Away Days: Part Three

Tuesday 10 July 2018 15:20

Fulham fans Jack Collins and Ian McCulloch look ahead to a quartet of mouth-watering away days, at Chelsea, Manchester United, Newcastle and Arsenal.

Jack Collins: Chelsea v Fulham (Stamford Bridge) – Saturday 1st December

Home of the auld enemy, Stamford Bridge is one of the away days you know the most about, considering the pubs and bars you’ll be drinking in are probably the same as the ones you would for a game at the Cottage. Always nice to remind any Chelsea friends you might have that the ground was originally built for Fulham, but we didn’t want to lose our Cottage home. Second best then, second best now. Fulham haven’t had the best time up the road in recent years, with the last time we won at the old dog track way back in 1979 in a Division Two game, but word on the street is that it’s a brilliant place to be an away fan if you can come away with all three points. The old Shed End, once one of the most feared terraces in football, houses away fans in the south-east corner, which is a strange paradox in itself, but views are decent from pretty much whatever part of the stand you’re housed in. Whisper it quietly, but the rebuilt Bridge is a decent ground - concourses are spacious and considering it’s in walking distance and the wait for a win there has been so long, there’s the potential for a plucky underdog to come up trumps.

Ian McCulloch: Manchester United v Fulham (Old Trafford) – Saturday 8th December

It might be full of tourists, you might have to fight your way up from the south with the bulk of their fans, you might have to put up with the overwhelming superiority complex that the whole place exudes, but at the end of the day, this is one of the greatest stadia in the world belonging to the world’s richest club. It is an amazing experience, and not to be missed. It’s impossible not to be there and marvel at the sheer scale and magnificence of it all. I wouldn’t want to go there every week, I prefer my football-watching experience to be a bit more down-to-earth, but it should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list. I missed the Inamoto-inspired 3-1 thrashing, but I was there for Fulham’s first ever Premier League game that might have turned out very differently if it hadn’t been for some very questionable home-spun refereeing, and I was also present for the 1-0 Cup defeat in 1999. John Salako’s miss that day still haunts my dreams.

Jack Collins: Newcastle United v Fulham (St James’ Park) – Saturday 22nd December

Fulham’s furthest away day of the year sees the Whites make a familiar journey to the North East to return to a spot that brought so many happy memories back in 2017, St James’ Park. If the idea of Ryan Sessegnon getting to silence a crowd of 50,000 Geordie supporters again isn’t enough to spark your interest, then let me put it this way - Newcastle is one of the most vibrant, exciting cities in the UK and the chance to spend even a day there should rarely be passed up if possible. Whilst potentially troubling for those with vertigo, the climb to the top of the Leazes Stand gives way to one of the most breathtaking views in football, with the pitch giving way to the Northumbrian skyline beyond. Newcastle remains one of the best away days going, with fantastic pubs dotted across the city and a raucous St James’ Park atmosphere. Make a weekend of it if you can, you won’t regret it.

Jack Collins: Arsenal v Fulham (Emirates Stadium) – Tuesday 1st January

Whilst heavily criticised for its lack of atmosphere and the struggles Arsenal have had with their premium tier, the Emirates has its plus points as well as the negatives. There’s plenty of space for away fans, and padded seats as well; but the nature of a shallow lower tier stand means that views aren’t always as perfect as you’d hope them to be. And remember that food inside the Emirates will burn a hole in your pocket. The Emirates is well-served by the tube, with the trip across London on the Piccadilly Line the preferred option, landing in Holloway Road or Arsenal; or else Highbury & Islington provides another walkable landing spot. Holloway Road has its fair share of decent pubs - the Coronet, although occasionally a partisan spot, is a Wetherspoons converted from an old cinema, the Horatia is a busy, solid sports pub, and across the way the Drayton Arms was always the away supporters’ zone. Given it’ll be New Year’s Day, you’d imagine it’ll be a friendly enough but bustling atmosphere, and hopefully one to remember from a Fulham perspective.

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