Author Topic: Good ray lew article  (Read 597 times)

Offline absent cottager

  • Lakey/Dark Room
  • *
  • Posts: 82
Good ray lew article
« on: June 03, 2014, 08:24:49 AM »
On World Cup 2014: England's Ray Lewington savours every step of crazy journey.

With some interesting insights into Fulham over Rays long time with the club to now preparing for a World Cup, and the humility and charm of the Fulham favourite.

Offline Burt

  • Global Moderator
  • Moritz Volz
  • *
  • Posts: 17073
  • The future's bright, the future's white.
Re: Good ray lew article
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2014, 10:07:59 AM »
Ray Lewington jetted into Miami on Sunday en route to the World Cup finals, reminding himself how far he has come since serving cornflakes to Andy Cole on the Fulham team bus on away trips to Preston North End in the old Third Division.

Roy Hodgson’s trusted assistant has been shaped by football at many levels, playing as a midfielder under the likes of Eddie McCreadie and Danny Blanchflower at Chelsea, featuring for Vancouver Whitecaps, experiencing a crazy season at Wimbledon under Dario Gradi and Dave Bassett before beginning his long love affair with Fulham, an impoverished club back in the Eighties and Nineties.

Lewington recalls one of the away games as assistant to Don Mackay as if it were yesterday. It was Feb 8, 1992, and the Fulham squad had boarded the bus at 8am for the journey to Deepdale. “We had Andy Cole on loan from Arsenal and we drove to a service station halfway up to Preston, the lads got off and stretched their legs while the staff got cornflakes and toast on the coach. The players got back on the coach, ate the meal and then we were on the way to the game.

“We couldn’t afford anything. When the big industrial washing machines broke, we didn’t have any money to mend them, I was actually taking the kit home. My wife, Anne, was washing the kit. She had to sit in the garden, and make sure no one jumped into our back-garden and pinched one of the shirts from the clothesline. We only had one set of long-sleeved white, one set of short-sleeved white, and one kit of red which was long. Same colours with England now... I’ve come full circle!’’

Lewington’s lowest point at the Cottage came as player-manager in 1987 when David Bulstrode and his Marler Estates were threatening to build on Craven Cottage. “The ground location, as pretty as it is, is its weakness. We were so vulnerable to property developers. I had no inkling of what Bulstrode was trying to do until the day I came back from training and the club secretary, Yvonne Haines, was crying her eyes out. ‘Haven’t you heard? There’s a merger going on. Fulham will not exist any more.’ ’’

The merger was to be with Queens Park Rangers, begetting Fulham Park Rangers. “We were really close to going out of business. We actually had ‘the final game’ twice. One was Walsall [in 1987] when we had one more week before we disappeared. The fans came on the pitch with the coffin. Peaceful protest, very Fulham-ish.”

Another protest saw fans of other clubs (including this correspondent) invited to gather in the Hammersmith End, showing solidarity to Fulham and entering the pitch at half-time. “People did have a little bit of affection for Fulham,’’ Lewington said. “It’s a pleasant day out. To suddenly realise the ground could be two blocks of flats next year brought it home.’’

Lewington occasionally recounts such history to England players, particularly tales from his brief stay at Wimbledon. “It was bizarre. There was Dario Gradi, an absolute purist, who didn’t like physical contact during training Monday to Friday, and then you had Dave Bassett. On my first day at training, Dave took the warm-up. We walked until we were out of the view of Dario who used to sit up in the office.

Dave said: ‘OK boys. Scrum.’ I’m thinking: ‘What is this?’ Spoilt little kid from Chelsea. All of a sudden one of the players pushes me in, and they beat me up. Proper punches. They didn’t hold back. On my first trip I got given a Slazenger blue jumper, blue T-shirt and pair of trousers. The height of fashion. We won and on the way back, Dario stupidly said: ‘Now we’ve got someone who can pass the ball we might be a bit better.’ I was thinking: ‘Oh, my God.’ They pinned me down, cut the badge out of the jumper and I had to walk past with my hand over the hole, go in the shop and buy a new one. Wally Downes was the leader, nuts, absolute nuts.’’

Now 57, Lewington loves the game with a passion. That is why he has so much respect for the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Wayne Rooney. “They are players who would play for nothing because they love the game. I said to Roy when we came here that I’d never been at this level. Roy said: ‘This will be easier than doing a club because we’re getting the best.’ They don’t have to prove anything. We’re not getting the wannabes, the ones usually giving you problems. They are the best because they are technically good, and the majority have fantastic attitude.

"Off the field, they look after themselves, and their love of the game shines through.’’ Gerrard embodies that. “He’s tremendous. I’ve never come across anyone like Steve. Steve is almost the go-between the players and us. If Steve comes up and says ‘listen, there might be a little problem’, Roy will listen to Steve and act on it. We don’t question Steve. He’s honest. He does everything for the right reasons. There’s no hidden agenda with Steve. Everything is for the team, saying ‘this will make us better’. No ego. He’s just such a good man.’’

Gerrard works well with Hodgson. So, too, does Lewington, Hodgson’s assistant in Fulham’s remarkable run to the 2010 Europa League final. “When Roy came to the club [in 2007], I witnessed what was virtually a football miracle. I actually saw a team who were going to be relegated on the last day turn into a team that finished seventh the next year and then got to a European final. Roy did it through shape and organisation.’’

Enjoying a strong reputation aboard, Hodgson suffers some scepticism in his native land. “We have an island mentality,’’ Lewington said. “We think it all starts and ends with the Premier League. Roy has an understated manner so perhaps people didn’t really know him. He has a very good CV but at first, people might not have got behind him simply because they didn’t know him. From what I saw, he didn’t get too much of a chance at Liverpool. Then he goes into West Brom and does it again – transforms the club.

“He has the reputation of playing a certain way and of being a bit dour. But the only game where we’ve gone out to be strong and resilient was Ukraine away in the qualifying. They were closing us down from the front so we said: ‘We can’t play out because they are just going to smother us.’ All the other times, we’ve gone out to pass the ball.

“We’ve not played well, sometimes. At the Euros, survival was the main thing. But since the Euros, we are a far better side. Our options going forward are so much better. We are producing players who can unlock the door. They will be given licence to show what they can do. We will be organised but in that final third, it can be ‘hey, express yourselves, go at people’.”

England begin against Italy when humidity will be a problem in Manaus. “I don’t think the conditions are being over-exaggerated but we shouldn’t be scared of them. We can play a ‘normal’ type of game, not a full 100 per cent Premier League-type game but we can still play high tempo. It won’t be slow, slow, slow.”

Lewington wants England to lose their usual tournament inhibitions. “In the past, just as a supporter of England, it’s always been about disappointment.” So the intense preparations have delighted him. “We’ve gone up to a new level for this World Cup. Roy is a stickler for detail, anyway. It has to be perfect. The warm-ups now? We have ‘pre-activation’ [bikes, stretching]. No other team will be better prepared than us. It’s just an amazing operation. Think back to all that cornflakes and toast stuff and it’s a totally different world.

"They [Hodgson and the Football Association] have sat down with all the best brains – not just in football but across sport – and asked: ‘What do you think?’’ Some of these “brains” have travelled with England, men like the sports psychiatrist Steve Peters. “He will go around making sure the players are all together. We do it naturally as coaches and managers.

"You take a mental recording of the players every day in training. You come in and say, as a theoretical example: ‘Ox, he wasn’t quite right today? What’s wrong?’ Roy is a natural communicator, anyway. Steve’s job is to be around the people and just listen, making sure that there are no moans or gripes or things going on behind our backs. We wanted to create a team ethic where we are a little bit closer and we work for each other.’’

Sir Dave Brailsford has had an input, bringing the expertise that inspired British cycling. “They were like Norwich in the Premier League,’’ Lewington said. “They became champions of the world and the Olympics. Obviously, they were good at riding bikes but another thought process went into it.’’

Lewington is relishing every moment. “It’s an amazing personal journey. It’s like with the National Anthem, the first time I did it with England, I surprised myself. I’m not emotional but it really got to me. The players will be singing. I love that. Roy says: ‘C’mon boys, don’t be shy. We’ve got something to be proud of here. You’re playing for England. Let’s go out and sing’.”


  • Guest
Re: Good ray lew article
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2014, 01:10:11 PM »
Amazing stuff
Ray and i had a long chat once. I called fulham to buy cup tickets and he was manning the phones at lunch time (he was the manager). I purchased the tickets from him but then asked him about the art of taking corners and why fulham didn't do more with short corners like when we had gale and Ivor.  he had time for me and said he would reconsider what we did but it al;so depended on the talents of the players.
Years later I told him the story (we met in turin for the away game with Juve) and whilst he didn;'t remember the incident, why should he?, he remebered how hard life was for us then, with no money, taking supporters on the team bus to help raise funds.

The man is one of the most decent men in football and deserves all the acclaim and a share in roy's knighthood when england win the world cup in brazil (!).

And to think neither hughes nor jol wanted him, what idiots are they?

Offline JDH101

  • Graham Leggat
  • **
  • Posts: 858
Re: Good ray lew article
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2014, 06:32:45 PM »
Yeah great article and a BRILLIANT Fulham man. I remember him giving the Fulham fans a call to arms on Teletext once we sacked Don MacKay to say get behind the team in a must win game against Rotherham to avoid the drop. I think around 7,000 people turned up that day. We lost 2-1!

Offline filham

  • Moritz Volz
  • ***
  • Posts: 17190
Re: Good ray lew article
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2014, 06:44:01 PM »
Yes, Ray is one of our most loyal and unsung men, we don't really look on him as a legend but over the years he served us so well as player, manager and coach.

Let's hope that England do well in Brazil and that the press look favourably on the efforts of Roy and Ray.

Apprentice to the Maestro

  • Guest
Re: Good ray lew article
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2014, 07:53:24 PM »
One of the club's best servants through thin and our greatest period under Roy.

Really good article. Heartwarming story. Positive points about England's preparation.