Wrestling star stops by to help inspire PNE to QPR win

Simon Grayson at Loftus Road.
Simon Grayson at Loftus Road.
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Simon Grayson revealed how a team talk from wrestling star Stu Bennett helped fire his side to a first Championship win of the season at Queens Park Rangers.

Better known as Wade Barrett, the WWE superstar turned actor, was in attendance at Loftus Road to watch his beloved Lilywhites get up and running with a 2-0 win.

Goals from Jermaine Beckford and Callum Robinson capped a fine away performance that put to bed any concerns after three defeats to start the season.

Grayson said: “We said last week that we’re not a million miles away.

“We played very well against Derby (a 1-0 defeat) on Tuesday night and didn’t quite get what we deserved.

“We knew that we weren’t far away and that something would happen for us.

“We had the wrestler Wade Barrett come into to see us before the game so maybe him threatening one or two of the players might have made them just run a bit more quickly and tackle even harder.

“It was nice for him to see us win but it was about the team believing in themselves and believing what we’re doing is the right thing.

“People do start to get a bit jittery when you’ve lost the first three games and a few critics have been answered now.

“We’ve just got to keep doing that week in, week out.”

The result ended PNE’s wait for a first win of the season, North End having come up short in defeats to Reading, Fulham and Derby.

On Saturday, they showed plenty of the qualities that helped them to an 11th-placed finish last season, something which raised expectations ahead of the new campaign.

Grayson said: “Everybody wants to get points very quickly.

“If you lose two or three games on the trot mid-season nobody really complains too much.

“You lose them at the start of the season and the world’s come to an end.

“The season isn’t won or lost at the start of the season it’s about where you finish.

“We know we’ve got a long season in front of us and we won’t get carried away but today was a good performance and people showed the qualities that made us a good side last year.”

The PNE boss made four changes for the game with a debut for Tommy Spurr at left wing back while John Welsh got his first action of the season having failed to make any of the previous match-day squads in the league.

Grayson said: “The lads who’ve come into the team and haven’t started much have proved that they were ready to come in. It’s a squad game.

“You know what you’re going to get from Welshy, he never lets you down when he comes into the team.

“We just felt today that with them playing (Tjaronn) Chery just off the striker he could deal with him and we felt he could deal with (Seb) Polter too because they like to get the ball into him a lot.

“He showed his experience and what he’s capable of doing and the lads around him responded.

“Tommy Spurr up and down that left hand side, Chris Humphrey on the right hand side, there were some really good individual performances within the team performance.

“It was more like us, we’ve been a little off the pace over the course of a game for the first three games but today we showed what we were like a lot last year and that was really pleasing.”