London News & Search
On a sunny and warm afternoon at Loftus Road just a mile away from where at least 80 people lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower fire of June 14, more than 18,000 supporters packed QPR’s stadium to watch stars from the world of football, entertainment and music contest a 90-minute match – which was won by a team managed by Les Ferdinand.
The match was preceded by Grenfell Tower survivor Nick Burton joining QPR owner Tony Fernandes and director of football Ferdinand – who grew up near Grenfell – on the Loftus Road pitch to lay wreaths before the 18,000 fans in attendance held a minute’s silence.
Despite the emotional and tragic backdrop to the Game 4 Grenfell match, the overriding feeling at Loftus Road throughout the day was one of unity and togetherness.
Indeed, the sight of stars such as Jamie Dornan, Jack Whitehall and even Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho warming up before the game elicited applause and smiles from the supporters at Loftus Road.
And when the game got underway, the upbeat spirit was easy to see when David James, playing in goal for Alan Shearer’s side, lightheartedly dived in the box.
The 47-year-old wasn’t laughing for too long, however, after four-time Olympian Mo Farah swept home a loose ball in just the second minute to hand Ferdinand’s side an early 1-0 lead.
Trevor Sinclair, captaining Shearer’s side, equalised 10 minutes later as football quickly took a backseat to the feeling of the occasion – which was brought home when four firefighters who tackled the Grenfell blaze came on as first-half substitutes.
Adam Foster and Greg Jules were brought on for Team Ferdinand as David Badillo and Dean Smith came on for Team Shearer, with their substitutions resulting in a standing ovation from the crowd.
Emotions then ran high at half-time when Rita Ora, who grew up in west London, joined Emeli Sande for a powerful and heartfelt rendition of ‘Lean on Me’.
With attention turning back to matters on the pitch, Team Shearer found themselves 2-1 up shortly after the break when Sinclair drove in a perfectly placed free kick over Shay Given that left fans on their feet and applauding the strike.
James Bay could have put the game out of sight for Ferdinand’s team but volleyed a cross well over the bar before Ian Glen was left breathing a sigh of relief when he nearly turned the ball into the back of his own net.
The momentum was certainly with Shearer’s side, with Ed Westwick hitting the post in the second half. But the arrival of Mourinho in goal for the team coincided with the equaliser for Ferdinand and his men.
Mourinho, who last played professionally 30 years ago for Portuguese side Comercio e Industria, was substituted on in the 63rd minute but could not stop Kasabian’s Chris Edwards tapping in Stan Collymore’s pass into an empty net.
The former Chelsea manager appeared to be enjoying the occasion – even getting booked for time wasting – and was then seen applauding when four Grenfell survivors including Shahin Sadafi and Paul Menacer came on.
With the match ending 2-2 after normal time, a pitch invasion caused the game to be temporarily halted but once it was cleared, the resulting penalty shootout saw Grenfell survivors and firefighters help Team Ferdinand onto a 5-3 win to wrap up an emotional but positive day in west London.
London News & Search