Monday, May 3

You only drink white wine…

Fulham 3 West Ham 2

The Cottage pub is closed for renovation, a bit like West Ham. So Fraser, Nigel and myself drift down Munster Road to the Durrell Arms, where the Doombar ale makes a welcome change from the Central.

We walk the rainswept streets to Craven Cottage, noting the enhanced ambience compared to Upton Park. Oh West London is full of yoga studios, basement conversions and garden centres.

Nigel is sitting in Row Z of the Neutral Section, so he’s relieved to discover that Zamora is nursing an injury. Fraser and myself are right behind Rob Green in Row C and get to see our lack of width in horrific detail. How does the keeper cope?

Fulham have made seven changes from the side that beat Hamburg to reach the Europa League Final. We discover that David ‘Diddy’ Hamilton is still alive and DJing for the Cottagers and the game kicks off.

The home crowd seems positively sedate for a side that’s just achieved the impossible. Does your butler know you’re here?

It’s end of season fare from both sides. Lots of practice match style pinging the ball round with no fouls and no penetration. The away fans are so bored they recite a jukebox of chants hits: “Oh Christian Dailly you are the love of my life!”, "My name is Ludek Miklosko”, “Paolo Di Canio!” and even a Bobby Moore chant.

We discuss whether Paul Konchesky might make the England squad, until Fraser points out that his two England appearances so far involved getting beaten 3-1 by Australia and then given the run around by Argentina.

Things liven up a little on the half hour when Dempsey hits our bar with a chip that has Green beaten, and then Noble turns swiftly and fires in a shot that Schwarzer does well to parry. Da Costa fires in a rocket from 35 yards that the Fulham keeper turns round the post.

But our porcelain jaw is exposed right on half time as Dempsey plays a one-two with Davis and unmarked shoots into the corner of the net. It’s freezing, we're losing and it's all looking like a pretty poor investment of 49 quid.

“Still, they’ll struggle to get another 23.” I tell Fraser.

The West Ham fans are magnificent, as ever. At the start of the second half we repeat the constant claret and blue army mantra for a nothing at stake game. It inspires our lads a little and we up the tempo.

Only then we fail to clear and Baird shots at Cole, who unluckily deflects the ball into his own net.

Franco and Diamanti come on at last, just as Noble flights a free kick and Cole back heads into the Fulham net.

We press some more, but then Spector loses the ball on the left when he should have hit Row Zamora, and Okaka converts a tap in. Apart from Burnley and Hull, we must have the worst back four in the division.

In stoppage time Parker and Noble combine to set up Franco, still wearing his snood, for a well-worked consolation.

At least we still have a 22-goal superior goal difference to Hull, which is about the best that can be said for it. And David Hamilton is playing the Christian Daily song as we leave, starting another tribute to the iconic Scotsman.

Someone spots Phill Jupitus, our answer to Hugh Grant, in the departing crowd and quips “Did you see the humour in that then?” You suspect he might not have.

A strange game. It shouldn’t take the fans to motivate the players into a sense of urgency. Roll on the end of the season.


gavcat said...

Pete, Doombar may make a welcome change from the appalling Central, but it is an appalling bitter. The Cornish should stick to what they're good at - making cider

Matt D said...

A good summary Pete, although I think you've under played the temperature - it was artic. Zola's second game as manager was here in 2008 I think, and this felt like his second to last. He seemed almost reluctant to acknowledge the fans. The criminal lack of width was compounded by Zola's insistence on playing left footers on the right and vice-versa so they always cut inside. How bad does Spector have to be before the left footed Daprela gets a run at left back? Favourite moment was when the fans chanted "Are you Spector in disguise?" at Kovac after he miskicked a clearance.Pains me to say so, but I think the Club Landlord may be right.

matt said...

If anyone is going to the Tony Carr testimonial tonight, it should be an occasion to suspend hostilities with one or two of the less popular former players who may be there, and celebrate the man who has probably done more than any other to ensure we are still in the Premier League...

Pete May said...

I will be there at the Tony Carr game... as for gavcat's opinion on Doombar, the mere sight of anything with a hand pump is enough to have me salivating after the Central. The Durrell also did Bombadier which might be more to his taste...

Agree with Matt D about Specs on the left - surely we could have given Daprela a chance in a nothing-at-stake game?