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London calling - Fulham Away report


blandy
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It's perhaps not the fashionable thing to say, but I'm going to say it nonetheless.

London - Brilliant!

A couple of days spent down in and around our capital village included a trip to Craven Cottage, yesterday, to see the Villa play. The game was "unremarkable" but the weekend was excellent, here's why: -

Because I was working near London on Friday, I decided to stop down on Friday, rather than return to my Northern Eyrie and then travel back down on Saturday at daft o'clock.

It turned out to be a good decision, not just because I got a lie in and a leisurely breakfast, but because it allowed me to be impressed by our capital city and the people who live there.

The train in to the centre gave me views, through the friday rain, of various landmarks and points of interest - Battersea Power station, still missing it's large inflatable pig, the millenium wheel, that Gerkin shaped building in the distance and so on - a sense of the size of the place was transferred to my weekend-ready brain.

Stopping at Putney Bridge for the night meant only a shortish walk to the ground and plenty of pubs and life to explore on the friday evening. So I did.

It was dark, wet and cold, but the pubs were welcoming and warm, and the beer, mostly Fullers London Pride, was excellent, if a tad costly. The 8 Bells, the Golden Lion, the Old Spotted horse and a couple of others were part of my route. The locals were friendly and the weather forecast for saturday promised an end to the rain.

Saturday morning and a walk to a cafe for a sausage butty and mug of tea, or to be more accurate a sausage and plum tomato baguette and pot of tea. Very nice, but 6 quid!. The french staff were a surprise, but like the asian staff in the hotel and the polish shopkeeper in the newsagent they were enthusiastic and friendly, rather than sullen.

Walking off the calories and beer in the morning sun, I wandered around by the river. Joggers with their earphones and sweatbands plodded past, rowing eights with their coaches megaphoning instructions from motorboats flottila'd at regular intervals up and down the Thames. All that exercise made me thirsty, so I wandered on up to the pub, the Old Spotted Horse, again.

A couple of very amenable hours were spent chatting away to Paulo, Nigel and a small horde of london based Villans, plus people down from Brum. There was a match on the box, but no one paid much notice. The Bombadier Ale was most excellent.

Another walk, back across the river, down the towpath and Craven Cottage was reached, nestled up against the river and amongst the posh houses and flats. It's a little treasure of a ground, with a cottage in the corner next to the neutral and away fans and the old stand on our right. Lovely. There's a few executive boxes tagged on to the edges of the home "end" and a bit of structural tarting up has been done to the seating arrangements, but it's still like a "proper" old English football ground. Long may it remain so.

Readers may have detected a lot of waffle and not a word about the game itself. Well now's the moment for that word. "Mediocre".

It let the weekend down a bit, did the game. And it down let the fans, crammed into every seat as we were. There were plenty of Villans there, too.

Villa attacking us lot scored first, to much delight, John Carew just prodding home Gareth Barry's neat pass. Fulham had previously hit the post down the far end, and took only a minute or so to equalise. A free kick crossed in, Bocanegra (the announcer said) unmarked, ran in to head easily into the goal. One of Petrov, Mellberg or Bardsley was presumably meant to be marking him, but, well, they weren't.

Fulham had the best of the rest of the game, perhaps, but not markedly so. The ref was inconsistent, like the game. The pitch looked bumpy and uneven, and only Gareth Barry stood out, for me. Easily our best player, again, though Carew did well, too. Mellberg defended solidly, though Radzinski caused him some trouble. Laursen did his knee and went off to be replaced by Gary Cahill. The poor bloke just has no luck, does he?

The last 5 minutes, plus 4 minutes of stoppage time, saw Villa have a good spell of attacking pressure, but a win for either side would have been unjust.

We looked, I thought, not cohesive and a bit unbalanced as a team. We seemd more weighted to the left side, until late changes in the second half. Definitely a "work in progress".

Writing this on Sunday morning, after eventually getting back home about midnight, my abiding impression is of how much I liked London and the people who live there. I even saw a drive by shouting on Putney high street - 2 red-bus drivers, going in opposite directions have a ding-dong, with gestures and everything, out of their cab windows. Wow. London rocks!

Marks:

Tommy - 6. One horrible miskick aside, he was solid.

Bardsley - 5. Did his job.

Bouma - 6. Looked the business.

Olly - 7. Led the defence well.

Martin "crazy horse" Laursen -5 and a knee injury (sub Gary Cahill 6).

Stan Petrov - had a decent game, happily, 6

Gav - did the Gav thing - 6

Gareth Barry - MoTM 8. Quality play from the skipper.

Shaun Maloney - 6.5 - lively, I thought. (Sub Gabby - 5)

Ashley Young - 4. Started wide, moved to the middle when Gabby came on, largely invisible.

John Carew - 7. Big, strong, quick-ish. Scored, made the defenders work hard. Well played.

It was always going to be a draw. Craven Cottage is a good draw.

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You stayed at Putney Bridge, Peter? I'll have you know that ye olde Villa player Ossie Whateley lived just round the corner from there after he retired from football, and called his house "Aston Villa"!

I remember visiting Craven Cottage back in the World Cup year of '66 - my only visit whilst I was on a training course in London. Match was Fulham v. Leicester with Leicester winning 6-2 and a certain Derek Dougan giving Fulham all kinds of problems. And Bobby Robson booed by his own fans - that was very sad.

Anyway - back to Villa. Anything less than a draw would have been difficult to accept, methinks. It's going to take awhile before this team gells.

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I remember visiting Craven Cottage back in the World Cup year of '66 - my only visit whilst I was on a training course in London. Match was Fulham v. Leicester with Leicester winning 6-2 and a certain Derek Dougan giving Fulham all kinds of problems. And Bobby Robson booed by his own fans - that was very sad.

dinasour.jpg

alert!

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I remember visiting Craven Cottage back in the World Cup year of '66 - my only visit whilst I was on a training course in London. Match was Fulham v. Leicester with Leicester winning 6-2 and a certain Derek Dougan giving Fulham all kinds of problems. And Bobby Robson booed by his own fans - that was very sad.

dinasour.jpg

alert!

So... what are you saying?
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You stayed at Putney Bridge, Peter? I'll have you know that ye olde Villa player Ossie Whateley lived just round the corner from there after he retired from football, and called his house "Aston Villa"!

I remember visiting Craven Cottage back in the World Cup year of '66 - my only visit whilst I was on a training course in London. Match was Fulham v. Leicester with Leicester winning 6-2 and a certain Derek Dougan giving Fulham all kinds of problems. And Bobby Robson booed by his own fans - that was very sad.

Anyway - back to Villa. Anything less than a draw would have been difficult to accept, methinks. It's going to take awhile before this team gells.

.... judging by what i seen on saturday..... i think we have a very long wait for it to gell

I really do hope that you are right John..... But i think right now i need to borrow some rose tinted glasses, because i am witnessing things i don't want to be admitting to.

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I remember visiting Craven Cottage back in the World Cup year of '66 - my only visit whilst I was on a training course in London. Match was Fulham v. Leicester with Leicester winning 6-2 and a certain Derek Dougan giving Fulham all kinds of problems. And Bobby Robson booed by his own fans - that was very sad.

dinasour.jpg

alert!

So... what are you saying?

A picture says more then a thousand words !

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Can we keep this on topic pleae, I know what you did there TRL and that is most definately commenting on posters and not posts, this is a front page thread ffs and your dicking about commenting on posters with absolutely nothing constructive to say, consider this a warning

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Can we keep this on topic pleae, I know what you did there TRL and that is most definately commenting on posters and not posts, this is a front page thread ffs and your dicking about commenting on posters with absolutely nothing constructive to say, consider this a warning

You're right, bickster, but I took this one as just typical Villa-fan banter. It's difficult to know where to draw the line, admittedly. :winkold:

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John - Any chance of a few more of your old time visit stories?

As a VT poster of a certain age I can remember going to places like the old stoke ground, Chesterfield away first match in Div3, Forest under the floodlights in the open end etc

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John - Any chance of a few more of your old time visit stories?

As a VT poster of a certain age I can remember going to places like the old stoke ground, Chesterfield away first match in Div3, Forest under the floodlights in the open end etc

It sounds as though your stories might be better than mine, mate! :winkold:

I went on quite a few away trips, but I can't remember much detail from them, with one or two exceptions. Us ichthyosaurs have goldfish memories, you know!

My star memory is of going to the Wednesday's ground towards the end of the 74/75 season to see Villa thump 'em in a 4-0 win to confirm promotion that season. Brian Little scored a sizzling daisy-cutter volley, and Keith Leonard played a grand centre-forward game and scored. The buzz at the end of that season was phenomenal.

The semi-final against the Baggies in '57 is another star memory, as was my first ever away trip - at Burnley that year in the 6th round. Two drawn matches when Supermac got us out of trouble in big style.

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