then the final day of the season. At home, Loftus Road, should have been the biggest party in town that day. They say promotion to the Premier League is worth around $100million – well we didn’t care about that, it was the PRIDE. The being back with the best, our rightful place. But it couldn’t be – the panel had not made a decision. Forty minutes before kick-off, however, it happened. INNOCENT, NO POINTS DEDUCTION, read the headline on the website. People were already in the stadium and around the pubs and cafes in the area. A roar went up over West London and I swear I could hear it here in Philadelphia.

Pleasure of the highest order – inexplicable, untamed pleasure. I ran around Pine Street in my pyjamas. I hugged strangers and told them ‘Rangers are back’. I woke up my bemused girlfriend and told her we needed to have a party, NOW.

That was very recently. And you know what I feel now? Worry. Will we buy the right players next year? Will we survive? What if we fail? I’m sick with worry. We aren’t good enough to stay in the Premier League, no way.

And I have no choice. I am beholden to this pact with this club for the rest of my life. The players change as the seasons go by – the fans do not. They are the life and soul of the club yet they make no decisions regarding its conduct, they are at the mercy of steep ticket price rises, of demand for seats from new fans tempted by the glory days coming back. But, as the chant goes, ‘we were here when we were shit’. And we are damn proud to be Queens Park Rangers. Because it gives us belonging. It gives us meaning. It gives access to pleasures you won’t understand until you experience them. It connects who we are, where we were born. It’s a type of identity unique both in its intensity and the powerlessness we have over it. It’s our pact with the devil.

That club has held sway over my emotions right from that Tuesday night in 1992 through to now, and undoubtedly beyond my grave, because believe me when I say my children will follow Queens Park Rangers as well. They will have no choice in the matter.

But for me it’s even more personal than I hope it will ever be for them. 1996, the year Queens Park Rangers finished 20th out of 22 clubs and were relegated from the Premier League. It’s half way through the season, and a 9 year old Kieran is playing for the Queens Park Rangers U10 junior side. I do well and am named ‘player of the week’ across all of the various youth teams. The reward for this is the opportunity to be the team ‘mascot’ for the weekends upcoming game. This something I have dreamed about time and time again – stepping out on to the turf at the head of the team as the crowd rises as one and my eardrums experience something profound and sublime, the guttural growl of twenty thousand grown men behaving both like children and animals at the same time. As the mascot, you get a brand new shiny kit, go INTO the dressing room as the players prepare for the game, shake hands and take pictures with them, meet the opposing team, stand at the head of the line and lead the players onto the hallowed turf. Before the match commences you kick a ball around with the players you have posters of on your bedroom wall. Then you run off to be whisked up to the director’s box to watch the game from the best seats in the house.

QPR were winning that game 1-0 as the clock hit 90 minutes, the end of regulation time. Usually, the referee adds on anything from 1-4 minutes of ‘stoppage’ time. 92 minutes came and went. The clock ticked past 94. Then 95. The shrill whistles of the crowd pierced my soul as I willed the game to end. Then 96 – unheard of. As it hit 97, the other team scored. Then the referee blew for full time. I was crushed, my dreams of being the lucky mascot who helped beat the reigning champions of England - for that’s who we were playing against – trampled on by patent injustice, nobody knows why that day there were seven added minutes to the game.

A win would have given us three points, a draw gave us only one point. The margin we were relegated by that year? Two points. The team we played against was Manchester United. Their nickname? The Red Devils.
Armand Traore
at 17:52 13 May 2012

can he deliver a cross or what
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