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Now, being a Queen's Park Rangers fan myself, I will try my best not to be bias towards their football ground, so forgive me if a get a little carried away. This review is going to be about the current state and facilities of the ground since the recent updates in the past few years.
--Loftus Road - A Brief History--
The ground was originally built in 1904, QPR moved into the ground in 1917. Since then it has undergone many updates and refurbishments. It formerly hosted Fulham FC while Craven Cottage was being refurbished and also Wasps RFC until they moved to ground share with Wycombe Wanderers. Currently, it has a maximum all-seater capacity of just under 20,000. On a day to day fixture, this averages at around 12,000 to 14,000. I have been going to Loftus Road for many years, mostly from the same seat situated in the Lower Loft at the front, so I do get a good view of the action.
--Surrounding Areas and Prices--
The ground is completely enclosed by the local streets, with house's on 3 sides of the ground and a School on the away end. It's easy to walk to from the Uxbridge road, where there are many takeaway food places, chip shops, restaurants and sandwich bars. There is a variety of pubs on the Uxbridge road too, but most are for home fans only, but there are pubs near the 'green' part of Shepherds Bush for the away fans. The ground is also not far from the BBC headquarters and the Westfields shopping centre, located on Wood Lane, should you care for a bit of shopping after the match. Average prices for a match are around £25, but this depends on were you wish to sit and weather or not you are a member. Away fans prices vary from match to match, but are generally about the £24 mark.
Train and Bus links to the ground are excellent. Being in the heart of West London, there are many different way to travel in buy public transport. The closest underground stations are White City and Shepherds Bush. Car drivers though, beware! There are no dedicated parking for fans, as the ground is surrounded by houses and flats. If you are going by car, it's best to park in and around the streets a little bit out from the ground, (approx 1/2 mile), towards Acton.
--The Ground Itself--
The general views all round the ground are good, mainly because the seating to so close to the pitch, less then 2 meters away. Of course, being an older stadium, it does have pillars in the South Africa Road stand and Ellerslie Road stand, which cause some seats to have restricted views, but these seats are discounted at the box office. The seats in the ground have a good amount of leg room, so you don't feel to cramped, and the walkways are quite wide, but there are not many of them so they can get crowded quickly. The gathering areas behind the stands are again of limited size and can get crowded quickly, but they are more than adequate for an average gate and so add to the atmosphere of the ground. I will talk about this more, because it is well known throughout the football fraternity that Loftus Road creates one of the best football atmosphere's in England, and can be a very intimidating place for the visiting team to play in. As I have said, the proximity of the crowd to the pitch is a major factor to this, but more so is the fact that Loftus Road is a closed Box stadium. There are no gaps in the corners, no view of the outside, so you really feel you are part of the action, closed off from the outside world. This also creates some impressive acoustics when the QPR faithful (and the away fans I might add), really get behind the teams and sometimes the noise can be quite deafening. Some small children may find this a little frightening at times, and there can be some industrial language thrown around (as expected at a football game), but the general feeling is always a good one.
The stands themselves are mostly covered, but if you are sitting towards the front of the Loft or the School End, you will get wet if the heavens decide to open, so bring a raincoat on a rainy day. The tunnel and team benches are located between the 2 Paddock stands, underneath the South Africa Road stand. You will expect to hear QPR's various mood generating songs through the PA, namely London Calling by The Clash, the theme to Crimson Tide, and the Star Wars Imperial March. The team themselves come onto the pitch with PigBag's Papa's got a brand new pig bag blaring, which also doubles as a home goal celebration song, usually interspersed with "Hoops!" between the riffs.
Other facilities include various refreshment bars, all selling at the usual high(ish) prices that you come to expect at sports venues. The queues can sometimes be short and quick, but get very busy at half-time, so if you want a pie at the break, go queue up at around the 40 minute mark. The club at special hospitality suites and box areas situated on the South Africa Road stand. I have never been in these or used the VIP areas, so I cannot really comment on the quality of these facilities. The ground has two colour scoreboards at each end of the ground, so the entire crowd can see the current score and remaining time. It also has a single big-screen situated above the away fans end (The School End), showing reply's, highlights, team stats and player profiles. It is a shame there is not another one on the opposite side of the ground, so all the crowd could then see the screens, so that (for the moment) is for home fans only.
Hopefully I can give some helpful hints to visiting fans here. The entrance for the School End is on South Africa Road. Also, many of the pubs surrounding the ground are for home fans only on matchdays. The pubs around the Shepherds Bush green are recommend for the away fans.
So, in closing, Loftus Road is a real football venue. It creates a top-class atmosphere without being a top-class stadium, either if your home or away supporters. Yes, it is a bit rustic in places and to be honest it is showing its age, but when this ground is full and roaring, with the teams playing their hearts out, driven on by the crowd, there no place like it.
For more information about Loftus Road and QPR visit the clubs website.
Championship Ground Guide Continues.
Match: QPR v Coventry
Getting There: Decided to go on the train this time around (£15 return from Coventry, very nice) which made life a lot easier. Into Euston and a short hop to White City and the ground was only a few minutes walk away. We used to drive but parking is getting harder and harder. The local school used to offer parking but it looks like it's had a revamp and there doesn't seem to be many spaces these days. We have also encountered huge delays in getting here before. The traffic coming in can be really heavy and some of the driving around there... I tell you...it must be a London licence because they do what they want. I've even seen a van bumping and scraping just to gain a few yards. The train took the stress away but as always, plan for delays.
Before The Game: Took some cans on the train so was pretty hydrated by the time we got to Euston and then we had a couple more at the Britannia at the Station (decent prices actually) and therefore didn't have any time before the game. Usually we would visit the Springbok pub which is just outside the ground, it can get VERY crowded though. There is also a decent little cafe nearby which again gets busy.
In the Concourse: It's really narrow and it got very crowded which didn't have matters. Mr Policeman told me off for drinking in the hatched area (because I could see a yard of grass) but there was simply nowhere to go. Claustrophobic fans may want to spend as little time as possible here. As mentioned didn't have time before the game but spent half-time...and a fair chunk of the second half in all honesty down there. Not all the kiosks serve alcohol so look out for signs. I like it this way because those wanting just food shouldn't have to queue with the masses looking for a drink. Got to the kiosk (without a no beer sign) and was told she couldn't serve us because she wasn't 18. What a joke. After arguing with her boss that we wasn't going to queue again, not exactly a short wait, got some service. To be honest, they seemed really overwhelmed and struggled to keep up.
In The Stand: We were in the lower tier this time around having held the upper tier in previous seasons. I'm not sure whether we had both, I know teams have had before but I obviously couldn't see above me. It's a very compact ground and you don't get an awful lot of room in your seats. We stood all game without trouble from stewards. The view is OK. There are no pillars but being so low down it can be hard to see everything clearly, especially the other end of the pitch or for those stuck right behind the goal.
Atmosphere: The size of the ground obviously helps the noise levels. Home and away fans can (and do) make a fair bit of noise. The noisiest home section seems to the the far right corner (which is pictured). It's always hard when the away following is 'horizontal' but few people can make good noise.
Safety: To say their is history between QPR and Coventry would be an understatement. There is definitely an 'element' there and caution outside is advised. You know what cockneys can be like haha! Incidents between the two clubs range from riots at a pre-season tournament in Ibiza to the official Coventry Fans coaches (carrying the complete opposite to football hooligans) having their windows smashed while leaving the area. There are also some 'interesting' estates nearby which you may want to avoid.
Getting Away: Didn't use White City this time as we went for a drink afterwards along one of the local high streets. Plenty of underground stations nearby. So if you walk a little you should miss the majority of the crowds. Lots of trains away from London too so if you are within an easy train journey I think that is the way forward. Couple of pints before we left Euston (...yep....I was pretty drunk by that point) and off we went.
Score: QPR 2 - 2 Coventry
Having grown up in Shepherds Bush, living on Loftus Road, I thought I would write a quick guide to the area for all those thousands of away supporters we get now we're stuck in the good old Nationwide. Actually I would probably be better off posting this under Rugby, as by the end of this season we'll probably be enjoying division two football, and Wasps will be getting the bigger away crowds. Ok, ok, enough depresses whinging, on with the review. Firstly, parking and traffic in the bush are an absolute nightmare. Basically, don't bother, its not worth the trouble, tube stations are all nearby, so take the easy option and come that way. Second food. Pie and Mash shop, at the Goldhawk Road end of the market, just off the bush. Best chip shop is five star, on the Uxbridge Road, but as long as you avoid the one on South Africa Road next to the ground you should survive the day. Donuts from the diner on the green are a must for me, but then I do have a thing about donuts. As in most grounds, the food inside is rubbish and a rip off, avoid if at all possible. Best pubs for away supporters to try would be on the green, Walkabouts is a good one, worth sticking around for an evening out in. The stadium is half decent, loos not too full of piss etc. From about row f back is covered seating, if you'd like to avoid the rain! Seating is close to the pitch, so nice tight atmosphere, allthough not when its half empty as usual. I don't rate the expensive seats in South Africa Stand at all, posts get in the way of a good view, you're much better off in the Loft. For a division one ground, good for families/kids as all seating.
Loftus Road is a spacious football stadium in London, W12. It is home to the English football team Queens Park Rangers and has a capacity of 19,148.