Paul Warburton has a pop at Fulham’s away support in the Chronicle today. Not the sort of coverage you’d expect from a local paper. Guess you’ve got to sell copies somehow, though.
It’s a familiar riff that we hear many, many times in the media. Why do Fulham take so few fans away from home? The answer probably lies in the fact that we probably have the 19th smallest historical fanbase in the top flight and our regular away travellers from many moons ago have probably started families and have other responsibilities by now.
Anyone who’s been to any of European games and a few conventional away days could probably claim to have travelled further than most Premier League fans this season. Our European exploits have also meant that games such as Blackburn away were moved to Sundays on short notice, disrupting travel plans and blowing my hopes of attending.
Given a choice between spending a few days in Sofia, Rome or Basel and a few hours in Wigan where would you go? Our hardcore of away travellers should be applauded but it should be remembered that Premier League travel certainly isn’t cheap – and we’re still in the middle of a recession that will have further limited people’s ability to watch Fulham away.
Warburton’s figures are also questionable. I’d have a bet with him that we’ll take more than 800 to Accrington on Sunday, even with the arrangements being rushed at best due to the uncertainty over who we would play. He neglects to add that Fulham took more than 2,000 to a third round tie at Sheffield Wednesday last year and sold out at Kettering. The turnout for good old-fashioned away days (like Derby, when the ‘Great Escape didn’t look so glorious) has always been good as well. QPR certainly didn’t take 1,200 to Blackpool and that isn’t designed as incitement of Rangers fans. The club’s own website says there were 459 travelling supporters.
We’ve covered some of the reasons for our poor away record recently. It’s certainly not down to lack of support as our results on the road were far from impressive when the Premier League was all shiny and new and we packed out the away ends in our first few seasons in the top flight. You can’t blame people for noticing the novelty’s worn off.