We pay a visit to atmospheric Loftus Road, Shepherds Bush, home of the Super Hoops, Queens Park Rangers.
Here’s a bit of football trivia for you. Which English football club has moved grounds more times than any other? The answer is Queens Park Rangers, having moved nearly 20 times. QPR has been at its current Loftus Road stadium since 1963, but plans to move again soon.
Disclosure: Despite my recent disappointment with the running of the club, I am a QPR fan. The blue and white hoops are infectious. I have no connection with West London, but the kit is just wonderful, and since the late 1960s the team has been synonymous with attacking flair. That’s what a QPR crowd expects.
In season 1975-76 (when I was born), QPR came within 15 minutes of winning the First Division championship (the top flight, for the post-1992 crowd). That team with Stan Bowles and Gerry Francis was entertaining and set the benchmark for all QPR teams to follow.
Despite its wealth, QPR is still at its natural level of mid-table second tier. It could be so much more and may well be again soon, especially if the stadium move happens.
The special atmosphere at Loftus Road
London clubs in particular seem to struggle with atmosphere – ever been to the Emirates? But there’s nothing quite like Loftus Road under the lights.
It’s a tidy ground and the Elleslie Road stand is the best place to be, as you’re near the hardcore Rangers boys and the Loft, the end to which Rangers kick in the second half. It’s not quite the Kop but it’ll do. In the Elleslie you may have to deal with the old- school problem of a pylon blocking half your view of the goal, but you’ll be in the hub of the action.
If you want a clear view with a polite audience, pay extra to go sit with in the South Africa Road stand.
Thankfully, the club has ditched the unpopular ‘boutique club’ crest, a legacy of past owners, and reverted to its 1980s-style crest, designed by the fans. And the club needs those fans. Rangers are way down the pecking order in terms of London attendances.
For the football tourist, this is no bad thing. Tickets are reasonably easy to come by. Shepherds Bush has a few highlights to offer – there’s the Westfield shopping centre, Brewdog for good pre-match beer, and the Empire music venue.
Loftus Road doesn’t offer the creature comforts of the Emirates or (whisper it) Stamford Bridge, but QPR is a small team with a big heart, and you’ll be rewarded by a trip here.
How to get to Loftus Road, Queens Park Rangers FC
Loftus Road is in easy reach of both White City and Shepherds Bush tube stations on the Central Line.