IN a new feature on www.qpr.co.uk, we speak to our officially-recognised fan groups from around the world to get a greater insight into our fantastic support overseas.
This week, we hear from Dag Hakon – member of QPR Norway …
Dag, before we talk about the group, please tell us about your story of following the R’s. How did you come to support us?
I was 13 when I read about the 1967 League Cup winners, and I thought the name of the club was cool. With promotion to Division Two, QPR became part of the weekly news coverage of English football in Norway. I could follow their results, they became a winning team, and I was hooked.
What would you say has been your favourite moment from watching us down the years, so far?
The Wembley final of 2014 stands out, of course, but I was in England also for some of the action of 1975/76. My most-exciting Rangers match ever has to be the 3-2 home win over Stoke in November 1975.
QPR seem to have quite a large following in Scandinavia. Why is this? Is there anything unique about QPR that attracts interest?
English football in general is huge all over Scandinavia, and has been showed regularly on TV since 1969. I think the fans of the smaller clubs are more enthusiastic, more genuine, than the glory seekers who see themselves as fans of the Man Uniteds of this world. Those of us who travel to London to watch QPR have also found it easy to make friends among the natives. The local R´s make us feel very welcome, and the club itself is also very helpful whenever we need any practical assistance. The majority of the Norwegian R’s of today got connected to the club either in the mid-seventies, or in the early nineties when we not only had a very-good side, but the club visited Norway and Sweden several years in a row.
That point is probably justified when you look at your membership, which is significant?
We are closing in on 700 paying members. Any organisation needs a well-functioning committee and a dedicated president in order to prosper, and we are very lucky to have all of that. But above all, we have a group of members who have kept up their enthusiasm about QPR for decades.
Tell us about what you offer your members. First and foremost, I guess it’s a great social tool?
We have a website (www.qpr.no) with a forum and a news service, and we have a Norwegian QPR magazine. We run a number of competitions spread across the year giving out QPR souvenirs as prizes. We also produce our own Norwegian items, such as QPR-Norway shirts and pins, and we have recently told the story of the Norwegian R´s in a 200-page book. But most important is that as a supporters club we bring Norwegian QPR fans together. We have three regular yearly events. There is an annual football tournament in Oslo where some 40 Norwegian supporters’ clubs affiliated with British teams take part - last year we had Marc Bircham playing for the QPR team. We also have two yearly Norwegian gatherings in W12. In addition to that we regularly have informal gatherings in pubs in the bigger cities when QPR are shown on TV. Belonging to a club like QPR helps knit our group closer together.
You also have a number of season tickets, don’t you? It’s some dedication that your members make it to a lot of games, despite your location, isn’t it?
We had 18 Norwegian seats in the Premier League, but we took the number down to 14 in the Championship. For the vast majority of games, these seats are sold out. When demand is higher, we supply our members with more tickets. In the Premier League, we had 30-plus Norwegian fans attending every match. In the Championship there are a little less people coming over, but seldom below 20. Myself, I go over for five or six games a season, but there are those who do a good bit more than that.
How do you catch up with the action when you’re not over?
The Sky games from the Championship are also available in Norway, so people get to see QPR on the box also outside the Premier League. Myself, I actually live in Switzerland where the main foreign coverage comes from the Bundesliga. So I use QPR PlayerHD. I find this service very good, however, I listen to every match live and I always watch the extended highlights.