Sunday, January 28, 2007

Round up part 2 - This Is Anfield

Game 16 - Liverpool 4 FFC 0
My mate Mark has been talking about going to Anfield for a few seasons now, but for one reason or another we’ve never made it. Noticing it was on a Saturday and unlikely to be moved due to European football I suggested we go up this year. Having decided to go we then spent quite a long time trying to talk ourselves out of it. The train was too expensive, neither of our cars were up to the job of driving and the coach would mean a very long day, not to mention the inevitable defeat. Eventually on the Tuesday prior to the game we bit the bullet and bought tickets for the game and the coach. The coach option turned out to be not as bad as we feared. Taking a late decision to go from Motspur Park only had to leave home at 7:00 and had the added bonus of being able to park for free. Our driver, (Everton!) made great time getting up there and even provided us with a panoramic trip round the outside of Anfield, passing Goodison Park and Billy Wright’s statue before eventually finding our drop off point on the far side of Stanley Park. We were nice and early so headed straight for The Arkles pub. The pub was rammed with mainly Liverpool with a fair scattering of Fulham, but a friendly environment with both fans standing shoulder to shoulder watching the Manchester Derby (though wanting a different result!).

Spot the Fulham fan.

A great atmosphere and a couple of pre-match pints set us up nicely for the game ahead and as we made the short walk to the ground the full impact of Anfield's historic past hit me for the first time. Walking up to the ground down proper terraced back streets it felt like we had been transported back 20 or 30 years. We went to see the Hillsborough memorial and couldn’t resist having our photo taking by the Shankley gates and the "This Is Anfield" sign. It will be a sad day if Liverpool do as planned and leave this ground behind to move to a bigger stadium. The game itself was pretty much as expected. Fulham strove manfully in the first half to contain Liverpool, and did pretty well despite a few lapses, but we were always struggling to find any threat up front. The second half, particularly after the loss of Diop to a thigh strain (maybe his last performance in a Fulham shirt?), saw the Reds streaming forward with pace and power. The first goal was unfortunate, the second avoidable and then it was all downhill with no way back. It was a long journey home, eventually returning around 11:00, but we had a great day out (despite the inevitable defeat) and were really glad we made the effort.

Wonder if that kid's photo came out better than mine?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Round up part 1 - Games 10 - 15

Game 10 - FFC 0 Wigan 1
I went to this one. Took my eldest and went with one of his pals and his Dad. Going with son 1 means I don’t get as wound up as I would do normally (he’s only 6 and currently an Arsenal fan - son 2 is only 3 and hasn't had to make a decision yet, I'm gonna get it right this time!). Quite enjoyed the game which I felt brought back memories of similar encounters in the lower divisions. Basically a lot of enthusiasm and effort but not much quality. Camara’s attempted scissor kick that just flicked off his foot for a throw in and Kilbane’s sliced clearance that grazed the crossbar and gave us a corner were particular highlights. In the end we were undone by a combined cock-up in defence (Liam, Zat and Franck all failing to clear the ball) and the pace of Camara.

Claus prepares to take corner vs Wigan, next to the 2nd worst linesman in the Premiership.

Game 11 - FFC 1 Everton 0
We have so far always beaten Everton at home in the Premiership. I didn’t believe we could do so again. I was wrong!

Game 12 - Portsmouth 1 FFC 1
Took a surprise lead through Zat, poxy Andy poxy Cole went and equalised.

Game 13 - Man City 3 FFC 1
Never a happy hunting ground and no Steed this year to turn the game.

Game 14 - FFC 0 Reading 1
I really thought I had picked a good set of games for my 6 ticket package. Bound to see some wins I thought. To be fair we were all over them but a rash challenge by Pearce saw a deserved red card and Doyle (who looked Reading’s best player after Michael Brown kicked Steve Sidwell and he had to go off) despatched the penalty. We tried so hard to get back into this but just didn’t have the quality to create or finish in the box.

Game 15 - Blackburn 2 FFC 0
120 Fulham fans travelled to see this - I wasn't one of them. Pretty dire.