Tag Archives: London

Grey Day in Dagenham

Saturday 17th September 2016 – Dagenham & Redbridge 2 – 0 North Ferriby

National League @ Victoria Road, Dagenham, London

“…oh I’d rather be a sausage than an egg…”

A university reunion coupled with a vow to get to some Ferriby games now they were venturing south, took me to Dagenham’s Victoria Road. It was a grey September day and cold enough for a jacket; a contrast from the heat wave earlier that week, which was ended with torrential rain the day before this match up.

Dagenham, most famous of course for the Ford factory, is found in London’s eastern most reaches. It took around 45 minutes on the Victoria Line (from Victoria) to reach Dagenham East for this one, and the ground itself is around a five-minute walk from the tube station.

img_0081 img_0082

The area around the ground is fairly residential so supping options are limited to a pub just past the tube station, the Pipe Major. We didn’t venture in on this occasion; there were plenty milling around outside albeit a majority seemed to be in West Ham shirts, so they probably weren’t all going to the match.

Entering Victoria Road (or the Chigwell Construction Stadium for sponsorship purposes) feels akin to entering a leisure centre, with a car park straight in front, and the relatively low stands meaning it is only the floodlights that indicate the venue is used for football.

We headed to the club bar pre-match. It cost 50p to get in (though no restrictions on away fans) and you have to sign in; it is however a nice sized bar, albeit beer on tap is limited. Seating is in what is best described as a sports hall with a couple of tables dotted around. Sutton’s defeat of Tranmere Rovers was being shown on the big screen which we watched with the locals before heading to the away end.

Away fans are accommodated in the ‘Traditional Builders Stand’ at the far end of the ground. It cost £21 to get in; the half of the stand closest to the entrance is populated with home fans, with the away fans having to walk along the bottom of the stand to the far end. There were no problems however, and given the size of the away following that day (23…) the stand felt a bit cold and, stating the obvious’ empty!

There is a small bar underneath the stand, which seemed only to serve Carling, that both home and away fans use. Other chow and sup can be bought at a small kiosk near the entrance, with reasonable prices (£1.20 for tea or coffee).

img_0086 img_0094

To the left of the stand is a small terrace, half of which was closed, but the open half appeared to be full. To the right is a smaller seated stand. Interestingly the teams come out from behind the goal, so I assume more modern changing rooms were installed when the stand was built.

img_0084 img_0089In the context of each club’s respective positions last season, and results and league positions thus far, this seemed very much like David vs Goliath. Dagenham & Redbridge’s team contains a smattering of ex-league players (including the experienced Luke Gutteridge and Paul Benson); having spent nine years playing league football (including a short stint in League 1), presumably the home side are gunning for an immediate return.

This is Ferriby’s first season at this level, with mixed results ranging from a hammering away at Lincoln, and a win at Gateshead mid-week before this one. My hunch however was that the home side would prevail in this one.

The atmosphere at Victoria Road is relatively flat, with the exception of the fans immediately to the left of the away end, who enjoyed frequent exchanges with the three fans in the away end who had some voice (though most of the chants seemed to be food related as opposed to football, hence I guess the ‘Pie Cob Society’ flag).

Ferriby played like they were trying to avoid a loss as opposed to trying to get something from the game. The home side went in one nil up and at half time though it felt like it could be much more. Ferriby had a good crack of it in the second half, but couldn’t build up any meaningful sort of attack.

It was one nil for much of the match, but it never really felt close. The home side doubled their lead shortly before time, wrapping up the three points and securing top spot in the league. This result sent Ferriby into the relegation places. The difference in quality was quite stark; Ferriby constantly giving the ball away and making silly mistakes, which their more experienced equals often capitalised upon.

It might have been because the day was grey, and cold but Victoria Road feels like it has seen better days. Prices are however reasonable and the fans & staff care for the club; the attendance felt low that day (1,119) despite local Premier League behemoths being away at West Brom. The game was however both watchable and enjoyable; Victoria Road is a bit of a trek from Central London for a capital ground tick if truth be told. It feels very much like a non-league ground but with some tweaks to allow for bigger followings that must have come here when they played league football.

Other photos from the day

 

Advertisements

Cottage Pies and Pints

Saturday 23rd January 2016 – Fulham 0 – 1 Hull City AFC

Championship @ Craven Cottage, London

My second trip away with Hull City in 2016, and it was back to West London, this time Craven Cottage, home of Fulham FC.

On the train into London, I did a quick count of how many times I have been to Craven Cottage previously. Five in total; their 2-1 victory against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League (it poured down, and Zamora scored the winner….), a rather turgid affair against Newcastle (I don’t recall the result), a Groupon £10 deal against West Brom (‘Woy’ got a standing ovation, it was freezing) and two games with Hull, the most memorable of which came in 2009 when Manucho netted a 90th minute (and totally undeserved) winner in front of a neutral end packed with East Yorkshire’s most dedicated.

For the record, he did fuck all else of note in his loan period at Hull….

But this was to be my first for a 3pm KO.

I had some time to kill pre-match so whilst meeting friends in Hammersmith for pre-game sup, opted to divert via Putney Bridge and walk there via the ground.

Fulham is very much restricted by its environment; Craven Cottage is nestled on the bank of the Thames, and seemingly appears from nowhere as you cross the riverside park. It doesn’t feel like a space where a football club should be.

IMG_1505 IMG_1507

It is however a classic ground; the Thames makes an excellent backdrop, and it somewhat surreal to have a football ground situated amongst ‘prime’ West London real estate, some of which is probably worth more than their players.

The front facade is impressive; the ‘Cottage’ sits in a corner where the away (and neutral) stand is. Down the adjoining road you are greeted with a red-brick facade. In an era of Lego brick out-of-town super stadia, Craven Cottage is unique and very appealing to the eye.

IMG_1509 IMG_1510 IMG_1512IMG_1508

Pre-match, Hull City messageboards were full of comments of how friendly a trip Fulham is. Unlike their neighbours slightly further up the District Line, there is no ‘nasty’ element here. Whilst a loyal fanbase is present, this is a club that welcomes all. The ‘neutral’ end is testament to this; day trippers, the curious, away fan overspill and overseas tourists enjoying a day out.

There is little however around the ground for entertainment pre-match (unless jogging down the river is your thing). So to Hammersmith it was for a short pub crawl down the Fulham Palace Road. We started at the Duke of Cornwall, nice and spacious, but the juke box seemed very biased towards Enya, An odd vibe. By far the best place for a drink was the Old Suffolk Punch, which had a great selection of beers on tap, served your beer in an actual glass, and had a friendly atmosphere, with both sets of fans chatting away. We finished off at Southern Belle; unremarkable, plastic glasses, but had Sky Sports on and lots of TVs if that is your thing.

Craven Cottage is roughly a 15 minute walk from both Hammersmith and Putney Bridge tube stations. Inside the concourse is fairly compact (albeit looks spacious). Being an old ground, queues for the food and drink are long. There are small bar areas too, but with big crowds these can become quickly busy.

The view from the away end that day was good; we were situated in the top-left corner of the stand behind the goal, with good sight lines. The stand allows for a good atmosphere to be created in the away end, which that day was boisterous. So far so good!

IMG_1518 IMG_1519

The home fans were fairly ‘standard’; made the right noises in the right places, but not a rowdy place to watch football.

The match was scrappy at best, and fairly unremarkable. Which was a shame given Hull had put six past Charlton the previous week without response. The away day form continuing….

It looked like a nailed on 0-0 until in the 80th minute Odubajo was bundled down clumsily in the penalty area. No complaints from the home team or fans. Hernandez duly despatched the penalty. And Hull took three points back to East Yorkshire. It was on this day also that Middlesbrough dropped points, meaning a two-week stay at the top was bagged.

“We. Are. Top of the League. Say we are top of the league…”

Post-match chat centred around this lofty position; it seemed false given the manner of some of the performances. But Fulham are a decent side, and to play badly and still win is the sign of a team (hopefully) going up. Good stuff City. More of the same is needed with the next two league games being away at Burnley and Blackburn.

A good day out at Craven Cottage; a refreshing trip on the fixture list. Friendly atmosphere, decent pubs, and a ground with character. And a great place to pick up three points!

 

Did you hear the one about the Moroccan wearing a sombrero?

Friday 1st January 2016 – Queens Park Rangers 1 – 2 Hull City AFC

Championship @ Loftus Road, London

First away day of 2016 and a first win on my travels since the start of November, which also came in West London. This wasn’t a classic, and Lady Luck had as much of a foot on the ball for the final goal as Diomande did, but three points nonetheless.

This was a Premiership fixture last season; both sides spent big to stay up, but both went down. The fortunes of Hull City and QPR since then have taken slightly different turns; whilst Hull arguably made some shrewd investments, retaining the likes of Dawson and Hernandez, who have excelled at Championship level, QPR did not, with their hopes of securing a return to the top-tier hinging on Charlie Austin finding the net.

He wasn’t fit for this one, so my pre-match prediction of 0-0 based on the fact Hull being crap away, and QPR being crap at home, started to look more likely.

West London is an old stomping ground for me, and consequently Loftus Road is a place I have visited quite regularly down the years. This was to be my second visit of the season in fact, having attended QPR’s 2-2 draw with Blackburn in the home end back in September, accompanying a colleague from work.

It was that colleague I also met with for this one, though not in the home end. Pre-match drinks were planned in The Defector’s Weld, one of my favourite West London pubs. Alas however I cannot add this to ‘Worth a sup…‘. Upon arrival I was asked for proof I was a home fan, to which I responded I wasn’t going to the football. This worked pre-match, but not post-match, where nobody was allowed in unless you had a ticket in the home end! Not good news if you fancied a quiet pint that night I guess!

In fairness though, Shepherd’s Bush is full of decent pubs and places to eat, which don’t employ such draconian rules (and which appeared to be the exception in the area).

Like Selhurst Park and Brentford, Loftus Road is another good old-fashioned ground that appears from nowhere as you approach through the Shepherd’s Bush back streets. It is small and compact, but when it gets going, the noise can be heard a good couple of miles away. The club have talked about moving to a shiny new stadium (I sense this may have dampened given they failed to reach the Champion’s League…) however I can’t imagine the club not being in Shepherd’s Bush. Both the club and the area are unfashionable and a bit grimy – they suit each other, and hence a trip to QPR normally makes for a good day out.

IMG_1475

This was a tea time kick off for the Sky cameras. Also being on a Bank Holiday, and the evening after NYE parties, I wasn’t expecting much of a turnout. I wasn’t wrong. Whilst the home end looked fairly full, there were plenty of empty seats in the away end, and in honesty, not much of an atmosphere. Though that was true of the home fans also. Perhaps many were still nursing hangovers from the night before.

Or perhaps it was the football…

The atmosphere at Loftus Road is intrinsically linked to how the team are performing on the pitch, more so I have found than elsewhere. I’ve been there when QPR have played well, of note the match at the end of the 2010/2011 season (a 1-1 draw) where the home fans prematurely invaded the pitch thinking they had been promoted (Norwich ensured they had not). The place was rocking. Conversely, at the match against Blackburn earlier in the season, where QPR had a stinker against a team which was back then relegation fodder, the crowd were constantly on the players’ backs; “You facking mug”, “You c**t”, “You facking melt”. They are a tricky lot to please, but at least they care.

The away end at Loftus Road is behind the goal in the School End upper tier. My match ticket said it was a ‘Restricted View’, which for £32 I was bit annoyed about. Whilst there are pillars blocking the view in some seats, mine thankfully wasn’t one of them. Being an old ground, the concourse is very small. Food and drink is the standard football fare, and nothing special. But with what is available outside the ground, is not really needed.

The other ‘quirk’ of the away end is the chap to the left of the away fans who sits behind the flag of Morocco, but who wears a sombrero. Perhaps I am stereotyping, but I didn’t think Moroccans wear sombreros? I don’t recollect him ever not being there when I’ve been to Loftus Road; in previous visits he has made a lot of noise via drums and horns, but this time just shouted a bit.

The first half was dire and I was glad to be shut of it. The absence of Charlie Austin meant the home team had little bite up top, and Hull looked a tad nervous, no doubt as a result of some serious soul-searching following recent performances at Rotherham and Preston.

The second half started no better, but an opener did come on 61st minute via Abel Hernandez, who slotted into the bottom right corner following a well worked move.

“…he came from Italy, to play for Hull City…”

Not long after the goal, Snodgrass came on for Elmohamady, a substitution notable for two reasons. Firstly, this was Snodgrass’ return to the ground where in the previous season he sustained a season ending injury. Secondly, Elmo seemed to take an absolute age to walk off, to the annoyance of the away end as much as the home. His future at the club has been subject to a fair few column inches and a departure in January wouldn’t be unexpected. Was this his somewhat petulant farewell?

The match picked up a bit following the goal, though in truth Hull dominated; my expectation was it would stay 1-0.

But it didn’t. The home side equalised shortly before the 90th minute, an unmarked Polter heading in from close range. It felt harsh, but Hull were shortly after gifted a winner, when a mix up in the area saw the ball hit summer signing Diomande and fall into the back of the net. 2-1. The lead was defended during the unquantifiable six minutes of injury time, and Hull went back to East Yorkshire with the three points.

Not a classic, but another game under the floodlights at an old-fashioned ground to be enjoyed.

Jakarta Bees

Tuesday 3rd November 2015 – Brentford FC 0 – 2 Hull City AFC

Championship @ Griffin Park, London

“He runs all night and he runs all day, he scores at home and he scores away, David Meyler, WHAOOO David Meyler…..”

I have a confession to make….

I once had a season ticket at Brentford. Back in the 2011 / 2012 season – I was living in Chiswick at the time, and was lucky enough to have my brother living down the road – so to supplement our away days, we purchased two season tickets on the Ealing Road Terrace. Saturdays now comprised of a couple of pints in The Princess Royal, attractive League 1 football overseen by Uwe (of the) Rosler, and a Bovril & Double-Decker at half-time.

Brentford finished 9th that season; with a forward line led by ex-Tigers Clayton Donaldson and Gary Alexander, they flirted with the play-offs but just fell short. The most memorable game was a surprise 6-0 drubbing of now Premier League Bournemouth in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. But there were also victories over London rivals Charlton and Leyton Orient to enjoy.

It seemed ‘little league’ – the muffled tannoy, half-time raffle, terracing, and interesting mix of die hard fans, QPR fans who had lost interest at Loftus Road and the curious. The relationship ended at the end of the season when we both moved away from the area. But is fair to say we were hooked. An unfashionable ground inhabited by one of the lesser supported London clubs, but the best fun we had had for some time.

So I was looking forward to my first trip back since 2012. Incidentally I had been before with Hull the year before I bought the season ticket, a 2-1 defeat in the first round of the League Cup, not the best of nights, ‘enjoyed’ in the company of housemates that supported Chelsea and Newcastle.

Griffin Park is famed for having a pub on each corner of the ground, though I have read recently that has reduced to a trio. This was however a school night match, and with limited time, and certainly not enough for a corner-to-corner pub crawl, The Ealing Park Tavern, halfway between the ground and South Ealing station, was our pre-match watering hole. There are many good pubs in and around Brentford, and also within striking distance of the nearby tube stations, so spoilt for choice really. Ealing Park Tavern was however friendly, had a great range of craft beers, and a healthy mix of both home and away fans. Highly recommended.

Being a Tuesday evening in November, you could see the lights of Griffin Park before the ground itself. The ground is one of these that is tucked in amongst the houses and not visible until you are right upon it. The away end is a short walk from the main road, and consists of a lower tier terrace and an upper tier seating area. Hull took a sizeable following that night, so I assume the upper tier may have been populated, though have never been up there myself. The facilities inside are ‘basic’ with a small kiosk and a gents that can only be described as a hole in the floor.

The fact that Griffin Park has two terraces led to calls for them to move their home games to Loftus Road had they been promoted to the Premier League last term. I’m not a fan of rules limiting teams based on their surroundings – Brentford are well run and play some good football. Just pure snobbery.

No complaints from me though! Standing on a terrace under the floodlights has been a rarity in recent years and was a welcome change. The ground hadn’t appeared to have changed much since my last visit in 2012 and amusingly, the ‘Jakarta Bees’ flag was still up to our left.

The game itself was a cracker; the Hull fans were numerous and in good voice, and the home fans up for it too. The first half was fairly end-to-end, with Brentford appearing to be more of a test than others in recent weeks, where Hull had still picked up points. This one felt like we’d need to go up a gear.

No goals in the first half, but two highlights. Firstly, with it being close to bonfire night, on the 20th minute Alex Bruce came onto the pitch accompanied by a firework display. Fairly sure this will be the only time this will happen in his career. Secondly was a ‘change of tune’. Recent matches had seen an awful song about David Meyler sung by some to the tune of Walking in a Winter Wonderland (“He used to be shite, but now he’s alright, walking in a Meyler wonderland….”). Given his work ethic and role in our run to the FA Cup final this was deemed harsh by many, including the player himself (who commented on it via Twitter) so when it came up again, it was nice to hear it booed by other Hull fans. This led to the song cited at the start of this blog being sung to the tune of Lola by The Kinks….and it didn’t stop all night.

City came out all guns blazing in the second half, and whilst Brenford matched it for a period, they started to run out of ideas, and on the 67th minute through Andy Robertson. The home side started to run out of energy after that and the second felt only a matter of time. It duly arrived shortly before the 90th via Sam Clucas. The away support in raptures, it felt like a well earned three points – and Brentford did work us for it.

Brentford are due to move to a new ground down by the Thames in a couple of years. I hope this is not my last visit with Hull. Griffin Park is a proper old fashioned ground, though with their current upward trajectory, I can see why they would want to move if they are to stay in the higher echolons of the English game.

So for those considering a visit, I can only advise you to do so. Grounds like Griffin Park are becoming something of a rare breed in our game, and the presence of many good watering holes, a passionate home support, and with good football played in a somewhat lower league environment (terracing, small kiosks, balls flying over the stand into people’s back gardens), makes it well worth the trip.

I hope to be back, if not with Hull, hopefully for the final game.

All but gone…

Saturday 16th May 2015 – Spurs 2 – 0 Hull City AFC

Premier League @ White Hart Lane, London

“Li-ver-more, he’s having a party, bring your vodka, and your Charlie….

My last blog entry after the Crystal Palace game was optimistic as far as miserable seasons go, and was followed up a couple of days later with a vital 1-0 victory over Liverpool at The Circle. The Premiership relegation battle was poised finally at that point; Burnley and QPR looked gone, but anyone from the resurgent Villa and Leicester, and Hull, to the dreadful Sunderland and Newcastle could still go down.

City’s two game winning streak (!!!) was ended by Arsenal a week later; men against boys stuff – no shame in that defeat.

And then Burnley. The team that always seems to beat us at the wrong time. Earlier in the season they claimed their opening league victory against us at Turf Moor. Rewind to 2010 and they beat us again – heavily – at our place to all but send us down.

It was a must win game. One which could keep us up and take the pressure off against Spurs and Man United, our last two opponents of the season.

We all know how it went…..

And to add to it all, the day before, summer signing Jake Livermore was ruled out after testing positive for cocaine. A truly foolish act – though given his recent performances, perhaps not a great loss. Still, not the best preparation….

So it was with a sense of pure pessimism that Hull’s last away day of the season was approached. I feigned that I wasn’t bothered all week – part of me really wasn’t – but as the day neared, the nerves set in and the belief that Tottenham might just be on that proverbial beach that everybody claimed came to the forefront of my mind. On Facebook early on Saturday I was reminded by an awful App that 17th May was indeed the one year anniversary of Hull’s FA Cup final appearance. How times have changed. Europe and £43m squandered. Goodwill of fans and optimism eaten away. It now came down to this. A trip to one of England’s better sides to try and salvage our Premier League status.

Three trips to White Hart Lane have been made previously, all of which feature at the top of every commentator’s ‘one liner’ list; the one where Geovanni scored in 08, the one where Myhill parked his own one man bus in 09 to secure a much needed draw, and one last season in the cup (because I missed the league game) where an understrength Hull side took them all the way to penners.

I like White Hart Lane; it is one of the older offerings in the top flight, but normally has decent and loud fans, even if they do have a slight inferiority complex these days to Arsenal and Chelsea.

My day started late so no pre-match supping – I didn’t arrive until 2.30pm. For the best – the butterflies had taken over by this point and beer wouldn’t have helped (or would it?).

White Hart Lane is in the Northest of London seemingly the distance of Birmingham away from the nearest of tube stations, Seven Sisters. From there you have a 1.5 – 2 mile walk past a vast array of fried chicken shops, newsagents that sell a huge array of SIM cards and some rather shaky looking cosmetic ’boutiques’ (including one that advertised ‘cupping’). Not the best of introductions to an old classic of a ground. You’d be hard pushed to find a boozer too – most around the area are very much home fans only.

Once Tottenham High Street had been navigated, we were greeted at the away end with a ‘gift’. Whether an attempt to make up for spunking our Away Support Intiative £200k on the away end at our ground (but not our fans….) or an attempt to generate a better atmosphere, I guess we will never know – but each visiting fan was offered a brand new black and amber scarf – though unfortunately with a badge that fails to mention the club’s name.

No thank you Mr Allam – hope my scarf found a good home (i.e. the landfill).

We were seated in the upper tier that day – concourse is nothing special, and drinks & food on offer is the usual pie and pint job. The views from the away end, despite being high up, are pretty good (see picture at the top – no more I’m afraid, I was bit too engrossed in the match for this one) and despite being surrounded by the more vocal home supporters, the atmosphere relatively friendly. Stewards let you stand at Spurs and appreciate fans like to make a bit of noise.

Kick off. And City came out all guns blazing. Top scorer Jelavic was back, and Quinn took Livermore’s place in midfield. Ex-Spurs lad Michael Dawson seemed very pumped up and did a good job of getting both players and crowd going.

It had all the hallmarks of a victory. The fans were fantastic. Whilst clearly not the best technical side, City were looking more likely to score. The Irish lads – Meyler, Quinn, Brady and McShane grafted a good game, and Elmo and N’Doye provided some pace to try to link up Jelavic. But despite the efforts nothing happened. City seemed shot shy with the exception of a bar rattler from Jelavic, and Elmo seemed unable to run past the last man.

It was nervy on the pitch. And once the tempo slowed, it was nervous off it too. Whilst buoyed by Aston Villa’s earlier 6-1 trouncing on the South Coast (lost 6-1 and stayed up on the same day – incredible), news starting to filter through of Newcastle taking the lead across London at QPR. This did not look good. And Spurs were starting to come into the game. Half time could not come soon enough.

The interval offered some opportunity to calm those nerves, and also to say goodbye to Brad Friedel who announced his retirement during the week – I’m not normally one for clapping opposition players, but what a keeper. Best wishes Brad.

The second half started as quick as the first, with City dominating possession and now shooting towards the Hull fans. Brady was looking dangerous. We were winning multiple corners. Crosses were streaming in and through balls being placed.

Then on 54 the first nail in the coffin. Their first attack of the half and Spurs score. This prompted some noise from the home fans – who up until this point had been non-existent. Undeterred the City fans carried on singing; The Great Escape theme tune dusted off and sang with gusto. We could still do this. Tottenham looked good, but not ‘that’ good.

Seven minutes later their lead was doubled. 2-0. Game over. Down and out. But some solace from the scoreline at Loftus Road were QPR had gone 2-1 up against the hapless Geordies.

The mood in the away end – which had been bouncing up until that point – fell flat. Some carried on singing. Some stayed silent – reflecting on what had just happened, and that City had, again, blown it on the road. A couple of lads tried to start a conga line. Some nipped off for the pub.

Hernandez replace Jelavic shortly after the second, who had looked unfit. Had it not been a match of such importance I doubt he would have started.

Chances came and went – including one instance where roughly 19 shots were cleared off the line. It wasn’t to be City’s day. Ideas and legs had gone. The minutes ticked down on our second Premiership adventure.

In line with popular belief, Spurs were on the beach that day. And they still beat us. As the final whistle went, the aforementioned scarves seemed to be hurled en-masse towards the pitch. There were no tears. Because this torrid, cesspit of a season is still not over. We can STILL stay up. All we need to do is beat Man United, a team we have never beaten in recent years (nor has Bruce – EVER!) and hope Newcastle and / or Sunderland slip up. It’s all setup for a split screen Sky Super Sunday.

So the away trips to MK Dons and Rotherham are on ice. The rivalries with Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday kept on the backburner for now.

But it wasn’t lost on this blogger that as the journey was made back to Central London, that whilst this might not be the last game in the Premiership. Or The Championship. But it could be his last game in Black and Amber. And it could be the last away trip of Hull City AFC. With the FA decision due in July on the abhorrent renaming application to Hull Tigers, support is in doubt. Over to our overlords at Wembley Stadium on that one….

The finger-pointing and blame game will needless start once Sunday is up. If we stay up, do we have enough in the tank – both in the bank account and on the pitch – to continue to compete at this level? And if we go down, what then of our underperforming big money stars? And of Bruce who has overseen a multi-million pound spending spree only to perform worst than he did the term before (whilst disrespecting multiple cup competitions in order to preserve our league status)?

Perhaps it is bias, rose-tinted spectacles, that sort of thing. I look at Sunderland and Newcastle and see two clubs that deserve the drop. The former have shipped goals at an alarming rate, and have a set of fans who feel it acceptable to leave a game en masse once their team goes behind. The latter’s situation can be blamed on the owner, but remember it was these fans who hounded Alan Pardew out, who then went to Palace and kept them up (but then they did the same with Bobby Robson when he didn’t reach the Champions League…)

And then I look at Hull City – the team I love and follow. With an owner set against the fans. A brutal and ongoing fight to preserve our name still being fought after two years.

Regardless of who stays up on Sunday (incidentally 7 years to the day we first won promotion at Wembley), the Premier League will still contain at least two piss poorly run teams next season.

See you in August.