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We are requesting the club’s urgent consideration to grant Stan Bowles a testimonial match at Loftus Road. We are all well aware of Stan’s history, his standing as a QPR player, his national profile and equally of his family’s sad and courageous disclosure, some time ago, of his debilitating illness. Our understanding is that, under present rules, Stan’s length of service at the club, being less than the ten years stipulated, may serve as an impediment to the club providing this on his behalf.
We object to this for a number of reasons. Firstly, to invoke this ten-year regulation would be a purely ‘administrative’ response that takes no account of any individual’s value, contribution, standing or circumstances. To do so would do the club, the fans and, of course, Stan a huge disservice. It would also create an acute sense of injustice.
Secondly, the club has the power to act. QPR is so much more than a football club, a business or an organisation. It is a club organically embedded in its fans’ hearts, and helps to inform and underpin many of our lives. It is a crucial part of who we are, our families, our histories, our culture, our aspirations and personal identities. In this regard the club is an ‘emotional’ entity and not simply an organisational structure. As such it exercises on our behalf a moral position in all of its actions, and of course, in any of its potential inactions.
We argue this as fans because, as is the case for thousands of us, it is our club. Our ownership is not a shareholding issue as others may be in a financial sense, and we wield little power or influence without the express consent of the board. QPR is not a democracy; we accept that reality. But at the same time, we, the supporters, own emotional shares in the club, and we own them for the duration of our lives too. Ours is not an ephemeral position; it is a permanent one. Our emotional shares in QPR are never sold, are cherished, and in many cases are handed down to our sons and daughters.
The time will come for Stan to leave us, we hope in many, many years time. When that day finally arrives there will be immediate and urgent recognition, approbation in the press, minute’s applause in the stands, club statements and the like. It will be a national moment too. His significance to the club and the wider game will then be rewritten about and fully acknowledged.
It is, sadly, the way of the world, that we only seem to genuinely recognise the true significance of those we love, respect and admire, in our grief. However, there is an opportunity to act now, during his lifetime. Put simply, Stan may not have met the well-intentioned administrative threshold, but he has undeniably met the emotional one set by those of us who have made a lifelong commitment to QPR.
His truly exceptional contribution can never be accurately measured by his length of service or even his number of goals, or any other artificial statistic. The reality is, however, that his individual personality and his almost-without-equal contribution to the history of this club is tangible and has robustly stood the test of time.
There is, at present, an online petition advocating a testimonial that is gathering strength, before its final submission to the club. We ask that the club does not wait for this. The wonderfully selfless individuals who have instigated this ‘movement’ do so for no personal gain other than to see justice done. However, as hard as they are working, they have no direct mechanism to communicate instantly with thousands of our supporters to urge their signatures. It will be an inevitably slow process during which, sadly, Stan’s condition will also deteriorate.
So we urge our club to act now. We are encouraged by the opportunity we have been afforded to meet with Lee Hoos and Ian Taylor to assist in making a specific proposal to the QPR board. In so doing we recognise and applaud the club’s ongoing dialogue with ourselves over this matter. This meeting provides us with some optimism about the potential outcome, and our arguments here do not in any way imply the club are being resistant to our proposal.
We will seek to explain our view that providing a testimonial for Stan will realise many things. It will provide pecuniary relief for any financial stresses he may be facing at present, and in his later years. This, however, is only a small part of it. More importantly it will provide us, as supporters, the context and opportunity to congregate in his honour at Loftus Road to let him know just how much we think of him, how grateful we are for what he has achieved and contributed to our lives, and how much we care for him still.
Stan’s story is one of exceptional skill, inspiration, accomplishment and entertainment. It is also, we acknowledge, one of individuality and even, at times, human frailty. For these reasons he echoes our own experiences, and he touches all of our hearts.
An anecdote. I spoke to a younger QPR fan recently who told me he was planning to get a tattoo. I asked him if he were considering the club’s badge. He replied: “No, I’m getting one of Stan Bowles, which I suppose is the same kind of thing.”
That says it all. We continue to argue, as QPR emotional shareholders, to cash in our shares urgently on Stan’s behalf. This really is that important to us, and we include, of course, that young fan.
Tim Walker, Patron