For many, Shepherd's Bush is Queens Park Rangers and Queens Park Rangers are Shepherd's Bush. I grew up with football and so don't need to be convinced by how passionate people can be for their teams. This is only heightened when it's a local team. This is why QPR are one of my reasons for loving life as a Shepherd's Bush resident.
Though the name originates from Queens Park in North London, that being where most of the players came from, the Rangers settled in Loftus Road nearly 100 years ago in 1917. I was intrigued to hear that "The Loft" was originally built in 1904 for local side Shepherd's Bush F.C., who used to play on the Green. The history of the "Bushmen" was a very short one with the team no longer being able to play during the Second World War. (How I wonder if Shepherd's Bush's reputation would be different if there was a Premier League team called Shepherd's Bush F.C.?) In my opinion that makes Queens Park Rangers a true Shepherd's Bush legacy - certainly more so than BBC and Westfield.
I love that Loftus Road stadium is in a considerably built up residential area on the cusp of the White City estate. I used to go to evening classes up the road from there and would often walk past the stadium and then along South Africa Road past the astro-turf where maybe hundreds of young boys and men were playing football. That seems to make sense to me; that there are kids playing football next door to a football stadium as opposed to the stadium neighbouring out of town department stores or expensive flats.
QPR fans are loyal, sometimes scarily so. They are also currently very happy as QPR sit at the top of the Football League Championship after, what is fair to say, a number of years of more downs than ups. It's not for me to comment on the business and politics that surround many football clubs these days. In many ways the recent FIFA World Cup vote says enough about where football is today. The only thing that potentially has remained the same for clubs like QPR are the fans and their loyal support. I dare say that there are some regular QPR spectators in Shepherd's Bush whose ancestors were loyal attendees decades ago. I happen to know of many supporters who no longer live in the Bush but embark on long and now cold and traffic heavy journeys every other Saturday.
I am still yet to go to a match at Loftus Road though I regularly hear the cheers all the way over the other side of the Green. It is one of my new year's resolutions to go so I will be picking my match soon. I am half ready as this weekend I found a QPR scarf in a local charity shop (surely previously owned by someone who already had far too many QPR scarves and not enough neck) and I will be wearing it proudly around Shepherd's Bush and beyond...