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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Snippets: On Switching to QPR....QPR Fanzine's Clive Whittingham Q&A re QPR vs Southampton...Ben Sahar Scores Against N. Ireland.

UK Spectator/Toby Young - Status Anxiety
Wednesday, 6th February 2008

When Arsenal got too posh, I switched to QPR. Now look what's happened

As an angry young man in the 1990s, I used to get extremely irritated when I read articles by left-wing intellectuals in the London Review of Books about football. To my jaundiced eye, it was a feeble attempt to shore up their credentials as men of the people. Back in those days, football was still a predominantly working-class sport and, as such, was frequently hijacked by middle-class poseurs in the hope that its ‘authenticity’ — key Nineties word — might rub off on them.

How distant that period seems now. Today, if a middle-class novelist wrote about his unswerving devotion to Arsenal — about how he had gone to every match this season, including the Champions League game in Prague — we would instantly suspect him of trying to big himself up. The implication would be that he enjoyed a substantial private income — or, at the very least, knew one of the club’s shareholders. How else to explain his frequent attendance?

I have to confess to once having been a Gooner myself. Back when I first started going to Highbury, I used to feel vaguely self-conscious on account of being from a higher income bracket than the majority of the fans. Then, for a brief period, I was surrounded by people who seemed to come from exactly the same background as me — and today, whenever I set foot in the Emirates, I feel the same kind of social anxiety I used to experience, only now it is because I am so much poorer than everyone else.

For football fans who wish to enjoy their Saturday afternoons without being troubled by status issues, there is a solution to this problem and it is called the Coca-Cola Football League Championship. Here, down among the also-rans and the wannabes, a man of my modest means can feel at home. What is required is a club with a proud history, but which has no real chance of being promoted to the Premier League. A club that will never outgrow its supporters — at least, not in my lifetime.

It was with this in mind that I decided to switch allegiance to Queens Park Rangers. Admittedly, QPR were one of the founder members of the Premier League, but that was over 15 years ago. In 2002 they were relegated to the third tier in England’s football league and though they managed to haul themselves back into the second tier in 2004 they have been languishing near the bottom ever since. Just the ticket, then, for a soccer fan struggling to retain a foothold in the middle classes in the face of increasingly tough competition.
hen calamity struck. Last August, QPR was bought by the Formula 1 tycoons Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Briatore then sold a 20 per cent shareholding in the club to the steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. There was a surreal moment last year when I switched on Sky Sports to see a close-up of Naomi Campbell sitting in the South Africa Road Stand at Loftus Road. It was precisely in order to avoid having to watch games alongside the super-rich that I transferred my loyalties to the Rs in the first place. I went and saw them play Bristol City last Saturday and my worst fears were confirmed. The new owners have brought in a new manager, Luigi de Canio, and he had been busy in the January transfer window. Instead of the usual pub team hoofing the ball up the field, they looked like a proper side. City are currently one of the two or three best teams in the Championship and yet QPR managed to beat them 3-0. Only nine points separate QPR from Ipswich, the sixth-placed club in the league, so it is not inconceivable that QPR will qualify for the play-offs at the end of the season. In the worst-case scenario, they could actually get promoted to the Premier League -— and if it doesn’t happen this season, it will surely happen next time. After that, the sky’s the limit. With considerably more money than Roman Abramovich, the new owners might easily decide to mount a challenge for a Champions League place. Who knows, they could even finish above Arsenal.

Ah well. If the worst comes to the worst there’s always Leeds United.
Spectator UK

Ben Sahar scored for Israel against Northern Ireland - Israel U21 2-1 N Ireland U21
Match Report

Southampton Fanzine - The View From QPR
Wednesday 06 Feb 2008 by Club Fanzine
Clive Whittingham from our QPR site answers a few questions about Saturday's game.

1 - At Southampton we have watched with green eyes as Rangers have been taken over and we await the fruits of that, what plans do the new owners have.
Ha ha, well we've spent the last ten years on the cusp of going out of business watching while everybody else got taken over. We're certainly due a slice of the good life and there's every sign we'll get that now. The new owners want a Premiership club and have already shown with their outlay in the January transfer window that they're happy to put money in to achieve that. Early signs are they intend to make QPR a successful brand and make money by selling large amounts of merchandise, and big executive lounges by the pitch.
Sounds a bit far fetched, but then 6 months ago the idea of Eclestone, Briatore and Mittal buying QPR was far fetched. All our existing shirts and merchandise is being flogged off cheap - we await the designs of a new skin tight Puma home strip with baited breath!
2 - How do QPR fans feel about the new owners Is there a sense that the Club is now no longer the peoples club.
There have been those concerns expressed. The biggest concern is ticket prices - we'd desperately like a system put in so that those fans that have stuck with the team and kept season tickets while we've been in League One are not phased out as the newbies arrived. We've already seen 2000 or 3000 more on recent home gates. Like I say the kit design will be a big moment - the Hoops are sacred and there's talk of them being taken away. They've alreay got id of our mascot because they don't like black cats and the badge is about to change as well it seems.
So plenty to be worried about but at the end of the day without them we wouldn't have a club at all. We were hours away from a second spell of admin and losing the ground - we're lucky to have them and they've kept the club alive. Some supporters could do with remembering that when their moaning about whether the new kit will have silver trim or not.
3 - How do you feel about Luigi De Canio, do the fans feel he is the man to take the club forward. ?
We've really taken to De Canio. The team plays attractive football now and he waves enthusiastically at us every time we sign his name. We're easily pleased. Seriously though John Gregory did well to keep us up last year, Gary Waddock found it all a bit much too soon and prior to that we had the Ian Holloway hoof-a-long exhibition of how to keep your pitch in perfect condition through the winter (keep the ball in the air) so it's nice to see the team winning and playing football the right way. His English still isn't up to interviews but he is now taking training in English apparently and he seems to have a good sense of humour as well. We like him, and we like the team he's putting together.
4 - What’s your favourite memories of visiting Southampton to watch QPR, what do you think of St Mary's ?
The universal favourite memory for QPR fans in Southampton was a game at The Dell in 1995. As you'll no doubt recall away fans had the upper and lower tier at one end of the side stand. Once the terraces were pulled down you guys put a funny triangle shaped stand behind one goal and a small single tiered stand behind the other. Well the old away end used to look over this single tiered stand and during this game somebody in our end noticed a rotund gentleman sitting with a peroxide blonde bird in the Southampton seats. So of course we start singing at them "who ate all the pies" that sort of thing. Instead of taking this in the usual good heart this bloke went absolutely mental, leaping around and gesticulating at us, then grabbing hold of stewards and police demanding the whole away end be emptied. Then we started singing "you're fat and your bird's a slag" at which point he tried to climb into the away end to get at us. The incident reached a climax, not literally, when said wife stood up, turned round, and mooned us by lifting her denim mini skirt up to reveal a sizeable arse. I've never heard a crowd cheer so loudly for a non-goal related incident.
St Mary's is not a favourite ground of mine. Far too like all the other new grounds that were built around the same time. I like a bit of character in a ground like the Dell or the Baseball Ground - if you're going to build a new one make an effort to be different like Hull or Huddersfield.
5 - Who should we watch out for in the QPR team?
Akos Buzsaky pulls all the strings in midfield and is the best signing the new regime has made. He plays on either wing but is most effective when played down the middle behind the strikers. Patrick Agyemang has been an instant hit since signing from Preston and has five goals in four games. Rowan Vine is a really good player to watch, although tends to overplay and doesn't score often enough (he's ex-Portsmouth as well so I'm sure you lot will have fun with him), and Hogan Ephraim is a very promising young winger from West Ham. At the back we've high hopes for Matt Connolly, fresh from the Arsenal academy.
6 - Prediction for the game
Our last two away games have not gone well at all. Our team is still gelling together and when put under the standard pressure sides exert at home they've caved in. We were well in charge at Sheff Utd but when they had their ten minutes of pressure in the second half we panicked and conceded twice. Cardiff came out the traps quickly against us and quickly went 3-0 up. But for Lee Camp in goal that would have been 8-0 at half time. If we can get our home form and performances to translate into away games we'll win.
I'll go for a 1-1 draw
For more opposition views and opinions on Saturday's game visit http://www.clubfanzine.com/QPR/ Fanzine Q&A

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