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From USA With Love: How I Became A Queens Park Rangers Supporter

queens park rangers fans From USA With Love: How I Became A Queens Park Rangers Supporter

Being born in the United States in the late 80′s and growing up through the 90′s, I was exposed to the great “resurgence” of “soccer” in America. With the World Cup here in 1994 and the US women’s team winning their titles in ’91 and ’99, soccer began to get massive exposure here in the States, and even though I’m from Indiana, a state known for it’s love of basketball, the first organized sport I ever played was soccer at the age of 6.

Unfortunately it wasn’t something I seriously stuck to, quitting before high school, and I definitely didn’t follow the professional game or even know of any teams outside of the MLS until one day someone in school had a Manchester United jersey.

Acquiring a bit more information I was informed that they and Arsenal were the two best clubs in England (mind you, it was about 2004), and I was given the understanding that they were big rivals. From then on I decided that I would be a fan of Man United. From that point anytime someone brought up soccer that’s what I told them, “I like Man U,” even though I didn’t really know anything about the team and, at the time, failed to even realize that they had dominated the Premier League since its inception.

Eventually, from watching the World Cup in 2006, I had decided that I thought Wayne Rooney was cool, and since he was a United player it gave me even more reason for liking my team. So that was that. I had a team that was good with a player I liked, and my gradual interest slowly increased as I started watching the occasional game more and more often.

Then suddenly, as if a bomb went off in my in my world of soccer fandom, the 2010 World Cup came and I supported my country like never before! I felt connected with every other US soccer fan. We struggled together. We cheered together and we cried together when we were eventually knocked out after a half decent run in the competition, compared to 2006, and it was that feeling of togetherness I had received that spurred me on.

So I had decided to closely follow the Premier league that year. Now at this point, from playing FIFA, I knew that there were lower leagues in English football, but embarrassingly enough what I hadn’t realized, until before the start of the 2010/11 season, was that a promotion/relegation system even existed. This was a completely foreign concept. As soon as it was explained to me by my younger brother, who incidentally stuck with soccer and had become a Chelsea fan, this concept shook the very foundation of what it meant to enjoy Premier League soccer for me. Realizing that essentially the same team won every year and that the three worst teams got knocked out of the league, I began to notice that the supporters of the teams at the bottom of the league table really had something to lose.

Nevertheless, the season started and I knew that Manchester United had been beaten out for the title the year before, and that they were looking to take it back. I had bought my Wayne Rooney jersey and I was ready to support the Red Devils. Then something happened. United won, and won again, and kept winning, and as happy as I wanted to be about it, I was far more entertained by how well this team called Blackpool was doing. They were beating the odds and climbing up the table, reaching 5th at one point, while at the same time my favorite American player was performing exceptionally well for Fulham.

This began to leave me at a bit of a crossroads if you will. I wanted to stay true to the team I had thought I had supported for so long, but my interest in other teams left me saying things like,  “I’m a United fan, but I also like Blackpool and Fulham.”

Coupled with my newfound understanding of the promotion/relegation system, I began exploring teams in the Championship by playing with them on FIFA (probably the most common exposure to soccer for the average American). For some reason I’m not quite sure of, I settled on Queens Park Rangers (probably because their kits looked great). I began to occasionally check their real progress, but continued to focus mostly on the Premier League.

Then one day a friend of mine said to me that he worked with a guy who was from England, loved to talk about football and that I should meet him. For me, this was exciting news because I had never talked to an Englishman about football before, and it was an exciting chance to get to meet someone who was actually from “the promised land.” I asked my friend which team he supported, but he couldn’t remember, so it was up to me to find out myself.

Excited, I went to visit my fried at work and he introduced me to his workmate. We shook hands, and the first thing he said to me when he realized I liked soccer was, “I bet you’re a Manchester United fan!” From that point he proceeded to explain to me that if you’re American, you like United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea. To which I explained I also liked Fulham and, unenthused, he knew exactly why — Clint Dempsey. Slightly taken aback I asked him what his team was and he proudly pulled his sleeve back and said, “Queens Park Rangers,” as he showed me a tattoo of their old crest on his arm.

From there he proceeded to give me a brief history of the club, the area of West London it’s in, and a breakdown of how strong community they have. And when he was done he said, “Don’t worry, I’ll convert you.”

Later that year on the last day of the Championship season, we watched QPR lose 2-1 to Leeds, but it didn’t matter because we had been promoted. At that time it was just us supporting QPR in Indianapolis, but a year later there were four of us there all watching another game we lost on the final day of the season, only this time we had stayed up.

For me it wouldn’t have changed anything if we had gone down though. I’ve found what I was looking for. Not just a team to follow, but the community surrounding it. When you’re not from the area these teams are based out of, its hard to pick a team to follow. My brother now follows QPR instead of Chelsea because of me.

Some people like to follow teams that win, some like the underdogs. Some like to follow their favorite players team, but teams don’t always win and players don’t always stay. I can honestly say I love QPR, and no matter what league they play in, I always will because I have a sense of community.

So if you do happen to be an American who supports one of the big name clubs, ask yourself, would you still really care about Manchester United if they were in League Two?

This entry was posted in Leagues: EPL, Manchester United, Queens Park Rangers. Bookmark the permalink.

About Craig B

Queens Park Rangers supporter from Indianapolis Indiana
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23 Responses to From USA With Love: How I Became A Queens Park Rangers Supporter

  1. Jason Gatties says:

    While this was a beautiful article, QPR are scum.

    Got jumped by some QPR fans while visiting London 10 years ago (I’ve supporter Fulham for almost 14 years now), so its not just the rivalry, its personal.

  2. Dean Stell says:

    Nice article. I’m an American Manchester United fan, so I kinda went down the same road you did and while I’ve stuck with United, I do understand where you’re coming from.

    I enjoyed QPR’s story from last year and really enjoyed how gallant they were against City on the final day of the season. Plus, they seem to be high drama and that always makes for more fun. So, I follow QPR too. It doesn’t really conflict with my United-fandom. I just have more appetite for following soccer than one club can sate. When United plays QPR, I want United to win. But…..the following week when QPR plays someone else, I’d like to see QPR win and I’d like to see them stay up.

  3. mr bean says:

    you probably deserved it

  4. Neil says:

    Love it. We R QPR.

    A unique club. Why support any other team. Living in Australia just bumping into a QPR fan is a very special thing. Man U supporters know little sbout there club. Only in for the glory.

  5. Ashdown_Ranger says:

    Nice article Craig.

    Re: Jason Gatties’ comment – sorry to hear that, but ALL clubs have a hooligan element. QPR (and Fulham) are two of the (generally) friendliest clubs, though being only 3 miles apart, there is fierce local rivalry.

    If you get the chance Craig, buy/view the DVD “QPR: The Four Year Plan” – you’l get a very real feeling for how the club was run in recent years.

    And if you have a few minutes free for a bi of friendly online discussion and banter, visit http://www.qpr.vitalfootball.co.uk/

    Lastly, good news today as French international striker Loic Remy signs for QPR, with Yann M’Vila also due to sign today or tomorrow.

    We WILL survive the drop (I think…)

    ;o)

    • CraigB says:

      Oh I’ve seen it don’t worry. I remember when they wouldn’t let us sign Wayne Routledge again because they were trying to sell the club, and didn’t want to invest more than they had to. We got Dyer instead.

  6. IanCransonsKnees says:

    My favourite away ground (along with Spotland) is Loftus Road. I’ll be gutted if they ever move. Always an enjoyable day drinking around Shepherds Bush. Mental ticket prices though.

  7. eplnfl says:

    Great article. Well written. Your story really sums the experience of a lot of American’s who have been attracted to the EPL the last few years.

    I think watching from this distance everyone has some sort of initial interest in the bigger clubs and ManU leads the pack. Chelsea is second in that regard and Arsenal could be big if they ever bother to come to the US.

    American’s seem to follow with special interest the clubs with the Yanks. for that reason and with the interest some of the people here had in Everton I have taken a special liking to them. It also helped that Everton has played in Toyota Park against my hometown Chicago Fire.

    ManU visits often and helps keep interest up. maybe Arsenal will wake up.

  8. Pat says:

    I remember being a fan of Chelsea when I really only knew them and Man U. After learning more and more about the EPL, I soon picked a club I was well educated and now I am a Tottenham fan. Although Spurs are one of the bigger clubs they aren’t nearly as popular as Man U, Chelsea, Liverpool or Arsenal, which personally I like alot.

  9. Frill Artist says:

    Nice article with a few typos. It’s football not “soccer”.

  10. GeoffreyL says:

    Love the article. Just wanted to comment that my “baptismal” to EPL was similar to yours. I too was brought to my favorite club, FFC, by means of Clint Dempsey and playing FIFA07 (I think). I loved the kits Fulham wore, and when I saw pics of Craven Cottage inside and out, I began to follow them and “adopted” them as my favorite EPL club. #COYW!

  11. Andy says:

    I love the description of the light bulb moment when he understood the promotion/relegation system. It really is a crazy concept for Americans raised on traditional American sports scene.

    • IanCransonsKnees says:

      I can’t imagine football without it. Do you think MLS would benefit from its introduction?

      • Jason Poon says:

        Only from a fan’s standpoint. The structure of the MLS wouldn’t really make promotion/relegation work. At least not now. The league is still in its infant stage (relatively speaking) and despite it growing and becoming more stable, it still needs a few decades before promotion/relegation can be realistically introduced. There is no chance an investor would want to touch MLS if it knew that in one season his club could be relegated. Just not going to happen right now.

  12. Scrumper says:

    Watched many R’s games at Loftus Road as a kid. Tight little ground, everyone bundled in up close to the pitch, lots of atmosphere, the iconic hooped shirts which were so different from everyone else, smoke billowing over the open stand when Millwall fans set the programme hut on fire and the game carried on. Roger Daltry was the local boy made good. And of course the old joke “how do you get to Shepherds Bush?”

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