LFW Awaydays – Nottingham, City Ground
Tuesday, 30th Nov 2010 23:07 by Awaydays
QPR’s run of draws on the road continued a fortnight ago at Nottingham. Off the field the Northern R’s headed for Hooters.
On the pitch
One of those odd games that happens sometimes when the away team is flying high but perceives the home team as a threat – the home side are happy to hold their league leading opponents, and the away side are glad to escape without a defeat.
That’s not to say that these sides settled for that draw – Lee Camp made three fine saves, including an amazing finger tip stop from Adel Taarabt in the second half, and Rangers were denied a clear penalty while Forest had a spot kick shout of their own and almost won it at the death only to be denied by a great reflex save by Paddy Kenny.
But there wasn’t that same intensity that there might have been in the game had Forest come out all guns blazing and really attempted to beat QPR. Much like at Portsmouth four days before this the game suffered because the two point men in the respective attacks were poor – Dexter Blackstock offered absolutely nothing to further Forest’s cause and they only started to threaten consistently when he went off, and Rob Hulse endured another tough afternoon at the head of QPR’s one striker system. Again, had either side had an all action forward right on his game then there may have been an entirely different feel to the game.
As it was it was all rather dull, and Rangers just about shaded it.
Scores >>> QPR performance 6/10 >>> Opposition performance 6/10 >>> Referee performance 6/10
In the stand
Technically I flouted the laws on hunting with dogs when I was a teenager. In the wake of our father’s untimely passing my mum decided the best thing to do would be to load my brother and me up with pets to give us something to focus on and try and cheer us up a bit – a dog, cat and parrot were quickly commandeered and pressed into bereavement counselling. The dog actually turned out to be a bit of a wrong ‘un. A wiry little half whippet half terrier type of a thing that put its head on one side when you said ‘walk’ or ‘cat’ or a dozen other words it recognised. That was very cute, and we were very taken by the little thing, so we ignored the fact that the rescue home had had to build a special cage with a roof on it because it had a spring of a good eight feet and kept jumping over the fence and took it.
This began an 11 year battle of wills which is only now coming to an end as it slows down to a complete stop. One of the immediate problems was whenever we took it out and let it off the lead it would disappear into the ground, down into rabbit warrens where it would ruthlessly and bloodily snuff out several rabbits in the pitch black, kill them, and then bring them home and pile them up neatly on the back step. There was nothing the poor little bunnies could do – stuck in a confined space, surrounded by a ruthless killing machine. It was pure evil in action. My brother thought this was tremendous, I’ve never seen anything quite so cruel in my whole life.
Anyway I was reminded of these rabbits at the City Ground last season when we sat there, cold and vulnerable, in the pitch black and watched a ruthlessly effective killing machine go to work on our team. It was 5-0 that night, ten would have been a fairer reflection. My dog used to revel in the bloodshed, eagerly wagging its tail and asking to go out again and torture more innocents and last year there seemed to be Forest fans absolutely everywhere – to our right, left, front, side and even above. All desperate to loudly rub it in that our team was shit, as if it was somehow our fault. And when they weren’t doing that they were babbling nonsense about peanuts. God it was horrible, I sort of envied the rabbits by the end of it all.
Hooters and a 0-0 draw at £28 a ticket, what girl could possible say no?
Much like my dog, which is now so old it’s visibly disappointed whenever it opens its eyes and realises it’s still alive, and the action on the pitch this time around things were much more subdued in the stands. Forest, for reasons I can’t quite fathom, aren’t quite the team they were last season while QPR are about ten times the side they were when the pathetically rolled over here last time. With a promotion push faltering the mood was noticeably more subdued around the City Ground. The Forest fans seemed further away, and fewer in number, even though the attendance was only 400 or so less this time. They sang about peanuts again, but not for very long or with any great conviction, and there was never that intimidation that I’ve often felt in this ground with the position of the away fans. In fact apart from moans and groans at their own team’s failings I didn’t hear from them very much at all.
QPR brought more than twice as many fans this season – the effect of improvements on the pitch and a Saturday kick off – but made about half as much noise. There was a similar thing going on at Swansea where most just seemed happy to sit on their hands and watch the game rather than really get behind the team – that’s perfectly acceptable of course, but our away following does seem to be decreasing in noise as it increases in number at the moment. We had one guy near us, I was going to say muppet but that would only have been my opinion, who slagged Hulse off from the first whistle and when I eventually said something to him half an hour into the game he told me that Agyemang should be starting. To which there was, and is, no reply.
Scores >>> QPR support 7/10 >>> Home support 6/10 >>> Overall atmosphere 6/10 >>> Stadium 8/10 >>> Police and stewards 6/10
On the road
Oh yes, it’s train geek time again. Feel free to skip to the next section if you like, I talk about breasts in that bit.
The most unreliable train we use in a season, without a shadow of a doubt, is East Midlands Trains’ cursed Liverpool to Norwich service. It’s a ludicrous train this, covering a vast distance between two destinations on completely the opposite side of the country linked for reasons known only to the certifiable lunatic that decided it was necessary in the first place. It’s rarely more than a two carriage service which means chances are whatever time of the day or night you try and use it there will be the thick end of 1500 people crammed into a space designed for roughly a third of that.
It’s a franchise commitment, so they have to run it, but EMT regularly chicken out and run it in little chunks from Manchester to Nottingham and such like. But occasionally they run the ninky nonk the full length of the route, and when that’s the case the timetable really does become little more than a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule of what time the bloody thing will ever turn up. It’s the runt of the litter, forced to pick up whatever scraps are left once proper services between proper places like London to Manchester or Newcastle to Birmingham have finished with the tracks. It has to cross the west coast, east coast and midland mainlines at different points in its journey as well as changing direction at Sheffield. As it’s slow, small and hated by everybody it is prioritised behind everything – long waits for tracks and platforms are a common occurrence.
As is the indefinite delay scenario we suffered with the 11am service from Sheffield on the day of this game. East Midlands Trains do run some London services through Nottingham from here so my heart sank when I found that it wasn’t one of these, but the bastard Norwich train we had to catch. It was advertised as four minutes late when we arrived in the station and once the departure time had been and gone we then entered the farcical, frustrating and totally avoidable situation where the delay was merely extended by a further four minutes on the electronic boards whenever the revised time had come round and been missed. So just as you thought it was only a minute away, they moved it out by another four minutes. Apparently the delay was because of a broken down train in Manchester, a good hour away. So they knew how late it was going to be, but just didn’t fancy telling us quite how badly. In the end it was 48 minutes late, but that was neatly divided up into little four minute segments on the departure board for our own general annoyance.
A day of late trains, Hooters, freezing cold away ends and bottled lager finishes with Stoke v Liverpool, at a 90 degree angle to our table.
I’d like to tell you about the journey back, but I don’t remember it – brain numbed by alcohol from Hooters and the sheer tedium of writing the previous three paragraphs. It did only cost me £7 return though.
Scores >>> Journey 5/10 >>> Cost 9/10
In the pub
It's the bar that the Daily Mail described as "worse than a lap dancing club", where "men see leering as their right" and t-shirts with sexual innuendo blazoned across the front are made in sizes for three-year-olds. A place that columnist Liz Jones said hauled Britain back to a dark age of sexism and male chauvinism, spread a dangerous message about women as objects and further advanced the sexualisation of children by letting them eat free on Sundays.
Then again the Daily Mail is a fascist right wing rag that openly promotes a border and immigration policy similar to that Hitler had in mind for Nazi Germany – natives good, anybody from anywhere else evil. It’s a paper that never shies away from lecturing people/groups/organisations on the harm and damage they’re doing to society but never misses an opportunity to spread fear and panic by claiming that bacon, bath water, going for a piss in the middle of the night, peanut butter and a million and one other things besides might give you cancer. And it’s a paper that on a slow news day, and when there is no cancer fear to spread, will not think twice about rolling out a 10,000 word, three page feature on Margaret Thatcher under a headline along the lines of “The debt we owe her.”
So it’s long been a policy of mine to not only ignore every worthless, hate filled load of bile that paper spews forth but to actually go out of my way to do the exact opposite of anything it ever says. So, morals left firmly at the door and outrage sensors on heightened alert, Hooters bar it was.
Ooooh lovely, you won’t find cheaper wings than that
Lovely Lindsey, whose mate actually works as a sub editor at the Mail and is therefore open to general ridicule at all times, thought this sounded like a tremendous laugh so tagged along as well. Owain was there at opening time, rattling the doors and demanding entry to the perceived cave of wonders, and Paul came along as well although I got the impression that he’d have been in there anyway, even if QPR were playing elsewhere. All week we joked that Paul would have slept with at least one of the bar staff, and have a usual table, and on our arrival both turned out to be true.
So, the basics – Hooters quickly fulfils the Northern R’s essential rules of a pre-match drinking establishment with beer, food and the lunchtime football. But this comes with added lashings of barbecue sauce, and bar staff in hot pants. In fact it was hard to know where to look at times, what with my girlfriend sitting next to me and all. There’s table service in this joint, and the rather beautiful girl waiting on us couldn’t add up so we were charged for far less beer than we actually drank. Which was a bonus. The food was as you’d expect – battery farmed chickens tortured, lightly killed and stuck in batter, low grade hot dog meat made into a sausage of one part meat to four parts ash – all smothered in sauce to disguise just how bad it was. There was a fight at one point, with some chairs and glasses thrown around, but we were in the downstairs bar at the time and missed it. We tried to return after the match but were turned away at the door for reasons that were never really made clear. Maybe it gets pwopah nawty after dark.
Contributing to a collapse in society, according to the Daily Mail
All in all I came away wondering what all the fuss is about – on both sides. The way some blokes, and newspaper columnists, carry on you’d think this was some sort of den of debauchery where naked girls press their breasts against you as they pour free beer down your throat and then give complimentary hand jobs in the bogs. In actual fact it’s just a bar that serves a purpose – beer, fast food and fit young girls who bring that to you while football happens.
The girls like to flirt with middle aged men who should know better and pose for their pictures because they know that once the flash bulb has gone off they can bring them another beer at £3.40 a bottle. The middle aged men who should know better like it because after a few beers they can imagine that they might actually have half a chance with the girl that’s been bringing them beer all day and, even when it dawns on them that they don’t, they have a really, really, really cool picture to show their friends. Everyone’s a winner.
It’s not the glorious strip club some blokes make it out to be, nor the start of the downfall of society that by the end of the week will have almost certainly spread into widespread looting and gang rape as the critics would have you believe.
I enjoyed it immensely, it was a great laugh, especially when Paul managed to walk straight into a lamp post outside while sending a text message, and then cracked his head on a wooden table in the Lloyds Bar after the game. It all would have been much better had Aston Villa not let Man Utd score twice though.
Scores >>> Pub 7/10 >>> Atmosphere 7/10 >>> Food 2/10 >>> Cost 6/10
Final Score 87/130
Photo: Action Images
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