by Andrew Crawshaw and Tony Attwood
Part 1: Andrew’s memory
On 18 March 2010, I was lucky to go with my friend Mark to Craven Cottage to witness one of the best comebacks ever in European Football. It was an EUROPA League last 16 second leg with Fulham having lost in Juventus by 3 – 1.
It was also a match which none of the Fulham supporters expected to win.
The match started badly for Fulham with David Trezuget scoring in the first three minutes to make the aggregate score four one. That incident seemed to me to enrage the crowd and the Fulham players who somehow found another level.
Bobby Zamora equalised on the night shortly after the opening goal brushing aside World Cup winner Cannavaro before scoring from 10 yards out.
Fulham were attacking in waves and Zoltan Gera was brought down by Cannavaro in the 26th minute when through on goal, referee Bjorn Kuipers pulled out a red card for the Juve captain. The free kick was tipped over the bar and the score remained 1 – 1 but all momentum was now with Fulham. They struck the woodwork twice with shots that beat the keeper and the noise in the Cottage just got louder and louder.
In the 39th Minute Fulham were ahead on the night following an Arsenal-esque move featuring Zamora, Davies and Gera with a fine finish.
Four minutes into the second half Fulham levelled the tie, a clear handball prevented a cross from Duff reaching the waiting Fulham attackers and a penalty was duly awarded which Gera scored emphatically.
For a while the tempo relented until Fulham Manager Hodgson introduced Dempsey who nearly scored with his first touch, a header from a Davies cross, only to be denied by a great save by Chimenti in the Juve goal. Dempsey didn’t have to wait long however scoring an absolute beauty. He collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and with the Juve defenders dropping off him he executed an exquisite chip over Clementi and into the far top corner of the goal.
The Fulham crowd were delirious and the Juve players totally dejected and resulted to kicking the shit out of Fulham for the remainder of the game. Zebina was rightly sent off in added time for a kick at Duff.
Juve ended the night with nine players on the pitch and a further three on yellow cards. Fulham won the tie 5 – 4 and went on to the final of the competition where they lost to Athletico.
If I were Arsène I would show the Arsenal squad the video of the match to show what can be achieved by a team given no hope against a team who, on paper at least, were supposed to be much better than them. Fulham played above themselves that night and harassed Juve into all kinds of stupid errors – in fact they could well have won by a bigger margin.
Arsenal have far better players than those who played for Fulham that night. Work together with belief and anything is possible.
Part Two – Tony’s memory
Obviously as a season ticket holder I go to home games – no matter what. Because I live over 80 miles from the ground, sometimes in the winter the weather beats me (there is nothing worse than finding your train cancelled or the motorway blocked by ice as you try to get back home after midnight) but by and large I make it, no matter where we are in the league, no matter what the nay-sayers have just nay-said. Away games are more occasional – and I don’t do overseas.
So it was that I watched Arsenal play Milan on 15 February 2012 on TV with the result Milan 4 Arsenal 0 in the Champions League. Arsène Wenger was visibly annoyed by the performance of his team I recall.
The return game was on 6 March 2012. I don’t have Andrew’s wonderful memory for the detail, but I do remember thinking as I took the train to London that there might be a lot of empty seats around. There were not – it was full – or at least that’s how I remember it.
But much more than that I remember the noise – an absolute outpouring of defiance, of saying “We are the Arsenal”, of willing our team to do something to redeem themselves.
In what seemed like no time at all we had got amazingly to Arsenal 3 Milan 0 at half time. Laurent Koscielny headed home a corner and Tomas Rosicky took advantage of a nervous defence to nip in with the second. Robin van Persie then scored a penalty.
I then remember thinking that if Arsenal got one more and it went to extra time I’d have to buy another ticket (since I normally buy a ticket for the 10.30pm train back, rather than the more expensive open ticket which allows return on any train). Such strange thoughts always seem to nip through my head at odd moments.
As you’ll know, we didn’t make it and went out 4-3 overall, but as supporters we did our bit. But such come backs do happen. Real Mad overturned a four-goal deficit from the first leg of the Uefa Cup when they beat Borussia Monchengladbach in the last 16 of the 1985/86 competition by winning 4-0 at the Bernabeu after losing 5-1 in Germany.
Of course the newspapers, the TV, the bloggettas, they will all say no it is not possible, and maybe they will be right. But I tell you something. There is nothing like really, really, really supporting a team, no matter what. That is something that they will never, ever understand, and they are lesser people for that.
- Arsenal v FC Bayern München: Cech frustrated, lucid rage and total commitment
- Arsenal clearly should do better, because the club is so wealthy.