Well, where do I begin ? I was 7 years old when I first got into football, having Scottish parents meant that it was mainly Partick Thistle and Glasgow Rangers to begin with. But my best friend’s Dad was a QPR fan and used to talk animatedly to me about the ground/games/players etc, so a romance was born. I used to spend all my school holidays at said best friend’s Nan’s in East Acton, so I would wander through the subway under the Westway and hang around the ground on match days. The atmosphere was brilliant and we’d sit on the wall outside the ground and just people watch and hope for a glimpse of a player.
I can’t actually remember what my first game was ? I remember just being in awe of standing on the terraces with the floodlights and everyone in their Hoops milling around. I remember going back to school and talking to the lads in my Geography class about it. Growing up in Bracknell (London overspill), my school seemed to be mainly QPR, but the school nearer to town, Chelsea. I didn’t go to many more games while at school, but we didn’t care, we just loved sitting outside and soaking up the atmosphere.
I think I was 17 when I started going to games frequently. I remember I sat in all three Stands on different occasions. I was a member and didn’t get a season ticket until a few years later when I was working and could drive. I didn’t really go to away games at that time, the only ones that I did go to were Chelsea cos I’d meet up with some lads from Bracknell and go in the Shed End and then try not to get caught up in the fights that would always happen outside the ground and remember not to cheer when we scored !
I remember going to the Masters most years and following Les Ferdinand around like a proper psycho fan. He was always so sweet and he actually said to me one year: “Why don’t you talk to me ?” I just stood there with my mouth open, bright red, hard to know what to say to your idols ay ?
Apart from last season, the happiest time for me was when we had Les, Andy Sinton and Simon Barker et al in the squad. I remember those heady days in the Premier League and playing Blackburn, Man U etc (and even beating them). Going to Simon Barker’s Testimonial against the Reggae Boyz and being as high as a kite from all the dubious cigarettes being smoked around us ! My friend used to play golf with Simon so I went out for his birthday once. I was clubbing with Simon Barker, Gary Penrice, Steve Yates and Sieb Dykstra, a great laugh and what memories for me.
And what a Manager Gerry Francis was. I used to drive slowly past his house hoping for a glimpse of him, ha ha ha. I actually have a soft spot for Ray Wilkins. I know that his time as our Manager wasn’t brilliant, but I was in hospital and Simon Barker told him and a huge package of signed stuff with a letter arrived from him. I did get the chance to meet him later during some filming of a footie programme called ‘On Side’ when I thanked him for the package and he said: “Oh yeah, you’re Barker’s little friend, how are you now ?” Now that’s a way to make a fan feel special. We’ve had many great players (and some blinkin’ awful ones) over the years, far too many to mention and that goes for Managers also, they all seem to blur into one !
1999/2000 was the last year I had a season ticket, as at the end of that season I moved to Hull with my job/bloke, oh how I regret that now !!! And so have gone to most away games every season (apart from when I was having my chemo in 2007) and also tried to get to as many home games as possible. I won’t talk about what is happening to our club at the moment as most of it is speculation and I don’t want to feel fed up after typing this !
I will talk about the fans though, I honestly think that we are the most passionate and loyal supporters you will find in this country and also the most generous. I found this out recently when doing my Moonwalk, I had guys handing me money in the pub after the game on 7th May, saying that they didn’t do computer sponsorship so take this, wow ! Now at how many other clubs would you find that ? Also the amount of friends I have made over the years from attending games and true gents, making sure that I got home safely if I was on the train.
So whatever happens at QPR, I’ll remain true, well it is and always will be my first love……
(The pic of Ray Wilkins was the one he kindly sent me and the other two show me in various poses with Josh Parker and Paddy Kenny )