For the majority of the current season, QPR have occupied one of the three relegation spots in Division One. Indeed, for a short period, QPR propped up the division. Bottom of the league. Twenty-fourth. Last. This was the lowest position QPR had occupied during the 18 years I have supported them. However, no-one was as relieved and up-beat as I was about the arrival of a new ‘lucky’ black cat at Loftus Road a couple of weeks ago. The brief resurgence of good fortune in more recent weeks has lifted an huge weight off my shoulders and, as a result, I feel that the time is now right for me to step forward. The current predicament, and indeed the state of affairs at QPR over the last few seasons, had indirectly been my responsibility.
Over the years, I have seen my team be promoted, relegated and subject to mid-table mediocrity, play at Wembley in two cup finals, and indeed have a brief dalliance in Europe. But the more recent decline of QPR owes itself entirely to one person - Sophie Lawrence. The name is probably unfamiliar to many, if not all of you. Let me explain. Sophie was recruited as my girlfriend in September 1994. After the initial stages of the relationship, I felt that it was the right time to introduce her to my Saturday, occasional midweek and increasingly rare Sunday obsession. Nottingham Forest away. Hardly a baptism of fire, I admit, but a game deemed by those at Sky to be entertaining enough for armchair football fans. The ensuing 3-2 defeat was action-packed and full of drama - 2-2 with injury-time being played, when Collymore slid the winner past Roberts to seal victory for Forest. Sophie enjoyed herself; enough to ask to come again. I agreed, knowing at the time nothing of the consequences this would have on the team.
A few weeks later we travelled to Blackburn, full of optimism after two successive wins against Villa and Liverpool (she wasn’t at those games). It rained, we argued, the car broke down - and Alan Shearer scored three of Blackburn’s four goals. QPR were, as the saying goes, lucky to get nil - and Sophie began to notice a recurring feature of the games she attended. “Do they always lose?” she joked on the way home. “Don’t be stupid,” I replied pensively.
As a precautionary measure, I decided not to take her to a game for a while, but when QPR were drawn against Manchester United away in the FA Cup quarter-final, she pestered to come. So we went to Old Trafford, and after a brave but nevertheless predictable 2-0 defeat, it was becoming painfully obvious to me that, even thought her interest in QPR was growing, and her desire to come to matches increasing, every game that she had been at, QPR had lost. Worst still, more recently QPR had failed even to score.
The tail-end of the season also provided Sophie with opportunities to see lacklustre displays against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Chelsea. Her record for the 1994/95 season read: P6 W0 D1 L5 F4 A13. Hardly championship form, but despite this QPR finished eighth, and Les Ferdinand bade farewell to Loftus Road in the close season (for which I also hold her responsible as she once shook his hand).
I was reluctant to take her during the 1995/96 season, and my short run of weak excuses (“I can’t believe they only had one ticket left either, love.”) ended when my only way of getting to Oxford for the Coca-Cola Cup tie was for her to give me a lift. A 1-1 draw ensued, against far weaker opposition. I didn’t take her to the home-leg, but she came to Villa to witness the cup exit in the fourth round.
To give you an idea of the extent of her curse on QPR, when I was watching the televised game against Spurs on Sky, she met me in the pub at half-time, when we were 2-0 up. Consequently, we lost 3-2. And after the infamous injury-time match against Man United, whilst trying to console me, she started her sentence with the words: “I can’t believe it, they were winning when I turned the radio on near the end…”
Visits to games against Middlesbrough (drew 1-1), Chelsea (lost 2-1), Villa (lost 4-2) and Leeds (lost 2-1) preceded the proverbial six-pointer away at Coventry. Sophie saw Impey sent off, and QPR lose 1-0 to be effectively relegated to the First Division.
I had two tickets, one for me and one for her, for what could have been a crucial deciding last game of the season away at Forest. Had QPR needed to win to stay in the Premier League, I would certainly have risked an already strained relationship by destroying her ticket. There was no need, however. Sophie guided QPR into the First Division with remarkable ease - and at the City ground wake she even had the audacity to sing “We’re going to End-er-sleigh” as the team slumped to a 3-0 defeat. And when the QPR fans ironically cheered Forest’s goals that day, I couldn’t help but think that she was genuinely celebrating.
Sophie Lawrence is no longer my girlfriend. We split up after the FA Cup defeat at Wimbledon two seasons ago (not the only reason, honestly). Having never seen the team win in numerous live attempts and countless more televisual encounters, she is now serving an unofficial lifetime ban from Loftus Road. QPR, however, have never been the same since her curse was inflicted on the team, and I can only apologise wholeheartedly for relegation from amongst football’s elite, subsequent poor league form against inferior opposition, relegation scares, falling attendances, dodgy managerial set-ups, seemingly eternal away defeats, Arsenal reserves, early cup exits, etc, etc. So thank you, Gerry Francis… for making the best signing QPR have made in ages.
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.
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