It`s taken me all day today to recover from yesterday`s trip to Cardiff! Tiredness after a long day, coupled with exhilaration at the thought that we could be champions come 5.00pm Monday 25th April, plus falling asleep in the sun after lunch (oops!), has delayed my follow-up blog.
Actually, to my horror, when we arrived at the ground yesterday, my nerves (which had evaporated overnight) came back with such a vengeance that when Jezza et al decided to have the picnic lunch we`d brought with us, sitting on the little grass verge outside the ground amongst fellow Rs` fans; I found I could not join them. I felt, literally, sick!
The trip up on the M4 had literally flown by (ask Jezza how fast he drove) but didn`t pass without incident. There was the QPR-covered car with a sheep tied to the roof (brilliant!); passing the supporters` coaches and trying to spot Superhoop50 amongst the many fans staring out of the windows into oblivion, lost in their own private thoughts. Then there was my own stupidity of pouring boiling hot coffee over my hands - we won`t go there!
We parked easily and were half-way to the ground when I remembered I had left my faithful old scarf in the car - horrors! I left the others and went back to fetch it - to be told that, should we now lose, I would have to leave the scarf behind in Cardiff! I have to say that the Cardiff fans we met were amazing - friendly, warm, sincere - and there was no sign of the aggressive thugs we have encountered before at Loftus Road. And that was true after the game as well (when we were even invited to join a group of Cardiff fans in their back garden for a pint - we politely declined as we were going to tea at Jezza`s brother-in-law!!)
Inside the ground, the atmosphere was amazing. Very happy Rs` fans were singing, laughing, chatting. Strangers were nodding to strangers; friends meeting and greeting friends warmly and excitedly. There was a shared camaraderie, an unspoken bond, and we all knew we were responsible for representing all QPR fans around the globe at what could be a momentous event in our beloved Club`s recent history.
The atmosphere spilled over onto the stands, where the Cardiff stewards were amazingly intelligent & understanding. Yes - sensible stewarding (well done Cardiff City FC) - we all stood from start to finish and all the stewards asked of us was that we didn`t block the gangways. So we didn`t! Why can`t other clubs take a sensible line like Cardiff did, I wonder?
Boxer has already told you all about the game - most will have watched it one way or another - but let me tell you, when Bellamy scored that 2nd goal my nerves went in to overtime and at half-time I literally had to sit on my own away from everyone just to compose myself. So I hid in the Ladies!! When I returned to my seats, after a quick chat with Superhoop50, I found four very glum, quiet companions - Jezza, Daniel, Nathan & Amy couldn`t take that 1st half. "Defending like fairies," I believe Warnock said of our first-half performance - I couldn`t disagree!
Superhoop50 had suggested that the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half would speak volumes for the rest of the match. He was right! I found myself glancing at the clock (once I`d found it - I`ve never seen such a tiny clock perched up high near the roof - what`s the point?!) and, after we`d weathered the initial storm, I noticed that 15 minutes had passed and we were, indeed, getting stronger and stronger. And like the "Three Lions" of England that we represented on St George`s Day, we were starting to roar. Our midfield was getting hold of the ball more, the defence was coping better although still making the odd mistake, but Cardiff weren`t having as many chances to put them under pressure.
The Rs` fans sensed this sea-change and our singing and chanting once more became loud, vociferous and energetic (we had never stopped singing but it had lacked a little energy for parts of the 1st half, as I think we all struggled with watching Cardiff pulling us apart time and time again)!
But when Adel Taarabt turned and slotted the ball in the right-hand corner of Bywater`s goal - and hysteria broke out around me - I just stared! I stared and stared at the ball nestling in the back of the net. It took me a good few seconds to realise that we had, indeed, scored - we had, indeed, equalised. And then it hit me - like a blow - and I went absolutely beserk! I hugged anyone and everyone - strangers, friends and family alike! No-one cared who they celebrated with - we just celebrated - and celebrated - and celebrated!
And sang - and sang - and sang! And my nerves had completely evaporated! They dropped away, like a falling cloak, as that ball nestled in the back of that net. They never returned. I don`t think they will now! Yes, we could have snatched a win at the death - my goodness how results can depend on a matter of inches! One side of the post or the other - we`re up or we have to fight another day! Was Helguson offside? Yes! If he had put the ball in the net would the lino have flagged? Who knows! And what I do not know - and never will - is how crazy the celebrations would have been then!! I - like you - must wait to find out!
For some reason, at the end of the game, we didn`t leave straight away. I don`t know what the hold-up was but during the time, from the final whistle until we left the stadium, not one fan stopped singing, chanting, clapping, encouraging, praising our beloved team. When the final whistle blew the way we all went mad you`d have thought we had just won promotion! And when the team came back to complete their warm-down we sang so loudly to them about Paddy Kenny and his party, or Shaun Derry, or Taarabt (who we just know is too good for anyone!), about going down the Uxbridge Road to see the Queens Park Rangers, or how Warnock is our king! (Yes, I`ve learnt them all!!) And they enjoyed it - walking so slowly around the pitch it was almost a pointless warm-down!
And , after all that, I realised, I was hungry …!!
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