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My QPR-supporting background

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Doubt that I would have ever come to support QPR without learning English properly. I attended an “English-biased” school but what really pushed me towards choosing to continue studying English at the university level was when the Finnish TV showed the Jeeves and Wooster series in my last two school years. This may seem strange but you should know that the local TV showed practically nothing from the West until the Soviet Union crumbled and only those who lived in Tallinn, right across the narrow Gulf of Finland from Helsinki, were lucky to receive Finnish TV transmissions of bearable quality by having their SECAM TVs semi-legally modified with a PAL chip. Anyway, I still love Jeeves and Wooster and re-watch the whole series every now and then. “I want to master this wonderful language and visit the country one day!”, I decided.

Easier said than done. Despite my “English-biased” school background, the first university classes (in 1991) were a rude awakening, we all realised how little we yet knew. But I was driven and did quite well. I started listening to the BBC World Service on short wave, still watched as much as I could in English on the Finnish TV (they use subtitles, as does the Estonian TV now – the Soviet legacy was voiceover and it is still prevalent on the Russian TV, making it useless for language students). I also attended the recently opened library of the British Council, reading newspapers and using English textbooks with audio cassettes. That is how I came across QPR, it was my second or third year, i.e. around 1993, on BBC radio sports commentary and in newspaper match reports. All the other team names were pronounced/typed in more or less their full form, QPR was the only football team acronym around and that fascinated me. “What is so special about the team that everyone knows it by the three initials?”, I thought. And seeing the rather unusual hooped shirts only reinforced my interest. I started researching as much as I could considering my limited information sources as there was no Internet back then, only Telnet, a cumbersome text-based abomination of a network, and even that could be accessed with great difficulty in Estonia back then, not even the British Council facility offered access. One Telnet terminal was at the library of the Academy of Sciences, with a several-hour waiting list usually, later my university installed a few Telnet terminals at its library but you can imagine how rarely you could just walk in and start using them, with all the knowledge-hungry students. Well, some preferred playing MUDs, although that was naturally not encouraged by the staff.

Anyway, sometimes I got a special treat as the Finnish TV showed a Saturday Premiership match with QPR playing, so I gradually became more and more hooked. Although we were in the top flight and played pretty well, I did not consider QPR to be a glamorous team like Manchester United or Liverpool, I used to think we were really lucky to be challenging for European places. I even converted my old toy magnetic alphabet board into an improvised league table, waiting with baited breath for the classified results read on the BBC to laboriously rearrange the team, changing the points total and goal difference to immediately see what place QPR has risen or fallen to. Soon I saved enough money from giving private English lessons and purchased a Samsung TV set that had Teletext (yippee, the Soviet models had none) and again the Finnish TV did not disappoint as it had hundreds of pages on all topics, including the English football results and quickly updated league tables.

It pained me when we sold Les Ferdinand, I had a gut feeling we would get relegated as we would be unable to find a prolific enough substitute for him. I remember the last weeks before relegation, listening to the final minutes of the Aston Villa match on the BBC (Wilkins decides to come on himself, all hands on deck...) and reading the Everton game report on Telnet (us winning and their fans chanting “3-0, you are still going down”...), such a fighting spirit, scoring quite a lot, but still not enough, survival was so close yet so far away.

I was confident we would bounce right back up, with Kevin Gallen improving, scoring 3 in the first 2 games and then watching, listening and reading incredulously as it all started going downhill. Remember buying the Match magazine with John Spencer’s interview and saying to myself: “Maybe he is the one, maybe we can do it now”, averaging almost a goal per game for a while, but alas!

Must confess, did not follow QPR’s misfortunes much for a couple of years after that. Had enough on my plate without that, having graduated from the university. Trying to find my place in society and in private life, mid- to late 90s was a bad time in Estonia, the initial euphoria of independence was gone and there was high unemployment and low wages as the country struggled in the transition to the capitalist economy. Surviving was the name of the game.

Things began improving in the new millennium, I got (and am still holding on to) a job that I love and the pay is decent, especially considering I get paid by the page, so a) the more I do, the more I get and b) the boss can easily see that I am not getting paid for nothing. My dreams of going to places like England finally became reality. In early February 2005 I boarded the Estonian Air flight to London Gatwick, my first flight to England ever, but that is another story...

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