Brad here everyone with my second slice of life in the UK capital following Fulham FC. Unlike the US you probably won’t be surprised to learn the English press really go for overkill on analysing the weekend soccer action. It’s tough when your team has taken a home loss, as the Whites did Saturday. Monday in the office you will face a bucket load of mickey taking – or what the Brits call ‘wind-up merchants.’ That’s wind as in watch by the way, and not like ‘Gone with the…’
I need to give you some insights into how this displaced Yank in London lives.
I’ll keep it brief. I work in the financial district as a business analyst for a merchant bank. Okay, it is pretty corporate, and after events of the past few years not something you crow about. We are expected to supply clients with some hard-nosed advice and research for trades (across many different commodities) and on any average day a lot of money gets swapped around the system. Pretty scary atmosphere at times for the guys dealing the millions and always sweating on their bonus or squaring their account book. That’s not me I hasten to add…
Anyway, enough information on the work front. Reason I put it in is that we have a big work force, male dominated, and so footie talk here is the topic numero uno (apart from making money). On our floor it can be brutal, if you’re not gonna trade punches and fly your flag you better hush up and keep your head down. Half the guys have some sign or token of their allegiance on their desks. Including me! You better believe I’ll be keeping this blog secret from everyone here (for a while anyway) ‘cos I know the kicking I’m gonna take if some of my Brit colleagues find out. Oh yeh, and don’t mention the Ryder Cup. What the hell happened there? I really had to eat crow over that!
I’ll get round to covering more of my life in London and my domestic situation in time. This is meant to be a blog about Fulham after all! So to paint in a few more strokes for you – I adopted the Whites in 2004, really on the back of the fantastic Brian McBride and, no doubt, my enthusiasm for following Fulham blossomed big time with the arrival of Clint Dempsey. I now live in a neat loft over on the east side of London near by the Olympic park; it’s a handy location for work. But of course the local teams are West Ham and Spurs – and boy do we have a lot of those guys at work! I get a ton of grief there like you would not believe.
But we do have a lot of really good friends now from the nearly 10 years I’ve been here. When I first relocated I was renting in Hammersmith (the district of FFC) and when I said I had enjoyed kicking a ball around in college, and considered myself pretty fit (I was always a good athlete) I quickly got inducted into playing 5-a-side games after work, and then some full-on games in the park Sundays. I can be pretty competitive, so was always busting my guts to show this Yank could keep up. There’s no such thing as a ‘friendly kick about’ here. I play 5-a-side every week on astroturf under lights – that really gets you in a sweat, and keeps you fit. Before you ask, I like to play in midfield. I wanted to be the guy on the end of the snap. The Red Sox star pitcher. The Brett Favre of our park team.
So when I first started going to watch the Whites I focused on the midfield, and in those days that was Sean Davis. He had a great engine, got up to the box and scored some great goals. I was sad to see him leave the club for Spurs (yes, we all know that feeling). Now he’s had to retire at 33 because of bad knees. The moral here Clint, nothing good comes from leaving FFC for Spurs! After Sean moved away, I identified with Jimmy Bullard. Sadly another guy who this week has also been retired early with a bad knee problem. Jimmy was a real character, although could be a handful for managers so I heard. He’d barely started his Fulham career before being laid out by a reckless challenge and there was some 18 months of reconstructive surgery and recuperation, but I will never forget his contribution on comeback for keeping Fulham in the EPL. It was the thrilling, intense run-in of 2008 when Roy Hodgson saved the side from certain relegation. And without hesitation I can tell you the biggest day of my life as an adopted Fulham fan was the win at Portsmouth on the last day of that season. I was there! Man, but was it intense, before Jimmy floated up the free-kick that saw Danny Murphy head the ball into the Portsmouth net in front of all the Fulham fans. We all went totally nuts, I have never felt anything like that moment from following sports. I can understand how the European golf fans in Medina must have celebrated. That was a comeback even Charlie Sheen could be proud of.
At the end Jimmy hurled his shirt towards us…I got a hand to it but it went just over my head to be caught by the guy behind me. Guess I was never meant to be a goalie…
Thanks for the memories Sean and Jimmy. Good luck in whatever you do next. COYW!