I wrote this for the old messageboard on Feb 23, 2006.
"How did we become Fulham supporters?
Against my better instincts, I find myself being sucked inexorably into this messageboard. I chuckle at some of the ribald humour. I admire some articulate posts; I fail to comprehend others. And I have no idea why I’m always being told to think on. But I try.
Sometimes I wonder how we all found ourselves under the same roof, so to speak. So, at the risk of setting myself up for a severe bollocking from some of the less welcoming members of the community, I thought I would bore you to death with the story of how I came to love Fulham.
In 1976, I moved into a leafy West London lane called Doneraile Street. One Saturday afternoon, I found four large men picking up my Mini and dropping it 1” short of the car in front in order to park their Ford Zephyr in the new space they had created. A little later I could hear lots of ooohs, aaahs, polite clapping followed by sharp bursts of frenzied cheering. Without knowing it, I had taken a bedsit within spitting distance – well, a prodigious gob - of Craven Cottage.
I had no interest in football, but I decided to investigate the next home game. Somehow, I chose the Stevenage Road Stand and stood right by the half way line in front of a very tall, acerbic man with a beard, the loudest voice in Christendom and a viciously malevolent sense of humour (where’s Osama?).
On the pitch were Bobby Moore, George Best, Rodney Marsh and a few other waifs and strays of lower league standard from the old Division 1. I was immediately hooked, lined and sinkered. I went to every game I could just to see the useless Marsh trip over his own toes. Fat, drunk and wasted, Best was still as fine a footballer as you could ever wish to see – watching him show the ball to Ray Lewington (Chelsea) and making him fall over in utter confusion just through mysterious hip and foot movements without even touching the ball was priceless.
Moore was even better. He made the art of defending and passing the ball from the back look so easy. He was slow, but opponents rarely got past him. Moore was years ahead of his time.
There followed many years of happy times at the Cottage. I eventually tired of the bloke with the loud voice and the other negative fans in the Stevenage Road stand. I found their close-up assassinations of our team’s players too debilitating for my taste, so I emigrated to the Hammersmith stand where there was space enough to wander at will.
I moved to New York sixteen years ago (Ed. now twenty), but the internet age drew me back to the club in time for the Al Fayed era, although my support has only been from a distance.
So, why am I writing such drivel to people whom I have never met? What are we all doing wasting time in a glorified teenage online chat-room? In my case, I don’t really know, but I can say with a fair degree of certainty that the people who support Fulham don’t do it because they want an easy life. They obviously don’t follow the crowd. They haven’t taken the easy route of supporting a big winning team. I don’t particularly understand this “Fulhamish” thing, but following Fulham is definitely for stalwart individuals who like to stand up for the underdog with style, self-deprecating humour and unabashed loyalty.
This shines through on the messageboard. It’s a great, egalitarian slice of life – a credit to London, to the club and to its participants.
That’s my reason and my excuse – and I’m sticking to it.
SENT @ 10.30am 2/23/06
Not a lot has changed, other than the fact that I've forgotten how to post on the old messageboard, my name is still Joe and I got into the parallel world of the music industry by living the words of the song "I fought the law and the law won."
Back to the present, I train black and white dogs how to herd sheep and chase birds - I earn a crust from living the life of a professional wild goose chaser. Oh yes, I still live far from the green and pleasant land some sixty miles north of New York City.
To add a schizophrenic element to the confessional, I was born and raised in Wales to a Welsh father and an English mother who died when I was two. As a result, my English grandmother exported me to English boarding school two weeks after my seventh birthday to rub out any vestiges of Welshness. I've never looked back since, but I still speak Welsh to three of our dogs that I brought over from the hills of my home country.
I'm wed to a girl from New Malden (29 years now). We have two grown, left-leaning children who live and work in New York City.
Nogood "Duw duw, there's peculiar you are then, isit" Boyo