"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium Queens Park Rangers FC

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Today, dear readers, I want to take you to a place that might just be my favourite spot in London. A corner of the English capital that’s in my blood… my heart… and soul. For some, I’m guessing you’ll see the word football and immediately switch off. Others, I predict, may not even get past the cover photo.

Actually, I get it. When you look at the state of the world it’s understandable that so many people balk at the very concept of football. That the first thing you might think of are the ridiculous amounts of money people get paid to kick a ball around. Or the often idiotic behaviour between rival fans and hooligans.

Indeed these are all valid criticisms of what many call the beautiful game. And yet, here I am, with a passionate defence of football and what it means to me. Particularly my beloved club, Queens Park Rangers.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Pitchside Queens Park Rangers FC.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Wherever I may be around the world, locals often ask“Do you like football?” When I confirm that I do, their eyes light up. In an instant strangers are transformed into friends. Adults become starry-eyed children. English football is of course held in high regard all over the world. Hence their next question is nearly always the same. “What is your team? Liverpool? Manchester? Chelsea?”

Queens Park Rangers FC.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

When I say that I’m a QPR fan most people’s eyes glaze over. They’ve either never heard of us or they vaguely know the name. Indeed for the casual global football fan we don’t really register. Moreover, it would be something akin to mission impossible for me to explain what makes Queens Park Rangers such a special club. I mean we’d need time, and preferably a few drinks. Thank god for blogging.

Loftus Road Queens Park Rangers 1928.

Loftus Road, 1928.

Queens Park Rangers F.C. was founded in 1886 following the merger of two teams, Christchurch Rangers and St. Jude’s Institute. That first incarnation, Christchurch, began in 1882 and indeed this is the year that still features on our club badge. Amusingly, St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, which really is perfect for QPR. So much so that even today our club mascot is a furry feline by the name of Jude the Cat. 

“Coooome oooooon you R’s!”

Jude the cat mascot Queens Park Rangers FC

Jude the Cat: Queens Park Rangers F.C.

QPR didn’t actually move to its current home, The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium (better known by its longstanding name Loftus Road), until 1917. The move was an enforced one, as QPR were basically kicked out of their old ground, Park Royal, by The Army! A bit inconvenient, but it all worked out in the end because this is where QPR have been playing football for the last 104 years!  

Retro QPR shirt

Little old me wearing my QPR shirt, sometime in the mid 1980s.

Very few people choose to be a QPR fan. For the most part this is an honour/affliction passed through the bloodline. Right enough my mum, dad and brother are QPR fans too. And yes, I was born in Hammersmith Hospital, just a fourteen minute walk from the stadium. 

Hammersmith Hospital London.

Hammersmith Hospital, London.

Photo courtesy of Chmee 2.

My first QPR home match was on December the 7th 1985. It was my dad who took me that day to see the mighty R’s play West Ham United. I was seven years old, thus I don’t remember much about the game. A look at the history books tells me we lost 1-0. Sounds about right. 

Loftus Road March 2004.

At Loftus Road, March 2004.

Despite the bad result, I found myself utterly hooked on the Queens Park Rangers experience. That warm feeling of being among the sea of blue and white hooped people flooding out of White City Tube Station. The stalls selling scarves, the smell of sizzling burgers and the nervy pre-match atmosphere at the turnstiles where people chatted, laughed and made their predictions. 

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Queens Park Rangers FC 1882.

And so began a lifelong love affair. I decorated my bedroom wall with player posters and got each year’s jersey for Christmases and birthdays. Furthermore, I collected the sticker albums, listened to match updates on the radio and recreated famous victories in my back garden with friends. In those unenlightened technological times, one of the most popular way of following our games was on Ceefax. This involved literally staring at a dormant screen until the zero changed to one, usually in favour of the other team.

BBC Ceefax

Over time, I made countless visits to Loftus Road to see The Hoops. I loved everything about our identity. How we were the perennial underdog. The club that didn’t have much money, but held their own among the big boys through an endearing mix of commitment and togetherness. 

Roy Wegerlie Queens Park Rangers FC

Roy Wegerlie in action for Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Along the way, we produced genuine superstars. Though in most cases it wasn’t long before bigger clubs poached them. Growing up, I had countless QPR idols, including the likes of Roy Wegerlie, Alan McDonald, Kevin Gallen and Clint Hill. Oh, and Trevor Sinclair, scorer of that ludicrous overhead kick goal against Barnsley in 1997. 

Adventures in London.

Trevor Sinclair celebrates overhead kick goal against Barnsley

Trevor Sinclair celebrating his stunning goal. I was somewhere in the crowd that afternoon.

I was privileged enough to see some epic QPR performances at Loftus Road. How could I ever forget our rampant 6-0 win over bitter rivals Chelsea in March 1986? Or indeed a similarly delightful 6-0 victory against Crystal Palace in May 1999. A win that saw us escape relegation no less. Indeed I can still recall my dad and I joining hundreds of other fans on the pitch. A dozen or so of them lifting manager Gerry Francis into the air. Happy times.  

When I eventually left The UK as a young adult, I really missed those visits to Loftus Road. But from country to country, no matter the time difference, I would always tune in for matches on the radio. In fact, I have vivid memories of being in Bratislava in November 2002 listening to us getting knocked out of the F.A. Cup by an amateur team called Vauxhall Motors. Oh, this is as bad as it gets, I moaned to myself. Unaware, of course, that greater horrors lay ahead.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

QPR Football Club London.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

On another occasion, in August 2009, I was in a hostel common room in the Chinese coastal city of Yantai. It was the opening game of the season and we were losing against Blackpool with just a few minutes remaining.

When defender Peter Ramage rose to head home a dramatic equaliser, I screamed so loudly my headphones fell off and I scared the shit out of the poor girl at reception. She was distinctly unimpressed, especially as it was almost 5:00 in the morning and she’d been sleeping.

Fan interview Loftus Road December 2008

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

In between my spells living abroad, every 2-3 years or so, I would return to Loftus Road. In December 2008, prior to a home match against Watford, I gave an interview to ITV about what I thought of QPR’s new millionaire owners, Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone. While I can’t remember precisely what I said, I certainly had no inkling what a gigantic mess they would make of their tenure.

QPR 2 Crystal Palace 1 12th of March 2011.

QPR 2 Crystal Palace 1. 12th of March 2011.

One of my happiest return visits came in March 2011. I was living in Amsterdam at the time and flew over to London where I joined up with my dad and brother for a game. It was my brother’s first ever home game and QPR were top of The Championship, aiming for a return to The Premier League, England’s highest division. 

“And it’s Queeeeens Paaaaark Raaaangers. Queens Park Rangers F.C. We’re by far the best team, the world has ever seen”. 

South Africa Road in London.

Approaching the stadium from South Africa Road.

It was the perfect QPR day in many respects. First, we took a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium. We got to walk through the home and away dressing rooms and the press area. Then the guide led us pitch side for some photos before showing us our trophy cabinet.

It’s hard not to chuckle at this point, due to the fact that QPR doesn’t actually have much silverware. Nevertheless, it was fun to see our League Cup trophy from 1967. We beat West Bromwich Albion that day in a game played at Wembley Stadium, England’s national football arena, in front of a crowd of 98000. 

Queens Park Rangers FC 1967 League Cup Winners

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

I’ve had the pleasure of bumping into numerous QPR legends outside the ground over the years. The great Rodney Marsh and the incomparable Stan Bowles to name a few. But that day, my dad, brother and I struck gold with virtually the entire team.

Akos Buzsaky Alejandro Faurlin Heidar Helguson Queens Park Rangers F.C.

With Akos Buzsaky (left), Heidar Helguson (top right) and Alejandro Faurlin (bottom right).

Everyone was happy to stop, pose for photographs and exchange a few words before entering the ground. For us the most thrilling encounter of all was with Adel Taarabt, definitely the most gifted QPR player I’ve seen in the flesh.

Adel Taarabt.

Adel Taarabt Queens Park Rangers FC

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

The mercurial Moroccan midfielder was on fire that season, creating and scoring goals for fun. He had the world at his feet, as they say. But unfortunately, like so many in the game, Adel had his demons. And so what promised to be an incredible career fizzled out as he bounced around from club to club with little to show for his spell in each country.

Neil Warnock manager Queens Park Rangers FC

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

We also met manager Neil Warnock. This no-nonsense, bristly Northerner may well divide opinion, but he’ll always be a legend in my book. In fact, he and that team stand as the architects of my very best QPR-supporting memories. In truth I often wonder if I’ll ever see a team that can match up to that phenomenal championship winning campaign of 2010-2011. 

Driving from Amsterdam to London.

A long old trip.

Towards the end of my Amsterdam years, I embarked on a succession of road trips with a fellow QPR fan called Neil. Those journeys were epic. He’d pick me up outside my apartment in the car and we’d drive down through the Netherlands into France. Then onto the ferry at Calais until the misty white cliffs of Dover came into view.

A misty morning at the white cliffs of Dover

Dover, baby.

From there it was back on the road through the chaos of Central London. Until, at long last, we parked the car somewhere in Shepherd’s Bush and continued onto the stadium by foot. Looking back, I cherish our match day rituals. Most of which have been lost to the passing of time. I’d grab some lunch, for example, at Ocean Billy’s Fish & Chips. Now long gone and, on my last visit at least, replaced by an Indian curry house.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

RIP Ocean Billy's Fish and Chips QPR

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Neil and I would also stop for a pint in The Springbok pub, now known as The Queen’s Tavern following a grand refurbishment. Home fans only, as the sign says. And there’s usually a doorman and a few policemen on hand to prevent any skulduggery. Honestly, in all my years of coming to QPR, I have never seen so much as a street scuffle.

The Queens Tavern Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Before heading into the ground, I’d often say hi to Dave Thomas, founder of the excellent QPR fanzine A Kick Up The R’s. For years, in the days before smart phones and social media, this was my primary source of info on all things Queens Park Rangers. Wherever I went, from Qatar and Slovakia, to Belgium and beyond, Dave would send me the latest editions by post. I was even a guest contributor myself for a while.

Dave Thomas A Kick up The Rs QPR fanzine

Dave Thomas: A Kick Up The R’s.

This excellent mini magazine always did a top notch job in summing up the unadulterated joys and miseries of being a Rangers fan. During the writing of this article, I discovered that the fanzine is now available as an online subscription! It’s exactly what this hopeless nomad needed and I’m delighted to be a subscriber once again. 

QPR 3 Sunderland 1 March 2013.

Queens Park Rangers F.C. March 2013.

Neil and I truly had the luck of the gods on our side on those trips. Indeed we never saw QPR lose and there were some wonderful victories. Not least a 1-0 win over Chelsea in a heated London derby that saw Jose Bosingwa and Didier Drogba sent off. It was a magical afternoon and the sight of John Terry trudging dejectedly off the pitch at the end was enough to warm even the coldest of hearts. Beautiful.

QPR 1 Chelsea 0.

23rd of October 2011.

QPR 1 Chelsea 0 October 2011.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

In recent years I’ve managed to catch a game or two each time I make it back to London. It’s scary how fast time passes, and almost incomprehensible to me that my last game was over two and a half years ago. It was August 2019 and we were facing Huddersfield. The game wasn’t the best, a 1-1 draw and a point only secured by Grant Hall’s late header. But of course it was enough to simply be home, drinking in the atmosphere.

South Africa Road Queens Park Rangers FC

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Among my pre-match adventures, I finally got to meet an iconic QPR fan who goes by many names. For some he is Sombrero Man, to other he’s the QPR Mexican. Or simply Grandad, as it says on the back of his shirt. In any case he’s usually one of the happiest guys in the stadium, regardless of what’s unfolding on the pitch. You’ll always see him with a broad smile on his face, dancing away and shaking his maracas.

Sombrero Man Queens Park Rangers FC

Queens Park Rangers F.C.  

I have a clear memory, years and years ago, of a match against Grimsby. Sombrero Man was dancing in the stand, getting a venomous reception from the away fans. “You’re going back to your bedsit!!!” they jeered at him, probably the politest thing that came his way that afternoon. But of course he paid them no heed, and it was left to the QPR faithful to jump to his defence. “Your’e shit, and you stink of fish!” they chanted back at the Grimsby fans. 

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Mexican QPR fan.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

That Huddersfield game was also memorable as the day Loftus Road became officially known as the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. The name change was a magnificent gesture to the family of former QPR youth player, Kiyan Prince, described by coaches as “a prodigious talent”

Kiyan Prince Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Kiyan was just 15 years old when, on the 18th of May 2006, he was fatally stabbed after trying to stop an act of bullying. A year after his death, Kiyan’s father Mark founded The Kiyan Prince Foundation. This not-for-profit organisation stands dedicated to fighting knife crime and the broader issue of London youth violence.

Les Ferdinand Mark Prince Ruben Gnanalingam Queens Park Rangers FC

Mark Prince at the ceremony wearing the blue and white hoops.

Mark was there that day with his wife to cut the ribbon and rubber stamp the stadium’s new name. Accompanied by QPR players and management, including Director of Football Les Ferdinand, it was incredibly moving to see Mark break down as he talked about his son’s brief life and what Queens Park Rangers F.C. means to his family. 

Kiyan Prince (1990-2006).

I felt proud to be part of the QPR community that day. And it’s this feeling of pride that acts as a lead-in to what I had actually set out to achieve in this article. To explain why QPR is special. First and foremost, we are a community-driven club where people look out for each other. The kind of club that regularly holds fundraising events to take care of the disadvantaged and to help those in times of crisis.

The Kiyan Prince Foundation.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

I think I speak for all QPR fans when I say how proud I am of QPR in the Community Trust and the support given to those affected by the awful Grenfell Tower fire. It’s also touching how fans have come together to raise funds for Stan Bowles, arguably the greatest player in the club’s history, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Stan Bowles Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

The group,, also works to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and is lobbying the club to name a stand after Bowles. Which I’m confident, in time, they will succeed in doing.

QPR mascots.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Not that I can pretend QPR is some kind of angelic club. Football is, at the best of times, a ridiculous soap opera and I believe few can compete with our backstory. After all, we’ve gone from rags to riches and back to rags again. At one point, in 2007, we were even on the brink of bankruptcy. We’ve also had plastic pitches and multiple relegations and promotions.

The Four Year Plan Queens Park Rangers FC documentary

The club has been charged with an illegal transfer and fined for breaking financial fair play rules. Homegrown heroes have come and gone, in addition to money-grabbing mercenaries, egomaniacal owners and a merry-go-round of managers.

Who could have predicted guns in the boardroom? Or a massive on-pitch brawl during a friendly against China? Sure, QPR have had more than their fair share of drama, but at least it’s never been boring. No wonder someone made a documentary about us called The Four Year Plan.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

History of Loftus Road and Queens Park Rangers F.C.

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

At the time of writing I’m planning an extended visit to The UK after two years away. In that time, of course, the world has been plunged into chaos. Indeed we can’t even be sure, what with emerging new virus variants and the like, that we’ll definitely make it back.

Queens Park Rangers F.C. goal celebration

Queens Park Rangers F.C.

But hey, fingers crossed that we do. I haven’t seen my family in two years and they’ve not yet met my wife, Sladja. I can’t wait to introduce her to everyone. We’ll be trying all those much-loved British dishes and snacks. We’ll go hiking in The Scottish Highlands and seek out new villages, towns and cities. Rest assured she’ll also be experiencing match day at QPR. And who knows, with a little luck we may just be in for another fantastic promotion season.

Come on your Rs!

Leighton Travels travel reports short stories.

Like this? You can also check out my article on my life as a nomadic Queens Park Rangers fan. 

For more on my hometown wanderings, check out my other reports from around London.

You can also take a look at my other articles from across England.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

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  • ourcrossings

    Sports fans come in all shapes and sizes, not to mention levels of interest. Some of us need to watch sports constantly, even if it’s cricket on tape-delay from Jakarta. Others can barely be bothered to watch the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event of the year. The rest of us fall somewhere along the spectrum between insanity and indifference. The national sport of Latvia is ice hockey, and while our team might not always win, for us they are always the champions, and pretty much every Latvian supports our ice hockey players 🙂 Aiva

    December 7, 2021 - 10:12 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Aiva, I wrote out a reply to your comment this morning which I believe I sent, but now seems to have disappeared into the ether. Sigh, take 2. You’re right, it’s an interesting point how we all have our own ways of identifying and indeed celebrating sport. I once had the pleasure of watching ice hockey in Bratislava and it was a lot of fun, especially as Slovakia were world champions at the time. Hope Latvia pick up a trophy or two one of these years.

      December 7, 2021 - 8:12 pm Reply
  • qprgary

    Great article, I could harp on all day about the past etc. people don’t understand that you were born there and the generations of support. Now they just want to be associated with the big boys. Have even sat by an idiot from Hammersmith who was supporting Liverpool in a league match against us. Doubt he even knew where Anfield was. My 1st match was vs Hull 1962 with my grandfather, been going ever since. Bad day at the office last Sunday v Stoke, better stop now or I’ll ramble on for hours.

    December 7, 2021 - 10:32 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Gary, I replied to your message this morning but the bloody thing has disappeared. Yes, like you I believe that we shouldn’t just ‘choose’ our club. Where would that leave the whole system if everyone went for the top 6 Premier league clubs? Sunday was depressing, partly due to our performance, partly due to the intensely gloomy afternoon I found myself walking in listening to the match online. Ah well, it’s still been a great season. And I do believe we’ll hold onto a playoff spot come the business end of things next year.

      December 7, 2021 - 8:17 pm Reply
  • Toonsarah

    I’m a Londoner but thanks to my husband a Newcastle fan. We’ve had more than our fair share of ups and downs, as anyone who follows football will know, so I recognised much of what you said – the tour of an almost trophyless trophy room, for instance, the torment of trying to follow a game on CEEFAX (penalty shoot-outs were the worst, especially as we never won them!) and the sense of community among the fans. I’ve always had a soft spot for QPR too, for several reasons. I did some great community projects with them when I was running lifelong learning services for Westminster Libraries (the club originated in Westminster, as you know) – they provided players for some of our events (Clark Carlisle was an amazing speaker) and offered tours and matchday tickets as prizes for children’s reading competitions etc. I also got to meet Gavin Peacock as he was playing there then, which as a Newcastle fan was great! I have good memories too of attending matches there – a time when we were in the home end soon after Newcastle bought Sir Les and your fans were very gracious about the whole affair; a time when all our best players were out with flu and we were several goals down by half-time but still out-sung your lot ( 😆 ); and numerous occasions when we simply enjoyed being at a ground so embedded in its community. I hope you get back to the UK and get to go to many games while here!

    December 7, 2021 - 11:46 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Sarah, thanks for reading and for leaving such a thorough response. Your background with Westminster Libraries is fascinating. You met a couple of real QPR characters there. As I’m sure you know Clarke Carlisle is a lovely man who has spent years battling severe depression. The fact that he’s still around doing good community work is an inspiration to anyone who’s been through similar difficulties. Gavin Peacock, as I understand, is deeply religious man who, last time I heard, had left The UK to live in Canada as a pastor! I’d actually forgotten that he also played for Newcastle. Happily, I can return the compliments regarding your club. Have always liked Newcastle: the players, managers, style of football, kit and fiercely loyal support base. Can’t say I’m in love with what’s happened with the club recently, but recognise that for the fans there is now much more positivity re the future, both on and off the pitch. Thanks again!

      December 7, 2021 - 11:59 am Reply
      • Toonsarah

        We have quite a few players in common – Peter Ramage, whom you mention in your piece, is also ex-Newcastle and Wayne Routledge is another who’s played for both clubs. Not to mention the somewhat infamous Joey Barton! And didn’t Glen Roeder also once play for you?

        December 7, 2021 - 12:14 pm
      • Leighton

        Yup, affirmative on all those. I think Glenn Roeder almost played as many games for QPR as for Newcastle. Loic Remy too more recently and (ahem) James Perch to less fanfare shall we say.

        December 7, 2021 - 12:21 pm
    • travelling_han

      Oh my goodness I remember refreshing Ceefax in a state of total angst at 89 minutes haha! What memories!!!!

      December 8, 2021 - 12:04 pm Reply
  • Sheree

    I’ve not only heard of QPR but have been to its ground. I’m an AVFC (and now OGCN) fan.

    December 7, 2021 - 12:15 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      That’s great! Was it a QPR Villa match? Always liked Villa as a club. How would you describe the atmosphere at Nice?

      December 7, 2021 - 12:23 pm Reply
      • Sheree

        Matches very different in France largely due to absence of away fans, even for local derbies. French football fans don’t drink to the same extent before matches and spectators are largely family groups. Yes, all my trips to QPR were really to watch Villa play.

        December 7, 2021 - 5:25 pm
  • Little Miss Traveller

    It’s great that you’re a life long supporter of QPR and you support them through tick and thin. I’ve still not attended a top flight football match but have enjoyed several stadium tours around Europe. Three years ago I was at Murrayfield to watch a Rugby Union international and I enjoyed the whole experience from the bag pipers to the singing and of course the game itself even though I didn’t fully understand the technicalities I’ve also been to Wimbledon for the tennis numerous times so I’ll really have to give football a go one of these days. Great post Leighton as always.

    December 7, 2021 - 2:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Marion, the rugby game at Murrayfield must have been cool. I’ve never seen a live Rugby match, though I did make it to Wimbledon once as a teenager. A bunch of us skipped college for the day, much to the fury of our headmistress. Sadly, you wouldn’t be able to see a “top flight” game at QPR this season ha ha. Actually, we have a really good team this year and there’s an outside chance we could be playing Premier league football again come next August. Thanks for reading!

      December 7, 2021 - 2:51 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    Great story of team and sport dedication Leighton. I feel sorry for those who do not follow any sport and who can not understand the joy of victory and the agony of defeat. We were season ticket holders of our local CFL team for 40 years, before we gave our seats up. We still follow them, although this year was hard as they were at the bottom of the league standings. We have been to Rugby 7s matches in Vancouver, Aussie Rules Footie in Melbourne and a County Irish Football match in Ireland and have enjoyed them all. Sad to say, we have never made it to see an English match. Thanks for sharing what it means to be a fan. Good luck on your trip planning. That will be a great reunion. Allan

    December 7, 2021 - 3:11 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      So glad you ‘get it’. Allan. Who is your local Canadian team? I have been loosely following the exploits of Canada’s national football team who it seems is experiencing something of a golden generation. Hope you qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.

      December 7, 2021 - 3:51 pm Reply
      • kagould17

        Our CFL (American style football) team is the Edmonton Elks. They used to be known by the politically incorrect name Eskimos. So, one year off due to Covid, name change, coaching change, another coaching change, rampant Covid cases on the team, etc. All conspired to make us a laughing stock. The Canadian soccer (football) team did well against Costa Rica and Mexico and now sit first in CONCACAF qualifying for Qatar, with more matches to come. The first game here was played in cool weather, but the game against Mexico was played at -7C after a major snowfall. Alphonso Davies (now with Bayern Munich) comes from Edmonton, so this was a homecoming for him. Quite exciting and if FIFA likes what they saw here, we could get some matches in FIFA 2026. Hope Covid is gone by then, as I would love to go to a match. Cheers. Allan

        December 7, 2021 - 3:58 pm
      • Leighton

        Ha I had a feeling there was a football/soccer mix up perhaps at play but just pressed on regardless. I heard about that crazy game in ridiculous temperatures. A World Cup in Canada would be interesting.

        December 7, 2021 - 4:02 pm
  • Memo

    I generally assume a forgiving stance when it comes to sports obsessions. You know, the Christian “judge not lest you be judged.” sort of thing. I was tolerantly reading along though your misty memories, amused at how young you and your brother look in photos, chuckling at the great fanzine name “A Kick Up the R’s”, and generally feeling maybe a little above it all. Then you got to the Kiyan Prince story and absolutely melted my cynicism. This is truly the heart of what sport should be about – bringing people together in a positive way. Thanks for once again finding the human center in a story.

    December 7, 2021 - 5:50 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Glad to have amused and melted all in one piece. And I very much agree with your sentiments about what sport ‘should’ be about. Thanks Memo.

      December 7, 2021 - 6:16 pm Reply
  • Nic

    I wish I liked football sometimes, it would be so much easier to make conversation with strangers! Everytime I say I’m from Portugal, the first thing that comes to mind seems to be Cristiano Ronaldo and football. And well, at times, especially in England, Mourinho!

    December 7, 2021 - 9:45 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha ha, I hear ya Nic, you have my sympathy. Cristiano Ronaldo might be my least favourite footballer in the history of the game. And Mourinho my least favourite manager. It’s just a coincidence that they’re both Portuguese!

      December 7, 2021 - 10:35 pm Reply
      • Nic

        I’m not a fan of either personalities – I don’t even care much about their skills or the lack of to play or coach football😅

        December 13, 2021 - 9:12 pm
  • grandmisadventures

    It was so fun to read this article and be introduced to your team. Soccer is one of those things that brings people together making friends of strangers (or maybe heated enemies if they are for the other team) and connecting generations to each other. More so than any other sport is this true because it is a world wide game where others are localized. I really hope you can make it to a game while you are there 🙂

    December 7, 2021 - 9:54 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Meg, I really hope so too. I’m happy I got to write up this little corner of London. A few even more personal locations to come over the next week to wrap up my London files.

      December 7, 2021 - 10:24 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    Great post! I grew up playing soccer, but never had any real connection to a team except for Team USA. I hope you’ve watched Ted Lasso, that’s about what I know of European soccer haha

    December 8, 2021 - 2:40 am Reply
    • Leighton

      I haven’t seen Ted Lasso, but it’s definitely on the list. I am partial to Jason Sudeikis and his charms. Cheers Lyssy!

      December 8, 2021 - 8:33 am Reply
      • Lyssy In The City

        You’d love it, one of my favorite shows!

        December 8, 2021 - 5:01 pm
  • Rebecca

    Soccer (as we Americans call it) is far from being a popular sport in the US, although we do have our teams and fans. I’m indifferent to team sports, in general, although I will say that I would prefer watching soccer over American football any given day. The Queens Park Rangers, while not as world-famous as other UK teams like Manchester United or Arsenal F.C., still has a remarkable history with its gifted players and history of the good and the bad. Although I’m not much for soccer (sports, overall), I enjoyed reading your article on this particular team: your passion exudes with each word!

    December 8, 2021 - 3:53 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Appreciate you diving in Rebecca, despite it not being your cup of tea. Congrats again on your blogging milestone!

      December 8, 2021 - 8:41 am Reply
  • travelling_han

    I feel like in England football is so important to so many of us. It is a way of a life, something we’re brought up with. I love that you’re a lifelong QPR fan and have so many memories watching your team play and following their players, managers and results. I support Forest and have since the day I was born. I was in the Brian Clough stand every Saturday throughout my whole childhood – whether it was freezing or sunny, in the same kit! There is a documentary on Netflix called ‘I believe in Miracles’ about Forest’s promotion from Division 2, and then winning Div 1 (premiership back then) and then 2 European cups back to back under Cloughy. By the end I was sobbing. I totally get your passion 🙂

    December 8, 2021 - 12:02 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      How cool to learn that you are a Nottingham Forest fan. A club that I have always liked, especially as a kid during the Cloughie era you describe. Brian Clough is one of my dad’s footballing heroes and I remember his son Nigel regularly smashing goals in throughout the 1980s. Thanks for this personal contribution to the thread Hannah.

      December 8, 2021 - 2:46 pm Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    Oh Europeans and their football! That’s pretty amazing that you’ve followed the same team for your entire life and know so much about their history. It’s always good to be passionate about something and it’s a good way to bring people together.

    December 8, 2021 - 1:26 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks guys for climbing through this window of British culture. The history, the incredible performances, the scandals and the personalities involved have all contributed to The Beautiful Game.

      December 8, 2021 - 2:48 pm Reply

    Leighton, if you think your previous owners made an almighty mess of running the club, take a look at where mine is now. We never dreamt when a local man took over the club that he would lead us into such unmitigated disastrous territory. I find it hard to enjoy football at the minute (yes, even me, 60 years a diehard fan), when the club which I have had in my heart since childhood is on the verge of extinction. It’s too painful to write about in detail. (Though I can say – away trips to QPR followed a very enjoyable pattern of train-2 pints at the Argyll Arms Oxford Circus – tube – 2 pints at The Springbok (before it became home fans only)-into the ground about five to three).

    December 8, 2021 - 4:08 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Phil, as a Derby County fan you have all my empathy, sympathy and all the rest of it. And I know exactly how it feels because we were ‘hours’ away from bankruptcy in 2001. In the end we secured a £10m high-interest emergency loan which saved us (and then became a burden for some years). I hope that you guys can also avoid the hangman’s noose. Unfortunately, you’ll almost certainly be playing League 1 football next year. It’s a pity because Wayne Rooney seems to be doing a reasonable job with the team. Great results against Bournemouth and Fulham and I thought you played well against us and were unlucky to concede ‘that’ goal right at the end. Fingers crossed that Derby can get through this and fight their way back up the leagues. Thanks for contributing your own Loftus Road memories to the thread.

      December 8, 2021 - 6:25 pm Reply
  • 100 Country Trek

    Not a big football fan, but my hubby loves seeing these games. Looks you had a great time seeing these games in The UK. Jude the Cat caught my attention, a great sport cat. Thanks for sharing this. Anita

    December 9, 2021 - 11:52 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading Anita. Jude isn’t so bad indeed, as mascots go. There are some terrible football mascots out there ha ha.

      December 9, 2021 - 3:49 pm Reply
  • Christie

    Such a nice tribute to your favourite team, impressive! While football is the most preferred sport in Europe, soccer is not so much in Canada, although I guess it got some attention lately. I remember the women team got some nice results at the Olympics🙂 And yeah, outrageous amounts are going from one pocket to another, same with basketball players here, lol.

    December 10, 2021 - 4:56 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Yeah, for those Canadians who do like soccer it’s exciting times, as the national team may actually qualify for the next World Cup. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      December 10, 2021 - 8:32 am Reply
      • Christie

        Good for them, fingers crossed they will 😊

        December 10, 2021 - 8:58 pm
  • Rehoboth

    Very nice. Thanks for sharing

    December 12, 2021 - 4:36 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading!

      December 12, 2021 - 7:48 pm Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    I’m not much of a sports fan, but, having lived in other countries, I know the excitement of football (soccer) around the world and have been caught up in it at times. Certainly, I can feel your excitement coming through with your love of the game. Enjoyed the younger you photo!

    December 13, 2021 - 4:44 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Ruth for diving into this unfamiliar world. People often enjoy these younger Leighton photos, though for me it can often be cringe-inducing. Still, such articles should always be warts n’ all 🙂

      December 13, 2021 - 4:59 pm Reply
      • rkrontheroad

        As one who has avoided photos of myself through most of my adult life, I can relate!

        December 13, 2021 - 5:15 pm
  • qprgary

    Just found this and another interesting article. Met the midget and Flávio on numerous occasions when friends were directors of Reading. The directors box and restaurant/ Bar were full of idiot celebs and those two were totally odious and ignorant as in the few years I went to directors not once did they engage in conversation with Madjeski or any other rep of Reading just a nod like oh your here which is unheard of. The place was a complete circus.

    December 31, 2021 - 10:05 am Reply

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