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One night with Fulham

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English. Premier League. Football.

A religion to some, there are few words to adequately describe a match experience.

Wednesday evening I spent 40 minutes on the Tube to get to a place called Putney Bridge, a place at the end of Zone 2 – so far out the “Tube” is no longer underground, it’s overground. I walked two miles to get to a place called Craven Cottage to sit and watch grown men, who more closely resembled ants from my vantage point, play football (soccer for all of you Americans).

And it was amazing.

 

Fulham's Hammersmith End stands often house die-hard fans who cannot afford season tickets, but buy single game tickets to each home match.

Fulham’s Hammersmith End stands often house die-hard fans who cannot afford season tickets, but buy single game tickets to each home match.

Fulham Football Club (FFC) was the home team, West Ham United (West Ham) the away squad.

I had the fortune to sit in Fulham’s “Hammersmith End” stand, where the men who cannot afford season tickets, but buy a seat for each home match sit.  I quickly learned Hammersmith housed the loudest, rowdiest, most obnoxious section in the entire stadium.

Naturally, I felt right at home.

While the chants were hard to catch on to (because I didn’t do my homework beforehand – note to self – Google next time!), it was just as fun to guess what they were as it was to yell them.

Some of the tamest included “Come on Fulham” and “Come on you Whites.” Some of the not-so-tame can be viewed on many different sites from a Google search, but I must warn my dear readers: they are really foul. (And hilarious, if you follow premier league football.)

Being able to experience the fandom at Craven Cottage was just as exciting as the game itself. Spoiler alert: Fulham beat West Ham 3-1, and the game was close all night. Every attempted goal, every out-of-bounds kick I was one with the fans, gasping, screaming at the referees, shouting for joy, clapping everyone in arm’s length.

The teams may not have been top-tier or well-known in the U.S., however, I was fortunate enough to be welcomed to Craven Cottage as one of their own. I will not insult the footballers by attempting to rehash the game, but did manage to capture some of the stadium and atmosphere throughout the night.

Despite my poor videography skills, the Brit in the hat in front of me (and my lack of height), being part of the Fulham family was a great experience –– especially from the last row.

It was just enough Premier League for someone who doesn’t have a favorite team.

While Craven Cottage is small, its 1896 founding makes it one of the oldest football stadiums in Greater London.

While Craven Cottage is small, its 1896 founding makes it one of the oldest football stadiums in Greater London.

Even though it wasn’t a rivalry match, it was a Wednesday, and it wasn’t quite sold out, it showed me a small glimpse of the fandom some consider just as sacred as a religion.

Football may not be my version of a sport-religion, but I was certainly moved to partake.

 

(For a video capturing the rowdiness of Fulham’s fans, check pondhopassport.wordpress.com!)

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