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The one - Preview
Friday, 21st Dec 2018 16:38 by Clive Whittingham

Everybody is already well aware of QPR's abysmal record (D14, L20) at Nottingham Forest's City Ground, but these previews don't write themselves you know so...

Nottm Forest (8-11-3, DWDWLD, 7th) v QPR (9-4-9, WDDLLW, 13th)

Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Saturday December 22, 2018 >>> Kick off 15.00 >>> Weather — Bright and blowy >>> City Ground, Nottingham

Blame Neil Warnock for this, I do.

The season was 2010/11 and the QPR team, relative to the QPR teams before it and since, was a collection of Greek Gods. Kasparsius Gorkss, patron saint of flesh wounds to the face; Clintonian Hill, master of the air; Lord Shaunus Derry, who taught Vigo the Carpathian every trick he knew; love god Alejandro Faurlinus; Adellius Taarabtius, tormentor of peasants and pagans; Tommias Smithe, who taught the Romans how to shoot from outside the box; Jamius Mackieus, who watched Pheidippides drop dead after running his message back to Athens from the Battle of Marathon, scoffed and ran the reply back in half the time.

Kyle Fucking Walker was playing for us. Kyle Fucking Walker, fifty million quids worth of the twat. Forest had a collection of waifs and strays who’d replied to an ad in the paper, manager Billy Davies too busy settling a series of increasingly petty old scores with people he perceived to have wronged him in some heinous way to bother putting a squad together or picking a team from it. And still we didn’t bloody win. Smith should have had a penalty (cheers Andy D’Urso) and Lee Camp (I thought we were friends?) saved brilliantly from a Taarabt lob. Nil sodding nil, and 20 minutes of the comedy stylings of Patrick Agyemang chucked in to boot. That was attempt 29.

There are unhappy hunting grounds in football, particularly when you’re a club like QPR that doesn’t tend to ever play well away from home and often seems rather scared of the cold, the wet, the wind, the opposition and their own chronic lack of ability. We’ve only ever won once in 20 visits to Grimsby’s Blundell Park, for instance — the coldest, wettest, windiest place on earth. We’ve only ever won once at Old Trafford, which is perhaps understandable, and twice at Maine Road, which is less so. And then there’s The City Ground, which is less an unhappy hunting ground and more of a burial site for QPR teams young and old, talented and useless, in form and out of it.

It’s not just that QPR never win here and usually lose, it’s also that weird things happen to keep the run going. Take attempt 14, for instance, in 1987, when Nigel Clough scored a hat trick in four minutes. Four minutes. That’s one of five occasions we’ve lost 4-0 here — attempts one, 12, 14, 23 and the most recent 34 when Ian Holloway’s Rangers had beaten the top two at home in the league during the week before and travelled with rare hope only to be ripped apart once again. Roy Wegerle probably didn’t hit a shot better, crisper or harder in his entire career than the one he beat Steve Sutton with in attempt 18 in 1990 — the ball hit the inside of the post and, improbably, flew straight back out into play in the direction it had travelled in at. We were winning in attempt 27, with a quickfire double from Matteo Alberti of all people, only for Lee Camp, who’d been on loan at Forest just before and wanted to stay there amidst a row with the management at Rangers, let a soft equaliser in during a game he was only playing because Radek Cerny was injured.

QPR goalkeepers having brain farts is another frequent, joyful quirk of this fixture — fine goals from Les Ferdinand and Bradley Allen had QPR looking good for a televised Premier League win here in October 1994 (attempt 21) until Tony Roberts started dropping Ian Woan corners at the feet of Stan Collymore and waving at Kingsley Black crosses as if they were going wide as they sailed into the top corner. Accident-prone pillock.

People say it has to end sometime, chuckling away as they spend their hard earned on another set of train and match tickets just before Christmas. We got a men's single champion at Wimbledon in the end didn't we? Just a question of waiting long enough.

But it doesn’t you know. It could be like Chris Grayling’s political career, a festering shit fest that just drags on and on and on interminably for no good, sound, sensical reason at all. Like one of our match previews. We had two cracks at it in as many weeks thanks to an FA Cup draw in 2015/16 and you thought it must, surely to goodness, happen then, even by accident. Forest picked a reserve team for the cup game, attempt 31, and won 1-0 anyway. Two weeks later, attempt 32, 0-0 again. Stupid, vindictive, vengeful God.

People also say it’ll happen when you least expect it, but that’s not true either is it? Because when I would have least expected it to happen would have been attempt 22, when results had conspired against us on the penultimate weekend of the season meaning we were already relegated before we went to Forest for the final game of the season… and lost 3-0. Or the following season with attempt 23, amidst all the Ray Wilkins-Stewart Houston debacle when we started with Steve Slade up front… and Pierre Van Hooijdonk tore us a new arse (4-0, again).

Or, actually, attempt 27, when Mick Harford was in caretaker charge, and our team included such luminaries as Matt Hill and the second coming of Nigel Quashie. That’s when it really would have been unlikely to happen, that’s when I really expected it to happen the least. Three nil down at half time, we ended up losing 5-0 — the second time we’ve conceded five on this ground, along with attempt 15 in 1989 when we’d gone through three rounds of the League Cup only to draw Forest away in the fourth. There have been five cup ties between the sides at the City Ground (attempts one, six, seven, 15 and 31), all of them lost bar one which we drew and then lost the second replay anyway. As far as cup draws go, QPR would have a better chance of progressing through an away tie played on the fiery surface of the planet Mercury, where the daytime temperature peaks at a cool 427 Celsius before dipping down to -173 Celsius at night, which was the approximate temperature here for attempt 26 in December 2004 when Gorgeous Georges Santos scored! But so too did Andy Reid. And Jack Lester.

Anyway, off we all go again, pretending the chicken wings in Hooters are actually any good (there are boobs on the internet these days you know), pretending that this might be THE ONE, pretending we’re looking forward to it, pretending we’ve got a chance because we’ve got Nahki Wells and they’ve got tired legs after their Derby derby on Monday. But they’re not, and it’s not, and we’re not, and we haven’t. Who are we kidding? The boathouse was the time.

Links >>> 34 and counting — History >>> Forest play-off push — Interview >>> Ward in charge — Referee >>> Jingle Wells — Podcast

Geoff Cameron Facts #16 — While captaining the Pittsburgh Pomeranians, Geoff was able to snap a 34 game losing run against the Rochester Reindeer Hides by switching the date of the game without informing the opposition and being awarded a 3-0 win for their no-show.


Team News: Now, I want you to come in here and sit down for a minute. I’ve got something to tell you. Joel Lynch. Who limped out of the second half of last week’s win against Middlesbrough with a dead leg, is rated as a doubt for this weekend. I know. I know. It’s always the ones you most expect isn’t it? Should he be unavailable for this game, or the matches at home to Reading and Ipswich next week, it will continue his run of never having played for QPR between December 20 and 30 in three seasons at the club and be added to the list of 13/24 matches he hasn’t featured in between those dates over the last decade which currently stands at…

Millwall 1-0 QPR, December 29, 2017

Ipswich 0-0 QPR, December 26, 2017

QPR 1-1 Bristol City, December 23, 2017

Brighton 3-0 QPR, December 27, 2016

Huddersfield 2-1 Bolton, December 28, 2014

Rotherham 2-2 Huddersfield, December 26, 2014

Huddersfield 0-1 Birmingham, December 20, 2014

Brighton 0-0 Huddersfield, December 21, 2013

Huddersfield 1-1 Blackpool, December 26, 2012

Forest 0-1 Peterborough, December 26, 2011

Forest 5-2 Derby, December 29, 2010

Forest 2-0 Coventry, December 28, 2009

Norwich 2-3 Forest, December 28, 2008

With Angel Rangel out for a couple of months after surgery during the week that could see a recall at centre back for Alex Baptiste, or a switch inside for Darnell Furlong after his impressive filling in there last week (Osman Kakay, Jordan Cousins or Baptiste then to fight it out for the right back slot), or a rare start for Grant Hall!!! Three exclamation marks on that one. Geoff Cameron is also out for a couple of months so it’ll be Cousins filling in there you suspect, unless he’s moved to right back in which case it will be Josh Scowen, or water if you're not using wine. Mass Luongo has two more games before adding to the midfield problems by heading off to the Asia Cup. As you were up top, with Tomer Hemed still out with a persistent groin problem. We’ve got two copies of Paddy Kenny’s Guide To Organising an Office Christmas Party to give away for any sighting of Sean Goss.

Tobias Figueiredo is back from the naughty step for Forest so our former charge Jack Robinson, who had been filling in at centre back, will revert back to the left side of defence to accommodate his return. Danny Fox has gone into hiding to avoid the Boxing Day hunt and Michael Dawson is terribly old, so neither will play.

Elsewhere: Sky Sports Leeds will be showing Leeds this weekend, as the Champions of Europe head to Birmingham to face Big Racist John and the Boys in a Super Sunday Brunch Spectacular. Having already been crowned champions back in August I’m not sure why Marcelo Bielsa’s lot are still feeling the need to pile it on quite so thickly but five wins on the spin has taken them above Borussia Norwich at the top of the Lancashire and District Senior League all the same. Norwich have a chance to usurp them, possibly temporarily, if they can defeat the Mad Chicken Farmers at Ewood Park on Saturday.

The other tellybox game sees Swanselona go to Allam Tigers on Saturday evening. No Friday night football from our division this week because Sky have shifted a match from The Best League In The World (which Richard Keys stopped knobbing his daughter’s mate long enough to tell us to cap up) to that timeslot instead. In the traditional 15.00 Saturday slot, Stoke v Millwall Scholars looks like festive fun for the whole family.

Jos Luhukay clings to his job but is unlikely to survive another home loss as the Sheffield Owls host Preston Knob End. Having gambled the whole house on promotion and not made it, plunging Wednesday into all manner of FFP problems in the process, owner Dejphon Chansiri has now decided his work is done and put the stricken club back on the market. “We didn’t just break the rules a little, we broke them a lot, eight figures,” he told a fans forum during the week. Roll up, roll up.

It’s a weekend for promotion chasing sides to travel away to clubs struggling at the wrong end of the league. Ipswich Blue Sox finally got a second win of the season at home to Wigan Warriors last weekend but now face a tough home game with Sheffield Red Stripes. Pulisball suffered a League Cup humiliation at the hands of Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion during the week to continue their recent slide ahead of a trip to mangerless Reading. And West Brom are away to Rotherham.

Frank Lampard’s Derby County are at home to Bristol City this weekend, which looks alright. Wigan Warriors are hosting Birmingham City, which does not. And on the back of another moral victory up at Hull last week (you really shouldn’t be forcing excellent young boys to travel that far away from home and play in those kind of weather conditions at this time of year so we’re declaring the 2-0 defeat void and reversed), Spartak Hounslow have a gimme at home to Bolton who haven’t won since the Cretaceous Period.

When they strap me to the chair please let them know the murders were just. Merry Christmas everybody.

Referee: Gavin Ward was something of an enfant terrible when he torpedoed a couple of our games at Portsmouth and Reading early in his career, but that was eight years ago now so I’m sure this will all be absolutely fine. Keith Stroud on Boxing Day, on the other hand… kill it before it lays eggs. Details here.


Forest: Nobody has drawn more games in the Championship than Nottingham Forest (11). Although there’s been little sign of the snooze-a-thon tactics that blighted Aitor Karanka’s spell at Middlesbrough, one of the draws was 5-5 at Villa for goodness sake, there have been three 0-0s including two of the last six matches. Monday’s televised 0-0 with Frank Lampard’s Derby County was the second game in a row, and third time in six matches, that Forest have failed to score but they’d managed at least one goal in the 11 games prior to that and Lewis Grabban is the league’s top scorer with 14 goals (15 in all comps). Forest have only lost three league games all season, and only one of the last nine, but two of those defeats have come at the City Ground including 1-0 last time out here against Preston. They’ve won five, drawn four and lost two on their own patch this season and only Leeds (six) and Boro (seven) have conceded fewer home goals than Forest’s nine.

QPR: Rangers have won three away games out of 11 played so far (as many as they managed in the whole of last season) but those victories came against three of the bottom four (Ipswich, Bolton and Reading) and the loss at Leeds on the last road trip a fortnight ago was a fourth away match without a win (D2, L2). The win against Middlesbrough last week snapped a four-match run without one, but didn’t come with a clean sheet extending a run without a shut out to seven games during which Rangers have conceded 13 goals. They’d kept three consecutive clean sheets immediately prior to that and their total of seven for the season is as many as they managed in the whole of 2017/18. Their run of 34 games without a win at Nottingham Forest is the longest such sequence between any two teams in the country. The R’s lost both games with Forest last season, shipping nine goals in the process. Nahki Wells is on a run of five goals in nine appearances after none in his previous 27.

Prediction: Whoever is top of our Prediction League at Christmas gets the first choice of prizes from our generous sponsor The Art of Football. Get involved here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Reigning champion Elliott tells us…

“Nottingham Forest away… will we ever win there? Probably not. I do think we’ll give them more to think about compared to recent trips. I’m backing the long run to continue but a decent away point.”

Elliott’s Prediction: Forest 1-1 QPR. Scorer — Ebere Eze

LFW’s Prediction: Forest 2-1 QPR. Scorer — Nahki Wells

The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords

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timcocking added 17:57 - Dec 21
Please, can everybody just stop mentioning Grant Hall now?

WokingR added 19:20 - Dec 21
What do you mean "there's boobs on the internet now"?
When did this happen ?

Tonto added 20:06 - Dec 21
You will.need to look quickley Woking. Parliament were trying to remove them as a distraction from talking about removing Immigrants without tying to sound racist

Phil_i_P_Daddy added 20:38 - Dec 21
Apparently Robinson's been chopping off, so that's him a shoe-in for first scorer.

DannyPaddox added 21:54 - Dec 21
Footnote: Between attempt 6 and attempt 7 was attempt 6.5. A coin toss. We lost.

TacticalR added 23:09 - Dec 21
Thanks for your preview.

Our Sisyphean task will one day be completed (probably when you least expect it).

snanker added 05:16 - Dec 22
Maybe Trees can do us an own goal favor to get the 3 pts ?

18StoneOfHoop added 10:56 - Dec 22
Magical jocular mirth-filled witty arf-arf preview. Liked the Classical Hooped Gods bit best. I'm putting on £20 for the win and there might be some wild ballyhoo shouting in the Braemar Rd Bees stand Twickenham vicinity come 4:50 pm from a fat bloke revealing his Dennis The Menace R's away shirt under his coat mehopes and prays. THIS TIME MORE THAN ANY OTHER TIME...#ForTheLoveOfDaphneBiggsDoItBoys

Noelmc added 14:09 - Dec 22
Could not resist the temptation to look up ‘Sisyphean’, Tactical. You certainly summed up our task in one word ‘laborious and futile’ - it certainly is.

TacticalR added 19:57 - Dec 22
Noel, Northernr started it by talking about Greek Gods.

westolian added 21:06 - Dec 22
It took ages for you to mention Hooters - I was panicking

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