I have decided to feature Rival Line entries on the main page - Looking on from the Family Stands - as well as on to the Rival Lines section so that they are picked up by the news search engines. You'll still see them on the Rival Lines tab as well.
Today, Cherry Chimes talks to Lofty Heights blogger Tony Gibson, ahead of the QPR v AFCB clash on Tuesday night. Tony is loving life as a QPR fan in the Championship, but what if they win promotion back to the Premier League? QPR could well be caught as a yo-yo club in future years.
LH: It actually started in 2004 on the live journal format as a friend was writing an entertaining online diary and from there I got my inspiration. It was tried out as a little experiment from myself, as I enjoyed writing and wanted to try something a bit different, to try and give readers the whole match day experience and what fellow fans can relate too, rather than just the report which you can read anywhere. In 2006, it had an overhaul and tried to make it look more professional as the audience was beginning to grow massively. There are some great QPR sites out there, but I do feel other blogs have tried to emulate what we do somewhat I am sad to say, but we remain individual and regular as myself and co-editor, Lee Brown, along with our merry band of friends, attend games every week home and away. Other blogs often suffer as they do not update as regular.
CC: Have you enjoyed watching QPR more this season than last season?
LH: I feel born again!! The last 2 seasons have been dreadful and definitely tried my patience as a loyal supporter. In truth, it nearly broke me completely. It wasn't until the mercenaries at the Club were moved on in the summer, Harry started building his own team and the Corporate Brand, turned back into the Club I love, that I decided to keep the faith. I am loving this season!! It was an eye opener and I really am not sure how I would feel to go back to the Premier League at the moment.
CC: How happy are you with Harry Redknapp and the way he is making the team play after a year in charge?
LH: Over the moon with Harry!! He has turned a team of overpaid mercenaries who cared little for QPR, and built a great group who would die for each other. The spirit amongst the team is there for all to see and it is such a welcome and refreshing change to what we all saw last season.
CC: You are still not scoring as many goals as the other top teams but is Charlie Austin doing extremely well, so have QPR fans taken to him?
LH: I would say, 95 per cent of R's fans have taken to Charlie. He is a quality player and we are very lucky to have him. He has been frustrated with being the 'lone' striker and sometimes the lack of service, but his work rate and all round team play is superb. Most R's fans will agree that we look a better attacking threat with 2 up front and Austin and Andy Johnson look telepathic when playing together. With Johnson and Zamora being injured, at times he has had little choice, but Harry is certainly appearing to be sticking with the current system and with our League position, why not indeed?
CC: Are there other players that Harry has signed that you think have made QPR such a good team this season?
LH: Oh yes, where do I start here? The back four is 75 per cent different on last year - Danny Simpson has been a great addition at right back and Assou-Ekotto at left back is a joy to behold, even if it's just for the hair!! A gamble from Harry that has certainly paid off at centre back is Richard Dunne who has been immense for us alongside Clint Hill and Nedum Onouha, who has sadly picked up a hamstring injury. The same can be said of the midfield with Tom Carroll in on loan from Spurs and who should be back for the Bournemouth game. Another one of Harry's favourites, is Niko Kranjcar and you can see why he has continued to sign him over the years. Cool and calm on the ball, a fantastic passing range and a superb eye for goal. Reminds me somewhat of Glenn Hoddle at his best. Karl Henry was also brought in and has weighed in with some solid displays.
CC: QPR have a great defensive record in the Championship but who is that down to in the main - one player in particular?
LH: Cannot separate the two, Richard Dunne and Nedum Onuoha.
CC: Many pundits are predicting a straight return for QPR to the Premiership but do you and other QPR fans see it like that?
The early signs are very good and personally, I think we have the best squad amongst the early pace setters and indeed, the division. But if we are to go up, I would like to think that we have learnt from our mistakes and that we would be ready for the Premier League! But in the mean time, I would guess that most QPR fans are more than happy being in the Championship as we now have our Rangers back!!
CC: QPR have been described as a Premiership team in the Championship but have you some young players that have been doing well?
LH: There are a few coming through and some out on loan namely Frankie Sutherland, midfield on loan to Orient, Michael Doughty, a left sided midfielder on loan to Stevenage, a very promising right back in Michael Harriman who is at Gillingham on loan, Bruno Andrade, an attacking midfielder on loan at Stevenage, Mike Petrasso, an exciting winger on loan to Oldham, who scored on his debut last weekend.
Kevin Hitchcock is a striker who is absolutely on fire for the EDS team and with our striker shortage earlier in the season, it was a bit of a surprise why he never got a run in the side, especially after coming off the bench and scoring the winner against Ipswich on his debut. It is rumoured now that Harry is looking to loan him out.
CC: Do you think Joey Barton is a better or different player having had a year at Marseilles in the French league?
LH: Well, what can I say about our Joey? Following his behaviour in the Man City game 2 seasons ago and his many twitter outbursts last season, me along with many other R's fans had no desire whatsoever to see him in the Hoops again. But I am very happy to fully accept that he has made me eat humble pie in massive quantities!! He has been simply outstanding!! I feel he does owe us somewhat and what better way to do so than put in committed performances on the pitch! His reputation however still proceeds him and referees have been very quick to show him yellow cards - and at least 4 times out of his 6 bookings, for simply being 'Joey Barton'. Whatever peoples opinions are of Joey Barton, he is a very good footballer without a doubt!!
CC: Which team have you been impressed with when they came to Loftus Road this season?
LH: A lot of teams are coming and packing the midfield, but I have to say have been most impressed by Derby and we were lucky to beat them. Play football how it should be played and have some very hungry and talented youngsters.
CC: Are there still plans for the club to eventually leave Loftus Road or have finances ruled that out for a few years yet?
LH: As far as I know, it is still ongoing. The new training ground at Warren Farm will be ready for next season and I think land has been purchased nearby to Loftus Road for the new stadium. Not sure if it’s the BBC site or the old Linford Christie Stadium, details have been vague.
CC: There are some restricted view tickets for the QPR v AFCB game, but is it pretty good viewing no matter where you are seated in the away seats?
LH: I would say so yes, as it is almost identical to where I sit at the other end. The Club are honest enough with the really bad seats to mark them with ‘diabolical view’, but I have yet to see one of those. Although I do think the price is reflective in that case.
CC: AFCB is one team that Harry Redknapp really will not want to lose to above many of the other clubs, because of the stick he would get but, be honest, it would be a shock if you suffered your second home defeat to the Cherries, wouldn't it?
LH: If I am honest and with our home form, I would say yes it would be a shock. But we all know how competitive the Championship is and on their day, anybody can beat anybody. But with 2 teams who like to play their football the right way, I am looking forward to a great game..
Come on you R’s!!!
CC: Well thanks Tony for some great views about QPR that should have us AFCB fans wanting to jump on the coach, trains or cars and make our way up to Loftus Road on Tuesday night. I was really hoping that you might say you are due a defeat at home, but it looks like Rangers are going to be looking to bounce back after the defeat at Doncaster. I think it is a great opportunity for AFCB fans to see Loftus Road perhaps for the last time if the club does move to another stadium, so I hope we pack out the away end. Make sure you have a read of the Lofty Heights Blog before you leave.