London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham

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Date : 26th  November, 2020

Time : 46’ 03”

Number of runners (total to date) : 2 (7094)

Run map and details :  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/5876724487

For many years football and music were the two most important things in my life. I talked about them, watched them, read about them, based my career and friendships on them.

I also played them whenever I could. Or at least I played football. My rock god days came to an early end one calamitous day in junior school. We were practicing songs for an upcoming class concert when the music teacher signalled us to stop and announced that one of us couldn’t sing. She then asked us to start singing again and slowly walked up and down the lines of student to identify the culprit. I was the tallest so I was right at the back. Sweating more and more profusely as, student by student, she came closer and closer.

And then, to my utter horror, she stopped in front of me and said, “Don’t sing anymore ; just mouth along to the words.”

I was too embarrassed to tell my parents so they rocked up to the concert a couple of weeks later to watch me mime the songs. They never said anything. Perhaps they didn’t realise ; perhaps they were being kind.

Either way I never sang again – except as part of the crowd at football matches. The one place where it truly doesn’t matter how bad you are.

On the plus side, this allowed me to concentrate on my football. You know what they say : anyone can become expert in anything by putting in 10 000 hours of practice. Well, it isn’t true. I put in the time and I was still useless at football. I had the turning circle of an ocean liner, the balance of a three legged dog and the ball control of a trampoline.

This complete lack of any discernible talent didn’t affect my enthusiasm for my twin obsessions and the only odd thing is that, until I ran there with Darren, I had no idea that the London Borough of Fulham and Hammersmith was such an epicentre of football and music. (Darren, btw, used to be in a band and now composes, produces and mixes music in his spare time. Bastard.)

We met at the Queens Park Rangers stadium – previously universally referred to as Loftus Rd and now officially the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium. (In 2019, the club gifted the naming rights to the stadium to The Kiyan Prince Foundation, a charity set up in honour of former QPR youth player Kiyan Prince who was fatally stabbed after intervening to stop another boy being bullied)

From there we went through the Japanese Garden in Hammersmith Park

to the Television Centre – which was BBC Television’s HQ between 1960 and 2013. All sorts of amazing programs were recorded or transmitted there – most famously, at least in my eyes, Match of the Day and Top of the Pops. 

I can still remember going to my first TOTP. At the time I was working for Rhythm King Records and we were having hits with acts such as S’Express, Bomb the Bass, Beatmasters and Betty Boo. In truth I can’t remember which of our acts was on, I just remember how excited I felt to be there. Even if it was as a spectator in the green room rather than as a performer. (Slightly ironically, this was in the days when most of the acts mimed along to backing tracks – just about the only aspect of musical performance in which I had some relevant experience…)

Overcoming a strong sense of nostalgia, we set off past the Westfield centre for Shepherds Bush Green and the Empire.

A venue which I’d last visited with Darren and Liz for Bjorn Again. (To those of you now questioning Darren’s and my musical credentials, I should note that that this was at Liz’s instigation. Brushing aside claims from wannabees such as the Beatles, Liz has always been adamant that Abba were the greatest ever pop band and, after the success of Mamma Mia, who’s to say she’s wrong?)

We continued south along Shepherds Bush Road passing the site of the old Hammersmith Palais where I saw many a fine gig but which will always be associated in my mind with one of the great tracks – the Clash’s ‘(White Man) in Hammersmith Palais’. Possibly the first ever song to merge punk and reggae, it was one of Joe Strummer’s favourites and was played at his funeral. It’s also one of 4 Clash songs* to make my Top 100 ever which, with all due respect to Joe, may he rest in peace, is probably the more significant achievement.

From the Palais, it’s a short hop south to the Hammersmith roundabout and Odeon where, again, I’ve seen many a gig. But the one that really sticks in the memory dates back to 1986. I had just started working at Smallwood Taylor Management to help with the Human League who’d recently been taken on as a client. This was all very exciting for me, I’d loved the multi-million selling ‘Dare’ and the Human league were the first ‘pop stars’ I’d ever had dealings with.

At the time – 5 years on from ‘Dare’ – the band were on the comeback trail and the single ‘Human’ had just gone to no. 1 in the US. All was looking good as they set off on their UK tour which climaxed at the Odeon. About half way through the set, Joanne and Susan, the backing singers / dancers cocked up a dance routine and started laughing on stage. Bang. Just like that the magic was gone. If you expect stars to be reasonable and professional the whole time then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. But not to take a live performance seriously…

From the Odeon, you can cut down to the north bank of the Thames and it’s a lovely run down to Craven Cottage – Fulham’s ground.

And from there you can make your way inland to Stamford Bridge – home of Chelsea Football Club. As a Spurs fan, I now see this as enemy territory

but, back in the day, I lived in Battersea and Stamford Bridge was the closest first division ground.  

One evening, back in 1985, I made my way to Stamford Bridge for the second leg of the Chelsea – Sunderland League Cup semi-final. Football was different in those days. There was a more intense atmosphere that could kick-off at any point. And, when Sunderland went 2-0 up, it did kick-off. The Chelsea fans started to rip up the (wooden) stands and invaded the pitch. It took a number of charges by mounted police to clear the playing area and there was still a police horse galloping across the pitch at the time Sunderland scored their third goal.

Our route ended at Stamford Bridge and that’s where this blog also ends. It’s been surprisingly emotional travelling down memory lane to write this blog has. I hope you enjoyed it!

*The others being ‘Train In Vain’, ‘I Fought the Law’ and ‘Police and Thieves’.

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

A little bit of background. I’m currently undertaking a challenge – Run the World – to complete a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world. (I’ve run in 183 countries to date.) I’m doing the challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research and to promote the importance of an active healthy lifestyle.

In addition to completing a 10km run in all 206 countries in the world, I’m also doing 44 runs in the UK. Taking the global total to 250 runs.

Why? Because 250 runs is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. Which is a metre for every one of the two and a half million cancer sufferers in the UK.

All well and good but the question we asked ourselves at Run the World HQ is : where should those 44 UK runs take place? And part of the answer – three-quarters to be exact – is that 33 of them will take place in London. One in each of the 32 London boroughs plus one in the City of London.

We’re calling this the ‘London Borough Challenge’ and I’m hoping to run with as many people – and social running groups and crews and clubs –as possible!

About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - https://www.justgiving.com/Dan-Thompson11/ - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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