Capacity: 18,500 (all seated)
Address: South Africa Road, London, W12 7PA
Main Telephone No: 020 8743 0262
Ticket Office: 0870 112 1967
Fax No: 020 749 0994
Pitch Size: 112 x 72 yards
Loftus Road is treasured by QPR fans everywhere, but even they are coming round to the idea that substantial redevelopment is required soon.
The main South Africa Road stand is the oldest part of the ground, a large two tiered structure with a row of executive boxes, the dugouts, changing rooms and club offices, stretching down one of the touchlines. The tickets here are the most expensive and two roof support pillars obstruct the view from large areas of seats. Those in the lower tier (The Paddocks) have an unobstructed view, but get very wet if it rains!
Two identical two tiered stands sit behind each goal. The Loft End houses the most vociferous QPR support, especially high in the corner (The P,Q and R blocks) while the School End houses the away support.
Down the remaining touchline stands the single tiered Ellerslie Road Stand. This has it's name given up to Sponsorship on a season by season basis, so we've had to call it The Car Giant Stand, The Alfred McAllpine Homes stand, and other similar witty titles before now.
The whole ground is strangled by the surrounding houses, restricting facilities and space under the stands. The club are speaking about expansion but it's hard to see where they could go, other than up into the sky with ambitious projects to add third tiers to some stands. Even if this should prove possible, the toilets, refreshment kiosks and bars are straining under the weight of the current capacity, so a few thousand more could have them at breaking point.
In the summer of 2008 substantial work took place below decks in the South Africa Road stand. The club shop was refitted and new restaurants and bars replaced the old facilities - although the regular supporters did feel a little hard done by that their old Members' Bar had been taken away from them and turned into a Cipriani's restaurant to which they were not invited. The middle of South Africa Road was torn out and replaced with large comfy seats for the special C and W12 clubs which cost many thousands of pounds each to sit in. The whole place was given a paint, a big screen installed above the away end and a new score board added to the Loft End.
Disabled supporters are now housed in a new area at the front of the East Paddock, near the Loft End as opposed to their old position near the away end that they understandably weren't keen on.
The Away End
Obviously I have no first hand experience of what the away end at Loftus Road is like, but I'll tell you as much as I do know. Firstly, arrangements for visiting supporters are being altered this season for the first time since the ground became all seater in 1994. Until now away fans have been given the upper and lower tiers of the School End, a generous 3100 ticket allocation. Now it seems that most clubs will only get the upper tier, 1600 seats, with QPR in the lower tier downstairs. It remains to be seen if this arrangement is in place for clubs with a larger following like Ipswich and Norwich.
Now I've been told by several friends from other clubs that the fundamental problem with the upper tier is that unless you sit in the first five rows you can't see the goal line or indeed the goal at that end. The club have taken this into account and shortened the pitch recently which has overcome the problem to a large extent.
The lack of turnstiles at the School End can result in lengthy delays getting into the ground, turn up earlier than normal in order to make the kick off.
How To Get Here
By Car: At the end of the M40, take the A40 towards Central London. At the point where the A40 becomes the A40(M), turn off onto the A40 towards White City/Shepherds Bush and turn right into Wood Lane, turn right into South Africa Road for the ground. There's an inordinately expensive car park at the BBC on Ariel Way (£6 last season, welcome to London guys!) Other than that it's street parking and that is becoming increasingly difficult with residents parking schemes springing up everywhere. You could try the back streets between the Uxbridge and Goldhawk Roads but beware of the residents schemes and be aware that a lot of these roads have been made one way and fenced off in the middle to stop people using them as rat runs during the weekly rush hour. My advice would be to park North or West (depending where you're coming from) of London and tube it in. The top end of the Northern Line runs alongside the A1, and the Piccadilly Line out to Heathrow means you can come off the M4 and park somewhere like Osterley.
By Train: Loftus Road is well served by London Underground. The nearest tube station is White City which is on the Central Line. Come out of the station and turn right, then take the first left in front of the massive, white BBC building onto South Africa Road and the ground is half a mile down there on the left. The ground is also easily walkable from Shepherds Bush station on the Hammersmith and City line. Come out of the station and turn right, then right again when you reach Loftus Road which runs down to the ground. For those planning to drink round Shepherds Bush Green use either Goldhawk Road or Shepherd's Bush on the Hammersmith and City Line, or Shepherds Bush on the central line.
If you're arriving in London by train chances are you'll come into Euston*, St Pancras, Kings Cross, Liverpool Street or Paddington. All of these are served by the Hammersmith and City Line which then runs through to Shepherds Bush. (* Euston Hammersmith and City Line connection runs from Euston Square - a short walk from the main line station.) From the South Charing Cross** and Victoria are served by the District line which then runs through to Hammersmith and joins the Hammersmith and City line to Shepherds Bush.(** Charing Cross District Line connection from Embankment, a two minute walk from the station.)
Where To Drink
The Springbok right next to the ground used to be a favourite haunt for the away fans however it has been refitted in 2008 and is now strictly home fans only with a check on tickets carried out by doormen to enforce this. The pub used to be a horrible little place but has now changed beyond all recognition and has been named as the LSA's base for the coming season.
Most visiting supporters will therefore head for Shepherds Bush Green where The Walkabout is a regular haunt. There's an O'Neils there as well.
Down the Uxbridge Road there's a variety of eateries like you've never seen before. Indian, Thai, Chinese, English (I'll have the blandest thing on the menu!) restaurants plus all the usual takeaways, the obligatory Nandos and Dominos Pizza. It's a real treat. For those looking for traditional fish and chips I can recommend the chippy right next to Shepherds Bush tube station. The best kebab (a correspondent informs me) is available at King Soloman's on Uxbridge Road - just past Loftus Road next to Bush Hall.
Bed and Breakfast
A correspondent from our message board recommends the Abbey Hotel in Wood Lane. Nice, clean and well run apparantly. £55 a night or thereabouts.
E-mail me any other suggestions and I'll add them in here.
The Club Shop
Like everything else at Loftus Road, the club shop suffers from a lack of space. It's crammed in underneath the away end and on match days it's a real ordeal in there. The ceiling is so low you may wish to don some specialised caving gear just to get in and worst of all, there's no air conditioning - this remains the case despite the refit in 2008. A couple of fans placed at the back try to build up a draft but even on just a mild day, on a match day, the heat in there can be unbearable.
Saying that the lay out has improved slightly, though the queues at the till still merge into one big sweaty scrum when it's busy.
Worth a visit if only because the girls behind the counter seemingly have to pass a strict attractiveness exam before being given a job.
Not so long ago QPR were awarded the football league's bog of the year award, and while standards have declined with age, the toilets are still better than 90% of grounds in Britain. The problem, as with everything else at Loftus Road, is space. There just aren't enough of them. Be prepared for massive half time queues, particularly the ladies toilets in the School End. There are entrance and exit doors but as nobody pays any attention to that be prepared for a door to randomly swing into your face as you try to make an entrance/escape!
Once one of the safest and family friendly grounds around, Loftus Road and QPR are starting to get a bit of an unsavoury reputation. Much of it is blown out of proportion by the media and doom mongers around the club, but there's no doubting that it's not as safe as it used to be.
I've been going to Rangers week in week out for more than a decade now and while I've only seen three or four incidents in the past couple of seasons (Villa away, Stoke away, Leeds home, Ipswich home) that's still 4 more incidents than I'd seen in the previous 8 years. Certainly don't be afraid to wear colours, or mix with Rangers fans at the Springbok and round the ground, but beware the small, pathetic pocket of pimply faced yobs calling themselves the "QPR Youth."
QPR sit somewhere in the middle of a bizarre West London food chain of rivals. Chelsea sit proudly at the top, with Fulham and QPR following on. Fulham and QPR hate Chelsea, and don't have much time for each other, but Chelsea have bigger fish to fry these days, half their fans now probably don't even know who QPR are, then again they probably think Chelsea were founded in 1997 and their first manager was Ruud Gullit but that's another story. Brentford hate QPR but in 6 meetings failed to beat the R's once and QPR pay little attention to their near neighbours.
A lack of matches with Chelsea and Fulham recently has led Rangers to look further afield for some quirky rivalry. Luton are detested, Reading and their fake hoops aren't popular, there's a simmering feud with Watford and then the usual half hearted London stuff with Crystal Palace and Millwall. A succession of league and cup matches with someone like Fulham is needed to get some much needed direction for the rivalry!