I’ve got a confession: I once sat in the Putney End. It was the 2-1 win against Sunderland last year. I mean no offence to any die-hard Putney End fan, but it was awful.
When Sunderland scored, nobody moved. When Piazon scored on the stroke of halftime, still nobody moved. It was like the crowd had stumbled in, and weren’t entirely sure where they were or what they were watching. You can see this when you’re in every other stand; the away support bouncing, and the neutral section, a mix of stray away fans, and tumbleweed. My mates love telling me that “the Cottage is a library!” It’s not difficult to see where they get that idea…
On one of the podcasts a few weeks ago, Sammy was talking about what might happen when the Riverside Stand gets redeveloped and how those fans will need to be redistributed around the ground:
“The Putney End, for years, has been a wasteland of away supporters, and Fulham fans who couldn’t get tickets anywhere else… I would love to see the Putney End become a proper home support.”
This caught my interest, and it could have caught yours too. There is not a Fulham fan alive who wouldn’t like to see a Putney End that goes toe to toe with the away support. Crucially, that dream is perhaps more viable now than ever before, because with the closure of the Riverside, those fans have gotta go somewhere. Could this mean the redemption of the Putney End?
There is a precedent for this in the natural world: a starfish called the Linckia can hit the eject button on one of its points, and then grow an entirely new starfish. Two, where there was once only one! There is a very real potential that we could Linckia the hell out of the Putney End!
Here’s what would need to happen…
An Intentional Base
Much like any start-up business, it has got to be strategic and intentional. A rocking Putney End isn’t going to happen if people just show up and hope for the best. The people involved have to be aware they are involved for a start, and they need to be ready to stay when the new Riverside opens. They also need to be focused into one bay. Perhaps P3 or P4 could become the base, because singing is a very isolating experience when the three rows either side are just staring at you. Incidentally, this happened to me against last year against Sunderland, which leads me to my next point.
A Vocal Base
The base has to be loud. Even if in the Riverside, you weren’t too involved, the time is nigh to reinvent yourself. You wouldn’t necessarily be sitting with the same people, so it’s kinda like the first day of Secondary school where you dyed your hair and told everyone you had a girlfriend, but she lived out of town. Generally, fans want to sing, they just don’t want to start it. Some people have lower thresholds, and will start by themselves, and finish even if no one else joins in. But once momentum builds, and your average terrible singer feels as though their voice can’t be picked out of the mob, even those with high thresholds will get involved. It’s exponential in that way. But a group of people have got to be the critical mass that gives the majority the permission to join in.
Crisis or Opportunity?
The Chinese use the same word for crisis as they do for opportunity. And that’s where we find ourselves, looking down the barrel of three years with only three stands. Potential crisis, or potential opportunity?
Crisis: we do nothing, the atmosphere dips a little, and away fans keep calling Fulham fans ‘nice’ and quiet. Or.
Opportunity: we don’t bring carrots to feed the police horses, both ends of the pitch are noisy, and the Putney Ultras make The Den look like a nice place to take your kids. I like to imagine a conversation with some fictional child I will have in ten years, on our way to the Cottage:
Dad, is it true that the Putney End used to be quiet.
Oh yes, son!
Wow… When did they start deploying the Riot Squad along P4?
Just after we won the Champions League in 21/22. Now put this flare in your jacket, and smile at security as we go through the gate…
This conversation taking place is unlikely. I probably won’t have kids.
The rest seems feasible.