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So, off to Liverpool by car in a mood of some trepidation. I wasn’t worried about the match - that was a foregone conclusion. No, I was worried about the pre-match negotiations with the nine-year-old scallywag who would inevitably appear the moment I parked the car and kindly offer to ensure it was still there when I got back from the match. More pressing problems to deal with first, however. Where to eat in the scenic county of Merseyside? My party of four decided to leave the M62 and sample the delights of Widnes. A bad move. Whatever you do, don’t go to Widnes for lunch. The town consists of six video shops, 42 building societies, one pub (decorated in the style of a 1970s airport terminal), one extremely seedy coffee bar above the Co-op, and 15 fish and chip shops, none of which sell fish. (Rumour has it that the area is uncomfortably close to Sellafield and the locals are none too keen on their fish being cooked before it’s caught.) The menu, as far as I could tell, consisted of chips, with a choice of green slime (mushy peas), brown slime (gravy) or beige slime (curry). Myself, I selected some beige slime. Mmmmm... horrible.

 

So, on to Anfield, enriched by the regional cuisine and ready to do battle. There were four of us - we had the little bugger outnumbered. It would be 50 pence at worst. Full of confidence, we got out of the car. Horror of horror - there were three of them. “Look after your car, mister?” said the nine-year-old. “OK, fifty pence,” I replied in an assertive tone. “Fifty pence each, mister - in advance,” my adversary replied. “One pound, fifty? You’re kidding. No way.” “No, fifty pence from each of you. That’s two pounds - in advance.” Play on his sporting instincts, I thought. “OK, fifty pence now and another fifty pence if Liverpool win.” Didn’t work - all Everton supporters. Couldn’t get a price on Liverpool. In the end, they used divide-and-rule tactics on us. Little did we realise that whilst I had been involved in intense negotiations with the nine-year-old, my colleagues had been similarly occupied elsewhere. Only when we were halfway to the ground did we realise between us we had handed out nearly three quid. Still, the match was great and they’ve offered to look after us again next year, by which time they hope to be accepting all major credit cards. Loveable little... monkeys.

 

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The Spurs game was probably the toughest of the season so far. Obstructions, trips, shoulder charges, an exhausting 45 minutes each-way... and that was just the walk to and from Seven Sisters station.

 

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I hear Les Ferdinand has had some trouble with sciatica. First Gazza, now Les. I hate it when these Italian clubs make illegal approaches to our players.

 

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The nightmare defence - it could happen: Ready, Witter, Yates, Doyle. You know you’ve got problems when the number of the back four adds up to 83.

 

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It’s official - complaining is not allowed at Portsmouth. Informed by a steward that standing up wasn’t allowed either, I politely asked if, in that case, he wouldn’t mind showing me to a seat where I could at least see the last third of the pitch. “Any more complaints from you,” he gleefully informed, “and you’re out.” God only knows what punishment would have been meted out if I’d mentioned the state of the toilets.

 

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I noted with interest last season’s criticism regarding the growing proportion of colour photos in the programme. Has no-one else noticed, as I have, that in every picture, as the caption confirms, the Rangers player always “wins the tackle”, “rises above the challenge”, “bursts through”, “speeds past”, etc. On the basis of this visual evidence, I recommend that photos are taken at ten-second intervals and published four to a page. This way we’ll never lose again.

 

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The final word on Euro 96 relates to the irritatingly catchy Three Lions. In a previous article, I made reference to my Blackpool-supporting Kevin. Now, Kevin is married, for better or worse, to a lovely Northern lass called Angie, who - on occasions - has a tendency to get things muddled. Her confusion usually manifests itself in sayings like: “I need the ear of the dog that bit me.” “He’s got us under a barrel on this one.” “Kevin, there’s a KGB at the bottom of the garden.” (Closer inspection revealed it to be a JCB.) “He’s as fit as a butcher’s pencil.” Or the immortal: “That Tracy’s pregnant again. And what’s more, it isn’t hers.” There are literally hundreds of ‘Angisms’ floating around the North-West of England, the most recent of which I can now relate. Picture the scene. Angie is by the bed, admiring her new patent leather shoes and happily singing to herself. As Kevin enters the room, he hears a familiar refrain. “Three lines on my shirt. Shoes remain still gleaming...” “What? Those aren’t the right words, Angie.” “D’you know, our Carol said that too.” “Yes, and she was bloody well right, wasn’t she?” The prospect of spending the day explaining Jules Rimet was more than he could face.

 

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I noticed how Keith Hackett was quick to pull Bradley Allen away from the melee which ensued after his double foul on Mark Bosnich and Paul McGrath near the end of the Villa game. Allen was lucky not to be booked, or worse. Surely he should know by now that there’s no such thing as a free lunge.

 

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My informants tell me that shortly before the start of the Southampton game a mounted policeman trotting around behind the stand decided he was in need of refreshment. He steered the horse over to the counter of the burger bar and asked the girl to pass him up a coke. Whilst she was doing so the horse proceeded to evacuate its bowels in no uncertain fashion right in front of the counter. “I hope you’re going to clean that up,” the girl shouted to the red-faced officer as he trotted away. Fortunately her anger was neatly defused by some wag in the queue who stepped over the steaming mass and said: “Here love, you couldn’t put this in a bun for me, could you?” I didn’t actually see the incident, but can confirm it created quite a stink.

 

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So we have another thrilling sponsorship deal for the new season. Yes, it’s COMPAQ - another bloody computer company. How I long for the days when I could look down and see Guinness splashed across the front of my shirt (like last Friday, in fact). I’m sorry, but I just can’t relate to COMPAQ, even if they are Digital’s second biggest end-user reseller. As far as I’m concerned, if they can’t spell their name properly, they can fuq off.

 

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Coventry away was a difficult game for me. This was the first QPR away match to be attended by two of my six Rangers-supporting nephews and nieces - and I have to admit to having been less than comfortable about the idea. They never wanted to support QPR. You can imagine the peer pressure to support Manchester United, living as they do in the very heartland of Mancunian fanaticism - the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire border. But to my eternal credit, the intensive Goebbels-style indoctrination to which they have been subjected since birth has paid rich dividends. I met up with the children and their Dad inside the ground - and following a strategic relocation to a less populated area of the stand, we settled down to ‘enjoy’ the match. “Watch your language,” I kept telling myself. “They’re only kids.” I lasted about 30 seconds before Karl Ready launched into his first mistimed header and I was on my feet shouting, “Ready, you useless...” I must have run through 30 possible expletives in the next few seconds - but having deemed them all unsuitable, I found myself totally unable to complete the sentence. Unfortunately, by the time I had opted for, “Ready, you useless twit...” the moment had passed, numerous further miscues having occurred in the meantime.

 

The game represented 85 minutes of torment for me (even more so than usual), with all normal forms of expression stifled. Then we scored. I have no idea what I did or said after that - and can only hope that the children’s attention was more intently directed towards the action on the pitch than on the shameful antics of their Uncle Philip (well that’s my street cred image finally down the toilet). Thankfully, we left the ground amidst a mood of euphoria which, in hindsight, seems excessive given that, the last five minutes aside, this had been one of the dullest games of the season. But then that’s football, Brian. I expect all the kids will remember of their first away trip is the result which, coming on the back of their last home game (Everton), was a godsend in terms of their guaranteed future allegiance.

 

They may, of course, also recall the one-man pitch invasion by the understandably frustrated home fan who strode unhindered through the Coventry midfield, pointing at each of the players in turn and no doubt suggesting tactical adjustments. I couldn’t help but be amused by the ‘speed’ with which the Coventry stewards emerged from the furthest corners of the stadium and ‘chased’ the culprit, who by now was relaying details of the new tactics to an embarrassed looking Big Ron. The fact is that none of them wanted to get there first. It was a bit like a race to the last seat on the bus - the one next to the nutter. As it happened, he left the pitch peacefully when ushered towards the stand, accompanied by an equal measure of boos and cheers from the home fans. I’m not sure where I stand on this one. Obviously it’s stupid thing to do, but they were really, really bad, your Honour - and there but for the grace of Ray Wilkins and the impassable Ellerslie gangways, go I. In the previous paragraph, I was of course referring to the old Phil and not the new responsible Uncle Philip, who naturally distances himself from such characters. I’ll be ringing the children shortly to see how they enjoyed the match, but I’ll be hoping that questions concerning the… er, sexual proclivities of Paul Ince and the intended relocation of a certain flagpole will remain unasked.

 

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Now, I’m not normally a superstitious person - but it has to be said that Sheffield United would never have scored at all, and we would have all been spared a tense last few minutes, had it not been for that extra strong mint I had when we were 2-0 ahead. It sparked a Sheffield comeback in the way only an extra strong mint can.

 

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Obviously I am a lot younger than the editor - but his article, All You Need Is Love, brought back some early childhood memories. We will, I wonder, remember the 1990 England World Cup song in 20 years’ time? I doubt it. But who could forget the immortal lines, “He’s red, white and blue... World Cup Willie, we all love him too... he’s World Cup Willie. He’s tough as a lion and never will give up, that’s why Willie’s the favourite for the cup...” (I wish I bloody could.) Like the editor, I remember - indeed still have - my Esso coins, American Civil War cards (both books) and a rubber World Cup Willie, which hung elegantly from the bath tap. I could let you borrow the coins and the cards, if you like - but, sorry... no-one gets to play with my well-hung Willie.

 

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In the words of the inimitable Stuart Hall: “He (Ray Wilkins) strode across Goodison Park with all the elegance of a Parisien Boulevardier.” Well, I’m not sure what one of those is - but I do know that Wilkins’s display at Everton was pure class. Barker and Peacock, whilst short on Gallic flair, were no less impressive in their contribution to an exceptional 90-minute team performance. About 100 per cent better than last year’s 5-3 victory, in fact. It was a pleasure to see 10 players in perfect harmony. The 11th was as ineffective as ever and tried to sneak off at the final whistle without acknowledging the travelling fans, yet again. As it was, he didn’t find getting past Gerry any easier than getting past defenders and grudgingly responded to his manager’s orders. He knows who he is, so I’ll say no more at this point - but if he does it again, I might just name names... After the Lord Mayor’s Show, of course, came the heap of shit that was our performance at Swindon. We knew it would happen - it always does. I guess that’s consistency for you. As the old saying goes: we were just one Parisien Boulevardier short of a football team.

 

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The AKUTR’s DIY guide to reserve/youth team match reports.

No need to attend the match - simply find out the score from the relevant phrase: ‘Against a very strong (insert name of opponents) team, Rangers, fielding no less than six youth team players, put up a tremendous fight’ (lost 3-0);

‘This was a spirited performance by a young Rangers side’ (lost 3-1);

‘We created a number of chances but failed to convert them’ (lost 4-0);

‘Unfortunately, we were unable to turn possession into goals’ (lost 5-0);

‘Although young and experienced, they did not let the club down’ (lost 5-1);

‘Unfortunately we were unable to sustain the quality of play in the second-half’ (lost 6-0);

‘The score was not a fair reflection of the game’ (lost 7-0)

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No Football, No QPR: Day 27

Posted: Saturday 11th April 2020

While top-flight football is suspended for the foreseeable future, you are cordially invited to visit this page in order to get a small fix of QPR. Each day, we will post a random article from our archives - and with over 15 million words making it in to print over the years, we can sit out this one for as long as it takes! Underneath each new daily article, we’ll provide a link to previous postings, so you won’t miss out. Of course, if you like what you read and decide to subscribe or to take advantage of our special 2019/20 season bundle offer, that’s what will really keep us going through this! So settle down and enjoy your free daily fix of QPR... on us.

Asides

Featuring the inimitable wit of Phil Weller, sourced from various issues in the late 80s & 90s...

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Issue: Various

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