Some people don’t get football. They think we’re mad to follow this mercurial sport that gives at least as much pain as it does pleasure.
Well the next time someone asks why you’re so mad about football tell them about Fulham this year. Tell them about how a club who, 15 years ago, was at the foot of the football league and which today has reached the Europa League Final.
There has been so much disparaging about the Europa League this year by pundits, journalists and the fans that are over-influenced by the media.
Tell me now that the Europa League is nothing. Tell me now it’s a rubbish competition. Tell me now that Fulham’s achievement is worthless. If you believe that you are a fool and you are denying yourself joy. You are a sour, non-believer in the beauty and romance of football.
The Europa League has offered some of the best European games this season. Truly tough, competitive and exciting games.
Their journey this year has been nothing short of epic, beating one good side after another. This was no cakewalk for teams who would rather not have been involved. It’s been hard fought and hard won.
Moments like this are why we cling to football throughout the choppy waters of life. Fulham’s achievement in getting to a European final win is uplifting for the whole of football. It is the bloodstream that feeds every club’s hope and dreams. If Fulham can do this for a moment anything seems possible.
In an era when the big clubs have increasingly become machines grinding out results as part of a corporate branding exercise, here is Fulham; literally a small club, housed in an old, traditional stadium going further and doing better than any other British club in any European competition. It is heroic.
The players embody the best spirit of the collective over the individual led by a manager who could almost have walked out of a Dickens novel.
Inspiring, stirring, life-affirming. This is Fulham’s gift to us all.
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