It was a record turnout from the entourage.
Nine of us had arrived in West London to watch the irrepressible Blue Machine sweep away the debauched, soul-less mercenaries of QPR and continue biting away at Sheffield Wednesday’s trotters in the race for the play offs.
We left the Brewdog in Shepherd’s Bush and made our way towards Loftus Road.
“Where are ya? Upper or Lower?” snapped a policeman on the street corner.
“Upper” we replied.
Like the Ghost of Christmas Future from the Muppet Christmas Carol this morose figure closed his eyes and slowly pointed to the side street on our right.
We nodded back in appreciation and rambled into the street.
In the distance were Blues fans. A disorganised rabble. But there were lots of them. I mean too many to be outside the ground at this time. There was a huge circular gathering, Brummies crammed together ,like a bunch of pissed-off penguins, but they weren’t huddling for warmth, they were close together due to a total a lack of space.
At the front stood a thin line of police and stewards. It was 2:55pm.
“Ah this must be QPR’s version of the terrorist searches. Nae bother. We’ll just wait here, get frisked and we’ll get in the ground for kick off. No problem. I’d rather have a five minute delay than find out i’m taking a piss next to a shoe bomber when I go for a slash at half time.”
Five minutes passed. Ten. Fifteen.
We hadn’t moved.
The crowd wasn’t moving. We hadn’t even moved forward an inch. What the hell was going on?
‘Oooohh!’ the noises from inside the stadium indicated somebody had gone close to scoring.
‘COME ON! LET US IN! WHATS GOING ON!?’ a desperate Blues fan shouted over the top of the crowd in the general direction of the stewards. People were getting frustrated.
Five more minutes passed. It was now 3:15pm.
‘We want our money back. We want our money back!’ chanted the Blues fans, who were now in danger of missing the entire first half as the clock continued ticking.
‘What the fuck is going on? What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fuck is going on?’. The Blues fans were getting angry, hundreds more had joined the crowd from behind us, we were now encased within the crowd.
At a sudden, the idiocy of the QPR authorities became tolerable no more, hundreds of Blues fans surged forwards and broke through the police line. The police got their batons out and tried to beat back the crowds, but sheer numbers overpowered them.
This was a small, narrow, residential street with lots of fences, railings, cones. Blues fans were falling over the cones and getting trampled on before people helped them to their feet. I was crushed against a wall and had to swivel here and there to create a bit of breathing room. I looked over to the right and a dad was holding his son aloft, above his head, who was crying in a flood of tears and was scared for his life.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. This is 2016. Why are QPR doing this? They’ve locked us out the ground and we’re now trapped.
I saw NattyBopper of SHA fame about twenty people in front of me, he was being dragged along in a river of bodies, he was like a twig in a stream speeding along in the quick rapids, before he disappeared. His friends, the Boppettes, had white faces of sheer terror and had become separated from their pal. They cried out, like lost Syrian children in the crowds at Lesbos, but Natty had been carried away and his fate was unknown.
I struggled through the people and got to a police officer.
‘What the hell is going on? We’re being crushed here. Why won’t they let us in?’
The police officer responded ‘Apparently two Birminam fans were drunk going through the turnstiles and had a little scuffle, so QPR have shut the gates and they aren’t letting anybody in.’
I replied ‘That’s ridiculous. We’re being crushed here, and we’re missing the game. Why don’t they just let the drunk people in, they can take a seat and sober up. Or just arrest the two drunk blokes and let the rest of us in ffs.‘
‘We can’t do that. It’s private property. It’s up to QPR if they want to open the gates’ lamented the over-worked copper.
What a disgrace of a club are QPR. A disgusting club.
More children were crying. Fights were kicking off behind us. Abuse was hurled at the police. Meanwhile QPR staff were sticking their heads out the windows of Loftus Road and smiling, before disappearing back in their offices.
BANG BANG BANG. I could hear Blues fans at the front trying to kick through the gates.
The gates opened. I was carried in an almighty surge into a narrow alleyway enclosed with bricks, before I got into the entrance of the ground. There, a Red Indian, who looked like Chief from the film ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ was trying to frisk supporters for bombs. He half-heartedly tapped one fan on the rib cage and then sighed…
He gave up. The Blues fans poured past him.
We managed to get in our seat about 25 minutes into the game.
We were ‘restricted view gold’. Top tier, above the goal. Battered and bruised we took our seats. The QPR fans were like 12,000 people waiting for a bus. They were silent, disinterested and took on a cardboard-cutout quality.
They were terrible, but they did have a Moroccan in a Mexican hat who continually shook a rattle and danced around like a Medieval Jester in ignorant delight.
‘One fan, you’ve only got one fan‘ – mocked the Blues hordes.
The ball trickled down the line. Shotton went over to kick the ball out of play….but he totally missed it, and now the oncoming QPR player had got to the ball and was in on goal. 1-0.
Cue darts music.
The hitherto bus stop QPR fans burst into life.
Moments later the blonde-headed QPR striker got the wrong side of Morrison. He moved away from the ball, backed into Morrison, bought the contact and flopped over like a fish. The ref had no hesitation to award the phantom-foul.
Penalty. 2-0. The fat chavs were dancing again.
The broken, bruised and shook up Blues fans who had narrowly escaped another Hillsbrough outside had taken their seats half way through the game just as QPR scored two soft soft goals and this did nothing to quell their irritation.
I could sense the anger boiling. Over to my far right the QPR fans were animated, and the Blues fans were shouting and cheering. There have been reports some coins were thrown in both directions. Footage has since emerged of a QPR fan invading the pitch, running over to the Blues fans to attack our traveling contingent only for a Brummie to jump over the sponsor board and with one punch, plant the QPR fan flat on his arse. KO.
The game quickly petered out into a non-event as QPR settled for their 2-0 win, and our lack of quality meant we couldn’t break them down or even muster a single half effort of note.
After the game the entourage and I went to a few bars around Covent Garden, grabbed a bite to eat and got the last train back to the Motherland. We were entertained by two rival gangs of extremely posh, sexually-ambiguous ‘rugger’ fans from ‘Royal’ Leamington Spa who spent the whole hour and a half arguing about which side of the river was the best.
I logged on to Twitter and saw the news breaking…
‘Evil Birmingham fans cause mass disturbances at Loftus Road’
‘QPR to launch probe over coin throwing allegations’.
The Hillsbrough-antics outside the stadium had been covered up. QPR had seen to that.
Instead the Blues fans were having their names dragged through the mud over a minor incident in the corner which saw both fans hurling missiles at one another for five minutes.
QPR, not content with charging me £32 for a restricted view ticket and denying me entry to the stadium for almost a third of the game; not content with getting away with almost killing innocent members of the public by creating crushing conditions outside the stadium; not content with cheating to win a penalty to steal the 3pts, it seems they now wanted to use their contacts in the cockney media to attack the Blues fans again.
I saw journalists from the Daily Mail, the Mirror and the Telegraph retweeting QPR’s lies. I swtched my phone off and threw it against the seat of the train and wiped a tear from my eye.
‘When will somebody stick up for the people of Birmingham?‘ I asked myself.
‘Why don’t Brummie lives matter?’
‘When 21 are blown up in a terrorist attack in the 1970s, its covered up and swept under the carpet. When hundreds of Blues fans are crushed against metal railings and children are screaming in fear, we’re met with the London Press attacking us and talking about coin throwing.’
Sooner or later we’re going to have to say to ourselves, we aren’t second class citizens, and if the likes of QPR want a fight…well, they picked on the wrong club.
– Chris Brown, @vivabrownie