Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Fulham 3 - 3 Manchester City

What a strange experience that was. Sitting in the away end at Craven Cottage was not an experience I would like to repeat. Watching the game with my City supporting pal, I found it very hard to celebrate goals against Fulham. I kept find myself verbally encouraging the Cottagers, despite my surroundings.
Still - another quite incredible match. I've calculated that so far I have paid £3.33 a goal. Anyone else offer that kind of value for money? It's just a shame that only half the goals have been scored by Fulham. If they could defend they'd be dangerous.
By far the pick of the goals was Hameur Bouazza's rocket of a free-kick. It was the first time I'd really noticed HB do anything other than dislocate his shoulder, so it was a pleasant surprise. The goal was reminiscent of Eric Cantona's free-kick against Arsenal many moons ago which was described by the commentator at the time as an 'exocet'.
Of the new boys - Danny Murphy obviously scored and could have even got a winner - but the most interesting player is Seol Ki-Hyeon. I'd seen him score a couple of screamers for Reading and he showed some great touches when he came on. But what stood out was how big he was. I didn't think the Koreans made them that tall.
I also found something else out - Putney Station is not just 10 minutes from the ground and the park between the bridge and Cottage is much bigger than you expect. It meant I arrived late for the game, but fortunately not too late to see Davies ghost in at the front post for the opener.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Divided loyalties

Just to underline my total plastic-ness when it comes to football, on Saturday I will be watching Fulham verses Man City at Craven Cottage - in the away end. If it seems odd that I would sit directly opposite my season ticket seat, then you would be right. However my mate, who is a City fan, is coming down from Manchester for the weekend and I said I would sit with him. It's only fair as I am making him come to watch Prince at the O2 the night before.
Despite being a United fan, I have been to watch City a fair few times and been happy to support them. Perhaps that's a patronising approach to the local rivals, but I don't think I could ever do the same for Chelsea or Liverpool. In fact, I know I couldn't.
In return City are a bit strange when it comes to United. No-one who works at the club is allowed to drive a red car. The deep seated hatred of the colour red has even caused them to develop a blue-coloured tomato ketchup. That's just weird.
The test for me on Saturday will be whether I'd be happy to cheer for one of my local teams against my adopted team. As I will be coming directly from the Oval where Lancashire could win the County Championship for the first time in over 50 years, I've got a feeling I will probably get carried away by the Northern fervour.
Oddly, since the start of the season I've hardly watched any Man United matches on TV. I went to the Community Shield at Wembley, but after that I've not seen a full game, not even the derby (thank god). I think attending Craven Cottage is satisfying my need to watch football and as such I just check out the results/listen to games on the radio. This will change tomorrow night with the game against Sporting Lisbon mind.

Friday, 14 September 2007


My take on the big news of the week.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Time on your side

Earlier this week, a West Ham fan I know was talking about going to Villa Park for the Hammers match and explaining how it was the only 3pm kick-off in the top league that Saturday and how shocking that was. I agreed. Unfortunately, because he was a little worse for wear, he proceeded to tell me three more times.
The law of diminishing returns ran true and I became less and less enthusiastic in my agreement. By the fourth 'revelation' I found myself thinking 'what's the big deal with 3pm on a Saturday'?
Man United fans have been lamenting the loss of their 3pm kick offs for several years now as TV demands more from the successful teams. Some United fans I know prefer the Noon kick offs anyway as it means the game doesn't dominate the day as it would at 3pm. It probably means many fans are sober enough to actually remember the game, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on which team you are following.
Are people just getting wound up about the 3pm Saturday match because it's something to get wound up about? Or is it something that the increasingly marginalised fans groups are making noises about because it is something that they might actually manage to change and reassert their importance to the sport? The days of non-domestic talent filling team sheets and football 'stars' removed from reality (c.f. Ashely Cole), neither of which can be changed by the fans, I can see how little victories are needed.
As mentioned before, this blog was called 3pm Cottagers as we anticipated most of the games to be played at the default time of 3pm Saturday, but it looks like this will only be the case for around half the games. Is this a big issue? Well not for us I suppose as we all live within 30 minutes from Craven Cottage. However it becomes an issue for those wanting to attend the away game at Anfield in November - a late evening kick off will mean that anyone attending will be getting back to London gone 11pm. Is this unreasonable? What happens if there is a late or early kick off against any of the three teams in the north east? As long as TV and the international markets, get their games no-one seems to care about the supporters. But this is true of big bucks football these days. Teams in the Premiership are getting that much TV money that they need not worry too much about fans actually attending games, as long as the 'supporter-base' is increasingly globally.
The truth is, if you really wanted to watch a match at 3pm all you have to do is ignore the Premiership. Just watching Soccer Saturday demonstrates the sheer number of 3pm kick offs in Britain at all the different tiers. So all the supporters groups will bitch and whine about the loss of football's 'traditional' 3pm kick off, but it seems to me the only thing that has stayed the same since I started watching football is that the Refs are still jumped up pricks. The rules have changed. The balls have changed. The leagues have changed. The grounds have changed. The atmosphere has changed. The only question is why must the Premiership games be shown at 3pm Saturday? I want all games televised and potentially on the end of my remote control. Let's have ALL Premiership games kick off 8pm Saturday. It'll help with the atmosphere and will be enough time to recover from UEFA Cup exertions.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

In and out the streets of Putney

The forthcoming international week is a good time to reflect on the end of the recent transfer window and Laurie Sanchez leaving everything until the last minute. I suppose after Saturday he could argue that he was leading by example.
I don't understand the late rush in the transfer window, but I can't deny that it's exciting if your team is involved.
While United were quiet as ever, Fulham signed four players on deadline day and sold another two. The picture shows my view of them being introduced to the Fulham fans. Even more surprising is that only one of Fulham's new signings was a defensive player - considering the team is conceding an average of 2 goals every game.
Stefanovic started on Saturday and looks a competent, if slower, replacement for Knight. As for where Sanchez is going to fit Danny Murphy and Sol Ki-Hyeon (yes, I did have to check the spelling) into a midfield still awaiting the return of Jimmy Bullard is beyond me, but it should be good watching him try. It should also belie the long-ball tag that has been unfairly attached to him. Kuqi as a short-term replacement for McBride might be quite useful and brings something to the team that no-one else does. As long as he just brings it from the bench.
The in and outs also refers to our rag tag of season ticket holders. In three matches so far, there's been a different line up every time. A lot of us are finding that real life is getting in the way of going to Fulham, especially if you're not that bothered. I think part of the problem is that it is not frequent enough. There are only two home games a month, which kind of stops you getting in a rhythm.
Also, despite the name of the blog, out of the next five Fulham home games, three are televised. Who said Fulham aren't fashionable enough for TV? Oh yeah, it was me. Still, with an average of four goals per game at the matches I have been too this season, on a personal level I am thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Fulham 3 - 3 Tottenham Hotspur

There's something particularly special about a 3-3 scoreline in football. It's the one you sit up and take notice of when it flashes over the videprinter. It's the game that you don't mind watching on Match of the Day even though your team's not involved. However, the scoreline rarely happens at a game that you actually attend.
I'm not sure but I think I broke my 3-all virginity yesterday. It was not really what I was expecting, but thoroughly enjoyable at full time. Another Fulham game, another goalkeeping blunder costing an early goal. In fact Antii Niemi put in one of the most jittery performances from a goalkeeper I've seen in an age. Hopefully he'll settle down.
In the first half, Fulham were woeful. Dejan Stefanovic, thrown straight into the first team, just didn't look fit and had no communication with Bocanegra. At one point they literally bumped into each other in the penalty area. The main problem for Fulham this season now is going to be pace at the back - they have none. Both Tottenham's second and third goals were from balls played in behind the back four.
Spurs completely dominated the first half and should have been four up by the break, except Dempsey scored a really powerful header from a corner (one of those that you head in yourself from the seat) and that appeared to put a bit of fire in Fulham's belly for the second half where they actually looked like a football team.
The goal by Smertin was reminiscent of the OG scored by Spurs captain Gary Mabbutt in the Cup Final way back in 1987. The fact that Smertin 'scored' was typical of this game - he'd been pretty awful all match.
As for the equaliser... well I saw the overhead kick and thought there was no way that would go in. Then everyone celebrated! Robinson gets lobbed from within his penalty area again! How short is he? 5'6? It was a great feeling, especially as Fulham really didn't deserve anything from the match. As I hugged Adam, I realised that this is the sort of game which can really endear a club to you. They showed a bit of fight and pulled themselves back into it. Nice one! Plus it shut up the Spurs fans who were sat in an executive box just behind us.

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