The first person I met at Heathrow before my rendezvous with Jimmy, was one of the Hayes mob, Steve with the missus. After a security check which still includes removal of belt, jacket and shoes plus most of your possessions for scanning. There were loads of Rangers fans waiting to board the plane including Mark Jamieson with his brother Dave. Barry also hails from Ruislip and he was suited and booted as he was off later to the Races. After we disembarked, we headed for the Metro and on to the City Centre. Before we checked into our hotel, word had come through that some of the Irish lads were in the pub opposite the Station. And there they were – from Mayo, Meath and Dublin. Plenty of other R’s fans in there including Paul Finney who was well made up after finding a Newcastle fan wearing a Glentoran jacket.
The hotel was about 10 minutes walk from St James’ Park and it was good to see Jorg the Wolfman from Germany who I hadn’t seen for a few years. He was with Joe English and they had been to Darlington the previous night to watch a game. There were no signs of any lifts when I entered the stadium so we had to take the stairs. I didn’t count them, but someone remarked that there were 13 flights of stairs up to the away enclosure ! Later, I bumped into Bill (Bungers) from Aberdeen but not Eric and a contingent of the Norn Iron posse.
The R’s took the lead after 7 minutes when Ben Watson’s 25 yarder took a deflection which sent the 1,500+ Rangers fans wild. I’m a big fan of his and I really hope that somehow we can eventually sign him on a permanent deal. Stewart was adjudged to have handled in the box and many R’s fans thought it was harsh. It was not the greatest penalty kick but Cerny went the right way to make the save. Mr Shoebridge provoked the wrath of the Rangers fans on many occasions, corners that were goal kicks and fouls the wrong way etc etc. He really was a poor referee ! They equalised when Marlon Harewood nipped in to score from close range.
We didn’t have too many on target but there were a number of chances including a strong header from Stewart that looked destined for the corner but went as close to shaving the post as you could get. One of the many positives features of the night was the work rate. The passing and movement was generally very good and we looked like ‘a team’ playing with spirit and confidence. According to the stats that I’ve just looked at ‚Äì we had 51% of the possession and more corners than the home side. There was a wonderful moment when Routledge took the ball to the corner flag where he suddenly turned and somehow wizzed in and through two defenders.
Despite being so high up ‚Äì there was a good atmosphere and plenty of noise from the R’s contingent and we were later told that this came over loud and clear on the radio. Walking back to the hotel after the game, the Newcastle fans we spoke to were full of praise for the Rangers performance. One said that we were the best footballing side that he had seen so far this season. Later Nick linked up one of the Newcastle sites threads on the game which was full of interesting reading. One such post read ‚Äì ‘QPR passed us off the park and as has been said if they had a striker we would have been buried, penalty was dink, and the away supporters out sung us for most of the game. Overjoyed with a point.’ Well done to Jim Magilton and the team on that magnificent performance but I noticed that not all of the players came over to applaud us at the end !!!
Team: Cerny, Stewart, Leigertwood, Routledge, Vine (Faurlin), Buzsaky, Gorkss, Rowlands, Watson, Simpson (Taarabt), Borrowdale.
Subs: Ramage, Agyemang, Pellicori, Heaton, Ephraim.
Bookings: Stewart, Leigertwood, Buzsaky
Referee: Mr R Shoebridge
We were so high up it was unreal ! It was a great performance and the best Rangers football I have witnessed since we left the Premier. Watson was the man-of ‚Äìthe-match by a mile. Cerny was outstanding too. I’d be a little concerned by ‘Legs’ at right back as he’s not a natural defender and gets sucked into the middle too easily. Simpson has a great touch but I feel he should be trying to play further forward as his pace would get him in behind defences. The defence coped well most of the time and Borrowdale didn’t look out of place on the left. You could possibly fault Stewart on the goal but the Toon forwards were strong in the air all night.
It was great to meet Mark, Eamonn, Brendan, Seamus, Mr Horan, Mark and the lads from Cork, Seamus, Barry and the other lad from Navan whose name escapes me. As well as Steve, Finney, JJ and all the usual suspects from the Indy R’s. I also met a couple of Manc R’s in the pub after the game, Adam and his father who I also met last season at Derby. Some of us are feeling the pace today, I don’t think Mark can survive on an hour and a half’s sleep ! All in all, it was a great day out in a superb stadium.