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QPR Awaydays - Wolverhampton, Molineux
QPR Awaydays - Wolverhampton, Molineux
Wednesday, 26th Mar 2008 11:52

QPR shared six goals with Wolves at Molineux on Saturday in front of a decent sized travelling support.

1 – The Match
An absolute thriller. A game with everything. Right from the first few seconds to the very last kick of the match there were chances for both sides. Both teams went to win the game and between them they shared six goals, countless controversial incidents and some good football played at high pace. This was a fantastic advert for the Championship, a blessed relief after the turgid fair at Coventry and Barnsley recently.

Wolves started the brighter of the two sides and could have scored at least once in the first ten minutes with Ebanks Blake and Keogh both heading presentable chances wide and Camp spilling a simple shot back into the danger zone only to be rescued by the linesman's flag. QPR then came back into the game and could have scored twice themselves with Patrick Agyemang pulling a shot wide and then passing when he should have shot before Buzsaky gave them the lead with a rasping low drive from the edge of the area. As usual Rangers then tried to cruise into half time and were punished when Keogh headed in unmarked right on the stroke of the break with Connolly clearly fouled in the build up.

It was Wolves’ turn to feel aggrieved with the match officials straight after half time when Neil Collins was very harshly adjudged to have handled in the area and Dexter Blackstock rolled the spot kick home. After that Mr Oliver seemed keen for Wolves to come back into the game and subsequently awarded them a similarly ridiculous penalty when Jarvis fell under little or no contact from Mancienne well outside the area – Ebanks Blake stuck home his third goal of the season so far against QPR from the spot. Lee Camp then made three superb saves to deny Wolves, he’d earlier been lucky to survive three terrible handling errors in the area, and Rangers took the lead against the run of play when Mikele Leigertwood cracked a half volley in from the edge of the box. That looked like it might be enough for a win when Rangers made it through the advertised five minutes of stoppage time unscathed but with Mr Oliver deciding to add on a further sixty seconds on top of the already ludicrous amount of added time Wolves forced an equaliser through Keogh after Ebanks Blake had seen one shot saved by Camp and another come back off the post. Superb entertainment.
10/10

2 – Rangers’ Performance
A performance best characterised by goalkeeper Lee Camp. He made three incredible saves in the second half to keep QPR from slipping to defeat, but almost presented the game to Wolves with two spillages from routine shots that we did well to survive and poor command of the area as crosses flew across his goal in the second half. A strange performance from Lee, and a bizarre performance from Rangers. After surviving a difficult opening we really came into the game, engaged Wolves high up the field, scored a great goal and played very well. As always though we looked like a team cruising through until half time and hoping we’d hang onto the lead instead of continuing to do what had got us into the winning position in the first place. Consequently, as happens so often just lately, we shipped a sloppy goal just before the oranges.

It’s hard to know whether we came out for the second half to defend or attack again because with the half barely two minutes old we were back in front with a penalty. Wolves were then treated to a penalty leveller and from then on the old QPR on the road problems resurfaced. Mikele Leigertwood’s goal against the run of play disguised what is becoming a familiar problem. When we have a point or three to defend away from home we start to give the ball away, we start to drop deep, we go away from everything we did well to get us into that position in the first place and sooner or later we are punished. That it took until the second reading of the classified football results was down to a referee intent on evening up his earlier incorrect call for the QPR penalty, but Rangers had only themselves to blame. Plenty of positives, plenty of negatives, but in the end a result we would all have taken at kick off.
7/10

3 – Travelling Support
Good in numbers, poor in volume. That’s more to do with the lower tier away end at Wolves than anything else. Four rows at the back were roped off which left the 1500 or so Rangers fans that journeyed to the Midlands to spread out along the length of the pitch about ten rows deep. That, and the fact that the roof is a hundred feet up in the air and therefore the away end is very open, made it next to impossible to get any atmosphere going. There seemed to be a gang of fans down at the far end to where I was sitting who did their bit with some singing and liveliness so good on them. Excellent numbers once again.
7/10

4 – The Ground
Molineux has a lot going for it, although sadly it’s based in Wolverhampton so location isn’t one of its strong points. All the stands offer an unobstructed view and despite the corners not being filled in you can really get a good atmosphere going in there. I think I just about prefer it when we’re behind the goal, even though that means we’re in close proximity to some seriously smelly, long haired freaks. It's warmer, less exposed and better for singing in that stand and you don’t have the Midlands’ finest spitting on you when things are going badly for their team. The lower tier is most certainly open to the elements and we had scorching sunshine and driving snow in our faces as the game progressed. All in all it’s a very decent place to watch football – a good example of what can be accomplished by developing your city centre location rather than shipping out to the edge of town next to a giant Tesco store.
7/10

5 – Atmosphere
As I said the QPR fans struggled to get anything much going despite travelling in good numbers. The atmosphere inside Molineux ranged from absolutely stoney silence to raucous, partisan celebrations and back again often within just a few minutes. The Wolves fans get on their own team’s back quicker than any supporters I’ve ever known so despite them making a very good start to the match they were very quickly booing, jeering and heckling after QPR took the lead. Quite what they think this accomplishes only they know but it clearly unsettles their team, makes them try needless things and decreases the standard of the performance with each passing minute.

There was a time at 2-2 where Karl Henry passed the ball back to his keeper from just inside his own half – a perfectly reasonable thing to do to maintain possession under pressure – and he was roundly booed. Would they really rather he just heaved it down field and gave it away? Then when Wolves score they’re worshipped like heroes. I’ve never known a crowd like it. The idiotic, fickle nature of the Wolves supporters can best be summed up by Andy Keogh – his selection booed at the start, bowed down to like a God after scoring twice during the match. Andy Keogh is clearly a very, very good player at this level with the potential to go even higher. To boo the selection of such a player shows a disappointing lack of knowledge from a group of supporters. Poisonous at times, euphoric at others, never less than entertaining.
7/10

6 – Pre Match
As stated in the travel guide Wolverhampton is not a place you want to be spending a great deal of time and so it proved. We arrived at about a quarter past 12 on the train from Birmingham New Street and as I stepped from the train it was quite clear that the weather was going to be an issue all afternoon. A howling, and icy cold, gale force wind was blowing through the town centre and into my face as I came out of the main entrance to the station. Tracy and Charlotte had driven up from dahn sarf and parked up near the station so we all met up by the entrance and headed into the “city” centre to see if we could find a place to eat and watch Tottenham v Portsmouth. Now I’ve put city in quotation marks because this shithole is a city in name only. It takes all over 45 seconds to walk from one side of the “city” centre to the other and in that 45 seconds you pass absolutely nothing by way of pub, shop or building you’d want to set foot in under any circumstances. Wolverhampton is a town, and a poor one at that.

After dodging the buses at a complicated road junction we realised that, despite only walking for two minutes or so, we’d nearly passed through Wolverhampton “city” centre and arrived at the ground which was clearly no good to us so we glanced around at the five or six pubs and bars on offer to us and picked the only one that looked like it was offering what we wanted – food and live football – The Royal London. Now I’ll warn you in advance, this was a “Scream” pub and I must say this chain’s reputation is well deserved.

There was a “no away fans” sign on the door, as there was on every pub, but we weren’t in colours and don’t really look like away fans to the neutral observer so wandered into the relatively quite pub without any bother at about half 12. The build up to the Portsmouth game was just starting so we positioned ourselves in front of the screen with a bottle of Becks (in a glass bottle) a glass of white wine (in a wine glass made of glass) and a half pint of lager (in a plastic glass). Close the book on ‘thickest bar staff of the year’ award right here and now – you can cause less damage with a wine glass or a bottle than a half pint pot can you? I come back to plastic glasses again – needless, horrible, germ infested spawn of Satan.

As usual with pubs using plastic glasses they then served us some food on a heavy dinner plate with a sharp knife. Seriously, you couldn’t make it up. Choose your weapons, steak knife, glass bottle, or half pint pot. The food was, to be frank, absolutely shocking. There was a toad in the hole that appeared to have been made with a real toad some months prior to being served and microwaved to death about twenty minutes before we ordered it before being allowed to cool in a faulty fridge somewhere. Still, at least the toad in the hole made an attempt to give the impression of a hot meal, the fish cake salad arrived with the salad nicely luke warm and the fish cakes stone cold, dripping in grease and yet to be introduced to anything other than old potatoes and ash. Certainly it didn’t appear as though any part of a fish had ever been anywhere near this monstrosity.

The other really noticeable thing about this pub was just how cold it was. The three of us sat there in coats and scarves throughout and were still shivering. The front door was permanently propped open while several hundred locals smoked and even without that constant draft it was like sitting in a chest freezer. The toilets were a disgrace to the human race, a clear health hazard and based at the top of a maze of freezing cold concrete steps. It was like being in prison, only worse. I’d planned to stay to the end of the Spurs game but with there being no sign of goal I just couldn’t stand to be in the place any more and left at quarter past two. Tottenham promptly scored twice as we walked to the ground, which just about summed it up.

I really don’t know what to recommend for next season. Birmingham is a horrible place and Wolverhampton is even worse. Every pub I’ve ever been in has been so bad that I’ve resorted to try Scream bars to find somewhere bearable! Basically the whole bloody place for twenty five miles in every direction is a complete hole and to be avoided.
2/10

7 - The Journey
Bearing in mind it was the Easter weekend and somebody has told the rail companies that nobody travels over Easter and it’s therefore acceptable to dig the whole network up and bung everybody on old busses that break down on the M6 we didn’t do too badly. I arrived at Sheffield station a little after 10pm after parking my car near Bramall Lane and found several hundred men digging the lines up on one side of the tracks. Luckily I was going in the opposite direction so I was able to join my mate Steve on a south bound cross country service that was, for a change, starting in Sheffield rather than coming from Newcastle and was therefore empty. Papers were read and breakfast was scoffed on the way down to New Street, a journey that passed with little incident through the snow covered fields other than the addition of one friend to the travelling party at Derby. The changeover time of ten minutes meant minimal time spent in the black pit of human doom that is New Street station and I arrived in Wolverhampton some five minutes earlier than originally scheduled. Coming back things became a little more tricky.

Firstly Mr Oliver’s interesting interpretation of the rules regarding time meant that I missed the train back to New Street that I’d targeted and ended up on some stopping service that somehow managed to find three different stations in Dudley alone where people wanted to get on and off. That was a bit of a drag and as a consequence I arrived at New Street a fraction too late to jump on the Central Train to Derby and was forced to wait, with several thousand Sunderland fans and Steve who I’d met up with again, for the Cross Country train to Newcastle. The Sunderland fans were in good voice after their win at Villa but we all managed to get a seat as the train arrived and I was just settling down to read the programme and another excellent issue of A Kick Up The R’s as we moved out into the late evening gloom.

Just as I was starting to read I became distracted by a disturbance further down the carriage and this turned out to be more entertaining than anything I’ve seen on a train for a long time. Basically every seat was reserved by a Sunderland fan apart from the ones we were sitting in and a gang of Mackems further down the carriage had arrived to find a seriously rough looking woman sitting at a table they had reserved surrounded by empty cans of special brew. This should not really have presented a problem, she knew she was in the wrong and they had a ticket to prove it so out she should have gone but instead this developed into a 20 minute long stand off. The woman, one of the ugliest it’s ever been my misfortune to find on a mode of public transport and clearly off her face on some serious chemicals as well as special brew, said she would not be going anywhere unless they “f***ing well found her another f***ing seat” and followed this up with a 30 second tirade against everybody else in the carriage including that “grey haired c***” who was actually a rather perplexed old aged pensioner sitting on a seat adjacent to mine. She indiscriminately attacked several Sunderland fans, scratching one across the face and spitting on the shirt of another. She kicked out, ran up and down the carriage targeting other passengers. She was clearly out of control. But entertaining all the same.

I can’t ever recall seeing scum on this kind of level before and, thankfully, she was turfed off by British Transport Police at Derby. Thankfully she’ll be dead long before me and I can therefore live in a world without her. At the moment I’m uncomfortable with the idea that she’s out there somewhere and our paths may cross again. Credit to the Sunderland fans – so much more polite, well mannered, well spoken, well behaved in the face of provocation and less obnoxious than the groups of Newcastle fans it’s often been my misfortune to travel with on the East Coast line.

Sadly those little men digging the line up at Sheffield meant a diversion for the Cross Country service and so my journey was interrupted by a very cold 25 minute change at Chesterfield onto a Central service. After all of that I drove up to Nibbles in Broomhill, picked up one of their awesome pizzas and headed for Scunthorpe in poor driving weather, eventually rolling in at half nine.
4/10

8 – Police and Stewards
West Midlands police are always a complete pain in the backside and the stewards at Molineux are the only ones I’ve ever had a disagreement with of any sorts – this lot tried to tell me that the very large green ball of snot dripping onto my collar was “condensation from the roof” rather than a product of some mealy mouthed Midlander in the upper tier. My reaction to that was similar to the one I gave in the Leicester Square Bureaux De Change when they said they wouldn’t change my £50 note because they didn’t do change. IT SAYS IT ON THE BLOODY DOOR FOR GOODNESS SAKE! Anyway, it seems with stories on the message board of dust ups with stewards at half time and over zealous stewarding in the middle of the away end that they were up to their old tricks again. At the right hand end of the away end as you looked at the pitch the stewards were relaxed and allowed the QPR fans to sit where they liked which was welcome. The large gentleman who celebrated when Wolves scored should probably not be stewarding the away end in future though!
4/10

Total – 48/80

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One user has commented on this article - click here to add your comment

Great write up, really good read - Jeff Michael

 

 

 

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