Happy days are here again by Mikey Howard
How wonderful is the start of the new season !
Not so long ago, I used to look at my dog at a weekend and mutter, "I wonder how many goals we will let in today ?" It was a very distressing state of affairs, for sure. Even the late introduction of Harry couldn`t save us from the the dreaded drop last season. And to be honest, it was asking a bit much to even expect him to change our fortunes around at such a late stage. It takes time to get a team to gel and to play in a way that is beneficial and constructive. There has to be an understanding between all the players - whether they be first team, reserves or our excellent youngsters. The feel-good factor we now have at QPR has come about not by multi-million pound (so-called) Superstars. It has come about by people who want to actually play for Queens Park Rangers Football Club. They are showing a pride for playing for us which reflects in their play.
Having said that, let`s give a huge cheer for our own supporters. We are only a little club compared to some. Tucked away in the back streets of Shepherds Bush and White City, if it wasn`t for our rather tall floodlights you wouldn`t notice us from the main road. But, that`s not the important point - what is, is the undying loyalty of our band on followers. Even in the Championship, W12 is filled to capacity every match. And the noise levels are just sublime. And, what a wonderful bunch of fans they are ! I have said this before but, it`s worth repeating - when I was a kid I was more prone to Spurs. (I know, mock the afflicted !). When my Dad took me to Loftus Road for the first time (Loft End) it was different. Everybody was so nice. My Dad had to go for a pee and he says to to this guy, "Look after my lad a minute". I remember gasping, "DAAAD !" This geezer says, "You`ll be alright, son." It was said with such honesty and sincerity, that turned me away from WHL to W12. The funny side is, my Dad missed the only goal of the game ! (Scored by us.)
Getting back to the point in hand, we have the best fans in the world. I might be accused of being a bit partisan because every supporter says that of their favourite team. As mentioned, our home support is excellent and...our away support is excellent, too. If memory serves me correctly, we took 2,000 fans to our last away game. Not even a certain "West London Rival" (who are in the Premiership) can boast that away support!
QPR fans away at Yeovil (Picture by Adrian Cooke)
Just to clarify one point why I love my club per sae : What have QPR given us fans ? Name one cup we have picked up apart from the League Cup back in the sixties. (Championship trophy not included.) Nothing! But, we keep coming back. Why? Because we believe in our club and we love them even when things go wrong. Unlike some glory hunters who switch from team to team just to boast that "their team" has won the EPL! It`s different with QPR. I`m sure I can speak for all of you real fans that, if we ended up playing in the Southern Counties, we would all still be there shouting, U R`SSSS ! Life's events can take away our wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, and husbands! Some of us have lost loved-ones (me included) but, there is one thing that nobody can take from your heart, and that is your team! The word comradeship comes to mind. I have learnt something over the last few years - you never stop believing! The minute you give up, all is lost. If one person gives up the ghost, you might as well pack up and forget it because of the knock-on effect for everyone else. It`s the secret of success!
So, where we do we stand? Joint top of the table with Burnley. And with that valuable game in hand. Still, not all our players are playing to their full capacity. Fitness levels still have to be upgraded with several and there are a couple of injuries that need addressing. However, when everybody is firing on all cylinders, we will destroy the Championship. The Footballing world hasn`t seen the best of Queens Park Rangers even though we are still unbeaten in the League. Harry has done an amazing job turning our club around and has built a solid foundation for himself to build. Like the old adage says: "You can only build a house from the ground up." We are very lucky and grateful to have him at the helm. And, what a star we have in our shot-stopper, Mister Green ! Mister Hodgson, keep your hands off! I don`t want to lose him through injury playing for a national side that has no hope of winning the World Cup. We will leave that to the Spanish or the Germans.
I have to eat humble pie now. I never thought I would end up writing this.
Those that know me, know I have been very outspoken (last season) about a certain player. I once even got told (in no uncertain terms) to shut up going on about him. A bit harsh I thought but, it is a democracy. Anyway, I refer to Joey Barton. He has been exemplary since the start of the season. I don`t know if it`s down to his diet of frogs legs in France but, he is playing very well at W12. So, Joey...all is forgiven and keep up the good work, mate!
Sad to see Steve leave for Derby County. I understand there was an agreement between himself and QPR should a managerial job come up. So, thanks to him and for all the help he gave us since Harry took him onboard. Good luck, son!
I just want to mention one player that is not fully fit yet. Not for a while have we had a talisman that has really set the midfield alight. His passing is outrageously a beauty on the eye and he was unlucky not to score against Barnsley at the weekend. He is far too good looking for his own good but, I will let him off that misdemeanor. I refer to Niko. We haven`t seen the best of this young man by a long chalk (which to opposition defenders must be causing them some sleepless nights especially with Austin/Chevanton in the mix as well.)
A couple of years ago, an Arsenal fan said to me, "Who do you support, mate?". Proudly, I replied, "QPR, fella." Says he, "I like them - they are never a threat."
I will never forget that! I walked away thinking..Just give us time, fella, Just give us time.
You never, ever give up!