I was reminded today in the beautiful sunshine of a not too dissimilar day three years ago when I travelled to London with my then girlfriend (now my wife) to watch Norwich City at Fulham on the final day of the season, For all those who do not remember the 2004/2005 season, Norwich just needed a win on the final day in order to stay in the Premier League. Norwich had, just a few weeks before, seemed doomed to go down, but a string of excellent wins, particularly a 2-0 win against Manchester United saw Norwich reach the edge of survival by the start of May.
So it was with great hope that we travelled with 5,000 other Norwich fans to South West London. Many Norwich fans travelled without tickets and we were offered £250 each for our tickets outside the ground by some ticketless Norwich fans, but it didn't turn out heads. We were there to see Norwich stay up and would be able to talk about this day for years to come.
So what was the result ? Norwich lost 6-0. Something of a travesty in many ways, Norwich were the match of Fulham in the first half and at 0-0 had a clear penalty disallowed whilst Fulham then scored their second goal from a free kick just before half time when the Norwich player had committed no foul. That said, at least they went down in style.
So I have a lot of sympathy today for the fans of Reading and Birmingham who suffered in many ways a worse fate than Norwich by winning their matches only to miss out on staying up because of Fulham winning 1-0 at Portsmouth.
As a neutral looking on today, I was slightly pleased to see Fulham stay up. Their manager, Roy Hodgson, is an absolute gentleman in the way he conducts himself and if anyone deserves success it is him. Also I remember the way Fulham fans treated us after the 6-0 defeat three years ago and they were nothing but charming.
Sadly the only bad thing about Fulham staying up is seeing Mohammed Al Fayed with a smug grin on his face. Despite wanting to see Fulham succeed today there was also a part of me that wanted to see them go down just so Al Fayed could try and pin the blame for it on MI6, the Press and Prince Philip !
P.S. I should also mention that Everton came 5th and secured a UEFA cup place next year. Well done Everton. 6th last year, 5th this year, Champions League qualification beckons next year.