5.15am is not a civilised time to be awake by anyone’s standards, least of all on a Sunday morning slap bang in the middle of a bank holiday weekend, so pity the few of us who were stood outside Craven Cottage at that time waiting for the coach to whisk us up to Tyneside. The coach(es) laid on by the club get a bad rap on many of the internet message-boards but it’s substantially cheaper than forking out for train fares and you don’t have to mingle with fans of rival teams. (I had a particularly bad experience on the way up to Bolton last season and I’m not keen to repeat it). Plus the club provided sustenance for the journey up. I bet you lot on the train didn’t get a free croissant, did you?
It felt more like an away trip on the coach though, and I was immensely excited despite the long journey. It took 6.5 hours including a stop at the services and there was a small detour around the back streets of Newcastle to find suitable coach parking but by golly was it worth it. St James’ Park was one of the few remaining Premier League grounds left on my unvisited list but I wish I’d gone sooner. It gets a bad rap because of how far up the seats are but Gatesy and I concluded that this is only highlighted by the fact that two stands are half the height of the others. Fortunately I’m not afraid of heights so I revelled in the views across the city which threatened to distract my attention from the game played below. Plus the pie was quite nice too.
The match was so-so. The first half was pretty dull with neither ‘keeper tested much, the second half was more interesting and as usual Fulham played much better. We don’t half make things difficult for ourselves though. It’s a 90 minute game and yet we seem to use the first 45 as a warm-up. We’re going to continue to struggle if we carry on like that. Please don’t read that as me calling for Jol’s head – I’m really not. We need a bit more time for the newcomers and young blood to gel with the oldies (love you really Murphy), not to mention time to get everyone working to the new manager’s plan. We can’t expect miracles. Not since we lost Roy anyway.
The only thing that marred a good day, bar the result obviously, was that kit. I’m not keen on the idea of blue (BLUE!) shorts although they do look more black so I suppose that’s almost okay. That shirt’s confusing though. There were quite a few occasions on Sunday when I could’ve sworn our players were topless. Still, apparently all will become clear when the retail version is available later in the year. Now there’s something to look forward to.