Monday, 8 October 2012

Come On, You Whites

No, not a racist chant, but a Fulham Football Club supporters chant.

The last time we went to a match was in September 2007, when we still lived in Surrey and a trip to Craven Cottage was an easy afternoon out. That afternoon our team played Manchester City, whose manager was dear old Sven, and the score was 3 all.

Since then we've moved to Wiltshire and a trip up to London to see "the lads" is way too expensive, in both time and money - so you can guess how delighted we are that Southampton are now in the Premier League so we can travel there to be away supporters to our team. And thats just what we did yesterday. (Please be aware before you venture further, that this post is photo heavy! Clicking on the photos will enlarge them so you can see them a bit better.)

It was not cool enough to need to wear my scarf, so I tied it to the handle of my bag.

Oli was well prepared with his new, this season's away kit shirt

The first thing we did on arrival in Southampton was to find the nearest pub and have a drink or two to relax the vocal chords. This one was obviously well patronised by Saints supporters, but they seemed like a friendly bunch, and no-one threatened to beat us up or anything.

Kick-off was at 1.30, so when it got to almost 1 o'clock we made our way back to St. Mary's Stadium

After taking our seats we sat down to soak up the ambience and watch the pre-match warm-up - those are our players down there, and as Southampton's home kit is red, our lads weren't able to wear the orange away shirts, and had instead to wear their third kit, all black. 

With some time to spare before kick-off I was able to wander down to the pitchside to take a few photos - thats Brian Ruiz just about to kick the ball,

and thats Hugo Rodallega.

We were quite high up in the stand, Row X, surrounded by very noisy and excited fans 

 Soon it was time for the teams to come back out for the match,

they all shook hands, tossed the coin (not sure who won, but we were defending our end in the first half and attacking it during the second) and positioned themselves ready for kick-off.

I was busy watching the match, so my camera stayed in my bag until half time. The first half was a bit of a scramble, Southampton scored a goal at our end, but it was all so fast I couldn't really see who scored, and at a live match there is no action replay! So at half time the score was 1-0

Here is Rog coming back to his seat after a little leg-stretch

There was time to have a look around at the other fans, there's one over there wearing a Berbatov shirt, sadly Berbatov was injured so didn't make the trip south, we had been quite looking forward to watching him, Rog has been a fan of his for years, since he played for Spurs, he's so skilful with the ball.

 Pretty soon it was time for the second half kick-off

During the second half we scored two goals (in fact one was an own goal) and at 89 minutes it looked as if we were going to go away with all three points, but right at the very last minute they scored an equalizer and the final result was 2-2.

It was an amazingly exhilarating afternoon, nothing really prepares you for the noise and excitement of being in a crowd of roughly 30,000 people, all singing, shouting, chanting and cheering, booing at the ref when he gets it wrong, shouting at the linesman if he makes a mistake, and generally just enjoying the moment.

All too soon the match was over, and we made our way back to the park and ride bus to take us to our car for the homeward journey (dont worry, I was driving and I only had a half of bitter in the pub).

What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and now almost 24 hours later I'm still on a high from the experience and practically speechless having shouted myself hoarse. With a bit of luck Southampton will stay in the Premier League and we can make this an annual event.

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