It meant so much to everyone. Fulham fans before the game seemed nervous. I don’t know what the Rangers fans were thinking but they were loud and excitable. This was them back in the big time. “We hate it when our friends become successful” sang Morrissey. “And if they’re Fulham, that makes it even worse.” The men in blue and white hoops seemed to think they had scores to settle. They got battered.
That was history. Folklore. The last few years have provided us with many memorable moments, but most of them have been exciting and frightening at the same time, never enjoyable until afterwards. This was just fun, the most purely enjoyable game we’ll ever see. The early October heatwave brought something even more unlikely to the banks of the Thames: a derby day massacre. We won six nil… roll those words around a few times.
Goals change games and after a minute we had one. Dembele shot hard, Paddy Kenny palmed it out, AJ put it back in again. Fantastic! We got another just at the right time, an AJ run terminated by a silly challenge by Kenny and/or a defender on the corner of the area. Murphy outranked Zamora for the kick and steered it high into the net. Then a third, Dempsey on the left, the ball across goal, AJ the man on the spot again to kill the game as a contest. QPR had seen bits of decent possession amid all this, but at the other end we tore them apart. Near misses from Dempsey and Johnson again proved that the scoreline was not misleading.
In the second half we saw three more, Johnson (I’m losing track!) put through by a quick free kick (this summed up QPR’s day. Switching off like that in the Premier League…) to hammer in for a hat-trick. Then Dempsey following good work on the left by AJ, steering home after the cross was laid back to him, and another rifled in from Zamora. Further chances slipped by with Ruiz just wide and Sidwell letting a ball run out for a corner when behind him Zamora and Johnson waited alone for a cross. As Dickson Etuhu warmed up the Hammersmith End cheered: “Dickson, what’s the score?” and Dickson, after thinking about it, turned around and held aloft six fingers, which of course required two hands, and smiled broadly. Magic.