Thursday, 4 October 2007

Match 5 - QPR

The trials and tribulations of being a football fan. Once in a while there comes an event which tests your loyalties. For me it happened once last season when the opportunity to earn a few bucks on a Saturday for doing very little coincided with the home match against Cardiff. No contest really. Cardiff were top of the Championship at the time and we were on a bit of a roll ourselves, but I felt it was time our luck ran out. Then my son did something absolutely scandalous. He selected the Colchester v Cardiff match as one of 4 games in his works football competition - in which I usually predict all the scores at 1 – 1 and get a high percentage of successes. Except that I can’t bear to predict anything other than a Colchester win, so I predicted a 3 – 1 victory for the U’s and several people expressed surprise and amusement. The rest is history. I missed the match. My son didn’t. We won 3 – 1. Cardiff started their slide down the table and we were proving that we didn’t care who we played. In fact they could all spend a week at the top of the league and then come to Layer Road, just so we could knock them off.

This season it’s happened earlier. Our first home evening kick-off and we have yet to achieve a home win. We are playing QPR, who are firmly rooted at the bottom of the division. They have a caretaker manager in Mick Harford who was our assistant to George Williams last season and the loan arranger has exceeded himself tonight. Two players who were with us on loan last season – Chris Barker and Hogan Ephraim – are playing for QPR (Ephraim on loan) and a former U’s player (on loan of course) - Rowan Vine – is now playing for QPR (on loan of course). In fact Vine visited us twice last season with different clubs – Luton & Birmingham – so it’s just like he’s still playing here! And of course there’s something about a floodlit match that creates an electric atmosphere. The clash of events for me is my Dad this time. He had to go into hospital today to have his pacemaker replaced and I went to pick him up from Barts Hospital in London just after 7 pm. (All went well by the way – Dad’s OK.)

All is not lost as my son was at the ground, and able to text updates to me. Even better was the live commentary on BBC Essex which we managed to decipher despite the poor reception so far out of our area – it improved as we got nearer home and out of the city centre. There were a couple of dips in the landscape and these seemed to coincide with key moments in the game when our favourite commentator, honorary ‘Essex Man’ Neil Kelly, got a bit excited and gave us a clue that something wicked / interesting / vital / live-saving / crucial / exceptional / or downright amazing had happened.

It’s true we were in need of a lift after recent results, but we didn’t really expect the QPR defence to gift it in quite the way they did to open the scoring FOR US. 1-0 to Colchester. Just coming out of a cutting on the A13 and it’s apparent that QPR have equalised, 1-1 and it’s ‘our Hogan’ who did the damage. The QPR fans loved it I’m told – they’d just discovered they could taunt the home fans with a couple of repetitions of ‘You’re not singing any more’ when … they weren’t singing any more themselves. Izzet does it for us and it’s 2-1. And it’s all matter-of-fact in the commentary box when Yeates scores with a trademark free-kick a few minutes before half-time and it’s 3-1 at the break. No ‘over the wall’ in the interval this week – Yeates has done his version of that already! The half-time entertainment is boosted with the arrival of the match programmes in which the ink was still a tiny bit damp.

Then it gets a bit frantic for me. I’ve arrived at home, my radio battery is failing and the reception here is poor, so it’s the cable TV access to BBC Essex – but they are transmitting the wrong frequency on the cable network and it’s music!!! How about the Internet? My desktop computer crashed on Saturday and I’m trying to cope with a spare laptop and I haven’t got Real Player software installed and the BBC web site insists on having it. So I try to download it and get blocked because I haven’t logged onto my own computer as an administrator. (QPR pull one back – that man Vine). I log out and back in again as administrator and manage to download the software. (Platt scores for us and we increase our lead back to two goals at 4-2). Back to the web site and click on ‘Listen’ and discover that for various reasons they aren’t broadcasting the match tonight. Oh well, the last few minutes of a crackly reception – a bit like the half time safety announcement apparently – and the U’s are safely home with our first home win of the season. I was there in spirit.

By the way, did anyone else spot the moment when the linesman managed to keep the ball in play and the ball-boy then picked it up and tossed it to a player for a throw-in? What’s the ruling on that then? Discuss!

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