Ryan Babel celebrates with Ryan Sessegnon

Some good moments but little joy

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Ryan Babel (red hair) celebrates with Ryan Sessegnon. PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

Morgan Phillips
Morgan Phillips

By Morgan Phillips

Throughout thus relegation-haunted season the crowds have shown sympathy and support for the Fulham players, who seemed overwhelmed by the demands of the Premier League.

There have been some good moments but little joy so it was refreshing last Saturday to hear the strains of ‘Craven Cottage and Tom Cairney make me happy, make me feel this way’.

How could we not celebrate a clean sheet and a victory by two clear goals over a team from the top half of the League?

In a comfortable first half Fulham were mostly dominant. Aleks Mitrovic twice came within an ace of scoring with a glorious header saved by Darren Beckford and a superb volley that hit the bar. Ryan Babel provided both opportunities.

Straight after the interval Babel easily penetrated the Everton defence and supplied Captain Cairney with his first goal of the season.

Calvert Lewin missed a chance to equalise before Fulham doubled the lead. On the half way line Mitrovic passed to Babel, who raced through to score despite three Evertonians in pursuit, and Beckford advancing to frustrate him.

All around me I could hear the rhetorical question ‘Why couldn’t they have played like this all season?’

It must be stated that Everton were below par and that Fulham did make a couple of defensive errors which other opponents might have punished.

Still it was a fine team victory and Ryan Babel was outstanding. The result would have been perfect if only Mitrovic had been on the scoresheet. The only reward for his efforts was a particularly nasty foul by Andre Gomes late in the game.

Of Saturday’s matches this was the one shown last on Match of the Day, but once again the elation was worth waiting for.

On 5 April Jack Burrows, FFC’s Head of Market Operations and Supporter Engagement, presented the Vicar of St Andrew’s Church with a football shirt: handsomely framed, to commemorate Fulham FC’s 140th anniversary.

Strictly speaking the church started its cricket club in 1883 but the teenage members, mostly from the Lillie Road area, must have been kicking a ball around for several previous winters, so I will not quibble with the date of the celebration.

Lesley Bilinda is the eleventh Vicar of St Andrew’s and the first woman in that role. The church was established in November 1870 by the Revd John Henry Cardwell and it was he who sanctioned the cricket club thirteen years later.

Appalled by the poverty and deprivation endured by so many in his parish he created a huge voluntary network to provide what is now the responsibility of the state.

While he would have been stunned to know his amateur cricket club has become a multi-million-pound organisation, he would be delighted by its involvement in the community. The half-time feature of the Everton game was devoted to the forthcoming Away Day Cycle, from the Cottage to Bournemouth FC’s Vitality Stadium - a 132-mile fund-raiser for the Fulham FC Foundation.

Cardwell probably never used the word environment but he did much to improve living, working and recreational standards in the area. He certainly would not have heard of wetwipes but he would have applauded the football supporters and local residents undertaking the River Clean Up of the 200 yards Cottage foreshore.

In 1890 Cardwell moved to the cosmopolitan parish of St Ann’s Soho, and campaigned against the rise of anti-Semitism. He would for sure have endorsed the slogans of the recent Fulham Manchester City match: ‘This is everyone’s game’ and ‘No room for racism’.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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