Thursday, 20 May 2010

Athletico Madrid 2 - 1 Fulham (aet) part 1

They came, they scored, they faltered. Fulham can now revel in glorious defeat after a monumental season, but what might have been if it weren't for the movement of one of Europe's best goal poachers. It's hard to distance the game from the epic journey it took us to watch the game.
2.40am Wednesday morning I set off in our hired Renault Scenic picked up another five near West Brompton station and the final straggler Col at his house in Bromley before heading for our 6.20am Eurotunnel crossing. What I thought might be an excited, giddy journey was instead punctured by complaints of tiredeness and illness as the West Brompton lot went out the night before and only managed an hour or so's sleep.
We were at Folkestone early enough (I'm not sure whether to expect a speeding ticket) to catch an earlier crossing and made it into Calais by 8am local time.Within seconds we were on the motorway and 20 minutes later out of France and in Belgium. We were not the only Fulham fans ploughing this furrow. There were many other cars sporting flags or at the very least British licence plates so we were in good company.
We only had two drivers amongst our number - one had to drop out after his boss wouldn't let him have the time off, while another didn't have both bits of paper in order top be registered on the insurance remotely. So that left two of us to do the brunt of the driving - neither of us had driven in Europe before. We needn't had worried - 98 per cent of our driving was done on the motorway/autobahn where driving on the other side of the road wasn't really an issue.

When I wasn't driving - I was instead sleeping - and it was during this period where we fell foul of the new road layout around Eindhoven which is not recognised by the SatNav which probably added another hour or so to our already tight journey. When we got back on track we decided to forgo the German A1 autobahn (famous for Fulham's previous embankment warm-up) and head up the A7 near Hannover, which would take us straight to the station designated for Fulham fans. However the traffic in Germany was appalling. In fact the last 7 miles took us over an hour. Our original ETA of 4pm became 6.30 and obviously left us short of time. We would have to miss out on the fan preparations in the Reeperbahn and more or less go straight to the stadium on the shuttlebuses. Fortunately, and contrary to expectations, there was a food and drink 'German village' erected outside the stadium and it was here where we finally got into the occasion with incidents such as the Fulham fans serenading one of the food stall workers with 'there's only one Rodney Marsh'.
As we made our way up to the impressive stadium (all football grounds should be built on hills) we went through the rigorous security checks, with one over zealous guard convinced our satnav was a makeshift bomb to climb up the stairs. And then climb up the stairs. And then climb up the stairs. It turned out our 105 quid tickets were one row from the back and we really required oxygen tanks and a sherpa to find our seats. The view was good though and we got a perfect look at the opening celebration which for some reason featured creepy women with lightening farts being transported around the ground on buggies. The music system was oppressive though and UEFA should consider that instead of adding to the atmosphere it might actually prevent the fans from creating an atmosphere of their own.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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