Don’t you just hate it when a perfectly pleasant afternoon out is ruined by a game of football?
It happened at Fulham when tipples by the Thames on a glorious Indian summer’s day were followed by a 6-0 drubbing and it happened again at Anfield last Saturday.
After being led to the ground by a stereotypical cheery Scouser we drank in the atmosphere – but sadly nothing else having been held up by the traffic as half of London drove to watch Manchester United at home.
It’s the away trip I’d been looking to the most since ending our 15-year hiatus from the top flight – and I tried to do my best impression of a man who hadn’t got a lump in his throat when the powerful strains of You’ll Never Walk Alone rang around the ground before kick-off.
After that the Liverpool fans decided to do an Adele and rest their vocal chords for the next 90 minutes, while the QPR players decided to do an Adel and go AWOL.
“I’m sure Fulham fans enjoyed the ride, but the overwhelming feeling from a neutral’s point of view seemed to be ‘What a waste of time that was.'”
Short of laying down palms and kissing their feet, Neil Warnock’s men could not have afforded their opponents any more respect and the manager’s pre-match promise that “We won’t sit back, we’ll try to give them a game” seemed to have gone through an online translator and come out as “Let’s park the bus and hope for the best”.
But for an inspired display by Rangers’ third-choice goalkeeper, the visitors could have been four or five down by the interval, but amazingly the game went into the break goalless.
With Arsenal unveiling rather unflattering statues of their legends last weekend, I’m proposing a special tribute to our unlikely hero in the shape of a new restaurant at Loftus Road called the Cerny Inn (I’ve got my coat).
Inevitably, the home side did get a winner after Luis Suarez was afforded enough space to set up a music festival, but the QPR fans, who seemingly went into the game taking a defeat as Red, failed to be too downcast and the atmosphere in the away end was one of the most fun I’ve experienced.
After inquiring of the mute Liverpool fans “Is this a library?” – they didn’t get a response – the travelling support turned their attentions to the players.
Suarez was a little cruelly told he “looks like a rat” but the “rat, rat, rat, rat” that followed, delivered in the style of Chas n Dave’s Rabbit, was comedy gold (I guess you had to be there).
By all accounts the Kop were quite tickled by the chants, which also compared Jonjo Shelvey to ET and, predictably, Andy Carroll to a girl – complete with requests to display his assets.
Meanwhile, Jamie Carragher responded to pantomime boos as he warmed on the touchline up with a smile, reciprocated by the QPR faithful with bells on when he promptly tripped over his own feet.
All things considered it wasn’t a bad day out and if Rangers had actually worked out what they were supposed to be doing on the pitch, it might just have been even better.
Over at Chelsea, things are looking up as a 3-0 drubbing of Valencia booked their spot in the last 16 of the Champions League, as fans of the Manchester clubs worked out which set would start the “Thursday nights, Channel 5” chant when they meet in the FA Cup next month.
City were then turned over by Chelsea following a dramatic late penalty from Frank Lampard and listening to the commentary from Ray Wilkins you could have been forgiven for thinking you’d tuned into Chelsea TV by mistake.
So much so that he was forced to apologise on air for his bias, in between addressing all the Blues players by their first names and peppering his conversation with “smashing”, “tremendous” and “magical”. Still loved him in those Tango ads, mind.
A bad week for Fulham saw them lose to Swansea and then crash out of the Europa League after 14 long games and a lost summer where trips to Marbella were replaced by jaunts to far-flung destinations.
I’m sure Fulham fans enjoyed the ride, but the overwhelming feeling from a neutral’s point of view seemed to be “What a waste of time that was.”
There was better news at Griffin Park where Brentford bounced back from the embarrassing FA Cup defeat by Wrexham to see off Hartlepool, thanks to a late disputed penalty – not that I can think of many instances when a penalty isn’t disputed.
The spectacular half-time sunset got almost as many plaudits as the performance and with the Bees nestling back in the top six, all in the garden is rosy – for now at least.
And finally, we stay in London for the story of the week and the confusion that followed Chris Foy’s refereeing performance in the Stoke-Spurs game.
Tottenham fans, incensed by some of the decisions that went against them, bombarded Foy’s Twitter account with abusive messages – not realising they had mistakenly targeted Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy.
Luckily the Scot saw the funny side, posting: “Getting some rather amusing grief from Spurs fans! On the plus side I’ve learned some new four-letter words today! Just for the record I don’t need glasses and I do not lead a double life as a ref.”
Fans of north London rivals Arsenal were quick to seize on the error, with one writing: “Riots return to Tottenham. Hundreds of youths dressed in Spurs shirts have destroyed and burned all bicycles in the area.”
On the plus side, Chris Foy must have loved all the strangers congratulating him on his knighthood, collection of gold medals and general sporting prowess.
Enjoy it while it lasts, Chris. It’ll be business as usual this weekend.