I have a confession. Well, a few. Before yesterday I had never set foot inside Loftus Road. I’ve hated the build-up over the past week or so. I refused to think about it as a derby match and until about 2.30pm yesterday, this was just another away match from which we’d probably not get anything.
First of all, I would like to congratulate various authorities and bodies for making arrangements for a sporting day that most of South West London and Surrey could enjoy. With the trains full of Chelsea fans, rugby fans as well as QPR and Fulham, public transport was certainly atmospheric. This is not a good thing. Don’t do it again.
Big thank you to the Walkabout for being the designated away pub for the day, even if some QPR fans did sneak in. I was still in denial at this point but I did manage to join in with some of the singing at around 2pm. It’s not often rivals are united in their hatred of other clubs, but does anyone really like Chelsea? Honestly?
And then it was time to walk to the ground. And then I started getting nervous, trying to decide if the nausea was caused by hunger or anxiety. The latter, mostly. Nerves turned to excitement on walking up the stairs to be greeted by some inspired fans dishing out the 6 nil leaflets (I kept mine as a souvenir). Although were we in danger of tempting fate? We’re not the greatest travellers the Premier League has ever seen….
As luck would have it, I was in the front row of the upper tier, 2 seats from my mate Billy. Billy should now be hailed as an FFC hero for his banner which we unfurled and secured until the nasty jobsworth steward confiscated it. No sense of humour. Sparky is obviously making his mark on the club already.
Whilst Bannergate was going on, I nearly missed the ball hit the back of the QPR net. What?! How?! We’re in the lead – cue me going slightly mental before Billy pointed out the linesman’s flag was up. Not that it mattered, a few minutes later Dembélé flicked the ball up and back to the Pog who tricked Paddy Kenny into diving a bit too soon and cooly slotted past him. God, I love that man.
The only problem with taking the lead is the possibility you might then lose it. I’m not good when we have a fragile lead. Even when QPR were reduced to 10 men after debutant Diakité was shown a second yellow, we sat back allowing them possession. Not ideal. More of the same in the second half with a few near-ish misses which made the heart-rate quicken. There were two interesting stats during the week – Fulham are one of the only teams in the league to have not lost after going into the lead, and that we’ve lost the most points in the last 15 minutes of matches. Who else couldn’t watch the final fifteen plus four? I certainly couldn’t. The nerves and knotted stomach were back. Saying that, I did manage to catch Dickson’s storming run towards goal. Where did that come from?! Such a shame it didn’t result in a goal but at least we were still trying and not sitting back.
I hate whistling. It makes me stabby. But words cannot describe how much I wanted Phil Dowd to blow up for the end of the match. And finally, he did. And we celebrated and we sang and I have no voice today. You?
Worth it though, eh?
Thank you to @FulhamHarv for the scoreboard picture.