Tuktuk Day 37

I was talking to a Facebook friend today about loyalty. I mentioned that next week marks 60 years for me supporting Gillingham. Justin has a similar love affair with Queens Park Rangers and kindly agreed to tell all.

” I never played football much as a child.  My dad was more rugby focused and I started playing rugby aged 5.  Besides, any organised football in the 1970s was mostly via the cubs and scouts.  At school we did knock a ball around but that was about it.  I was born with very flat feet so it was suggested I join my sisters at ballet classes, not something you’d find many 1970s west London boys doing, a less talented version of Billy Elliott (although I did end up on stage at the London Palladium twice!).  But the bullies were seen off when I found out Kevin Keegan did some ballet to help him get up in the air.

I wasn’t really sure who he was but when he moved to Southampton in 1980, they became my team.  Fast forward to 1983 and my brother in law, a fully paid up QPR fan, asked if I wanted to go to see QPR Southampton.  A 4-0 home win saw what little allegiance I had quickly shifted.  Besides, QPR were the second nearest club to home and that win was followed in consecutive home matches by 2-0 over Arsenal and 1-0 over Ipswich.  They also wore those cool Adidas shirts with the Guinness sponsor on them.  I was hooked.

I had seasons of attending almost every home match and many away ones, then years later moved to Scotland so started attending games at Sunderland, Newcastle, Hull, Bolton, Rotherham, Huddersfield, and other northern towns, with the occasional home game for good measure.

There have been lots of peaks and troughs as you always get with such clubs.  Losing to relegated Oxford United in the League Cup final fights for bottom spot with FA Cup defeat to Vauxhall Motors, relegation to the third tier wasn’t great either.  But beating Chelsea 6-0, seeing Alan McDonald getting a last minute equaliser against Man Utd in the cup, and beating Liverpool in a two legged semi-final, sits very nicely with watching the likes of Trevor Francis, Ray Wilkins, Les Ferdinand, David Seaman, Andy Sinton, Trevor Sinclair, Charlie Austin and so many more players.  Some on the way up, some on the way down, and others at their peak.

But there is one highlight, and despite the premise of these tales, it wasn’t even at the mighty Loftus Road.  Instead it was 24th May 2014 at Wembley as experienced QPR weathered a sending off to grab a 90th minute winner against younger, nimbler Derby County.  Bobby Zamora was immediately deified for his stunning strike, a goal that saw me, thousands of feet above the pitch behind the goal in the penultimate row, hug a stranger.

Every time football gets mentioned in front of my mother she asks if QPR is still my club.  Well, you don’t really shake off clubs like QPR.  They never were and never will be fashionable and I hope they never move from the small, compact Loftus Road, surrounded on all sides by housing.  

I never wear colours to games – I attended too many London derbies in the 1980s to feel comfortable – but do own a shirt that was a job leaving gift, customised with a name and number that means loads to me and probably nothing to anyone else, and it has pride of place.  And you need pride to dominate the lower reaches of the Championship.

And in case anyone is interested, my goal is to one day have a Loftus Road box for my business to use.  It’s a small business but the way things are going at the club I might be able to afford it sooner than later!  If anyone wants to seek out tips, reviews and guidance about visiting London, or needs a bespoke and very detailed itinerary then please do check out https://www.londonitineraries.co.uk/

Happy memories! I have always had a soft spot for QPR. I remember a game in the mid 60s when they taught Gillingham a lesson for 90 minutes but had to settle for a draw! Lesson #1 for a ten year old – Life is not always fair! I also remember some of their players with affection – Stan Bowles, Rodney Marsh, Dave Thomas and they even came close to signing the mercurial (being polite) Robin Friday. (below)

Just in

Bucket shake at the Norwich City game. Please be generous

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