Over the last couple of years I have been gradually transferring my loyalties from Chelsea football club to Fulham. Fulham have several advantages over Chelsea – their tickets are cheap and easy to get hold of, their ground is picturesque and closer to my house, and their supporters – unlike Chelsea’s thuggish, hyped-up followers – are amiable and philosphical.
So sharing a flight out to to Lithuania today with Fulham supporters was no hardship. Far from being the stereotypical English football hooligans, many of the Fulham fans seemed to be of pensionable age. I suppose pensioners are the only group with the time to take three days off in the middle of the week to see Fulham play an obscure Lithuanian team, in an obscure European competition. The match is on tomorrow (or possibly today, it’s late.)
I would love to be able to say that I too am here solely to watch 90 minutes of football. But, alas, I think I’m going to miss the game. One of the Fulham fans asked me why I was flying to Vilnius. I did not reply – “To interview the president” – since that sounded a bit poncey. But, actually, that is the reason. I am meant to be doing a lunch with the FT with Dalia Grybauskaite tomorrow – it should appear in the paper some time in the next few months. (Features can have rather leisurely deadlines.) We should have plenty to talk about. I read in today’s paper that the Lithuanian economy has shrunk by 22.4% since this time last year, which sounds pretty drastic. Read more