My Wembley plans started rolling as soon as Charlie Austin scored the winner against Watford, to secure our play-off spot. A bit premature I know, but, what if? The finances were worked out, I had saved enough pound coins to pay for the train and I would ask my wife for a match ticket for my birthday, which was three days before the date of the final, sorted! We just had to get past Wigan first!
My thoughts were, if we made it to Wembley, I was going, no way was I missing it, I mean, would I ever get to see the R’s at Wembley again? And it would make a change from going to some dreary northern places like Middlesbrough, Blackburn or Burnley to see them!
Anyway, we did it! I tried to rally a few other Dundee R’s (only six that I know of), but to no avail. They either could not go, or simply could not afford the trip. The Perth R’s, who I had travelled with a few times could not make it either, neither could the Aberdeen R’s that I knew. So it was just me and my 11 year old son Liam; a father and son weekend away would be just fine, but what about tickets?
By the time they came around for general sale, it did not leave a lot of time to book travel and accommodation, and would I get tickets? Then Facebook came to the rescue. Word got around the QPR family on Facebook that I was looking for tickets. A saviour by the name of Julie Hampton gave me a ticket reference number on the Saturday before, and by Sunday lunchtime I had bought two tickets. Yesssss! It was on!
The train and the B&B were promptly booked soon after, and the Friday off work secured. We were both as high as kites! ‘We’re the Famous Queen’s Park Rangers and We’re Going to Wem-ber-ley’!
We left Dundee on the 9.07 train on Friday, and got into Kings Cross at 14.40. Then it was a tube to Shepherd’s Bush Market, and a walk-up to the Club Shop to spend some of our pocket money. We then walked back to Shepherd’s Bush Road to check into our B&B, Hotel 65 (highly recommended). Then it was out for some tea and a walkabout in Hammersmith, then back to our room for an early night ahead of the ‘Big Day’. Would we sleep?
The big day was here, and it was chucking it down with rain. After breakfast, we put on our typical Scottish summer attire, shorts and a waterproof jacket, and walked up Loftus Road to join; ‘The Walk to Wembley’.
I had heard of the previous walks, and was really keen to be a part of this one. When we got there, the walk was just starting. There were flags, banners and hooters, and everyone was in fine voice already. A mass of blue and white was a very proud and humbling scene to see.
As the walk gathered pace, more fans joined, and it was quite a sight to behold. The traffic was brought to a standstill as the legion of blue and white, and, black and red, marched on. Flag number one was purchased.
Thankfully the early morning rain subsided, and the sun came out. The banter amongst fans, the general public and police was first class. ‘You might as well turn around’, and ‘You’re not going anywhere’, were just a couple of the songs directed (in good fun) at stranded motorists. We arrived at Wembley about 1pm, legs tired, and choking for a beer!
My arrangement with Julie was to meet her at the Bobby Moore statue to hand over the tickets. She phoned me to say that she would be another 20 minutes, so that gave me enough time for a few photographs, and to be fleeced for a programme, two burgers, and a foam finger! £25.00 just like that!
The Sky TV camera guys stopped us, along with a few other R’s, and asked us to sing and dance for the camera, which we duly did, with the promise that we would be on TV. With the tickets collected, and a big ‘thank you’ to Julie, we headed into the stadium. First step was the bar, where two beers were downed rapidly. It had been a long wait!
Off we went to find our seats. Wow! What a stadium! Even though we were high up, the view was great, just to the right of the half-way line. Flags two and three were acquired. A great gesture by the club to put a flag on every seat.
The atmosphere and noise as the ground filled up was brilliant and the sight of 40,000 QPR fans gave me goose bumps, and to be honest, a lump in my throat! I got a text from my friend in Dundee to say that he’d just seen us on Sky TV just before kick-off!
As we all know, the game was not a classic, with the R’s defending magnificently after going down to ten men. Who would have thought what was about to happen! I was sitting there, just waiting for the Derby goal with a horrible feeling in my stomach. But Greeno and Co. were having other ideas.
There was a part of me somewhere thinking if we could just get up the pitch once and into a dangerous area, then we still had the players on the park to hurt them. Then………., step forward Bobby Zamora! Now, I have been to many football matches, and I have seen many big, important goals, but, I have never, ever, witnessed noise or a feeling like it when the ball hit the net.
The QPR end went mental! Sheer ecstasy and elation! My boy even kissed me on the lips! There were people falling over the seats, and down the aisles! What a feeling, a feeling that I would love to saviour again and again.
When the final whistle went, the scene of all those flags being waved in unison was an immense sight. As throughout the game, the fans gave their all vocally, and were as always, a credit to the club. I, like probably everyone else, could not believe what had just happened. I was drunk on pure adrenalin! The scenes on the park at the end were a joy to watch, especially Joey and Tony. It just said it all about the togetherness of the season. I think I will be singing ‘Oh Bobby Zamora’ for the rest of my life! Flag four acquired!
When we eventually left the stadium, it was a couple of tube journeys back to Goldhawk Road, to dump the flags, programme, camera and the foam finger at our digs. We wandered up, again, to Loftus Road, catching fish and chips on the way. As we passed the ground, every car that went by was sounding its horn, and/or had scarves, flags etc. hanging out the windows. It was a great feeling, like Rome if Italy had just won the World Cup!
“A pint at the Springbok?”
“What a great idea son”
The Bok was in full party swing and a few pints of ‘the black stuff’ were had. While having a pint outside the pub, chatting, a coach passed and Liam thought it might be the team bus. It stopped at the stadium and Liam took off.
“Come on dad!”
There were only a handful of us at the coach to greet only Clint Hill and Joey Barton, but that was enough. Clint got off first, holding the trophy and immediately gave it to Liam to hold. “There you go wee man” he said. Liam was so made up and I was so made up for him. It capped off a remarkable day. It was back to the pub to drink, talk and sing ‘QPR’, and watch the Champions League Final.
The plan was to stay another day, an extra day if QPR won, and if they put something on for the Sunday. We found out they were, so we stayed!
We got up to a lovely, sunny Sunday, had breakfast then headed up to Loftus Road (I could do it with my eyes shut now!) My legs were really feeling the strain now. People were gathering in South Africa Road, still in buoyant mood, and rightly so. Cars were still sounding their horns and flag number five was purchased! But this one had ‘Wembley Winners’ on it!
There was a great atmosphere in the ground, with Harry and the players getting a great reception. Bobby’s goal was getting replayed on the screen every ten minutes, to the fans delight. After the players and fans were off the pitch, it was back to the Springbok, to sit in the sun with a pint. Liam got friendly with a couple of kids whose parents were also in the pub and they played football all afternoon, which gave me a chance to meet more great people, and talk more ‘QPR’.
Several pints and a sun-burnt bonce later, it was time to go, as we had a morning train to catch. I said my goodbyes, and Liam said his to his new buddies, and we caught the bus (I think it was the last one) to Shepherd’s Bush Road.
We were on the 10.00am train from Kings Cross, still buzzing, but also a bit sad to be leaving, as it had turned into a wee holiday for us both. Liam is still wishing he was there now! The train journey gave us time to reflect on our weekend; and what a weekend! A weekend that I will never forget and one that I am so glad I went down for.
We met many, many great people and all made Liam and I feel very welcome, but what else would you expect from the best family in the world!
‘We Are QPR!’
Alan (QPR Dee)