Fulham Football Club

My goal for the English soccer season: to leave behind the manifold miseries of supporting Arsenal and become a Fulham supporter. Yes, I know, there are plenty of miseries involved with supporting Fulham — fandom always brings suffering. But I’m ready for some different miseries, some other forms of suffering.

Why Fulham? I’ve always liked them, in part because of their history of American players: Bocanegra, McBride, Dempsey, and several others. They’re a London side — I am spiritually a Londoner — but not one with a huge international profile; they have the most adorable ground in all of English football, probably. (One that I might even be able to afford to visit one day.)

And right now they’re not in direct competition with Arsenal, which might make the transition easier.

I like the idea of supporting a team with more modest expectations. Cutting myself free from Arsenal’s constant almosts — for a while it was almost a title, now it’s almost the Champions League — might help me avoid inhabiting T. S. Eliot’s image of old age as “the conscious impotence of rage / At human folly, and the laceration / Of laughter at what ceases to amuse.”

It is possible that I am taking this too seriously.

In any case, as I’ve written before, it’s hard simply to choose in these matters. I did not decide to be an Arsenal supporter — I’m not even sure why I’m an Arsenal supporter — I am not happy to be associated with some Arsenal supporters, who shall remain nameless, though others are pretty darn cool. When I first seriously started following English football I decided I would support Aston Villa, because I too am from a city called Birmingham, and while I still keep track of Villa and wish them well, no strong attachment ever formed. I somehow drifted Highburywards.

But now I hope to change that. Arsenal begin the Premier League season this afternoon against Leicester. I shall look upon this event (certain to produce a loss, Arsenal always lose their first match of the season, what the hell is Wenger doing) with what Dr. Johnson called “frigid tranquility.” Frigid tranquility — that’s it. That’s what I’m after.

2 Replies to “Fulham Football Club”

  1. I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. I, too tried to support Villa but found them too angsty and tortured. I get enough of that with the fan bases here at home that I was born into – no need to go searching for someone else’s existential crises to adopt. So, in 2009, after a year of trying to follow Villa, I threw my lot in with Fulham (because of Dempsey, their grounds, their modest ambitions, and their well-adjusted fan culture). I’ve never looked back, even through the tough years with Jol/Magath/Symonds and relegation. It’s rewarding to be along for the ride of a club rebuilding its identity. Promotion, whether this year or after, will likely feel as good as a championship.

    I love your writing, on soccer as well as other topics, and I relish the idea of getting to read your takes on this club I love that doesn’t get a lot of high profile attention in stateside soccer coverage.

    Please do follow through on this inclination, and keep us updated on your experience.

    1. Great to hear this, Nathan! “Well-adjusted fan culture” strikes me as especially nice. Let’s see how this goes … I was reminded again yesterday how deep are the hooks Arsenal FC has in me …

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