Back to normal

Tuesday 16 April 2002

From Paul Thorpe

Looking around at the faces of our supporters at the final whistle on Sunday wasn't a pleasant experience.

If we're honest I think a lot of us really did believe that it was going to be our day. I had a 'funny feeling' and so did many others.

On the way up the M6 I bumped into Jim McGullion and his family. Jim said he felt the same. Surely this had to be our big chance - our turn for glory. Once again it seems the football gods failed to smile on us, a 5th semi-final defeat in 6 appearances.

There was an air of victory about the occasion that made defeat even harder to accept. I don't think I've ever felt so hurt after a game - and that's saying something because over the years there's been a few to choose from.

To lose to 'them' is bad enough. To lose an FA Cup Semi Final, a place in Europe and the chance make up some much needed lost ground on our closest rivals is almost unbearable. And what a way to lose a match of such importance. A scrappy, untidy effort that nobody can claim with any real conviction. I don't even think the ball managed to reach the back of the net...

For the second time this season my son Jamie was inconsolable after a match. 18-year old lads tend not to cry too often. But our games at Stamford Bridge and Villa Park saw him shed tears for his team. He was well and truly gutted.

To make matter worse his girlfriend and her family are devoted Chelsea fans. They were at the game also, sat at the opposite end. He still hasn't spoken to her yet as far as I know and on Monday he was in desperate need of some therapy.

Instead of going out with his mates, or seeing his girlfriend, his solace was to be found at Craven Cottage.

A simple trip just to sit outside for ten minutes he said: "I just wanted to be there for a while, it made be feel better somehow".

It might sound silly to a lot of people, but I know exactly what he meant. A lot of us have done the same thing over the years. What is it about Fulham that makes us feel this way?

So where do we go from here? All of us are feeling pretty flat and dejected but we must re-group and fight on. Our day will come and as Fulham fans we've learnt to have patience. When it comes (and it will) our victory will be sweeter than ever.

The only option for all of us now is to focus positively on the weekend and Leeds United. It'll be a good venue for the lads to put defeat out of their minds. Let's not forget that they are hurting just as much as we are right now and they need a lift too.

Let's hope we can give it to each other at the weekend.

Fulham forever!