Tag Archives: QPR

One Balloon and One Shot on Target – QPR at Wembley

Here’s a message for any Derby County fans who brought their kids to the Play-Off Final against QPR at Wembley on Saturday

I know what you went through.

You may well have travelled to the game looking something like this (with different coloured balloons and different shirts, obviously).


And you may well have travelled back looking something like this.


That was the 2003 Division 1 play-off final against Cardiff and in Cardiff. We lost.

This weekend we played you for a much bigger prize, and we won. I still don’t know how.

Before the game we were full of optimism



During the game, though, all that optimism disappeared. We had a man sent off and we were struggling in every area, just holding on. Perhaps we were hoping we could take it to extra time and then (with an older team of ten more likely to tire than Derby’s young eleven) somehow take it to penalties. With Robert Green stopping everything, who knows what might have happened…

But, deep down, we knew that we had blown it.

Then we won a throw on the right, and it happened – what will always be known as that goal, what will always be known as that moment. In the 90th minute of a game in which we had been, frankly, outplayed in every area, in a game in which for the last half hour we were reduced to ten men,  Bobby Zamora scored with our first shot on target.

Promotion at Hillsborough was fantastic. Promotion to the Premiership first time round was fantastic too. But there has been nothing quite like what happened at Wembley.

When I saw the kids in Derby shirts walking back up Wembley way surrounded by the jubilant blue and white hoops I felt for you. You had been reminded just how cruel and unfair the game can be. We, on the other hand, had been reminded of its extraordinary and surprising beauty.

Yesterday we brought only one balloon and had only one shot on target


It’s a tough lesson to learn, but sometimes that’s all you need to make the journey home a good one.



Not Going Out



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Someone very wise –it may even have been Homer Simpson – once said; ‘why bother going out? you’re going to end up back here anyway’. Some might still be living the kind of exciting life where this is not always necessarily the case, but for the majority, and certainly for me, those words are wise indeed. Why go out? Why put yourself through it? Why not cut out that awkward bit between being at home and coming back home later?

It’s difficult to tell when, exactly, Not Going Out started (yes I know there’s a BBC sitcom of that name which started in 2006), but it was probably a very short time after the arrival of kids. With young children going out becomes such a nerve-racking experience that the post-traumatic effects can last well into your children’s adulthood. First there’s finding a babysitter (together with the small fortune needed to pay them), then there’s worrying that your kids won’t behave or go to sleep, then there’s the worry that your evening is likely to be interrupted by a phone call (and for those of us old enough to remember pre-mobile days such a call involved public embarrassment), then there’s the thought that you’ll return to find your kids running around the house and the babysitter demanding danger money.

The idea is that once the kids get older, once the function of babysitters becomes nothing more than meeting legal requirements and ensuring that you don’t get arrested for neglect by leaving under-age children alone, you start to go out again. And then when the kids start going out themselves and then when they leave home you go going-out crazy, enjoying your new liberation in a spree of socialising which would tire and embarrass the most party-hungry teenager.

But some, like me, just get stuck.

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Other things came along. The Sopranos. The Wire. Mad Men. Breaking Bad. The West Wing. Friday Night Lights. The Gilmore Girls (no really, check it out). And that’s not mentioning Seinfeld and Frasier and all those shows you missed because you were reading bedtime stories and being a fantastic all-round, hands-on dad. DVD box sets became my new babies and I would stay at home watching their progress with a loving parental gaze. When I finished each series I felt strangely bereft, as if one of the children had just left home.

And what have I missed in these stay-at-home years? Cinema? Why cope with rustling sweetmunchers, loud teenagers and afternoon OAPs when you can watch it in the comfort of your own home? Theatre? Don’t make me laugh – it rarely did. Music?  Huge prices, huge venues. Dinner parties? You’re joking. Football? Well, OK, I did still go to football, but as this involved watching QPR I regarded it as nothing more than further proof that going out led only to pain and disappointment.