Rangers are back where they belong

Midfielder Mikele Leigertwood gets stuck in during the R’s superb 1-0 victory with ten men at Reading.

What a couple of months it has been. Exhilaration, devastation, disbelief, agony, ecstasy and consternation have – at one moment or another – consumed QPR fans as they waited desperately to see if the R’s would be crowned Championship winners. The Alejandro Faurlin affair, because all major media events have to be described as such, has consumed more column inches than most other issues in the game these past few weeks. Yet from the plethora of varyingly informed stories that have made their way onto newspaper pages since April, none were proven right by the course of events.

On 30th April Queens Park Rangers finally did what they’d be threatening to do for weeks, in limping over the line into the Premier League, with a late 2-0 win at Watford. For R’s fans who had waited 15 years since relegation back in 1996, and been through more in a decade than most supporters would hope to suffer in a lifetime, it was a euphoric day of unbridled joy and celebration. Yet thanks to the FA – who must be held solely responsible for the confusion which reigned throughout April and early May – despite an impenetrable lead at the summit, Rangers fans couldn’t celebrate fully, knowing the team’s relentlessly hard work over the course of season might be in vain.

In the end it wasn’t, the FA announcing just an hour before the game against Leeds United at Loftus Road that no points would be deducted from the worthy Champions, but by then it was more of a sense of relief around W12 than the euphoria which a title-winning season ought to culminate in. Despite joining the Premier League elite, the board at QPR have once again dragged the club’s formerly good name through the mud, and unforgivably detracted from the indisputably brilliant job Neil Warnock, the R’s first eleven, and his dedicated back room staff have done in transforming last season’s bottom-half also-rans into deserved title winners.

QPR fans of an older vintage will perhaps remember the days when football was played on a pitch, where any team could win any game, providing they worked as a team and bought the right players. Nowadays, sadly, football is played out in the Sky boardroom, represented by disconnected multi-millionaires, for whom loyalty is decided by the size of their contracts rather than the shirts on their backs. Yet amidst this morass, the footballing world ought to sit up and pay attention. For Queens Park Rangers, a Premier League founding club back in 1992, are back where they belong.

It may be a different game now, but with Neil Warnock in charge, the R’s won’t go far wrong. Thanks to a 62-year old, straight-talking Yorkshireman, the evergreen and indomitable determination of Shaun Derry and Clint Hill, 24 clean sheets of Paddy Kenny and the incredible skill of Moroccan superstar Adel Taarabt, Rangers are well and truly the Pride of West London. And there isn’t a group of supporters anywhere up and down this country who deserve it more.

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