Forget the anti-Europe talk and have some fun

HAMBURG, GERMANY - MAY 12: Simon Davies of Fulham celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League final match between Atletico Madrid and Fulham at HSH Nordbank Arena on May 11, 2010 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

It's about time someone from Fulham actually stood up and declared an interest in entering Europe. Ever since the possibility was mooted, players and even, somewhat bewilderingly, some fans have suggested that the Europa League is an unwanted burden - a catalyst for decline.

Anybody in a sane frame of mind, however, will know they couldn't be further from the truth.

My reminiscent tones of the past week or so have all but worn out now, with it being a year on from our European exploits, so, let's not 'remember the good old days' and, rather, view things from a contemporary perspective. Mark Hughes himself was the first to condemn the prospect of qualifying in June, claiming "it won't be easy" and there'll be a "concern you won't have the players coming back fresh." Thankfully, he vetoed these comments with a statement to the official site stating it would be a 'delight' to be in Europe again.

Hangeland chipped into the debate too, but with a far more worrying degree of contempt. "It is bad if you get that Europa League spot," Brede said bluntly, before defending his speech with fitness concerns that revolved mainly around sunning it up on the beach.

Whilst a proportionally decreased tan may concern our Norwegian centre-half, what distresses me to a far greater degree is the lack of guile and determination shown by the 29 year old. After all, he knows what it feels like to travel on a European journey of splendid defiance and notoriety. 

It's not just Hangeland and it's not just Fulham that seemingly have these abhorrent traits, however. All over England, managers complain and pick weakened teams in cup competitions. Even Harry Redknapp, a man who lavishly criticised all who treat cups as secondary and the Premier League as essential, stated he'd 'rather finish 6th than 5th' in order to avoid the Europa League. Hypocritical of course, but more to the point, pathetic.

Because, as the traditional elements in the game we all love begin to dwindle, as money begins to dominate the minds of all those who partake in any aspect of football, those in control fail to recognise the foundation behind any sport is entertainment.

Matches are as much an opportunity to relieve Saturday afternoon boredom as they are a sporting spectacle.

The fans have built this wonderful sport to what it is today. We've thrown money at it on a more-than weekly basis, we've travelled the depth and breadth of the land to follow our team and, in frequent cases, we've devoted our lives to supporting our respective clubs.

And, all we've every asked for in return is a bit of fun. Perhaps the opportunity to brag to our work colleagues. Maybe even a reward for a well placed bet. But just a bit of fun, really.

After all, (I know I said I wouldn't reminisce, but who cares?) what was more fun than our Europa League escapade?

There has been no greater example in recent history of a time when the fans of one club have pulled together so heartily and bathed in, as a famous commentator once put it, 'such disbelieving joy'. And, for a player who took part in that very - as it has aptly been titled - adventure to claim, forthright, that it's not really worth it, makes me ashamed to be a fan.

F.A Cups, League Cups, European runs; for a club like ours, they're all the fans have got. We're, admittedly, not going to win the league soon and while consistent top ten finishes are nice, what do they have in the way of a nourishing bit of fun?

Very little is the answer. So when something turns up on our door with such potential of merriment, let's, please, not turn a blind eye to it. Let's welcome it in and offer it a cup of tea, in the hope that Diego Forlan won't run in and nick our biscuits.

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