Bobby Ram Raids Derby as QPR Return to the Premier League..
Derby 0-1 QPR
QPR returned to the Premier League at the first time of asking, following an emotional and amazing day at Wembley Stadium.
I don't even know where to begin here... but after watching this after arriving home, I will start with an emotional speech from Captain, Clint Hill after the match, which got the tears flowing once more..
'Throughout the season, everybody's doubted us, questioned our mentality, our desire, that just shows what we're all about, there's no mercenaries in there, we're a band of brothers, and we've been through hell this season, and that is just magnificent! I'm delighted for them, our Chairman, but more importantly our boys, they deserved every bit of that!!'
It was an early start for us all and after much deliberation, myself, Jenson, Lee, Jess, Sam, Luke, Iceman, Trev, Travis, PK, Steve, Lorna and Kareem, all arrived in Harrow at various times and descended on the Moon on the Hill for breakfast for some and some nice, cheap drinks, which definitely calmed our nerves somewhat. When Jenson informed me Friday evening that Trevor was meeting him, I was a bit concerned as his reliability has been somewhat questioned in the past as we all know. But fair play, he was bang on the button and the cab from Maidenhead, set sail.. only to be turned back as Trev, on this day of days, had left his match tickets in his car!!!! Only Trev!!! #TrevsFault
The drinks continued to flow and any kind of social occasion with Jenson on board, would involve Jaeger at some point, and , as named by California Hoop a few years back, 'Bomb Shits' were consumed!! But we kept it all level and made our way to Wembley to meet up with people at the Torch and probably, have a few more drinks... which, resulted in drinking cans in what was a mass street party as the Torch was heaving with R's fans!!
At about 2.15, we made what was a very slow journey along Wembley way to the impressive Stadium and the nerves were really starting to kick in as we made our way into the Stadium to start waving our flags and soaking up the atmosphere with 40,000 R's fans along with Jess's family who were sitting with us. The teams came out, we proudly sang the National Anthem and we were ready to rock and roll..
To the neutral, in fairness this probably wasn't the best game of football ever seen, but it was full of emotion, tension and drama as most Play off Finals have been. The first half was extremely cagey from both sides, but Rangers were looking the more comfortable in their new surroundings. Charlie Austin and Joey Barton both had half chances and at the other end, the much talked about Hughes was unsuccessful in trying to win a penalty for the Rams, going over far too easily after turning away from Richard Dunne - extremely disappointing from a very promising young player I must say!
Forsyth had earlier headed over from a tight angle, but the best effort on goal came from a Ward free kick, that missed everyone except Rob Green who pushed the ball away low down.
A few of us assembled on the concourse at half time and it was evident from the half that it would remain very close with nothing in the game at all..
Derby had the better of the opening exchanges of the second half, forcing a good few corners which were well defended by the R's back line. At the other end, Rangers had their best chance of the game on 57 minutes - battling work from Austin saw the ball find Traore, who in turn, crossed from the left for Austin who scuffed his shot wide.
Bobby Zamora then entered the play for the sadly ineffective Doyle and shortly after, Austin again fired a shot well over following good work from Hoilett. Rangers were then dealt a massive blow on the hour, when Russell went through on goal only for Gary O'Neil to hack him down on his way through. Lee Mason deliberated with his assistant but it was inevitable, O'Neil was shown the red card and it was advantage Derby with half an hour left. It was definitely a case of O'Neil taking one for the team as they say and adding this to losing Kranjcar to injury in the first half, this could well have been turning into a disaster. Redknapp responded immediately bringing on Karl Henry for Clint Hill.
It was now all Derby and Rob Green was performing heroics in the R's goal, keeping out Martin, Bryson and Dawkins as Rangers were fighting for their lives. Towards the end , Rangers went on the attack and Joey Barton fired an effort wide as extra time was looming.
Then the moment came - Zamora forced a throw in on the right which found Hoilett who went for the by-line and after appearing to lose out, slid in to win the ball and cross low into the box - Keogh tried to clear but the ball fell straight to Zamora who curled the ball home to send 40.000 Rangers fans into absolute raptures!!
After the celebrations died down, I asked Lee how long was left as I truly thought their were about 8 minutes to go, and when Lee said - seconds - the heart started racing.
A late corner saw the keeper go up for Derby but after the ball went clear for a throw, the ball entered play and Lee Mason blew the final whistle. We had done it and tears flowed from myself, Jenson and Sam as we all partied in the aisle's.
Queens Park Rangers
- 01 Green
- 02 Simpson
- 06 Hill (Henry - 67' )
- 17 Barton
- 15 Onuoha
- 05 Dunne
- 23 Hoilett
- 36 O'Neil Dismissed
- 14 Doyle (Zamora - 57' Booked )
- 09 Austin
- 19 Kranjcar (Traore - 33' )
- 03 Traore
- 04 Morrison
- 13 Yun Suk-young
- 18 Hughes
- 20 Henry
- 25 Zamora
- 26 Murphy
Onto the Man of the Match
Plenty of choice as you would imagine so will do the singular votes first, with Lorna going for Joey Barton. Jess went with what was also the Sky Choice, for a real commanding performance from Richard Dunne. PK and Sam went for Bobby Zamora for 'that' winning Wembley goal. Luke, Trevor and son, Travis went for Junior Hoilett and you couldn't really argue with any of these selections, but there has to be a winner and with 4 votes from Steve, Lee, Jenson and myself picked out Rob Green for a heroic goalkeeping performance.
And so, the Wembley Pie Rating
With a few having a big brekky in Moons, only myself and Lee sampled the delights of the Chicken Balti, Lee before the game and myself at half time.
Lee reported that it was extremely nice but questioned the dryness of the pastry - 8/10
I could not fault it at all, perhaps as I skipped breakfast through nerves, I was ravenous come half time. The only mark down from me was the outrageous price of £4.90!! But it IS Wembley after all - 9/10
Giving the Wembley Pies a rating of 8.5/10
We all continued celebrating as we saw the Rangers walk up those steps and collect the Trophy. Personally, I wasn't born in 67, but saw both Cup Finals against Spurs in 82, the Milk Cup final against Oxford in 86, the play off final against Cardiff in 2003, but seeing your team win at Wembley, well, it doesn't get much better than that does it?
We continued our celebrations back at the Torch but again, being so busy, we were drinking cans of beer in the street, before cabbing it to Shepherds Bush where we met with Laura and Tony, but sadly, all of the pubs had decided to close the doors as they were fit to bursting.. So, again, it was cans of beer, bottles of wine and this time sitting on Shepherds Bush Green. A bit disappointing after the euphoria of the last promotion celebrations, but this day just CANNOT have any disappointment. A curry was consumed before we headed for home and when I got in, switched on the TV and what came on.. Bobby Zamora curling the ball into the net.. MAGIC!!!
So, as I bring the curtain down on this report and simply the best football experience of my life, myself and Lee would like to thank you all this season for your continued support. It's not always pretty and it's not always very good, but it is honest and genuine and we are thrilled that Lofty Heights continues to grow from strength to strength. Myself and Lee are now stopped in the street in regards to our work and we have now been recognised by the Club itself, attending our first Fans Forum a few weeks back.
And to close, I just want to say a BIG THANK YOU to my own little band of brothers and sisters that travel home and away, week in and week out, which make following Queens Park Rangers the absolute joy that it is. We, along with every single R's fan out there so deserved our day yesterday!!
Feeling a bit emotional now...
See you all back in the Premier League and Come on you R'sssssssss!!!