It's back to the "ex's" for our latest interview as Andy Thomson agrees to be the next in the QPRnet.com chair. Andy talks about his time at Rangers, his injury problems and, of course, camp fires and sausages
QPRnet.com: How did the move from Gillingham come about?
AT: To be honest it was totally out of the blue. My agent called me a couple of days before the transfer deadline and said there was interest from QPR and asked me if I fancied going. I said yes and it just progressed on from there. Obviously the club were struggling at the time in division one but they were still a big name with a good reputation so that didn’t worry me too much.
QPRnet.com: You came in and immediately struck up a great understanding with Peter Crouch
AT: Yeh me and Crouchy did well together, we had a good partnership and scored a few goals but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to save us from relegation. It was only a short spell we had together but I enjoyed playing alongside him, apart from going down of course.
QPRnet.com: What was it like playing alongside someone like Crouch who is quite unusual for a footballer?
AT: It was fantastic. I enjoy playing with a bigger striker I can feed off anyway. It wasn’t just the fact he was good in the air, he is an intelligent footballer on the ground as well. He was a pleasure to play with and I wasn’t surprised that he ended up playing at a higher level.
QPRnet.com: Was it unsettling that summer after relegation seeing the playing staff stripped down and started from scratch?
AT: It was yes. I knew having been relegated a lot of people would leave, that’s just the reality of the situation but to get into the state it did was a huge shock to me, as I’m sure it was to everybody. I didn’t realise things were that bad so it was worrying times. Luckily we had a manager in Ian Holloway who is a fighter and wasn’t going to let it go to pieces.
QPRnet.com: When you joined were you made aware of the clubs financial problems?
AT: No I never knew anything about it and it came totally out of the blue for me. I knew they weren’t paying the wages they used to but I never realised they were in the state they were but it’s not really a players place to ask those questions.
QPRnet.com: That summer after coming down we were left with about seven players, did you think we would do as well as we did?
AT: No. It’s hard enough getting relegated from the first to the second because you have to adjust to a whole different style of football. For a club like QPR to go down to that level it’s even harder because a lot of the smaller teams would raise their game because we were such a big name. It was always going to be difficult anyway then to lose practically the whole team as well made it a very big ask. I thought it could be a struggle but we like you say we did well.
QPRnet.com: You had a fantastic start to the season before your back problems.
AT: Yeh, Olly’s training sessions got me really fit and things went well on the pitch, I was scoring a few goals but then my back problems started. Getting injuries is part and parcel of the game but I couldn’t shake this one off because of the amount of driving I had to do. I was living in Leigh on Sea and it was taking me anything from two to three hours a day each way. It was horrendous but I knew that when I signed so I never complained about it.
It was really frustrating though, I was having periods were I wasn’t training but still playing, even though I wasn’t fit, because we were struggling for strikers. There were probably occasions were I shouldn’t have played but I felt a bit of responsibility to do a job for the club.
QPRnet.com: How is the back now?
AT: It’s great, the best it’s ever been. I only have to drive five or ten minutes into work now which has helped so it’s been really good.
QPRnet.com: The style of football at Rangers can sometimes be described as direct; did you have to adapt your game to suit?
AT: Not really because I’ve not got much of a game apart from scoring goals! I don’t mind being direct, it depends who you playing alongside though. With someone like Crouchy up front it was fine; I could play around him and lead off his flicks and knock downs.
I think the team had to adjust more than me personally, QPR were always known as a footballing side and it didn’t really work in that division. I felt towards the start of the second season in division two that we understood what that league was all about.
QPRnet.com: Going into the 2002-03 campaign, what were your hopes for the season?
AT: I was looking forward to it. I knew after speaking to Olly that I wouldn’t play as much as I’d done in the previous season but I accepted that because I wanted to stay and I knew it was the right club for me. Again though it was disappointing, I got injured in the first game then Paul Furlong and Kevin Gallen were scoring a lot of goals so I found it difficult to break back into the side. When I did eventually get a chance we were down to the bare bones and we went on a run where we couldn’t score a goal or get any kind of result. It was a very frustrating and a difficult season for me but I just got my head down and tried to work as best I could.
QPRnet.com: As a striker, when you see someone like Paul Furlong join the club does it worry you or motivate you to compete for the place?
AT: It has to motivate you because if it doesn’t you shouldn’t be playing in the first place. Obviously they’re coming in to try and take your position but competition for places is a good thing. If you don’t have it people become complacent and don’t play to the best of their abilities and when you do have it helps the team and helps individuals. I’m not one to complain about competition, it was just unfortunate I didn’t really get a run of games in that season, not much went right for me.
QPRnet.com: You mentioned the poor run we found ourselves in, that culminated with the Vauxhall defeat. How did the squad pick themselves up after that?
AT: We pretty much had a three day meeting after Vauxhall because it wasn’t acceptable the way things were. We talked about where we’d gone wrong and where we could change things and do things better. We were just honest with each other about the best way forward as a team.
Eventually it made a difference; we picked up around Christmas and came out the other side. We went on a good run after that and I think that all started with getting everything out in the open after that Vauxhall game. The players said how they felt and the management team spoke up and it paid off.
QPRnet.com: You had a stop start season due to the injury, but had come back into the side for the play off semi final so how disappointed were not to start at Cardiff?
AT: Good question. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed but I felt after starting the Oldham game that I would have got the nod with Richard Pacquette maybe coming on late again to use his pace. Olly obviously had different ideas on how to work it and to be honest I was just happy to be involved after all the problems I’d had that season.
QPRnet.com: What do you remember about your header in the play off final?
AT: To be honest I don’t really like watching it back but I’ve seen it a couple of times since. I knew that Spencer Prior was going to head it back so I read it and got there before the keeper but there was no pace on his header so I had to put all the power on myself. I know a lot of people thought I should have brought it down but I thought I made the right decision. It’s history now though, nothing I can do about it.
QPRnet.com: Do you think you would have tucked it away if you’d had a full season behind you?
AT: I can’t say I would have scored but I would have felt better in myself. I would have that sharpness that, to be honest, I didn’t have that whole season.
QPRnet.com: Describe how you felt after the play off final?
AT: The place was dead, the dressing room was dead and everyone was gutted, it was a great opportunity and we didn’t take it. I felt so much for the fans as well because they were tremendous all season and to turn up in the numbers they did that day was terrible for them. It’s a horrible feeling because there’s nothing you can do but accept it.
Afterwards we had a bit of a do at the hotel but it was a like a wake more than anything. It was good of the club to put it on but it wasn’t the best night in the world.
QPRnet.com: Did you know at that point that you were coming towards the end of your time at Rangers?
AT: Yes. The Hull situation confirmed it for me and I knew then I’d be moving on sooner rather than later.
QPRnet.com: What reasons were you giving for being moved on?
AT: When the Hull thing happened I was told different things by different people that was the most frustrating thing. Olly was great to me though, I knew it was out of his hands, at the end of the day it was a board decision. I wasn’t playing, I was on a fairly decent contract and they couldn’t afford to keep me if I wasn’t in the side and scoring goals. It’s part and parcel of the game but the way it happened wasn’t nice. I don’t really want to get into it but I didn’t think it was done in the right way by the board of directors.
QPRnet.com: You sound like you had a good relationship with Olly?
AT: Brilliant, he was fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for a better manager. I’ve got so much respect for him, not only as a manager but as a person. Anytime I had any kind of difficulties he was really good and on the footballing side he was great for me, the whole coaching staff were fantastic.
QPRnet.com: Olly made a crack about sausages and campfires about you, what did you think of that?
AT: Ah I used to get it every fucking day at training! I know some people would have heard that comment and think something negative about it but it’s just the way Olly is and I never had any problems with. I laughed about it.
Basically Olly liked me as a goal scorer but thought I could do better in other areas of the pitch and that fair enough because I know that myself so it wasn’t something new or something I hadn’t heard before.
The thing is people get the wrong impression of Olly, they think he’s a screwball in the dressing room and goes about going mad all the time but he’s very measured in what he says, he’s a top man and he loves that club.
QPRnet.com: How are things at Partick?
AT: It’s been difficult, I’ve been injured again but the wife and kids are very settled which is good. I’ve had a knee problem, I tore some of the ligaments and got some bone bruises but I’m hoping to be back in a few weeks.
QPRnet.com: How does the SPL compares to the second division in terms of style of play?
AT: That’s the million dollar question that one. There’s not that much difference to be honest. Apart from the top two, who are a class apart the rest might do OK in the English First Division I think. But it’s still a good standard of football and there are some good players here.
QPRnet.com: What’s your favourite memory of your time at Rangers?
AT: I always remember the Stoke game, which was the first game after we came down to the second division. We were under pressure and they were the favourites for the championship. It was a good game and I scored the goal which was nice.
I also remember scoring two against Cardiff; I got one from the penalty spot and one from about eighteen yards, which was very surprising for me! It was probably the best goal I scored at QPR.
All in all I loved my time there and I’ve got nothing but good memories of the club. I always look out for the results and it would be great for Rangers to get up this year, back where they belong. I’d be especially pleased for Olly and the background staff because they work so incredibly hard.