i Editor's Letter: Football can bring us together


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The Independent Online


This afternoon, on the hottest day of the year, I will discard experience for hope, and make a pilgrimage. As the sun bounces off a shimmering river Thames on the most pleasant approach to a UK sports venue, the black and white-clad hordes will be filled with an optimism only the first day of a season brings.

If, as Sir Richard Branson said, (quoting Einstein) "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result", then most football fans are more bonkers than John Cleese.

Fulham fans heading to Craven Cottage are perhaps a little less crazy than some. The Cottage is a rare ground; a largely civilised (unless you need a pee), friendly, family-oriented place – sometimes ridiculed by the more neanderthal element that follows the national sport. Yes, there is passion. The night Fulham came back from three goals down to beat mighty Juventus had the historic stadium rocking, and vies with Mo Farah's second gold last weekend as the most emotional of live sporting nights.

The "you fat bastard" chant at super-fit Frank Lampard is about as bad as it gets, you get my drift. Happily, I've never heard a racist murmur in the home Hammersmith End, which holds many committed female fans too.

Let's hold fire on all the anti-football musings. So many, young and old, will be excited today. True, I've never heard a noise like the "Go Mo!" roar last Saturday, but it was a one-off. It was the home Olympic Games! And we had a GB double gold medallist!

Football still has the ability to bring community together more than most. Now it's for players and crowds alike to meet the challenge set by our Olympians.