Saturday, 12 January 2019

Loftus Road


QPR 2-1 Leeds United

6th January 2018

I have occasional wondered, should I ever find myself living in London,
which football club I would support.  I had a soft spot for Arsenal during my teens, subsequent I think to enjoying that 1971 FA Cup final.  But the Gunners are (like one or two other clubs in the capital, arguably) little more than a corporate entity these days.  Consequently, I could never offer them my fealty.

The only two occasions where I have been the recipient of vicious, bilious, spite-filled comments on-line, were from West Ham and Millwall fans.  So those pair have clearly been Tinder-swiped left.

I could, of course, continue in Groundhopping mode and visit a different ground each week – picking and choosing as the fancy took me.  But I think I discovered on Sunday that Queens Park Rangers would be the recipient of my London-based affections.  For Loftus Road is a delightful melange of the old and the new; the traditional and the practical.  And even though this was a tie in that competition no-one (allegedly) takes seriously any more – The FA Cup - the QPR folks delighted in making a grand din throughout.

I found myself seated next to a couple who looked perhaps in their thirties, and the lady was clearly deeply in love.....with QPR.  For she squealed and squirmed with either anticipation or dread at every chance at either end of the ground.  And I briefly pondered that if she brought the same level of commitment and enthusiasm to all of her...ahem...recreational activities, her boyfriend would be a lucky and rather well-contented chap indeed.

But what really sold QPR to me was the fact that at time-up, barely a soul left the ground, seemingly everyone staying to applaud the players as they performed a perfunctory lap of honour.  I have seen this sort of thing before on the last day of the season, but never in January.

Add to the above, the fact that Loftus Road was so easy to reach from central London (a brisk 10 minute stride from White City tube station), and the deal was sealed.  Yes, unlikely as it may be, but should ever become a Londoner, QPR will be my drug of choice.  Although, I have yet to have a date with Brentford.........


The approach to Loftus Road Stadium along South Africa Road.







South Africa Road Stand


As to the match, well I suppose one had to surmise, given the two managers made a total of eleven changes between them from their previous outings, promotion back to The Promised Land is both clubs' Number One priority just now.

But in contrast with the likes of Liverpool, Leicester, Fulham and Cardiff who it appeared, could hardly wait to see the back of the competition this season, this was as keenly contested a cup tie as a neutral could wish to encounter.

Within what appeared to be seconds of the kick-off, Leeds forward Tyler Roberts achieved the neat trick of getting a shot to hit one post, then roll along the goal line, before hitting the opposite post and out.  Which takes a bit of doing, when you think about it.  The QPR fans around me grinned ruefully at each other at the escape, and heaved a collective sigh of relief.  

Roberts, in fact, was at the heart of much of the best of Leeds' stuff, I felt.  He was unfortunate to see another attempt deflected just past the post, and was later  clattered by home 'keeper Matt Ingram in the second half, in a challenge which looked (initially, anyway) to be as much a penalty as the one QPR were awarded in the first half.

QPR had earlier opened the scoring in the 23rd minute through their own penalty award -  the baby-faced Leeds 'keeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell considerately diving out of the way of Aramide OTEH's spot-kick as it was thumped straight at him.

The lead lasted just two minutes however, Aapo HALME taking advantage of equally generous goalkeeping by Rangers' Ingram.  The home 'keeper was fortunate a few moments later not to concede a second, due to his dilly-dallying in possession.   “That's him wasted his opportunity” suggested a QPR fan behind me; this, I learned, being Ingram's first outing since September.  

The lad, to be fair, did make a fine stop from Leeds' Ezgjan Alioski, with the scores still level, just a few minutes before Jake BIDWELL's 75th minute headed winner.  And overall I thought he did fine.  But I think most home fans would expect to see Joe Lumley back between the sticks the following week.

QPR's reward for their victory was an eminently winnable looking tie at Portsmouth.    


Leeds' Macedonian winger Ezgjan Alioski

Panorama of Loftus Road Stadium.

Panorama of Loftus Road Stadium.

Burger Time

QPR v Leeds United - January 2019

Luke Freeman

QPR v Leeds United - January 2019


Panorama of Loftus Road Stadium

With the morning to kill beforehand, I went for a wander through Regent's Park and up onto Primrose Hill, to enjoy the panoramic view over the city.  Before detouring via Abbey Road to spend a few minutes watching the tourists annoying motorists trying to get up the road.

Great Fun.


This seems a bit of a niche organisation.

From Primrose Hill.


"Here come old flat top..."