8.57am Holborn tube central line. Kings of Leon ‘Closer’
I didn’t have a big night last night for new years so was up by 7am and picked up by one of the safety commanders by 8am. It wasn’t a super cold morning and with the roads clear we made it into Loftus Road pretty quick arriving by 830.
I went up to my desk and started working on some of the projects I’ve been given from the marketing team such as looking at interesting membership schemes and ideas from an Australian and US sport perspective.
I was able to show the team some creative membership drive ideas I’d seen including ones from Penrith Panthers, Brisbane Roar and Brisbane Broncos, Queensland Reds as well as from ideas I witnessed at Yankees and Redbull games in New York.
I had a look at the great job that came up on offer at QPR as well and couldnt believe that they are looking for a teacher and someone with business skills. The job has my skills and life experience written all over it so I will apply and see what happens.
After the safety briefing which took into account todays match numbers, half time activities, catering and merchandising I went back up to continue some work. By this stage the weather was just atrocious with pouring rain, driving wind and freezing conditions. Not a good mix to bring in the crowds.
I picked up todays match program and we headed down to the operations room to see the opening of the gates at 130pm.
I got to meet a great guy from the local Hammersmith council whose job was to look at the environmental impacts of these large football crowds on match days. As both Stamford Bridge and Craven Cottage are also in the councils boundaries it was interesting to learn that there can only ever be a maximum of two games of either Chelsea, QPR or Fulham home games over the same weekend. Three games and police resources get far too stretched.
We walked around the boundaries of the stadium from to Uxbridge Rd looking at how fans made their way to the stadium, what the bars looked like with home supporters. Security gets put on by the pubs on match days and you have to show your ticket to get in to the pub with the majority of pubs around the area just being for home supporters.
Walked down briefly to the Shepherds Bush walkabout site to see it well and truly boarded up and run down. Its being turned into a luxury hotel. Many a good night or morning was spent here watching sport from back home in 07 and 08. RIP the snakebite! We walked from the stadium on South Africa Rd to White City tube and then onto Wood Lane station and finally down to Shepherds Bush Market tube to look at the impact that thousands of football fans coming to a game has on the area.
Its interesting that since the closure of the Shepherds Bush walkabout that the other pubs in the area have picked up their weekend trade around football games. The area was bustling with fans making their way to the stadium in dreadful conditions with the rain coming down hard as we walked back to the stadium at 2.40pm.
I walked back into the stadium and into the control room to take up my seat and continue my learning into stadium operations and crowd safety. With the weather being horrible today it was evident that the crowd wouldn’t be as big as anticipated and in the end only 15,000 came through the turnstiles.
It was a very quiet day with Doncaster bringing close to 400 fans down which is a huge effort given their small club and it being new years day. Doncaster scored in the first half to give them a lead 1-0 score. The team had not been doing so well since I arrived and had drawn once and lost twice in three games so I was feeling a bit of pressure and hoping that I wasn’t going to be some crazy Australian jinx.
QPR scored after the restart and then in the 93rd minute to which the crowd erupted in hysterics of joy. The final whistle blew and QPR won 2-1 and are now undefeated in two games. I’ve been lost for screams at other sporting matches in the past (Origin 3, 2001 & Roar GF 2010/11) but this match will forever be in my mind. Sitting in the control room and learning from the experienced footballing police, operations crew, safety commanders and other support staff and watching that win was priceless. I’m truly being looked after like a king here! Education and learning is such a great gift and these guys are giving it to me in spades and can see how much I want to learn.
Its been interesting to see the recent issues of flares back home in the A-League considering that I’m learning a lot about that exact issue here and how the Football League is tackling flares and smoke bombs. I have found that the campaign seen below recently when I was at Villa Park is helping to address the problem of flares.
I thought that this advertising campaign by a betting company, found in the mens toilets was also quite creative.
Time for some sleep now!