Fulham Football Club & Me

   Posted by: krmb   in Daily

20 October 2007
Finally. A day I’ve awaited for many, many years, arrived. I was headed to a Live top-flight football match in England! Despite the late night and the forthcoming short night, I was awake and ready by 0800. Even knowing that our ride wouldn’t arrive to pick us up the hotel until near noon, I just couldn’t go back to sleep. What if I should sleep through my alarm and miss the day? The horror kept me awake. I went downstairs and had breakfast while watching some cricket on the telly in the lounge. Finally, (finally!), our ride showed up. The Saints trucking company had secured Terrill & I tickets to go watch my first live Premiership match. They had also arranged transportation to and from Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham Football Club. Goodness was I excited. We clambered aboard the shuttle and were greeted warmly by four youth (of middle to late teen years) and two gentlemen of years slightly surpassing ours. We chatted amiable, enjoying the drive through London to Fulham and Hammersmith. The youth behind me, two of which were Fulham supporters while the other two were fans of the Owls (the day’s opposing team) chattered on about the lineup and who should play and who should be benched; was Clint Dempsey really worth the money paid out by FFC to secure his services; was the new manager any better than the old; and so on and on. It was delightfully amiable and I was, somewhat surprisingly to our hosts, able to join the conversation with knowledge and thought. It felt good! Finally, we got to Craven Cottage. What a beautiful building. Constructed in the 1860s, it’s one of the oldest stadiums still in active service in England. It is looked upon and treated with respect by all who visit its grounds. Perhaps it’s the fence that engenders this respect.
Our seats were in the home section of the grounds and elevated to afford an excellent view of the entire pitch and surrounding stands. Immediately to our right was the Thames river affording both a refreshing breeze and a beautiful vista.
Although the match ended in a rather disappointing 0-0 draw and the teams played with grim acceptance rather than any sort of determination, it was an exciting place to be. The atmosphere of a live Premiership match is something to experience rather than read about. No creating wrangling of words can reproduce that glorious, resounding experience. Here in the U.S. there are some that equate the Collegiate football experience to that that I witnessed at Craven Cottage. And perhaps, at some locations, that may be true. But, neither the single 1984 UT vs (someone) game that I went to nor the TCU vs (someone) game that I went to in the late 90’s could match that intensity and passion from the fans that I witnessed at Craven Cottage. Even though Fulham are prime candidates for relegation and were playing a considerably lesser team that are almost certain to drop back to the Championship at season-end, neither group of supporters gave up voice or hope through the entire 90+ minutes of game time. Passion.
Fulham FC and Me
Terrill took this photo of me with my camera just before the match started. Thanks, mate!
When the match was complete, we, Terrill & I decided to bid our hosts a very, very thankful farewell and strike out on our own in a section of London we’d not yet seen. First, a quick stop at the Souvenir shop to pick up a much-needed strip for myself, then off to locate a pub or five. We walked down the banks of the Thames for a short while, and then decided to turn inland. Sadly, my camera battery had decided it was time to quit (my only real complaint about my new camera was the severe lack of warning I got on the battery life. I managed only eight shots after I was first warned the battery life was going), so I got precious few photos of the remainder of the day. We located first a pub called the Crabtree. Had a refreshing pint then moved on. We were looking for someplace to camp for a few hours because at 2000 that evening, England were playing South Africa in the Rugby World Cup finals. All of England was Rugby mad, and in the photo, I’m wearing a supporter shirt for the boys of England. We finally located a Sports Bar called The Puzzle that looked inviting. We didn’t stay; there must have been 700 people packed in there watching the ManU vs Aston Villa game on gi-friggin-normous tellys. But, it was very, very loud and very, very trendy. Not our style not what we wanted. It is the first bar that Terrill & I have walked into together and immediately left. Rude or not, we didn’t want to stay. We walked a little further on and found an inviting place called The Distiller’s. They were showing the Rugby match upstairs. So, we each got a pint and waited for the upstairs to open. When it finally did, we went up to grab seats…too late. Already crowded, we nearly left; but we rationalized that any such place was going to be nearly as (or more so) busy. So, we slotted into the bar space and stayed put. What an amazing experience. The England v Russia football match on Wednesday was great, but England were playing poorly and the pub was quiet because of that. Not so tonight. The match was tight, the rugby was breathtakingly beautiful to watch, the tension was palpable. And, although the room was split along fan lines with England fans taking approximately 65% of the room, there was no animosity to be found. It was genteel, if boisterous (can those two go together?) crowd. A few spilt beers here and there, some genuine tears of frustration (or joy if you were a South Africa fan) and lots of camaraderie made for an absolutely unforgettable experience. If only my camera battery had held out. Finally, the day had to end. Terrill & took the tube back to Central Bus Station, then got a ride back to our hotel. We said our goodbyes and I was off to my room. I was leaving to return home in but a few short hours while he was off to Bern, Switzerland. A long hard week of work, interspersed with some truly memorable events was over. I was sad and excited to be headed home.

~KR (20 October 2007)

Listening to:
Tryin’ to Throw Your Arms Around the World by U2
on Achtung Baby

Camera: Canon PowerShot SD850 IS
Exposure: 0.006 sec (1/160)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 5.8 mm
ISO Speed: 80
Exposure Bias: 0/3 EV
Flash: Flash did not fire, auto mode

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 29th, 2007 at 13:31 and is filed under Daily. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 comments so far


Thinking about getting season tickets for Fulham…how was the view from your section? Looks alright based on the picture

July 14th, 2008 at 06:33

@@MW: It was a great view. Of course, Craven Cottage is such an intimate park I’d wager there’s not a bad view anywhere. Cheers.

July 14th, 2008 at 08:00