and Norwich had a good rivalry last season and
came up to the Premier League together so I
was looking forward to a competitive encounter
to round out the Christmas holidays. Having
beaten QPR 2-1 at Carrow Road back in November
there was also the prospect of the first
“double” of the season for City. As I’ve
previously visited all the “big” London clubs
(with their modern stadia and megastores) I
was also looking forward to something a bit
different in the capital.
We parked at Cockfosters tube station
(Piccadilly line) as it’s just off the M25,
usually has plenty of spaces and is reasonably
priced (only £1.50 for the day as it was a
bank holiday). From here it took just under an
hour to cross town out to Shepherds Bush
(Central line). We would have preferred to get
the train all the way, but engineering work on
the Norwich to London line meant this would
have taken a lot longer and involved the
dreaded rail replacement bus service.
On arriving we had a wander along the
cosmopolitan Uxbridge road and eventually
found somewhere to eat – there’s loads of
choice so you can afford to keep walking until
you find something you fancy. There were also
plenty of restaurants along the south side of
the huge Westfield shopping centre just north
of Shepherds Bush station.
The ground itself is tucked in between
residential streets so we couldn’t really see
the away end until we were in it. There were
no turnstiles as such – we were searched and
had our tickets checked in a fenced off area
off the street before entering the ground
proper through an alleyway.
Once inside, the ground had a fairly retro
feel and is getting a bit tatty, but the low
roof and proximity to the pitch made for a
good atmosphere in the away end, as well as
giving us an excuse to sing “My garden shed is
bigger than this”. Our seats were in the very
back row of the upper tier, but still felt
close to the action – the only downside was an
obscured view of the left corner flag. The leg
room was also fairly limited but this wasn’t
too much of a problem as the stewards were
happy to let us stand more or less throughout.
When the action got underway, the first half
turned out to be an untidy affair. QPR went
ahead slightly against the run of play, but
the turning point was a red card for
everyone’s favourite Twitterer, Joey Barton.
Obviously we took great pleasure in saying
goodbye to him, almost as much as when we
equalised shortly afterwards.
The concourse was very cramped indeed so we
didn’t bother with refreshments at the break,
but the prices and selection seemed fairly
standard. One thing that did raise a chuckle
was the half-time entertainment – instead of
the more usual crossbar challenge, competitors
had to make themselves dizzy by running round
a post on the halfway line ten times, then try
to stay upright as they sprinted to the box
and tried to beat the keeper. Unsurprisingly
there was some very wobbly running involved!
In the second half, Norwich took control but
weren’t able to create clear chances, while
QPR still threatened on the break. The
deadlock was eventually broken when Norwich
switched to three at the back, allowing them
to overload the wide areas – as the crosses
flew over Steve Morison grabbed the winner
with less than ten minutes left, giving us our
first Premier League “double”.
After the final whistle the narrow concourses
and a one-way exit system meant it took a
while to get out of the ground, but after that
it was an easy walk back to the tube stations.
We headed slightly further down the road to
Wood Lane (Hammersmith & City) and to our
surprise the platform was almost empty,
so we had a very easy journey back to the car.
Overall Loftus Road is fairly easy to get to
and from, so makes a good away trip. For most
supporters it should be straightforward to
reach entirely by public transport if you’d
like to enjoy a drink or two (we would have
done this if it wasn’t for engineering work).
While it’s perfectly comfortable for watching
the game, the ground itself doesn’t have
particularly great facilities; however, the
excellent range of eating and drinking options
nearby more than makes up for this.