Skip to main content

Living for the Weekend: Queens Park Rangers

View of a QPR attack during the second half form the Ellerslie Road Stand.
William Shakespeare once wrote “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” He wasn’t talking about watching Queens Park Rangers play against Aston Villa at Loftus Road, but due to the weather he might well have been.

I haven’t been to Villa Park in a long time and so I’ve tried to make a more concerted effort to see them play when they visit the capital – the last time was a hammering at the hands of Arsenal during a woeful season that almost saw them relegated.

On this occasion, a colleague, John, had spotted the fixture and managed to get tickets at the last minute. Unfortunately for us two Villa fans, we were in with the QPR supporters as the travelling Villa contingent had sold out the School End many weeks before.

On Saturday 18th November 2017, the weather had been nothing but appalling since the morning and with John caught in traffic in the Bermuda Triangle that is the Uxbridge Road on a Saturday afternoon, I was condemned to standing at the side of Ellerslie Road as the rain fell unabated.

After a bus, train and Uber taxi, John finally arrived as the match kicked off and we joined the ever-increasing bottleneck of fellow latecomers, all struggling in through the compact turnstiles that appear in a gap between the Shepherds Bush terraces that envelop the stadium.

Loftus Road opened in 1904 with the amateur Shepherds Bush FC using it as a home ground. QPR didn’t actually move in until 1917 from their previous home in Park Royal. In 1931 they moved back out to the White City Stadium that had originally been build for the 1908 London Olympics, before moving back to Loftus Road again. A few ground upgrades and new covered terraces later (and another brief spell at the White City Stadium), QPR moved back for good in the 1960s.

Getting inside, the same things that appealed to me about Brisbane Road and Roots Hall made Loftus Road seem a wonderful stadium and a throwback to a bygone time of football stadia: the walk through residential streets; the sense of stepping into a Pandora’s box as you fight your way through tiny turnstiles and find, nestled amongst the crowded streets, a small oasis of football with four separate stands surrounding it.

Additionally, with a capacity of just 18,439 and the four stands all meeting in the corners, you feel incredibly close to the pitch compared to other modern stadia, like The Emirates, the experience is much more intimate. I could imagine that if you were a QPR player and the home fans were on your back, it would make for an intimidating environment. 

On the day, the early exchanges on the slippery pitch in the mizzling rain seemed to be going in QPR’s favour, and on 18 minutes Jamie Mackie was able to tap in from a yard out after a corner was poorly dealt with – all much to the consternation of the Villa fans in the School End. 

QPR’s momentum didn't last long and Villa started to get back into the game; without three regular strikers though they were struggling to convert the chances. Luckily, on the stroke of half time, the referee awarded Villa a penalty and Albert Adomah duly dispatched it to make the score 1-1. 

Match programme and ticket.
During half time, we made our way downstairs to the refreshment stall. With there being so little space around the outside of the ground, it was a bit of a scrum to get a drink and pie in the 15-minute interlude. That said, the fans were friendly and no one seemed to push in or jostle too much except for a group of middle-aged fans from Norway who were desperate for wine.

As the second half started, and John destroyed the pie he’d bought in quite dramatic style, Villa came out with much more energy and, at the goal in front of us, put the hosts under sustained pressure. Then, on 58 minutes, Albert Adomah slotted home to the relief of the Villa fans and to make the score 1-2.

For QPR fans and players the opposite was apparent. A few rumbles of discontent in the stands became more and more vocal as the game went on. Their players seemed to have run out of ideas and energy. Villa started to run them ragged in a way that I’ve not seen them play since my last visit to Villa Park over a decade ago.

With the match over, it was just a short walk back to Shepherds Bush Market on the Hammersmith and City line. With another colleague’s 40th Birthday taking place a little later on, John went to read Love in the Time of Cholera for a couple of hours to get in the mood and I resolved to meet him in the nearby Defectors Weld pub in a bit.

Overall, Loftus Road is a lovely stadium. As a business, naturally the club will one day want to move to bigger and more modern facilities, but if they do it will mean that another stadium filled with classic character will presumably make way for a development of unaffordable luxury apartments and a slice of West London history will be lost forever.

For highlights of the match:
For more information about Queens Park Rangers, visit:


Popular posts from this blog

From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah

Cover image. © Penguin Books. I stumbled across Nuruddin Farah’s novels when searching for something written by a Somali author. Perhaps due to the conflict that has raged for years in Somalia, it is very difficult to find much from Somali writers published in English. From a Crooked Rib was published in 1970 and tells the story of Ebla, a young, orphaned, illiterate nomadic girl, who runs away from her encampment. She takes the decision to leave upon learning of her Grandfather’s intention to marry her off to an older man within their Jes (a group of families living in an encampment together). She firstly escapes to a town, Belet Amin, where she finds her cousin and his pregnant wife. She also finds a guide and confidante in a character known only as the widow. Things seem settled until, yet again, Ebla finds her freedom compromised by a male character – this time her cousin, whose wife and child Ebla has been nursing. In her haste she leaves Belet Amin with the w

Beach Huts, Southwold, Suffolk

Sleeping beach huts on Southwold Beach, Suffolk. Safely back from my annual visit to Rotterdam, my parents invited me to spend a few days with them in a small holiday cottage in Southwold, Suffolk. Give or take driving through Newmarket a few years back when studying at Anglia Ruskin University, I'd never really seen much of the county. Southwold itself is a beautiful seaside resort which happens to be the home of Adnams , a well known brewery, which means that for a small place there are a healthy number of pubs - suddenly Dad's choice of location made sense . On the early afternoon of Wednesday 20th February  I took a walk to the Harbour Inn to meet my parents for lunch. The pub was just under two miles away from Grace Cottage , where we were staying. This gave me the opportunity to take some pictures of the sea. On our way towards the see we also spotted  Georgie Glen  from Waterloo Road humming happily to herself on the High Street. Southwold is lovely,

Wild Nights: Camping Britain's Extremes by Phoebe Smith

Cover image © Shutterstock. It’s been nearly two years that I’ve been talking about my desire to go wild camping. So far I’ve bored my parents intermittently and failed to convince any friends to join me. I chanced on an article on the Guardian’s website by Phoebe Smith and realised that wild camping was an actual thing that people actually did. In my own inimitable style, I set about obsessively researching experts, equipment, locations and guides – a process that is still continuing at the time of writing. With this in mind, I looked up Smith’s book Wild Nights: Camping Britain's Extremes . In the book, one of a few that she has penned on the subject of wild camping, she documents her own personal challenge to sleep in a number of extreme places: furthest points of the compass on the UK mainland, the highest/lowest places above/below sea level and the remotest in terms of distance from any roads. Her story begins in Glencoul, Scotland with what should be a bea