Date:Tuesday May 3 2011
I have just returned from my annual jolly at the Kit Sponsors` Evening. This year, I was joined by fellow Vitallers Dax, DMD and their sons, Robbie and - sorry DMD, I can't remember your son's name! Dax had sponsored Jamie Mackie`s home shirtsand DMD had sponsored both Paddy Kenny`s shirt and Adel Taarabt`s boots (wow!) Jezza also came along - as my guest! But I think that, after this evening, he may have been persuaded that being a Kit Sponsor is quite a good wheeze and become a sponsor in his own right next year!
It was the usual get-together in the W12 Club and we were shepherded to our seats at one end of the room at 6.30pm to await the arrival of the players and management team. Billy Rice was the compere for the evening and did his usual excellent job - despite using a microphone that kept cutting out so that you only actually heard every other word!
After taking a few photos of each other (I`ll put those on here soon for you all to enjoy (?!)) we were told that a few players had yet to arrive and that Neil Warnock was on his way back from … Cornwall! Crickey - driving all that way just to meet us - we must be special! Then, to an enormous cheer (started by me, I should point out, which Billy Rice picked up on and encouraged!), the squad came into the W12 Club and, one by one, came forward to present the appropriate kit to each sponsor, have a few photos and stop for a quick word.
Now, this is Amy and my 3rd "KSE", so I do feel that I can comment here. But considering that we`d just won promotion as champions on the weekend, this evening was very flat! Firstly, Adel Taarabt did not appear. No-one even bothered to try to find out why - although Dax did suggest that perhaps he was in Barcelona!! Strange though that the Club captain wasn`t around - and before anyone says, but Fitz Hall is the Club "captain" - he wasn`t around either!
Secondly, the players usually hang around for a while after all the kits have been given out to chat with the fans, sign autographs, and so on - not this evening they didn`t! They left so quickly that, by the time any of us had cottoned on and headed back to the bar area (where they had all been hanging around), there was hardly a First Team member to be seen.
Amy and I did manage to ensnare Ali Faurlin for an autograph on our shin pads and a photo; as well as Kaspars Gorkss, Hogan Ephraim and a top bloke, Wayne Routledge. He is really charming and, interestingly I thought, when I told him that I thought he`d been immense for us this year and that I really hoped he`d be with us next year, he smiled at me and said, "fingers crossed" (and crossed fingers on both his hands!)
Then we found Neil Warnock. He`s lovely! Simples!! He is warm, funny, happy to chat, happy to sign anything you stick under his nose, happy to be photographed and even hugged! I thanked him for putting the smile back on all our faces. We had a brief chat about what a difficult, long season it`s been, including my comment that QPR never does anything the easy way! I really didn`t want to put him on the spot about the FA hearing but rather felt it important to let him know that, whatever happens later this week, he`d done the most terrific job at Rangers this season and we all loved him and thanked him for that.
Jezza told Warnock that he hoped he`d be with us for a long time and Warnock`s response was something along the lines of that he doubted it seeing as this was QPR! (A reference to the newspaper reports alleging he was going to be moved aside for the likes of Lippi?!) Dax and DMD were both gathering autographs and photographs, zipping around the room, with a coke in one hand, a "Sharpie" pen in the other, and sons in tow. They were all happy as sand boys.
But Amy and I felt it a little disappointing - maybe even a little odd - that more players didn`t hang around as they had last year. I don`t want to start guessing what drove them away - it could have been any number of things. I certainly don`t think it had anything to do with the FA hearing because they`ve been talking to journalists this past week who are far tougher than we are at wheedling out information! But one minute they were there - then they were gone.
Neil Warnock did take time to thank all the Sponsors for their sponsorship, joking that despite being a Club with such wealthy owners, we still needed every penny we could find! He also talked about his delight at bringing Premier League football back to the Club at last. He felt the Club needed something like this and remarked on the fact that a whole generation of Rs` fans had not even seen us in the Premier League. He then reminded us all that, this time last year he had said we would be back in the Prem, but nobody believed him then!
In the past, I`ve managed to wheedle a bit of banter or friendly conversation out of one or two players - this year, other than my moment with Routledge and a brief chat with Hogan Ephraim (who is also a top bloke), but tonight there wasn`t the chance. So no gossip, no rumours (I remember talking to Lee Camp a couple of years back and remarking that I hoped he`d be with us the following year and he said I should talk to Flavio - then promptly got sold to Forest!) - nothing! Nothing, that is, except shin pads signed by Ali Faurlin and a hooped shirt with a few signatures, some photographs and a lovely time spent with fellow Vitallers and sponsors and Jezza. So I guess I`ll just have to renew my sponsorship and come back this time next year to get a few more signatures on that shirt, right?!
Oh, and DMD, my apologies - I forgot to introduce you to Jezza (having introduced Dax and Jezza!) He says to tell you hello!
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Date:Tuesday May 3 2011
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