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QPR Awaydays - Coventry, Ricoh Arena
QPR Awaydays - Coventry, Ricoh Arena
Wednesday, 19th Mar 2008 13:42

QPR travelled to the Midlands for a midweek clash with Coventry earlier this month, and a real thriller it was too.

1 – The Game
Another absolutely awful, filthy stinker served up by the Championship. My God it’s hard to put into words just how terrible this was – everything the Barnsley game was and more. In the first half Coventry created four or five very presentable chances and either missed the target or were denied by Lee Camp who was the only man on either side who looked like a player worthy of the level he was playing at. QPR created absolutely nothing and spent most of the first half giving the ball back to Coventry whenever they could, well we were the guests after all, it’s only polite. In the second half Coventry stopped creating chances and QPR continued in the same vein – mustering one serious attempt on the goal all night. There were no near misses, no controversial incidents, no nothing. It was pathetic. Embarrassing even.

2 – Rangers’ Performance
A team of two halves – attack and defence. The back four played another game together and they improve with each passing game. Another clean sheet, the third on the bounce, and three of the four of them never looked troubled. Delaney had real difficulty with Mifsud all evening and he had two or three chances to get the Sky Blues in front in the first half before Rangers resorted to kicking him in the second. The attack on the other hand was very poor. De Canio shifted Ephraim, Vine and Buzsaky around a dozen times or more behind Agyemang on the night to no avail. The application of the four of them left a lot to be desired, the hissy fits that Ephraim kept throwing with the officials were cringe worthy and Vine’s willingness to throw his hands up at the unfairness of it all and just give up is not what you want to see from your players on a Wednesday night away trip that you’ve battled to get to from work. That only leaves Rowlands and Leigertwood who sat very, very deep in midfield protecting the defence. The ball retention was shocking, the lack of attacking intent became tiresome and all in all we were lucky to be leaving a game we could and should have been winning with a point. So five out of five for the defence and a zero for the attack.

3 – Atmosphere
My goodness we’re heading for a low score here. The Ricoh Arena is just about my least favourite away ground for reasons I will go into in more detail in point five, and it’s even worse when it’s less then half full. We arrived about half an hour before kick off to find the blocks given over to QPR behind the goal filling up reasonably but nobody else anywhere. Some 30 minutes later as the teams emerged the situation had barely improved at all. A handful of Coventry fans spaced out to our right behind the goal, the stand at the opposite end to us was less than half full, the stand to our left appeared to be half closed. The only stand with any great numbers in was the wonderfully named “Tesco Stand” off to our right which housed the majority of the Coventry support in a big huddle in the middle. The corners were empty. Nobody said anything all night. Before the match the man with the microphone did that thing they do in these new grounds where he goes around the pitch and shouts “good evening East stand” and everybody in that stand cheers. Now at Hull, where the three sides are full and the home fans are boisterous, this is the kind of thing to be watched through your fingers. “Good evening East Stand” “Hooray” oh my God it’s cringe worthy. When I go to the rugby league at Hull I like to read my programme or something while it’s going on because it really is so embarrassing. At Coventry, in a half empty ground, with vast banks of sky blue seats staring silently back at the man with the microphone it had to be seen to be believed. If I was him, I think I’d be dropping it from the pre match routine rather than ritually humiliating myself in front of 14,000 people every week.

4 – Travelling Support
More than a 1000 QPR fans travelled north for this which considering it was a Wednesday night and we’re playing twice a week every week at the moment was very commendable. As ever a decent number of those travellers went to the back and sang pretty constantly, although whether that ‘Northern scum’ song is really the best thing for us to have on repeat for 20 minutes is open for debate. Still, at least we were making the noise and to get up there during the week with another trip to Sheffield at the weekend it’s hard to think of a bad thing to say about us really.

5 – The Ground
My God I hate this place. It’s becoming irrational on my part but I really do have a burning desire to see the whole horrible structure ripped down and started again. It is the absolute worst example of a new ground – a shining beacon for clubs looking to move grounds in the future to come and look at and avoid the same mistakes. You may think Layer Road is bad as you queue for 20 minutes to share a five foot wide piss trough with a fat bloke but I’d rather stand on that terrace at Layer Road than come here every week let me assure you.

Let’s pretend QPR have just announced they plan to leave Loftus Road and move to a new ground – what do you want to see in your new stadium? Firstly you’re going to want to see access – Loftus Road is served by four tube stations on three different lines and is about to acquire a fifth and an overground train station as well. You can’t move for buses, the Westway is a goal kick away, any new ground should have equal or better access. Coventry is just about the least accessible ground in the country. The nearest train station is the thick end of four miles away with no direct link to the ground – as usual when new grounds are built initial promises of a train station on site are laughed off now they’ve got it built. So coming by train is a pain in the arse. Although the M6 is very close, arriving by car presents you with your next problem. There is no parking at the ground. Why are people who suggest building a stadium for 30,000 people but not providing any parking not laughed off the face of the earth or, better still, shot? You can try parking at the adjacent Tesco, otherwise you’re left with the various owners of fields and businesses trying to make a killing by charging you £4 to park there, and it’s a bloody long walk from most that I wouldn’t want to be attempting in the rain. So you can’t go by train, you struggle to park when you go by car and then you arrive at the “arena”.

What would you not want to see from a new Loftus Road? Personally I wouldn’t want it to be the same as every other new ground, I wouldn’t want it to be devoid of atmosphere, I wouldn’t want to look at my matchday ticket and see that I’m sitting in the “Tesco Stand”, I wouldn’t want to walk through the turnstile to be confronted with a sea of unpainted, untreated breeze blocks, bits of steel and cable hanging off the roof and walls and huge metal shutters that don’t seem to separate anything off from anything else. I wouldn’t want people to be able to see me going for a piss from the access staircase, I wouldn’t want every single seat to be the same colour so that when it eventually hits home that you’ve built the bloody thing to big you’re faced with 15,000 empty blue seats staring back at you. I wouldn’t want to have a fifty foot plain white wall stretching all the way down one side of the pitch in what is supposed to be “the main stand”, I wouldn’t want replays of a crucial incident on the big screen being interrupted by the news that the resulting corner kick is being sponsored by BBS Ltd Electrical Supplies, I wouldn’t want some bloke in a suit screaming “Good evening BDO Office Supplies Incorporated Stand” and expecting me to cheer back, I wouldn’t want to be separated from the pitch by a strip of concrete, an advertising hoarding, another strip of concrete, a strip of rubber matting, a large patch of grass and the touchline, I wouldn’t want cheerleaders that can’t dance for toffee and I wouldn’t want the worst music from the 1970s blasted at me at ridiculous volume before the match and at half time.

All of these things are in evidence at the Ricoh Stadium and not only does it consistently present the worst matchday experience for travelling supporters – like some disgusting sky blue torture chamber bunged out in the middle of nowhere with no means of reaching it other than bicycle with your chuffing “Coventry City green travel plan” in hand – but Coventry don’t even own it. Thy pay rent to play here, and lose money every home match. Not only is it the worst possible example of a new stadium, but it’s slowly strangling the club that uses it and it stil, there years later, doesn’t even look like it’s finished to me. Is Highfield Road still standing? Can we go and play there next season please?

6- The Journey
I set off from work in Ripley at four and after dropping a colleague off in Alfreton that left a good three hours and fifteen minutes until kick off which, I thought, would give me plenty of time to drive to Hinckley, meet my mate Paul and head down to the ground for a pre match drink. Unbelievably a journey of little over 50 miles took me the thick end of two hours. First they were widening the M1, then they were resurfacing the M69, then they were doing whatever the hell they were doing on the A5. I spent so long stationary it was ridiculous. To compound matters somebody had spilt several tonnes of sand off a lorry onto the carriageway near the East Midlands Airport and after queuing for 45 minutes to see this sand I was greeted by the sight of several workmen standing around looking at it, presumably waiting for representatives from the Royal National Institute of Sand to arrive and confirm that it was in fact sand and not some form o highly explosive material that could blow us all to bit if it were to come into contact with a hard bristled brush or spade.

After all of that I was looking forward to a speedy return trip to Sheffield after the match, but once again I was mistaken. I arrived back at the end of the M69 to find the slip road onto the M1 closed, presumably while they install yet another one of those reheeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrly useful strips of yellow tarmac and traffic light sets they’re using on slip roads these days for precisely no reason whatsoever. This sent me roaring down the M1 to the next junction and my God that’s a long way! Normally gaps between junctions are about six miles but this one seemed to go on forever. It felt like I was nearly at Northampton before I could turn round – in the end I didn’t get back into Sheffield until beyond midnight. More than four hours of motorway driving for little over 100 miles.

7 - Pre Match
After the nightmare session with the sand and the road works and the roundabout central that is the A5 I finally pitched into Paul’s Hinckley gaff a little before six. I’ve always drunk in the Black Horse next to the M6 when travelling for games at the Ricoh but although I planned initially to do that again by the time I’d battled with the sand and the resurfacing and the widening and all the rest of it there simply wasn’t time. Not to worry, Paul poured my a marvellous beer and prepared a fine example of his famous pork curry and that certainly hit the spot after a long spell out on the roads. We headed off for the ground about an hour before kick off, parking up in the field next to the M6 that I’ve used before with little difficulty and then taking the log walk through the housing and industrial estates to the away end where we found Northern Steve, perched on a bollard in the car park for reasons we never quite got to the bottom of. With Paul’s substantial portions and an ice cold beer in a comfy living room it’s hard to give this a low mark, shame I couldn’t have got there sooner really.

8 – Police and Stewards
After previous bad experiences here with both the police and stewards, and no I’m not some beer fuelled football hooligan who has run ins with stewards and police every week before you ask, I always approach this ground with some apprehension. I’m just waiting for “George” with his Hitler moustache and Nazi approach to stewarding football matches to jump out from round a corner and rant on at me with his Cov-Brum accent as on my first visit here. Fortunately this Wednesday, with barely anybody there to cause any trouble, the police and stewards were few and far between and we heard nothing from either of them all night.
Total – 38/80
Awayday League

Comments from users:

Jealousy is a terrible thing. - CoundonCoyles

Sour grapes mate, just because your rich bloke has landed, not a bad ground for a club with massive depts. wasn't five minutes ago you wre in div.1 so don't go on like a Chelsea fan and forget where you came from. - Boomsie

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