Fulham in the final

It’s taken me a week to get round to posting about last week’s events in Hamburg. A few days to get over it and then a few more to get my act together. Anyway we had a great time, went out there with Mum, Dad (doubt they ever thought they’d see Fulham in a European final), Martin over from Australia and my mate Geoff, from slightly closer to home. We met up with Ken, Andy & Paul in town (more pics & videos), so it was quite a family affair. The wider Fulham family were in fine fettle before the match, meeting up in the ‘fan zone’ just off the Reeperbahn.

And then we headed to the ground, via our ‘own’ train, on which we met the Atletico fans, who we subjected to ‘are you Brentford in disguise?’ chants, which they took in good, if slightly bemused spirits.

We walked the last bit to the ground through a park, and under a tunnel, where we attempted to turn the Atletico’s Y Viva Espana chant into our own Y Viva El Fulham (the song from our 1975 FA Cup Final appearance, in case you didn’t know):

Geoff and I were optimistic of a the greatest victory in Fulham’s history before the match, but it wasn’t to be.

The boys held out for the whole match and then 26 minutes of the 30 minutes extra time, hoping to make it to a penalty shoot out at the end but we couldn’t quite make it. They looked tired after a long season that began at the end of July in Lithuania and as this map shows, it was quite a journey.

I made it to all the home games and the away legs at Juventus and of course the final. As you can probably tell it’s almost as much to do with the experience of going to these games as it is with the result. It would have been nice to win, as quite frankly we haven’t won much in 131 years.

But hopefully it won’t bee too long before we’re all going on a European tour once more.

Final whistle celebrations at the Cottage

This is what winning the UEFA Europa League semi-final meant to those of us in the Putney End at Craven Cottage on Thursday night.

Having beaten Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk, Wolfsburg, Roma, Basel and now Hamburg (among others) over the course of 18 matches since late July last year and traveled some 18,000 miles in the process, we’ve made it to the final in Hamburg on May 12. And of course, we are going!

Becks & Boos

The lad and I went to see NY Red Bulls vs LA Galaxy on Saturday night – his first MLS game and David’s first start for the Galaxy. I thought it would be a good opportunity for him (the lad, not Becks at this stage of his career) as he isn’t yet comfortable being surrounded by large numbers of people screaming, howling, cheering & booing. I mean, it’s MLS – home of the soccer moms and teenagers cheering everyone hoping someone ‘shoots a goal.’ How wrong can you be?

More pictures here.

Our seats were at the back of the second tier, seats that would normally be empty in a normal MLS game, where 12k or so supporters would be rattling around in the ~80k-capacity Giants Stadium. We had a low roof over us and were one section to the right of the official standing area, where the boys that make most of the noise are. So the sources of noise were nicely in place. All they needed was a catalyst, and they got one with three goals in the first eight minutes. It went on like that and we had to leave when the score was 4-3 to make sure we got on a bus (I’ve been stuck there for hours before) and by the time we got on the bus we found out it finished 5-4 to NY.

Beckham was almost equally cheered (at the start everything he did, even a simple 5 yard pass was gushed over) and booed (each time he took a free kick this rose to a crescendo). But I don’t think they really meant the boos. The whole thing was something of a circus, and the crowd were just playing their roles. No doubt some of them would dispute that.