THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

31 March ~ Sometimes it's the little things that show how times have changed. Like a pair of tubby Italians, chugging as fast as their stubby legs would carry them towards the away end during Fulham's trip to Turin two weeks ago. The duo – Juventus fans – were keen to share their joy with the away following after the home side's first goal. Having aimed a few traditional Italian gestures at the gloomy faces beyond the Plexiglas they waddled off, patting each other on the back a tad over-enthusiastically. Juventus fans taking the piss out of Fulham? Fifteen years ago these fatties would have been wearing Brentford shirts. This really is a brave new world.

Which, interestingly enough, was the consensus in the national press a week later after Fulham had knocked the Italians out in SW6. "Fabulous Fulham humble Juventus," barked the front page of the Guardian's sport section. "There cannot have been a greater day in the history of Fulham," wrote Kevin McCarra. "Juventus, aristocrats of Serie A and twice winners of the European Cup, have fallen at Craven Cottage."

The Scotsman's breathless tone was replicated almost across the board, although elsewhere the tone was perhaps a tad more condescending. "Oh I say!" sniggered Andrew Dillon in the Sun. "The well-heeled at the Cottage will remember this night for the rest of their lives. History is rarely made at this genteel club, especially when money counts for so much in modern football." The general feeling was that the Cottagers – as no Fulham fan ever calls them – had exceeded their brief as English football's lovable/slapstick underdogs. The club that everyone likes to patronise had finally shown it had teeth.

Fulham's supporters were understandably euphoric. Grown men cried in the Hammersmith End and the Riverside Stand even raised the occasional cheer. It was remarkable stuff but many had been less pleased after the first leg, and not just because Fulham were so mediocre. A 9pm kick-off time in Turin made for plenty of very well-lubricated away fans, an excellent atmosphere and a fight 20 minutes in. Although only about ten supporters at most appeared to be involved, the punch-up dragged on almost until half time and only came to an end when the rest of the stand struck up a jaunty chorus of "If you can't take your drink, fuck off home."

It was a nasty incident, though, and on the web afterwards many thought it symptomatic of a new edge to the club's support that was out of line with its traditional values. Messageboards were full of supporters inviting the protagonists, somewhat pompously, to go and support Chelsea if that was their idea of fun. Others felt the incident had been blown out of all proportion, a not uncommon event now every supporter with a computer and a modem can have his say to the world.

Nonetheless, it clearly struck a nerve with many and perhaps made them see the club differently. A week later, and for a much happier reason, everyone was seeing Fulham in a different light. Will Hawkes

Comments (5)
Comment by Lincoln 2010-03-31 14:03:44

After last night's result in Germany, Norwich City remain the only British team to have beaten Bayern in Munich, Jeremy Goss etc etc. Enjoy the patronising tones and the comical columns shocked into writing anything approaching serious or non-sneery about a team out of the top four, it may not last. Let's hope it does though as Fulham, like Norwich, are a club that you just can't hate. Which is perhaps why they recieve the proverbial pat on the head when the non-serious contenders do something interesting

Comment by bangsection 2010-03-31 17:23:11

I remember putting a few quid in buckets outside Craven Cottage on a regular basis when I used to visit with Walsall in the mid-90s. They were always just about to go under/lose the Cottage - even with so many "well-heeled" fans. Still, hard to begrudge them their success now. I have only recently started to hate Norwich, but that is due to their odious manager Paul Lambert who single-handedly got our game with them postponed when they were short of players - presumably by allowing the referee to touch his Champions League medal. I will take a view on liking the Canaries again when he goes on to bigger and better things (i.e. the Hull City job).

Comment by wearebees 2010-03-31 21:44:54

Can't hate Fulham???
Every Brentford fan hates Fulham, you've no idea how gutted we were after they beat Juventus.
Still we showed them we could do the European thing too with a stunning 1-0 win at Stockporto a couple of days later...

Comment by Peyton 2010-04-06 08:09:16

Every Brentford fan hates Fulham? Now help me out here, just what is Brentford?

Comment by wearebees 2010-04-08 20:09:29

Brentford is the club that takes more fans to Oldham for a midweek, midtable League One match than you take to Wigan in the Premiership.

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