|Twitter rants, train station confrontations and revolting fans|
Mon 19th Mar 2012 21:12 by Clive Whittingham
The confrontation between supporters and players at Euston station after last weekend’s defeat at Bolton has divided opinion. LFW wades in…
It seems that football supporters have had enough. Tired of paying upwards of £40 for a ticket to a poor match played by mediocre footballers on astronomical money they have decided to strike back in a variety of forms.
Joey Barton’s persistent attempts to reinvent himself as some sort of people’s poet via Twitter are now met with a constant stream of weary pleas for him to stop giving the ball away in his own half instead. Then at Euston Station last week a pocket of QPR fans had their say in a more direct and personal way on the platform as the team disembarked from their first class accommodation into some forthright criticism from those who’d paid good money to watch them again fail to fulfil their potential in a crucial match. Meanwhile in Wolverhampton another very rich, very average footballer Jamie O’Hara was confronted by his club’s supporters in the Molineux car park. Revolution is afoot.
On the face of it this is no bad thing, it’s about time some of these footballers got a little taste of the real world. About time, too, they started to realise the commitment some people make to their football clubs, a commitment far in excess of anything some here-today-gone-tomorrow footballer can offer. In this game a four year contract is seen as a long term commitment, and the player rarely stays for the duration of it anyway. In the stands if you decide after 25 years of support that you’ve had enough you’re branded a fair weather fan or ‘Aunt Nellie’ as the modern day parlance is in W12. If you decide after 25 years that you quite fancy following Arsenal instead expect to be ostracised from friendship groups.
But reaction to last weekend’s incidents has been mixed. Jamie O’Hara has led the condemnation of his own treatment, pointing out that perhaps outside the ground, in the dark, when he’s trying to put his one-year-old son into the back seat of his car is not the time even for a conversation about the 2-0 home defeat to Blackburn, never mind a volley of abuse about it. He’s right of course.
The ‘Euston incident’ has divided QPR fans right down the middle if our message board thread on it is anything to go by. The LFW crew were too busy “drinking to forget” in Preston at the time so I cannot comment on what happened first hand, instead the This Is My England blog seemed to offer the most thorough, sensible and balanced account of it all. There are those who say our players deserve a piece of a few of our minds given their recent performance levels and I agree with them. There are those that question whether a team clearly bereft of confidence and belief is going to be improved greatly by fans accosting them at a railway station and telling them what they surely know themselves already and I agree with them too. Like so much of our season so far it’s a complex, messy and ultimately sad situation.
I’ve been critical of our supporters a few times on LoftforWords this season. The insistence of a section of the QPR support that a boo boy must be found in every Rangers team has been very prevalent this term and it mystifies me. Even last season in the midst of a wonderful campaign people around me in F Block seemed to relish their weekly opportunity to persecute Rob Hulse. This season before Christmas it was Jay Bothroyd and since then it’s been Joey Barton. Fine, you’ve paid your money, you can do as you like within the rules of the ground, but what is this achieving? I still shake my head when I think back to the New Year game at Arsenal when, during the pre-match handshakes, the numbskull in front of me launched a foul mouthed tirade about how “fucking useless” Bothroyd was. Useless at what? Shaking hands? At least let him make a mistake first. Or wait for the game to start perhaps.
And QPR fan are by no means alone in the abysmal behaviour stakes. Sadly what once was a tiny and easily ignored minority now has a social media platform to spread their bile. Rarely a week goes by now without some poor black or mixed race footballer somewhere being called some vile insults or other – Shola Ameobi and others have been targeted. Last Monday night Jack Wilshere, excellent footballer and seemingly likeable lad, Tweeted about the Tim Krul and Robin Van Persie argument in the Newcastle v Arsenal match and within 30 seconds somebody had replied to him saying that his recently born son Archie wasn’t his and his girlfriend had been playing away. Later in the week somebody posting as Joshua Paladini (since deleted account) mocked Robbie Savage over the recent death of his father. This was swiftly followed by Derby County fans believing a local rivalry with Nottingham Forest was excuse enough to mock the recent death of Nigel Doughty, Forest chairman and father of our own Michael Doughty currently on loan at Aldershot.
Then this weekend we have the delightful case of Swansea University student Liam Stacey who, while Fabrice Muamba was still laid on the field at Spurs being treated for a massive heart attack, Tweeted about how funny it was and then responded to abuse by black people by telling them to “go and pick cotton”, which is probably the nly printable thing he said during a two hour diatribe that landed him in court this morning.
My good God there’s some scum about. It’s hard not to sympathise with the footballers.
Having said all of that there are some very honest, decent, salt of the earth people who follow QPR and other clubs up and down the country every week and thankfully they’re still in the majority. But whether you’re in the camp that wants to give the players some stick at the train station, the camp that wants to abuse them on Twitter, or the camps that thinks we’d be best served by offering our support regardless of the diminishing returns I don’t think anybody would contest that the current level of performance and results from QPR are unacceptable.
I wonder what you would have thought if I said to you at this point last year: “Relax. We’re going to be promoted as champions. This time next year the starting 11 will be Paddy Kenny, Luke Young, Nedum Onuoha, Anton Ferdinand, Armand Traore, Adel Taarabt, Joey Barton, Alejandro Faurlin, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse.” Probably immediate relegation back to the Championship wouldn’t have been foremost in your mind. Possibly you may even have been so bold to dream of a Europa League campaign in 2012/13.
A dreadful summer of preparation, an astonishing turnover in players, a league leading 35 different players used, a degree of bad luck and poor refereeing, a season ending injury for our best player at the worst possible time and other factors besides have all contributed to poor on field performance this season. Nevertheless it’s impossible for either the window lickers or the reasonable supporters to look at that QPR team and not think it should be seven or eight places higher in the league table. The players are not performing as well as they can, or as well as they have for other clubs.
Following QPR is not cheap. We estimate that the average LFW Awayday sets us back between £120 and £150 each once train and match tickets are taken into account. That means four of us going to Bolton last week probably did in the region of £600 in 12 hours. At the centre of that day is 90 minutes of football which, at the moment, is the worst bit of the whole experience.
Now nobody is forcing us to either go to the matches or spend that much when we do go. I haven’t asked but I don’t believe anybody in our group believes it gives us the right to do and say whatever the hell we like on our way to and from the matches of in the stadium itself. If we don’t like what we’re getting we could always, radically, not go to the game.
But, at the same time, I do think we’re entitled to certain things from our players. Commitment to the cause for example, which I do believe is lacking despite the modern trend of saying that footballers do all care passionately about their work regardless of what supporters think. For Joey Barton to be repeatedly Tweeting about his “tidy Saturday night” hours after the home defeat to Fulham backs my viewpoint. He has thankfully since engaged with QPR fans in a more positive way and assured them that the players really are doing everything they can. I don’t believe him, but I preferred hearing that to his horse racing tips.
Do I expect them to live like monks? No. Do I expect them to train nine to five every day? No. Do I expect them to hurt as much as I do when we lose at home to Fulham? No. Do I expect them to spend all their spare time sitting in a dark room considering how they can improve themselves as players and men? No. But I expect more than I’m getting from them now which currently seems to be mediocre performances followed by a week of sycophantic articles about righting the wrongs mixed with Tweets about afternoons of golf and horse racing. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask for.
There’s been a lot of worthiness knocking around since the Bolton game. People telling other supporters that our job is to support the team not abuse it, and that remaining positive and keeping the faith is now more important than ever. Probably true, but we’ve been supporting this lot all season and it’s made no difference. In fact probably our best travelling support of the season, in number and volume, was at Fulham where we lost 6-0. It’s quite difficult to clap and shout “never mind Shaun maybe next time” as he hacks another presentable chance into the stand and I certainly don’t agree that we should all just happily sit and clap along to the increasing amount of rubbish we’re being served for fear of upsetting the poor molly coddled footballers and making them even worse than they already are. In one or two cases I struggle to see how they could get any worse even if they tried.
But clearly there’s a time and a place – abusing them during a match is certainly counter productive for example. That said, I cannot honestly say hand on heart that had I been at Euston last week I wouldn’t have said one or two things to the players myself.
Pictures – Action Images
|N12Hoop added 21:37 - Mar 19|
Given the fact that you can barely get near a footballer unless you stalk them on their way between the car park and the ground, it's understandable that given the opportunity on a station platform to challenge those players that you have just forked out Â£100+ to go and watch perform abysmally that it was one not to be missed. It would appear from the more considered reports that it wasn't abusive, more the voice of anger mixed with a few drinks and it can;t be a coincidence that the tone of JB's tweets changed almost immediately to a more contrite one. Message received perhaps?
For whatever reason it is not happening on the pitch yet individually I would argue our team is better on paper than at least 3 others and probably a fair few more. Whatever the reasons are for these spinless performances can only be speculated on but what I really hope is that IF we do go down, those players who have not performed take a look at themselves and, if Hughes wants them, make a commitment to the club not to abandon them but to go all out in the effort next year to take us back up. IF we go down we need to merge the different factions within the squad, get rid of the dross and show the fighting spirit required to get out of the division. MH was a horrible player because he had the fighting attitude of players like Derry, Hill and Mackie. He therefore knows what we need and I have faith in him and our owners which is why I'm looking forward to next season, whatever the rest of the season holds.
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|Eltham_Ranger added 21:50 - Mar 19|
Great article, well thought, excellently written and I completely agree with that final paragraph. I would have hoped I wouldn't have behaved that poorly but I know how I felt last Saturday so who knows?
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|themodfather added 01:29 - Mar 20|
for all the posts, reports and all that's been said, let's see their reaction.
arsenal were given boo treatment for losing to man utd and subbing a kid...since?? win win win
imagine them in a relegation dogfight( is it??) ??
again i'd ask for a forum or open day, clear the air...whatever i think this team has had it easy...simon barker, tony sealy,david bardsley all got "stick" and 2 of those i'd say are club legends!
if we go down, ok...if we aren't good enough but have TRIED....bad decisions we are used to, this is the top league and it's a fine line between staying up and going down..( cisse stays on pitch and we hammer wolves...swp is given his "goal" v wba and we win....we don't hit the woodwork at wigan, many times and their deflected shots go wide..there's 9 pts already).
letely defeats to wolves,bolton and blackburn just underline we are "down", if we can't win these "winnables" how do we go to the next 5 away games with hope?? inc chelsea,man utd and citeh....bet on qpr to win those as accumators and you'd be rich! very rich...
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|timcocking added 02:42 - Mar 20|
Whatever anyone says, i still primarily blame Briatore and Ecclestone for this predicament. Aided by incompetent officiating. If we had had this team all season, and the officials had done their job, we wouldn't be in this position. The only real gripe i have with the players are the vital red cards for Barton and Cisse which cost us so dear and were all about egos. Sent off for mistiming tackles (Zubah yesterday) is a mistake, i've no problem with that. To get sent off for showing you're the tough guy, knowing full well you'll be sent off for it, is simply unforgivable. Harsh to blame the likes of Zamora and Onuoha who've only played a few matches and are doing ok in my opinion.
Ps When Bothroyd first played for Rangers, i thought he looked quality, best forward i'd seen in our team for years. I still think he's a good player. He missed a couple of chances, got booed consistently after a few gamers, lost all confidence and now he doesn't get near the team. Well done Rangers fans. He's not sh!t, we've made him sh!t.
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|smegma added 09:59 - Mar 20|
" its about time some of these footballers got a little taste of the real world "...
On Saturday a Bolton player nearly died. The players on the pitch , who think they are so important, probably earn between them about Â£4m a week. The people who ran on the pitch or some of them , and saved his life are volunteers who did it for free. Its about time players dipped into their deep pockets and started paying the St Johns Ambulance people for their skilled expertise.
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|daveB added 10:22 - Mar 20|
Having a word with the players wasn't really a problem, Luke Young was chatting to fans and quite open about how frustrated he was on the train back but those fans who had a word with the players on the platform were just screaming you are shit in the faces of players which isn't exactly helpful. By all means talk to them and put across you are not happy but that wasn't the way to do it and just caused a ruck between players who are clearly trying like Mackie and the fans. Persdonally i think it's all very frustrating but the effort is there, they are not giving up in games we just haven't gelled as a team and that was is always going to happen if you build 3 different teams in a season.
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|Northernr added 10:26 - Mar 20|
Smegma, I can't remember the exact number of clubs but in David Conn's excellent book on football finance he said that x number of clubs had gone into admin in the last ten years (it was in the 30s) and every single one of them went owing money to the St John's Ambulance.
Dave - perhaps as well as 'time and a place' I should also have included 'and a tone'.
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|DesertBoot added 12:37 - Mar 20|
I'm not sure I buy this "haven't gelled as a team" as the key reason for our dire run of results,
Players unable to do simple things, find passes/finishes etc they have done in the recent past.
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|themodfather added 16:28 - Mar 20|
northern r makes a good point, the st johns get knocked regularly....that alan sugar does football prog clearly showed, the players always get 100% of money owed, local businessmen get shafted ( as in pompeys case, one guy has near lost his family bizz cos he won't get his money owed..so low down the list).
football needs to revamp itself, why can't clubs PAYE and clear taxes sooner rather than run up large debts ready to settle at a lower total?
there def must be a stop to all these tax avoidance schemes "ie image rights and off shore accounts" and the german idea of clubs staying within a budget seems (on paper) ok...level playing field!
back to qpr..let's see the reaction tomorrow, our fans will raise the roof, night games can be special at home, the "reds" can add to that...we are due some luck.
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|e1337prodigy added 20:20 - Mar 20|
Great article, and agree with all of it. Except these 2 statements " Do I expect them to train nine to five every day? No. Do I expect them to hurt as much as I do when we lose at home to Fulham? No." True to the first one, not 9-5 every day but at least mon-fri (it is a job after all) and if I was a footballer getting paid half as much as what they were getting paid I would be going home and kicking the ball up against the wall or something. They are doing something they enjoy and getting paid a lot of money for it. The second statement, I think should be a yes. They play for QPR, they need to know that losing to a rival club is a bad thing. They need to put their heart into the club and care. Even now when I think about some of the stories I read after we lost the 2nd game to Fulham, I started seeing articles with "Fulham beat QPR 7-0 on aggregate", I don't know about the rest of you, but that makes me really sad. If it was Man Utd or something I wouldn't care as much as it can kind of be expected. Players need to feel the same, get some of their passion back and give 110% in there next game.
Otherwise, I agree with you. Which I probably wouldn't have before reading this article. Screaming abuse at them doesn't help, in fact probably makes them play worse. It depends on the players too, I would imagine players like Derry would react well to abuse (I know that sounds wrong); what I mean is, use that and take the comments (or rather abuse) on board and think "they are right, I'm playing poorly here. I need to do better"... but players like Faurlin probably wouldn't and just lose confidence completely.
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|e1337prodigy added 20:26 - Mar 20|
@timcocking "The only real gripe i have with the players are the vital red cards for Barton and Cisse which cost us so dear and were all about egos." To be fair though, Barton getting sent off in the Norwich game wasn't his fault. The Norwich player faked it and the ref fell for it. Unless you are talking about another red? (did he get another red?)
Cisse, yes that was unforgiveable. But the player is sorry and has promised to make it up by scoring goals and so far he is living up to that promise; just a shame that our defence and Kenny can't keep the goals from going in the other end.
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|double_m added 22:42 - Mar 20|
@e1337prodigy and @timcocking Don't blame either player for their respective reds. Barton was getting beaten up with no ref protection and Cisse whose had two leg breaks was turning away from his pass with ball 10 yards away and still travelling!
It's the challenges you don't expect that hurt the most. Nothing to do with ego when you've got 14 stone of defender, with both feet off the ground coming through you. I think Johnson should've gone too. Cheers Clattenburg.
Barton is the problem.
He's the big character in the dressing room, the leader with juristiction to point and complain about his team mates mistakes... But he dosen't really care. As long as he can run up and down athletically without thinking about his responsibilities, without concentrating, without tuning in, he's happy with his performance.
Who was the nearest player to Cisse after he'd been fouled by Johnson?.. Had that been Shaun Derry, I like to think he'd have been there between Cisse and Johnson preventing an escalation instead of gesturing to the ref who'd already blown for the foul.
Interesting in that Fulham game, how after getting booed for the umpteenth poorly executed free kick/corner/pass his play perceptably improved.
More of the same I say.
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