Friday, 23 May 2008


It seems Woy's been cleaning out the closet. From the OS (my comments in italics):

Fulham Football Club can confirm the following players have left the Club:
  • Jari Litmanen - waste of money
  • Carlos Bocanegra - a shame - a solid if slow defender with his own chant
  • Philippe Christanval - unseen this year
  • Simon Elliott - don't really know who this is
  • Ian Pearce - was practically dead at the end of last season not seen in '08
  • Michael Timlin - no idea here
  • Ismael Ehui - or here
  • Bjorn Runstrom - or here

Paul Stalteri has also returned to Tottenham Hotspur following the end of his loan spell. Wonder what will be happening at right back then? Is Finnan really coming home?

I'm surprised there are no goalkeepers on this list, especially as Mark Schwarzer has just turned down Bayern Munich and Juventus (!) to join the Cottagers. I'm sure the EU will be stepping in soon to make sure we distribute our steadily growing goalkeeper mountain amongst poorer teams.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Coming back for more

It seems like we are going to continue with our experiment for a second season! Jarrod and Ish have said they will come back, my old friend Col is dead keen to give it a go (despite living just walking distance from Selhurst Park), and Ben is currently juggling his finances. This will be helped by the fact that the season tickets are still quite cheap, although we have seen a 10% increase where we sit! Still much cheaper than the cheapest seats at the flea pit in Loftus Road, mind you.
It might take us a while to get sorted again, but fortunately there's no early bird discount for the cheaper seats (how could there be?) so we're going to take our time in selecting seats I think. Ish definitely doesn't want to sit where he is now as he says the bloke next to him can whiff a bit.

On a tangent - As essentially a Man United fan, I'm a bit worried about this evening. It's not even the thrill of possibly winning the European Cup, it's more the dread of potentially losing it to Chelsea. This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't an all English final. Damn the Premier League's dominance.
At least I know that all the Fulham fans will be (should be) supporting United tonight. I can't see them wanting a Chelsea win.

Monday, 19 May 2008

End of season awards

A lot of other blogs appear to be putting together their awards for the year - so I thought I'd have a bash as well.

Survival Award - Simon Davies
Only Simon Davies has been an ever present in the Fulham squad this season, from the first game to the last and scoring some important goals along the way. He's been pressed in this award by Paul Konchesky (who suffered a three match ban) and Danny Murphy (who only joined on transfer deadline day). To be constantly in a team that has used many, many players during the season shows his dedication on the pitch and the training ground.
Also nominated: Fulham FC

Disappearing Act Award - Alexy Smertin
Where the hell did the Russian go? The only midfield 'enforcer' played most of the matches until mid January, resurfaced in March for the defeat against Man United and then disappeared again. He also scored two of the biggest deflected goals of the season.
Also nominated: Eddie Johnson

Surprise Package Award - Billy the Badger
There was one point of the season where Fulham's mascot was getting more favourable press coverage than the team, and with good reason. He was pictured consoling Chelsea manager Avram Grant and was then sent off against Aston Villa during a televised game for breakdancing in the corner while the game was about to kick off.
Also nominated: Woy Hodgson, Erik Nevland

Frank Spencer Award - Chris Baird
Poor Chris Baird. The £3m centre half embodied his manager Laurie Sanchez and for that reason the Fulham fans never took to him. Clearly suffering from having his confidence knocked (he was Southampton's player of the season last year), Baird put in one clueless performance after another, albeit at right back - not his natural position. Frequently out of position and with appalling distribution, it would not be a surprise if he returns to the south coast this summer.
Also nominated: Brede Hangeland for his 'performance' against Sunderland, Tony Warner

Laissez-Faire Award - Seol Ki-Hyeon
It is now apparent why Reading were so happy to see the back of the Korean. When he was up for it, Ki-Hyeon mixed skill and pace with a surprisingly robust physical presence. However most of the time he looked like he couldn't be arsed. Useless as a starter, Ki-Hyeon only made any impact on a game when introduced as a sub and then not often enough.
Also nominated: Diomansy Kamara

Goal of the Season - Diomansy Kamara v Tottenham Hotspur
In probably the best match the Cottage saw this season, Kamara's last minute, overhead kick equaliser probably generated the most celebration. An undeserved point against London neighbours in such spectacular and unexpected fashion was an incredible feeling and, in the end, was essential for Premiership survival.
Also nominated: David Healey v Sunderland, Hameur Bouzza v Man City

Atmosphere of the Season - Fulham v Everton
The Cottage came alive for this game, aided by the paper clappers which generated a background noise from which to progress. I think this was the game where the 'Great Escape' theme first started this season and caught the mood and I believe took the pressure off the players - helping them record an unlikely 1-0 win.
Also nominated: Fulham v Spurs, Fulham v Birmingham

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Great Escape

Highly improbable? Yes. Highly enjoyable? Definitely. The shout that emanated from our table when the news of a goal came from Fratton Park was one of unexpected joy. Had the Walkabout in Shepherd's Bush been showing the match on Setanta (rather than Aussie rules football) it would have been one of disbelief if the match reports were anything to go by.
A nervy Man United win combined with a nervy Fulham win and Man City being battered 8-1 by Middlesbrough of all teams provided me with quite an incredibly fulfilling day of football.
Many are labelling Fulham's survival as the greatest escape, although I'm not so sure. I was doing some work experience in the PA Sport office the day on-loan goalkeeper Jimmy Glass scored in the last minute to keep Carlisle in the League. I suppose there are some parallels - Glass shouldn't have been in the penalty area when he scored the winner and, according to Danny Murphy, he shouldn't have been either.
Personally I thought Fulham were down, but only after the gutless defeat at home to Sunderland. The week before that I had convinced myself that Fulham were staying up after writing this piece, so much so I had a bet on it. Now I'm £80 better off. Cheers Fulham - that'll go towards next year's season ticket.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

I'm not sure if exciting is the word

Well its been a quite remarkable season for me personally and going into the final game with one eye at the top and one eye at the bottom of the league is a new experience for me. I must admit I have a horrible feeling that Fulham will not get anything from Fratton Park, but that's not defeatist as I'm not sure that Birmingham or Reading will get the necessary points either.
However it is the last game of the season, which is renowned for unusual scorelines. Fulham to win three consecutive away games? No bother! Throw possible European qualification into the mix through the Fair Play League (fingers crossed for Man City red cards) and it could be an incredible game.
A friend called me up yesterday and wished me luck on the last day of the season. As a Fulham fan. He didn't quite understand that I was actually a Man United fan who had a Fulham season ticket and, frankly, I don't think he wanted to understand it. It was strange, but I suppose symptomatic of the enthusiasm I have shown for Fulham this season.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Brian McBride - An apology

I've never really understood the reverence with which Fulham fans held Brian McBride. He was good in the air, granted, but he never seems to have much else in the locker. He doesn't take people on, he hasn't got blistering pace and he doesn't have what I would describe as 'the fury' necessary to be captain.
However it is becoming clear to me that was he does have is timing. Time and time again it is McBride who is popping up and breaking the deadlock and helping Fulham claw their way to safety in the league. It is an extremely valuable trait that most other players are lacking in the squad. In fairness, I haven't seen much of the big American this season (what has happened to Eddie Johnson by the way?) with his long term injury, but the more I see, the better he looks.
Against Birmingham it also showed that McBride also had another vital attribute - awareness. Brum had a corner, but the ball was cleared. As all the Fulham players pushed out, McBride had the nous to check out the defensive set-up as Brum won the ball back. For some reason there was a Brum player free on the left side of the box, God knows where Stalteri was, and he ran 15 yards to plug the gap. In this new position, McBride was able to easily chest the cross back to Keller, but had he not stepped in then there would have been a one on one situation. In find that the fact that McBride did this even though he is a striker even more impressive.
So I'm now in the Brian McBride Fan Club. Hopefully he can add to his Fulham legend this weekend.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Fulham 2 - 0 Birmingham City

Well, well, well. The Cottagers do their fans proud and put things back into in their own hands. It may sound like an innuendo, but Fulham's 2-0 win over Brum has provided an opportunity that very few thought possible just a few months ago.
Fulham are now out of the drop zone with one game to play. Unbelievable! As Kammy might say.
We went to the final home game of the season mob-handed as my mate Pete the City fan was down for the bank holiday weekend. In fact Pete must be one of the few hundred people to see Fulham win twice in consecutive weekends. Also with Pete was his five-year old daughter Sara and his bird Emma. Sara has been to a few matches before at Man City, so she was not too phased by Craven Cottage. She absolutely adored the clappers given out though and held them up continuously, at least until she realised that bashing them on people's heads caused a loud noise.
Her presence even emboldened the little lad who sits in front to start talking to us at this match. I say sits in front, the tyke actually sits on the edge of the top of his seat, so during this match he was practically on my lap. He's a nice little lad though, who all season has been watching us chant and tacitly looking for approval whenever he starts singing too.
As for the football, Birmingham are probably one of the worst sides I've seen this season at the Cottage, excepting some of the home team's performances in the middle of the year. They had nothing up front and even less bite than Fulham. I'll be extremely surprised if they stay up.
The big danger is Reading, who may not be playing well but their last game is against Derby. This means Fulham have to win at Portsmouth. No mean feat, but hopefully they will be distracted by the FA Cup final the week after.
Hopefully Brede Hangeland will be playing like he did in this match rather than how he did against Sunderland. He actually looked like a proper decent player against Brum and made barely any mistakes at all. More of the same please.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

It's now or never!

Well today's either going to be excellent or a massive damp squib. My City supporting mate is down from Manchester with his bird and 5-year-old daughter so we are all going along. This is good because whenever Pete watches a Fulham game there is an average of five goals scored (and thanks for the points last week mate!).
I hope Woy starts with McBride and Healey and then brings Kamara and Nevland on - that tactic was pretty effective last week and Kamara has never really done the business when he has started a game.
It's going to be soooo tense. Ish and Coops are actually going to attend this match, with it being the last one of the season and I believe they will see a difference with the crowd. They stopped going because the crowd at Fulham was less than boisterous at the start of the season, but I've told them that this has change over the past few months (starting with the win against Villa).
I've decided that I will probably renew my season ticket (expense permitting) if Fulham do go down. In a way, the Championship is more genuine and exciting anyway than the ultra negative Premiership.

Hopefully it won't be an issue though...

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