LIBERATING FOOTBALL TRAVEL

Queen’s Park Rangers

The Hoops from Shepherd’s Bush still seek new home

A fan’s guide – the club from early doors to today

Last in the Premier League in 2014-15, Queen’s Park Rangers now find themselves marooned in the Championship. Plans to move out of their cramped Loftus Road ground are similarly frozen, the contrast with local rivals Brentford and Fulham telling, one with a new stadium, the other involved in a significant rebuild.

Recent chairman and majority shareholder, Malaysian budget-air entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, is still looking at pastures new – QPR play at one of the smallest grounds in the whole Football League.

Loftus Road/Peterjon Cresswell

Place names around Loftus Road relate to the Empire Games staged at nearby White City in 1934 – originally awarded to Johannesburg but moved here because of concerns over treatment of black and Asian athletes. Rangers themselves played at White City in the early 1930s, returning to Loftus Road in 1933.

The club’s heyday came in the late 1960s and 1970s. After decades of lower-flight football, manager Alec Stock and chairman Jim Gregory steered the club to a remarkable League Cup win in 1967 and, for the first time, the top flight a year later. Despite the presence of mercurial forward Rodney Marsh, QPR were quickly relegated. Maverick Marsh was replaced by the equally maverick Stan Bowles, and with Dave Sexton in charge and home-grown midfielder Gerry Francis as captain, Rangers were a force to be reckoned with, coming within a point of winning the league in 1976.

Under ex-player Terry Venables, QPR made the FA Cup Final of 1982 and a UEFA Cup place in 1984, while Francis and another old boy, Ray Wilkins, also led creditable Premier League campaigns as coaches.

Loftus Road/Peterjon Cresswell

Swift managerial changes and boardroom shenanigans were to follow, but manager Neil Warnock still managed to steer the club back to the Premier League in 2011. He would only stay in place for eight games before incoming chairman Fernandes brought in Mark Hughes, who suffered a similar fate the following season.

Bobby Zamora’s late play-off strike gained promotion to the Premier in 2014 but had been long forgotten by the time the reign of manager Harry Redknapp was ended in February 2015. An end-of-season 6-0 defeat by Manchester City must be regarded as a low point in the club’s history.

Coach Chris Ramsey failed to motivate a thinned-out squad to regain Premier League status in 2015-16, a succession of managers failing to lift Rangers anywhere near a play-off position. The arrival of former Brentford coach Mark Warburton in 2019 changed that for the better in 2020-21, but not quite better enough.

Ground Guide

The field of dreams – and the stands around it

Loftus Road seats just over 18,000, modest even by Championship standards. It feels it too – in a good way – with spectators so tight to the touchlines, it must be intimidating for away players. It’s certainly cramped for away supporters, be prepared.

The main entrance is through the South Africa Road Stand, where you’ll also find the ticket office, shop and reception; along the opposite sideline is the Ellerslie Road Stand, behind which is the away entrance. The goal ends of the stadium are the Loftus Road Stand and the School End, where away fans are accommodated, usually in the top tier, although the lower tier can also be used given demand.

Note that the ground is now officially called the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, named after the young QPR player stabbed to death in 2006 while trying to prevent a boy being bullied. His father, a former champion boxer, set up a foundation in his son’s name to motivate youngsters away from violence.

GETTING THERE

Going to the ground – tips and timings

The nearest Tube is White City (Central line), about five minutes’ walk away: turn right out of the station, then left on to South Africa Road. Wood Lane Tube (Hammersmith & City and Circle lines) isn’t much further away. Shepherd’s Bush Market (also Hammersmith & City and Circle lines), although a 15-min walk from the ground, allows use of the pub options on the Uxbridge Road.

The sat nav code for Loftus Road is W12 7PA. While there is (extremely) limited street parking around the ground, traffic is sealed off from 90 minutes before kick-off and until 15 minutes after the final whistle – wherever you might park, you’ll have a long wait afterwards. The best bet is the Westfield London mall (W12 7SL),  by Shepherd’s Bush Tube/Shepherd’s Bush Market Tube stations closest to the ground. Parking for 2-6hrs is Mon-Fri £8.50, Sat-Sun £9.50, cashless. The centre is also opposite away fans’ bar Belushi’s.

getting in

Buying tickets – when, where, how and how much

General sale starts four weeks before each match, which is to say two weeks after season-ticket holders and club members are offered tickets. With average home gates under 14,000 in 2018-19, availability may be tight for derby games and the bigger visiting clubs, but otherwise not a problem. For details, see here

Tickets are sold via eticketing, over the phone (UK only 08444 777 007, Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, £3.50 levy per ticket) and in person. The ticket office (Mon-Fri noon-5pm, weekend match days from 10am, midweek from noon) is in the South Africa Road Stand and you can also purchase from the QPR Superstore (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) alongside. Cash and cards are accepted on match days. For all ticket information, email boxoffice@qpr.co.uk or call 020 8740 2613.

Prices differ by £1 between category A and B games, a standard £25 charged for bronze seats in each corner, £28 for silver seats in the wings of the Ellerslie Road Stand and £33 for gold seats in between. Over 60s and 18-21s pay £16-£23, under-18s £13-£16. Under-8s are allowed in free.

what to buy

Shirts, kits, merchandise and gifts

The QPR Superstore (Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, match days from 9am) is in the South Africa Road Stand, to the right of the ticket office. Somewhat pleasingly, nodding dogs, branded dart flights and furry car dice are among the accessories. The club went full Feyenoord for the third kit in 2020-21, otherwise hoops are sacrosanct. Sadly, though, you won’t find all-white among the retro tops.

 

stadium tours

Explore the ground inside and out

Stadium tours (Tue & Sat 11am, match-day Sat 10am, midweek match day 2.30pm, £15, juniors £7.50) take in the dressing rooms, the players’ tunnel, the dug-outs and the trophy room. They only run August-April.

Where to Drink

Pre-match beers for fans and casual visitors

The nearest pub to the stadium, the Queens Tavern (former Springbok) at 121 South Africa Road, is very much a home fans’ destination. Its bare interior is embellished by a little mural of QPR badges down the ages, just inside the door, blue-and-white iconography brightening up the back bar. A pool table at the back provides entertainment.

You’ll find a few pubs along the Uxbridge Road, at right-angles to Loftus Road. The Pocket Watch shows big-screen sport, serves Camden Hells, Estrella and Red Stripe on draught and has a dining area at the back. Diagonally opposite, the Coningham Arms (No.191) on the corner of Percy Road is an honest-to-goodness Irish pub, as friendly as it gets, with horse racing on TV and regulars round the bar counter.

A little further along, on the corner of Uxbridge and Becklow Road, the stylish Princess Victoria dates back to before the namesake queen’s reign, a former gin palace that stocks 100+ varieties of the stuff, plus craft beers and fine wines. TV sport is shown inside, with more seats on the pavement terrace and courtyard garden.

Further up towards Shepherd’s Bush Green, Defectors Weld is a contemporary bar/restaurant popular with young professionals. Opposite Shepherd’s Bush Tube, chain sports bar Belushi’s beneath the West 12 Shopping Centre is recommended for away fans, though they’ll have to bring their own atmosphere. Above, The Central Bar is a functional Wetherspoons popular with weary shoppers.

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