Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Bye Woy. Thanks for everything!

It appears that Woy has finally left the building - the allure of the big club on hard times was just too much. I can fully understand his decision and he has worked wonders with Fulham in order to be even linked with that kind of job. But why Liverpool? I'm going to struggle to wish him well while he's there. Growing up in East Manchester in the 80s when Liverpool were winning everything meant that I knew more Liverpool fans than Man City fans.
Still I hope he does well, but not great. Consistent Europa League qualification will do Woy. The Champions League is old news.
As for replacements? Well this news certainly brings a narrative to the up coming season which wasn't necessarily there before. No-one really knew what Fulham would do next with Woy at the helm. Now there is a clear ambition - survival! Personally I think Alan Curbishley would be a safe pair of hands, but after a season in which Fulham reached a European final, would the fans be happy with that? It's going to be an interesting few months.

Monday, 14 June 2010


Well it seems that it might not be too stupid a headline after all as it apparently references a famous American Football game between Harvard and Yale, which ended up as a 29-29 draw. But as Harvard (for whom a young Tommy Lee Jones was playing) scored an incredible 16 points in the last 42 seconds, it felt like a victory prompting the headline: 'Harvard Beats Yale 29-29'. The film dramatising this game was named after the headline.

However, let's not give the NYP too much credit as it is the US version of The Sun (only more right-wing of course) and it also references Bunker Hill as a 'tie' even though it was a British victory, albeit a Pyrrhic one. And this was against the English anyway.
And maybe it's not too tongue in cheek given the match report begins: "In true revolutionary style, the underdog Americans came from behind and blasted the powerful Brits to a nail-biting 1-1 draw yesterday in one of the all-time great World Cup soccer battles."
Still, both teams were pretty poor in a terribly boring match given the only talking points were Rob Green's horrific mistake and ITV cocking up again.

Friday, 11 June 2010

World Cup 2010

Been getting into World Cup mode with the help of the Panini Sticker album. I remember collecting them in '86, so it has been a particular blast from the past. Of course more teams means more stickers to buy (50p and now only 5 in a pack) and I've already been warned away from all the playgrounds in the area so finding someone to swap swaps with has been difficult. Praise be for the internet then and the like minded childish adults also desperate to play swapsies. I've even exchanged stickers with someone in Germany!
Fulham is represented through South Africa's Kagisho Dikgacoi, Ghana's John Paintsil, USA's (smiley) Clint Dempsey, Australia's Mark Schwarzer and now Switzerland's Philipe Senderos. For some reason Dickson Etuhu didn't make the cut for Nigeria's sticker contingent, although he hasn't played that much for them so maybe it's fair enough. Former Fulham players include USA's Carlos Bocanegra, Algeria's Hameur Bouazza (back in the Premier League with Blackpool next season) and South Korea's Seol Ki-Hyeon.
Checking out this tournament's Zakuni leopard mascot, I've been looking at the mascots through the ages and discovered that the European Championships have them too. Recognise this fella? ---->
Neither do I, but apparently it's 'Goliath' from Euro '96. I had full on football fever then with the tournament being on home soil, but do not remember seeing this lion thing. They didn't even call it Goaliath. He's not a patch on World Cup Willie, the first ever World Cup Mascot in 1966, who strangely was bedecked in the Union Flag rather than the St George's Cross.
My big bet prediction is Argentina v Holland in the final, which I have taken up at 33/1 (it's that long for a reason). Let's hope for a good tournament.

Monday, 7 June 2010

End of Season Awards

Blimey, it's been some season. I don't really know how to sum it up, but I'll try and do it in pithy categories.

Most Valuable Person Award: Bobby Zamora had his best season since leaving Brighton, Schwarzer was outstanding, Zolly came into his own in Europe (and bagging the player of the year award), Hughes was a rock at the back. Eight players could have justifiably won player of the year (I voted Hughes) but none of this would be possible without Roy Hodgson. It's his team, his tactics and his magic that have brought Fulham the success they've enjoyed in recent years. He is the catalyst that makes this team work and it is reflected in the jobs he has been linked with: England, Juventus, Inter, Liverpool, and Milan. Who knows what will happen to Fulham without him, should he choose to go?
Honourable mention: Bob Z

Frank Spencer Award:  Hmmmmm. Other than the officials during the two matches against Roma, I can't think of anyone fully deserving of this. Perhaps Kagisho Dikgacoi for the stupid red card on his debut at West Ham.
Honourable mention: Chris Baird's OG against Birmingham

Surprise Package Award: Chris Baird was in the running for an astoundingly effective season, as was Johnny Paintsil pre-Chelsea, but it has got to be Bobby Z who added to his team play from the season before with a bucketful of goals. Some crackers too.
Honourable mention: Fulham FC in Europe

I Was There! Award: Best game this season? Well it'll have to be one of the European games where expectations were defied time and time again. I am particualrly mesmerised by the away game at Shaktar Donetsk, but as I wasn't there I can't count that. It would have to be the home game against Juventus. It was bat-shit mental after all - in the stands and on the pitch.
Honourable mention: Hamburg at the Cottage

Goal of the Season: My gut reaction would be Dempsey's against Juve. It was both beautiful and timely and an incredible finish to the match. But Zamora's goal against Shaktar was, out of the blue, vital and an unbelievable strike. Yet every time I watch Davies against Hamburg, the goal gets better and better and better. However for the sheer visceral reaction it gave to me, I'll have to go for Davies against Atletico Madrid in the final. It's not the best by any stretch of the imagination, but it really got me going.
Honourable mention: Zamora v Shaktar

Sign Him Up award: Forlan aside, Gareth Bale was astonishing in the FA Cup QF game at the Cottage. Everything good from Spurs came from his position on the left wing. And they still needed to take them to a replay.
Honourable mention: Diego Forlan

Ouch! award: It has to be the 'tackle' by Amkar Perm's Belorukov on Andy Johnson that caused the striker's dislocated collar bone and was the start of AJ's injury plagued season. How he got away with just a yellow card I have no idea.
Dishonourable mention: Jerome Boateng's flying lunge at Gera v Hamburg

Statistical anomaly of the year: Fulham's home form in the Premier League is almost identical to last season's. Same number of wins, draws and losses, but with one fewer goal scored and one fewer conceded.
Honourable mention: The fact that Atletico won just 5 of 17 games in Europe this season

Prediction of the year: "As for the cups... I anticipate a cup final. Hamburg would be the best chance of actually winning one, but a trip to Wembley wouldn't go astray." Just here.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Athletico Madrid 2 - 1 Fulham (aet) epilogue

I wasn't going to continue dissecting the final but as Fulham, with all the timing for which they have become renowned, have this weekend launched paraphernalia for the Europa League Final, it seems it is still fair game.
We didn't stay for the trophy presentation. The late goal had taken the wind out of our sails and the knowledge of a lengthy overnight trip back to blightly saw us exit the stadium pretty sharpish after the final whistle. Had we realised the Fulham players were to be presented with runners up medals, we might have stayed, but we weren't really thinking straight.
Fortunately the rain had stopped after extra time. Being two rows from the back, when it was raining during the game, somehow we were getting wet, despite being fully covered by the roof, but it had ceased after 120 minutes as we trudged our way towards the shuttle buses to take us back to Othmarschen train station.
We were almost immediately on a bus and deposited back at the station before we really got a handle on what was going on. We wanted to find a bar that was open, but there were none around the station. So we made an executive decision to get a bunch of beer for the car and start off back. We'd had such a nightmare getting to Hamburg, we wanted to make sure we'd get back for our 1pm Eurotunnel crossing at Calais.
This was a shame. It meant we never saw anything really of Hamburg and missed out of the pre-game atmosphere at the Reeperbahn - but we were doing things on a budget and to a tight schedule so some things had to be sacrificed. Had the game finished in 90 minutes, perhaps we could have seen a little more. If, buts and maybes.
The driving back was actually quite fun with everyone debating the game and getting drunk. But one by one they fell asleep, leaving me to negotiate the roadwork heavy (but thankfully traffic light) A1. Almost as soon as we hit Holland I pulled over into a closed petrol station, parked up and prepared to get a power nap in myself. I was a bit concerned when this car parked next to us and three big bruiser types spilled out. I nonchalantly locked the doors, but they went around the back of the still deserted petrol station then got back in the car and buggered off. Had I been less sleepy, I would have moved the car somewhere else, but I needed a kip. Everyone else was still asleep anyway.
40 minutes later and I was refreshed enough to set off. It took a little concentration and an iron will to ignore what the SatNav was saying around Eindhoven to keep us on track and one more sneaky power nap among the big articulated trucks in a lay-by was enough to see us to Calais, with an hour or two to kill. So we actually came off the motorway, parked up in the town centre and went to a European Cafe. This was the way we should have done it! A slow drive through Europe setting off on Tuesday morning, staying somewhere in Holland on Tuesday night and have a lesiurely drive to Hamburg in the morning.
We caught the crossing (I was mainly asleep by this point) and got back to Hammersmith 4pm Thursday. An exhausting trip all in all - it just felt like two days of driving with a football match in the middle. Next time, we'll do it differently.

Worth it - Yes!! Definitely. A first for most people (as in European cup final), and should feel lucky we managed to get tickets, when many did not. Would I change anything - I would like to but probably could not. The lesson learned  - have no sympathy for Eurostar, airlines, or hotels, as they will stiff you if they can, and they did. Prices increasing so badly that you're better getting a flight to the far east rather than Hamburg says it all. Would have loved to spent more time in hamburg, but would have been bankrupt!!!Fulham's chances in the near future? Probably slim. Best chance they will have for a trophy. May have won it if Gera has scored in the second half when the Spanish side looked tired. Problem is in the future, people will take them more seriously, Roy may move on, Al Fayed may move. A period of uncertainty still remains above the Cottage.
EDDIE (Irish Fulham fan)
A lot of people have asked me am I glad I went. I don't regret it for a minute. Loved the experience. The atmosphere at the game was brilliant. The people I travelled with weren't too bad either. I loved that we had breakfast in Calais and not in another petrol station. Would do it again, no problem.
Looking back im really glad I went. I really did enjoy it and bizarrely for me I feel quite proud of them for achieving so much. All in all a great experience.


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