Whenever the news came through that Fulham would be subsidising the tickets for Villa away just before I would be heading home from university I knew that I HAD to at least try and get tickets. With the help of a season ticket holder, I got two tickets; one for me and one for my dad. I had never been to Fulham away match before but knowing that we had 3000 fans heading down to Villa Park and with the game being vitally important for our survival bid, I knew it was going to be good. My journey started at 11pm in Glasgow. I got the overnight bus from Glasgow to Birmingham which had me arriving at my destination at 645am. I didn’t get a minute of sleep on that bus due to excitement and the fact that pretty much everyone around me was snoring! To be honest the lack of sleep didn’t bother me as I knew that the adrenaline would kick in very soon!
We arrived at the stadium quite early so got to see the Fulham team warming up and it wasn’t long before our section of the stadium was packed and chanting away. The support was incredible and it honestly felt like a home match! The team looked focused and only looked away from each other to applaud the Fulham support. You could tell that they were pumped for this one and we certainly helped them with this. They knew how important this one was for their own careers and for the whole club. The desire from the start of the game was amazing to see especially as so often this season fans have criticised the team for not looking like they were interested. The likes of Richardson and Dejagah (2nd half) just ran the whole time putting in good, solid challenges when required. It was clear to see that the noise coming from the Fulham faithful was rattling the Villa team as much it was driving the Fulham team on.
Bringing on Dejagah and Rodallega brought me direct attacking play from Fulham and it worked wonders as the Fulham team started to create more and more chances. It became I very open game as our attacking play always left us slightly vulnerable at the back and caused me to have my heart in my mouth on several occasions! But our pacey attacking play was eventually rewarded with a Richardson screamer that sent all 3000 away fans into mad celebrations! The team celebrated as much as we did, you could tell how much this meant to them. Holtby pretty much ignored his whole team to jump into the fans to earn him a very noble yellow card! However just nine minutes later it looked like a typical Fulham performance when some poor defending lead to Holt to score an equaliser. The great thing though was that we responded by giving our boys more encouragement and this resulted in them continuing to show more and more effort to try and get another goal.
The Holtby chance was insane. For a player who has shown a crazy amount of passion for a loanee, it was gutting to see him miss that opportunity. I can’t honestly think of a player who deserves it more and I am SO glad that he can’t look back on that moment with regret as he would have if we hadn’t have come away victorious. I’m sure many of us thought that that was the chance that we should have taken and that we couldn’t get another chance like it. I have to admit that I couldn’t see how another big chance would come as well but hero of the day Hugo Rodallega came up with the goods with just a few minutes to go. I barely even saw what happened, it was so fast! I can honestly say that I have NEVER celebrated a goal quite like that before! I couldn’t breathe! Hugo’s celebration was super and while we chanted his name he just turned around facing us and joined in. Pure quality.
All I can remember about the rest of the game was feeling like I was going to throw up. The girl in front of me turned around and couldn’t watch! It was just that intense. But the boys played it out well, having the ball in our corner just winning corner after corner, getting cheer after cheer. When the final whistle went the jubilation from everyone involved with Fulham was unbelievable. The boys came over to us, throwing their shirts in to the crowd (I’m gutted I didn’t get one myself) and celebrating with us. It was fantastic to see and no one can say that those players don’t want this. We stayed in the stadium for about half an hour after the game ended just singing and chanting ‘We are staying up’. I loved finally getting to be a part of this.
We could actually be on the verge of another great escape, something which many of us thought pretty impossible! It is unbelievable to see what one win can do to a club, turning misery into optimism that we could actually stay up! The game tomorrow is now one of the most important games in our history. Our best chance of staying up will be at the expense of Norwich and with their run in after our game, I can’t see them picking up many points. But we cannot count on other teams losing. Incredible things happen in relegation dog fights as we well know! Norwich will want this so much so we will have to be able to cope with that. If you are going to the Cottage tomorrow then you can play a massive part in the result. So keep cheering and drive them on! I wish I could be there.
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