On the pitch:
1) Was there any better way to break Matthew Briggs into the team than last night? Home game (but small crowd), weak opposition, surrounded by first team players all ‘looking out’ for you. Really well done by Hughes, and Briggs will have gained a lot from that, not least because he’s no longer just the answer to a trivia question and is (finally) getting the chance he’s wanted for a while;
2) Bobby Zamora would probably feel he could do a job for Barcelona at this point. He’s bubbling over out there, in a good way. Confidence like this doesn’t last forever, but we should enjoy Zamora’s play while he’s still at the top of his game. I can’t imagine how he could be doing too much better at the moment;
3) Moussa Dembele looks amazing. Early days, of course, but almost everything he did oozed excellence. The weighting of his passes, the way he ghosted away from challenges, his balance, guile…. he looks like he’s been here years;
4) It was wonderful to watch Hughes and Hangeland dominating again. I was pondering this in the stand in the second half; how will people remember this era in 30 years? Roy didn’t stick around long enough, MAF will of course be in everyone’s thoughts, and of course Hamburg is the big milestone. But I can imagine telling my son/daughter (November!) about Fulham in the early part of this century, and one thing I’d talk about to try to convery the essence of this side is Aaron Hughes and Brede Hangeland. They’re just perfect, aren’t they?
5) The goals. We all love lots of goals, but when they’re great goals too… I’ve seen the highlights – here in case you haven’t been on the message boards today – and they’re just phenomenal. The first goal was even better in person. Duff’s ball was exquisite, Briggs (who took a bit of encouraging to break on sometimes, causing Duff to look back infield) did his bit wonderfully well, and Gera attacked it with bravery and skill. Zamora’s goal followed some dazzling interplay with Gera that had us all gasping. Great fun.
6) The fact that it could easily have been 10-0. Our football was awesome. And I don’t say that lightly. I don’t care if it was only Port Vale, we were very, very good. I went to the game expecting to get bored quickly but the whole thing whizzed by. A pleasure to have been there.
Off the pitch:
1) First time I’d tried the burgers from that tent thing just inside Bishop’s Park. A fiver’s not cheap, but it went to charity, I believe, and the burger was phenomenal. Just what I needed;
2) I managed to sell ten of the reprinted Fulham Reviews. It was throwing it down so I wasn’t making much of an effort, but by standing there with my arm in the air I managed to shift enough copies to have made the soaking worthwhile. Thanks to all who had sympathy!
3) Rain’s annoying sometimes, but a night time game in a downpour doesn’t half make for a good spectacle. Somehow realer than real. How it ought to be. Vivid;
4) The small crowd meant that stadium exploration was an option again. Our usual seats were out of the question (exposed!) and I was the only one who went yesterday anyway, so I sat behind the VIP section in the Riverside in the first half (they have tv screens with a five second delay! Imagine how useful that is), then crossed the Hammersmith End and sat in the Johnny Haynes where I used to be for the second. There’s something holy about the Johnny Haynes Stand on nights like that. Loved it;
5) I saw Mick Harford in the VIP bit. When Dad used to take me to Luton, Mick Harford was the centre-forward. In my first ever game, an FA Cup 3rd round match against Liverpool, Harford hit the bar from miles out, with an orange ball because it was snowing. For some time I wrestled with the idea of discussing this with him (he was just along from me) but he didn’t bring an air of approachability with him so I didn’t;
6) Hade came and picked me up! What a result!