Loyalty is the name of the game. By Mikey Howard

03/05/2013 09:00


Of all the matches I have attended at W12, one sticks out in my mind. Queens Park Rangers v Oldham Athletic, play-off`s semi-final, second leg, 2003. After a draw in the first leg it was all to play for at Loftus Road in the return leg. Managed by QPR old-boy, Ian Holloway, we were at last on the verge of an appearance in a "Final" at The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

Never in all my days of going to W12, have I seen that ground rocking the way it did !There wasn`t an empty seat in the ground. In the Springbok before the game, the talk was all about having a great day out at Cardiff; can I get the day off; will the wife/girlfriend let me go ?; can I afford to get there ?
All these questions were bandied around by the supporters who had waited so, so long to have some success which was long overdue. The optimism and belief that our beloved Rangers would over-turn Oldham was second to none. There was real belief that our hooped combatants would destroy the enemy and bring us the victory that was richly deserved. There was no sense of "but, what if ?". Everybody was completely confident that the lads would do the job. That was 10 years ago. How a club changes in a decade ! These days the main question is: "Will we at least get a draw and score 1 goal without conceding 3 ?" Okay, some may argue that there is a big difference between the Premiership and Division 2. But, when you consider who we brought into the club and what we paid them, it negates the argument. On paper, we should have have been finishing at least mid-table this season. 
So, you ask the question, why do we perform better in the lower leagues than we do in the Premiership ? The answer to that is quite simple. It`s because the players we had back then actually played for the club and the fans and not the pay cheques ! The Kev Gallen`s, Stevie Palmers and Richard Langley`s of the world to name but a few. In those days, we had a manager (Ian) who was QPR through and through. His heart and soul was in W12. In those days (and even before 2003) we had a solidarity within the club that extended from the supporters to the playing staff and vice versa ! We were a complete, united unit. Sadly, all that has gone now. We have a split dressing-room, players who don`t give a crap for the cause, players that rip off our Chairman just to fund their extravagant life-styles. The excellent Talk Sport video (spoof) on Bosingwa really sums it up ! After the Mark Hughes debacle, did we get an apology from him saying how sorry he was that it didn`t work out under his command ? NO! He was fired, took the money and ran with his tail between his legs ! And that, by definition, shows he didn`t care about our beloved Queens Park Rangers Football Club. It`s all about the money. And because of the mercenary actions of certain management and players, we find ourselves out of the top tier of English football !
So, what is the way forward ? How about the German approach to the game ? Maybe relegation is the way forward to make us stronger. Maybe it will aid us in getting stability back into the club ! We can get rid of the "dead-wood" and allow `Arry to build his OWN team and not have to put up with an "inherited" one. On many occasions over the last 5 or so years I have conversed with a friend of mine who is much more well-informed about European football than myself. He brought up the very good point that German football has taken two steps back to get 4 steps forward. This philosophy has now been proved by the fact we now have an all-German Champions League Final ! Look at their national squad. They are on the verge of becoming the new kings of Europe and taking away that title from the Spanish ! 
In essence, although we are all gutted it has happened, maybe going down is a good thing. We can now re-build. We have a chairman in Tony Fernandes who has proved he is committed to the cause as is the rest of the board. TF has come out publicly and stated that his naivety is partly to blame. How honest is that ?! At least he has held his hands up and admitted it as did Phil Beard ! At least he has showed that QPR is now his love and he won`t leave us just because things have gone wrong. For that, he has my utmost respect !!! As for the rest of the board, we are lucky to have them. They are fully committed to Queens Park Rangers Football Club ! A new pitch (that `Arry asked for) will be installed by the end of the month; Warren Farm is well underway and the new stadium is well into the planning stage. `Arry has committed to the club and is already sorting out the team for Championship football next season. So, despite recent events, there is a lot of positives there.
As supporters of our beloved Queens Park Rangers Football Club, we have to believe. What has happened in the recent past is confined to the history books. There is nothing we can do about it ! All we can do now is support our club, our board and our manager. They need us more than ever before in the recent past. They are trying to get us as a major force in English football. Anybody who tries and doesn`t shirk their responsibilities to the life and soul of a club - i.e. the fans - has my utmost respect ! We may be at a low ebb now but, (like the song says) things can only get better.
Getting back to where I started this article: After the game v Oldham which we won  1 - 0 thanks to Paul Furlong, I secured my ticket for the final  in Cardiff v Cardiff. 3 days before the Final I was sent to Lacq , near the Pyrenees  (because I was on a job down there). By the time I had got there and tipped, I had 28 hours to get back and make it to Loftus Road. I gunned that P100 like she had never been gunned before ! I got half-way through France and the bloody heater packed up on the vehicle. I got my sleeping bag out and cut two holes in the bottom so my legs could reach the pedals and my body could stay relatively warm through the night. Arrived at Calais and, as fortune had it, drove straight onto the ferry. (The Pride Of Kent), I`m pretty sure. We sailed fairly quickly and made it to Dover. I couldn`t re-fuel in France because the garage I selected was closed. So, re-fuelled just outside Dover at a Keyfuels site.
Time was against me to get to W12 to connect with my coach - Philips Of London, don`t you know - but having driven the drive of my life (at that time), I made it with 30 minutes to spare.
We finally left White City on our way to Cardiff. For as long as I live, I will never forget the sea of QPR coaches and private cars that headed west down the M4 that day. It was a mass exodus. There was the tooting of horns, flags and scarves hanging out of the windows all the way. 
We got to Cardiff well early. Sussed out where the ground was, did some shopping and then took over two pubs in the city centre. I will never forget one incident. There was a Wetherspoons pub (the name escapes me) and a lot of us were waiting for it to open because we were there that early. There were two huge bouncers on the door that you would not mess with, for sure. If anything, call them "Sir" ! Anyway, when the doors opened we all started to file in. There was a father and his 8 yr old son who had lunch at their "local" pub that day. One of the bouncers refused them entry because the pub (that day) was allocated to QPR fans. I will never forget the look of disappointment in that kid's eyes because he couldn`t have lunch with his dad. So, a couple of us loaned our QPR shirts and we got them in that way. The atmosphere in there was electric. People were coming in all the time and shouting, U R`SSS ! And the reply was, U R`SSSSSSSSSS ! I would like to point out that the father and kid did not pay for their lunch that day ! Emoji
As most of you know, we lost that final 1 - 0.
It was a long and subdued trip back to London after the defeat. But, what the hell. We did what our competitors didn`t do and despite losing we went home with pride and a certain amount of contentment because we knew our lads gave everything for the club. And you can`t ask for any more than that !
In closing: we as QPR supporters ask for little. Sure, we want our club to be fighting it out in the higher echelons of English football. We want our club to be successful just as any other fan wants their club to be successful. But, we are a humble breed at QPR. All we ask for is that our lads give us 100+ per cent every game, home or away. Win, lose or draw, if you play your hearts out for us we will give you so much respect back ! Screw with us and our owners, you will get nothing but contempt ! Loyalty is the name of the game.
Thanks for reading. RTID.