Baldwin’s Breakdown: Wembley Is Special No Matter How You Get There

Image: Getty/Wembley Stadium

I’ve never been scared of saying things that go against the grain, particularly when it comes to matters regarding Fulham. I don’t think it’s healthy to go along and agree with everything the club says and does. It’s good to push back every now and then; it shows you still have some independent thought.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love our fanbase. We all support Fulham, so we all share that bit of weirdness we all hold in our hearts and minds that make us support this club when there are other options available. There are sometimes however, when I really have to question our fanbase and whether or not we are the smartest bunch.

I had run-ins with fans over what I perceived (and I stand by it) ‘arrogance’ about the way we played last season and the hatred that went Cardiff’s way in regards to their ‘ugly, boring, physical football’. Football is about winning, regardless of how it happens. They got more wins than us, therefore we cannot complain about it. We may be in a relegation fight next year, and we may need to play ugly to get out of it, so just focus on results rather than how we get them. Oh and as a side note, the final piece of the puzzle last year was Alexandar Mitrovic, a physical brute, so we weren’t exactly 2009 Barcelona when it came to our style of play.

Last Thursday, the Premier League fixtures were released, and I found myself bringing up the term ‘arrogance’ once again when it comes to our fanbase. I was completely baffled over our fans saying that going to Wembley in August for Spurs away ‘doesn’t count’ and how they won’t be going to Wembley because it will ‘tarnish the memory of the Villa game’.

We as a fanbase need to take a step back and stop being ‘fans’ (short for fanatics) and start being ‘supporters’. If you think that us playing at Wembley will somewhat lessen our performance at Wembley in May, or make it ‘less special’, then I honestly don’t know what to say to you. People still went to Portsmouth after The Great Escape. I guarantee if we make Europe again and we get drawn away to Hamburg, people will want to go. When we finally beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, people will go the following year.

For years, I heard plenty of fans saying how they wanted to get to Wembley to see Fulham, but now that we have one handed to us (we didn’t have to do anything, it was given to us on a plate), I see fans saying how they won’t be going because they see it as ‘the wrong way to get to Wembley’.

Keith Allen put the words in a song ‘We’re not Man Utd, we are not Chelsea’, fanbases who I would easily understand if they got ‘Wembley fatigue’ for having gone there so many times. How has our fanbase got to a stage where we see Wembley as something people turn their backs on?

I said the same last year with our U23 side in the CheckATrade Trophy and fans said they wouldn’t go and support the team at Wembley if they got there because it should only be used for finals and that it wouldn’t count because it wasn’t the first team. A team representing Fulham at Wembley, regardless of how it happens, you should want to go.

Granted Wembley isn’t as special as it used to be, but it is still the national stadium and it still is a place other teams would sell their soul to get to.

When tickets go on sale sometime in July, I hope and pray that we get a repeat of the playoff final, with fans panicking over getting a ticket and having to create a ‘black market’. We waited 43 years to get to Wembley, after Spurs away we may not get there for another 43 years. Don’t waste this chance; you may never see The Whites at Wembley again in your lifetime.

I always welcome debate on any issue (except Brexit, that’s too complicated for me), so if you wish to discuss this further, I’m @MattRhys63 on Twitter.

Come on you whites!

This is the opinion of an individual and not that of the whole Focus brand.