What a magnificent performance that was last night, it easily won out over Debate III – The Law of Diminishing Returns. For a short while in the early eighties I used to lodge with a Fulham-supporting friend round the corner from Craven Cottage. His mother, the Dowager Lady Diana, used to loathe match days as these occasions served to emphasise the proximity of her terraced house to a matter as vulgar as the playing of Association Football – ‘All this double parking, darling, it’s simply atrocious.’ In common with many of the residents of the streets to the west side of the Fulham Palace Road she wanted the club closed down, or at the very least re-located to New Malden (I seem to remember there was a petition about this). I would occasionally go down the Cottage on a Saturday afternoon after a lunchtime session to watch a very poor standard of third division football and to ‘enjoy’ the accompanying ‘terrace banter’.

In the early nineties when Stoke were relegated down to ‘Barclays Division 3’ I went to visit the old friend and took in a night match between our two sides. Stoke lost 1-0 in a game that attracted an attendance of 3,131. I dimly remember it as being rubbish, and of watching Liverpool playing a European tie at half-time on a primitive TV screen. The a dim memory is confirmed in the summary from Stoke City, the Modern Era, a Complete Record, by Simon Lowe.

A paltry crowd witness a dour match with Stoke just having the edge. Neither side has bought its shooting boots. Blake produces a moment of rare inspiration, breaking free to cross for Biggins to fire in. The Fulham faithful want boss Alan Dicks out. No new manager until the summer.

Things have changed on all fronts there. Fulham gentleman boss Roy Hodgson, having fashioned this miracle on a relative budget, (did I mention that Liverpool are out of everything yet?) is clearly Manager of the Season*, both Stoke and Fulham are top flight sides (though only one of them plays football) and Liverpool are out of Europe and everything else. For most of my life I’ve admired Liverpool teams – they have usually been flamboyant and swashbuckling. But under Rafa Benitez, the most grumpy little shit in the history of grumpy little Spaniards (a matter about which I know plenty, having once had a stepfather who started the type) the side are a gloomy unit in chaos and disarray. They are now in the position of being in contention for nothing whatsoever other than perhaps beating Chelsea on Sunday to deny them the title; if they achieve that, which I very much doubt, they effectively hand the silverwear to their most deadly rivals over at Old Trafford. Win or lose, that’s a lose-lose situation. The manager has spent more than the Greek debt to get here and says he needs a bit more (60 million) to finish the job off. Get some self knowledge Rafa: clear your desk and apologise while a pig flies overhead.

But back to the winners. Craven Cottage itself, as I record in the remaindered And She Laughed No More, is the most civilised place to watch football in the Premier League, including, amongst other extraordinary urbane delights, the bizarre concept of a ‘neutral fans area.’ If I were in London now, I think I would be a regular arriviste down there with my glass of Sancerre. I noticed Hugh Grant in the crowd last night; nothing could be ‘more Fulham’ than having the quintessential foppish Englishman as your famous fan.

Hurrah for the Cottagers!

* see comment one for a mild disagreement with this assertion

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8 Responses to Fulham

  1. johnnyneptune says:

    “Fulham gentleman boss Roy Hodgson..is clearly Manager of the Season”

    my arse. Eddie Eddie Howe is by a mile. WE GOT PROMOTED despite the Football League’s best efforts to get us out of the league in a different direction.

    Have never liked Fulham. horrible arriviste fans.

  2. Stephen Foster says:

    Have edited the post according to your world view Johnny.

    Can I count on your vote now?

  3. johnnyneptune says:

    that depends. have you been saying mean things about me without me listening?

  4. Daftburger says:

    At the Stoke match were the cottagers singing Dick’s out? How queer! 🙂

    I hope this run has priced Bobby Z out of Tee Pees budget. Pulis Out!

  5. OS says:

    Football, like politics, has become non Sigur Ros to me. I don’t want to talk about either of them. Can we have some blogging on August Macke or summat. Or even dogs. How’s Dills these days?


  6. Stephen Foster says:

    Dills is fine, in a needy only-child type way. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want a companion now and that in trying to fix him up with one we were barking up the wrong tree. I haven’t taken the camera out lately but I’ll put you one up from the archives of the snow.

    Football is infuriating and full of cheating, corruption and long throws [; )] but it’s still by miles the most thrilling spectator sport in the world; the last fifteen mins of Barca-Inter and the last half hour of Fulham-Hamburger were first class theatricals.

  7. OS says:

    In the Autumn of my life, as I struggle for every breath and the old aching bones creak and groan, I prefer watching Jasper do his summersorlts. He makes me laugh. 😉


  8. makemeadiva says:

    Hey OS, I think you are just sliding up and down the Individual – Collective bannister of life.

    I have you down as an liberty-minded collectivist. I have Jasper down as the same 🙂

    On Rafa, my late father-in-law gave up his lifelong support of Liverpool in the face of such mean-spirited systems. That wasn’t really a problem though; that was when he showed no interest in Authorized’s Derby and I knew we had really lost him 😦

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