Whinger ahoy

Wednesday 10 April 2002

Having made yet another huge sacrifice in giving up whingeing it is some small crumb of comfort to find the club slowly pulling themselves out of trouble. Of course I shouldn't take all the credit for our current mini revival but I will do anyway. It's the least I deserve. Changing from a lifelong whinger to fervent supporter overnight has not been easy. If yet again I single-handedly save the club I don't feel it too much to ask for some small reward. The title 'Supreme Operating Officer' will do.

Becoming a likeable, good natured and respected member of the community has been an absolute nightmare. Exchanging pleasantries with neighbours, holding polite conversations at work and passing on intelligent, fatherly advice to my ten year-old does not sit easy with me. In fact I can't stand it. All this on top of having to cheer on Fulham against the odds is almost too much for a whinger to bear.

My only consolation is spitefully compiling a secret dossier on things to complain about once the team are safe from relegation. The slapdash milkman, the forgetful postman, the untidy neighbour, Fulham's dead ball attempts, they're all on my list. Mark you well; I will bring down a vengeance of whingeing not heard since the days of Stacey North.

When Premiership status is preserved the retribution begins. A smile on my face will be as rare as a first team appearance from Andrejs Stolcers. Or even Simon Stewart. They're both on my list. So is Southampton. For it was at that spacious and well appointed new stadium that my 'happy supporter' misery begun. Fighting all temptation to launch into vicious verbal attacks I managed to encourage the team through to an uneventful draw. Could I go one step further at home to West Ham?

No. Years and years of uncalled for derision and contempt caught up with me and I was unable to maintain my new optimistic voice. For me Craven Cottage has always been my own personal bellyaching bolthole. I just couldn't find it within myself to cheer on the lads for a whole ninety minutes. I managed only eight. Barry's missed chance (yes, he's on my list) struck me dumb for the rest of the game and we were duly hammered 1-0.

On to Monday night and yet again I had to dig deep but this time did enough to secure us a further point up at Newcastle. I'm convinced Louis Saha's well crafted knee-in was largely down to my selfless encouragement and support. I must have said, "Keep going, Fulham," at least three times during the match, on one occasion quite loudly. However I have a nagging feeling that the so-called Fulham faithful who made a fearful racket all night may have helped me a little. How they manage to genuinely believe things are going to be fine at the club is beyond me. I understand it is called 'keeping the faith.' Whatever, you're all on my list.

Next weekend we return to the doom and gloom of the F.A. Cup. The semi-final offers a welcome respite for me, as I only have to cheer and encourage at League games. It is so important not to lose that haranguing habit altogether so I fully intend to whinge and whine for all I'm worth. You never know. In the 1975 cup run I went through Hull for this club. I think it's about time I had another shot at griping glory.


TERRY SPRATT