FoFcast 4 – Looking back to the HULL and Burton games
Dannyboi and Westcliff White were at again and produced their 4th FOFcast
Give a listen here…
Dannyboi and Westcliff White were at again and produced their 4th FOFcast
Give a listen here…
by H.D. Shrimpton (ex Fulham F.C. player and secretary)
During the 1969-70 season Fulham FC published in it’s programme a serialisation of a booklet from a former player and club secretary Mr H.D.Shrimpton entitled “Foundation History of Fulham Football Club”. The first part appeared on December 27th 1969 for the game against Barrow. The editor added this postscript to the serialisation:-
“Mr. E.W. Alexander, who lives in Birmingham yet supports Fulham with an inspiring tenacity, has sent us a copy of a booklet he bought recently. We found it fascinating. It is a great opportunity to set the record right on a number of things, so we will be reproducing parts of it from time to time.
We are not sure of the date but assume it is from before the first (world) war.”
In the spring of 1997 the same booklet was re-published for £1.00 to help with the funding of Fulham 2000 campaign.
I have always wanted to have such an important historical document available for a wider audience and with the advent of the cyber age this is now possible. I managed to trace (thanks to Geoffrey the cabbie on the official message board, and Jenny Gower at Fulham FC) Henry Shrimpton’s grandson, the former Fulham FC director David Shrimpton, whose family still support Fulham, and he very kindly gave me permission to reproduce the booklet exclusively for Friends Of Fulham, TOOFIF and Fulham USA. It must be noted that the writing is in the vernacular of that period, and that although at times the information appears disjointed it is nonetheless enthusiastic and interesting. I have deliberately not changed the wording of the publication in any way, and have left the original programme editors notes from 1970 in italics.
In the original accompanying notes with the series, there was a foreword from G.H.T Shrimpton, CBE., TD. The father of David Shrimpton. “My father published the booklet in 1950 and it is pleasant to learn there is still interest in his account of the origins of the club. My family still takes some pride in its association with Fulham. The record of four brothers playing for it, three of them regularly, seems unlikely to be equalled and is enhanced by the fact that one of them, Tom Shrimpton, captained the first Fulham team to play at Craven Cottage. My father and brother were in the side.
When his employers required my father to reduce his commitment to football, he turned out for Fulham under the name of S.D. Henry. However he was always known locally as ‘Mo’, a name he acquired as a young full back for Fulham against Dartford in an away Cup tie. Fulham who were not expected to win, took a 1 – 0 lead in the second half and thereafter my father put so many clearances in the river that the name of the boatman who was called each time to retrieve it remained with my father until he died in 1956, aged 81.
I was weaned on Fulham football and although I played rugby football for Kent and London Counties and was for fifteen years chairman of the Old Blues R.F.C., I used to return with my father to Craven Cottage when I was injured or the ground too hard for rugby.
Now my early conditioning has re-asserted itself. My sons, fourth generation Fulham supporters, and I rarely miss a first or reserves game there”
David Shrimpton has written a further postscript to accompany this ‘electronic’ serialisation.
“The family connection with Fulham is a genetic defect, but this applies to many long-standing Fulham supporters!
Our family involvement in Fulham goes through four generations. My grandfather, Henry, captained Fulham and claimed to be the first person to kick a football at Craven Cottage when on 10th October 1896 he led the team out to play Minerva, the opening game at the new ground.
Three of his brothers also played for Fulham; he then became Company Secretary, and the registered office of the Club was at the family home in Fulham, so he was well qualified to write the ‘Foundation History of Fulham Football Club’.
My father, George Shrimpton, was a life long supporter and a Vice President, and he and his father took me to my first match in 1949. I became a Director of the Club in 1991, worked with the Muddyman family to rescue the Club, developed the Dream Scheme to find someone seriously rich to take over the Club (instead of the terminal plan to reduce capacity down to 12,000 by building flats on three sides of the ground) and through an unplanned act of fate was responsible for introducing MAF to Fulham – and the rest is history”.
Fulham FC began it’s life 130 years ago this year (2009), and so to commemorate this – we bring you:-
The Fulham Club was founded in 1879 – not 1880 as sometimes published. In its very varied existence it has been faced by many set-backs but has invariably come out on top.
The Club today boasts a neat, compact and comfortable ground on the banks of the Thames at Craven Cottage, and a very loyal and ardent array of followers who, win or lose, continue to give their unstinted support while good, clean honest to goodness football is played.
The real founders of the club were the Rev. Cardwell of St, Andrew’s, Fulham and the Rev. P.S.G. Propert (later Prebendary) of St. Augustine’s Mission, Lillie Road.
The latter in his earlier days at Oxford had been a footballer and a general all-round athlete, but he never played for the club. These two clergymen in their spare time fostered sport among the youngsters of St. Andrews Youth Club.
Football and cricket were their main sports, the cricket section being coached by Mr. W.H. Patterson, one-time captain of Kent County Cricket Club. The football club was known as St. Andrews.
Its ground – not enclosed – was situated in Star Road, Fulham, adjacent to the school, and was commonly known as “The Mud Pond.”
Although it has been stated from time to time that Fulham F.C. started their career at Lillie Road, this is not correct, for one goal backed on to Star Road School wall and, moreover, Lillie Road School was not built until 1893.
The first secretary of the club was Mr.Tom Norman. Playing colours were at first nondescript, but when the club began to get into its stride, definite colours were decided on, these being light and dark blue quartered jerseys, later changed to shirts in keeping with the then prevailing patterns.”
The goalposts at this time (1893) consisted of two uprights with tape across to act as the crossbar. Although the main basis of the game, the rules and the number of players were the same as today, football was then a very simple sporting affair compared with the vast business organisation, governed by finance, that operates today.
The football enthusiast had to make do with such waste ground as might be available. In the case of the ‘Mud Pond’ the playing area was only some 85 x 65 yards compared with today’s minimum 100 x 80 yards (Editors note: this was written before the First World War. The dimensions in 1970 are – not more than 130 yards or less than 100 in length and not more than 100 yards or less than 50 yards in breadth).
There were no stands, no ‘gates’ financially and literally. If as many as an odd hundred or so turned up to watch, it was considered quite an occasion.
The spectators stood right up to the touchlines, in fact they made the lines, as there was no marking out with whitewash by a mechanical contrivance that looks like a lawnmower, as is neatly and efficiently done today. There were no nets behind the goals. Usually the playing time was half an hour each way – or possibly forty minutes if all concerned had energy enough left. This is easily understood because there was no training, coaching, tactics, elaborate tackling or the other trappings of professionalism. The men played football for the simple and very good reason that they liked football.
They played it when and where they could in spare time, usually Saturday afternoons, for no other reason than that they enjoyed it. They turned out in what clothes they could lay their hands on at the moment; some wore caps, some played in long trousers and some wore knickerbockers.
The game itself might be described as a rough and tumble sport with lots of mud, almost no holds barred, plenty of hefty tackling and shoulder charging. There were two umpires, one in each half of the field. Perhaps after all, ‘those were the days.’ Special football boots were not worn by players in the class of the St. Andrew’s Club at this period. Usually any old boots served the purpose, but to avoid slipping, bars of leather were nailed across the soles and the heels.
Studs were not brought into use until after pukka football boots were generally adopted. Then several members of the Club had their boots made to measure by a local bootmaker for 12s. per pair. (2)
In the early days there was no such luxury as a dressing room. The players donned their kit at home and shed their outer gear on the ground to be taken care of by friends manning the touchline. After the game the players dragged their weary way homewards – typical ‘muddy oafs’. Washing accommodation too was of limited character. Even for a few years after the migration to Craven Cottage the sole provision consisted of family-type zinc bowls placed on a bench outside the dressing room. Stripped to the waist, players found it far from pleasant scraping the grime off in bitter wintry weather.
After a few years of existence the club found private accommodation at the old Ranelagh Club, under Putney Bridge Railway arch, where the present Ranelagh Gardens are situated. The dressing rooms were at the ‘Eight Bells’, (3) Fulham High Street, and the Club name was changed from Fulham St. Andrew’s to avoid confusion with other London clubs called simply St. Andrew’s.
Jack Howland a big, jovial fellow of some two hundred pounds or so-was the skipper of the team. When the Putney Bridge ground was required for building purposes, the Club became more or less a wandering side. For two years it fought out its matches on Eelbrook Common, Putney Lower Common and Roskell’s field situated in Parsons Green Lane. During games on the last named site players had to keep their eyes skinned as a tree stood in magnificent isolation in one corner of the pitch.
It has been stated in other accounts of the Clubs history that it rented a ground from Captain James in Halford Road. This is entirely erroneous. That ground was once occupied by Stanley F.C. – strong opponents of Fulham F.C. in all competitive football.
Eventually the club migrated to Barn Elms, Ranelagh, Barnes. Dressing accommodation was at the ‘Red Lion’ public house, Castelnau. (At the time it was the usual practice for clubs not boasting accommodation of their own to change in public houses.) It was on the Barn Elms ground that wooden crossbars for the goals were first used.
While playing at the Barnes the Club had a fair run of success, and by now had got together a loyal band of supporters. Among these was Mr. Teddy Fox, well-known local sportsman who was, very conveniently, mine host at the ‘Half Moon’ public house, Putney. Incidentally this hostelry was opposite to the playing ground. Fox, by his great enthusiasm and kindly interest in the Club, was instrumental in the move is seasons 1889-90 to the ‘Half Moon’ ground behind the boathouses at Putney.
At this time, the number of supporters began rapidly to increase, mustering in hundreds. The most enthusiastic followers and supporters displayed a card stuck in the bands of their bowlers or pinned on their caps bearing the legend ‘PLAY UP FULHAM’. The presence of ladies at matches was quite a rare sight. Perhaps one or two girlfriends of players would put in an appearance. As time went on however, the number of the fair sex attending games rapidly increased, and this eventually called forth the comment in the Press that ‘ladies again graced the match’.
At the present day it is common to see a large feminine attendance, and the Fulham Supporters’ Club testifies to the great appeal the game now has for the ladies by the large number on its membership roll. It is interesting to recall that in 1894 a ladies’ football club was formed in North London and played on the ground of Crouch End F.C.
Returning to the ‘Half Moon’ ground, this consisted of two pitches and was shared with the famous ‘Wasps’ Rugby Football Club. This was the period of the special charity matches usually played on a Easter Monday, and called ‘Top Hat’ and ‘Bonnet’. For these occasions one side turned out in top hats and working clothes and the other in bonnets and skirts, presumably borrowed from their wives and sweethearts. Whether the bonnets and skirts were ever returned to their rightful owners the records do not show.
Charges for admission to games were not instituted until the ‘Half Moon’ ground was tenanted, when the nominal sum of three pence (4) was the amount demanded. With the advent of the Craven Cottage ground, the admission charge was raised to sixpence. With an extra three pence for the enclosure.
By 1890 the Club was beginning to force itself into the public eye, so much so that Press notices were given. The colours were again changed, becoming one-inch black and white vertical striped shirt with blue knickers. (5) Under the able secretaryship of Mr. Arthur Newport, an ex-student of St Marks College, the dark side, and a master at Halford Road School, who assisted the team at centre-half, the club started about the business of becoming a premier club of London.
The name of Fulham St Andrew’s was dropped. And the club became Fulham F.C.
It was on the ‘Half Moon’ ground also that the goal nets were used for the first time. Fulham became holders (1890) of the ‘West London Observer’ Football Challenge Cup – a beautiful trophy put up for local competition by the proprietors of the paper. The final result was a win against Stanley F.C. by five goals to two. Each member of the winning team received a souvenir medal of very handsome design.
Season 1892 saw Fulham take another upward step when they entered for the London Senior and Middlesex Senior Cups, but, although playing with conspicuous success, they failed to win another competition. This season saw the West London League formed, its members being Fulham, West End, Kildare, Queens Park Rangers, Stanley, Grove House, Paddington, Hounslow, Southall and St. Johns College.
At Easter Fulham embarked on their first tour of the West Country. The first game – against Weymouth – resulted in a goalless draw. The second game was a big test as the opponents were the Dorset representative team. Although Fulham put up a good fight they lost by two goals to one. However, they wound up the tour in triumphant style when they defeated Yeovil by three goals to one. A special item of interest in the game was the grand play at back of the Rev. Horsham of Yeovil.
During this season Fulham became champions of the West London League – certainly a praiseworthy feat when one remembers the opposition they were called upon to meet. J. May who played some wonderful games in goal, was at this time skipper of the team. Other members being T. Shrimpton, The Rev. G.M.Hall (an Old Blue of St. John’s Church, Walham Green), Pearce, Jackson, Blight, Wilkins, Draper, Sermon, King and Carter.
In 1893 Fulham again gave a good account of themselves without winning either of the cups for which they entered. In the London Senior Competition they disposed of Caledonian Athletic (now London Caledonians of the Isthmian League), but their career in this competition was cut short when they met the Royal Ordnance Factories F.C. (now the famous Arsenal F.C.) and lost by the odd goal.
It was during this season that the controversy arose with reference to a Fulham player named Payne who was alleged to have been lured away to play for the Spurs for the consideration of a pair of football boots.
Quite recently a London weekly sports paper published a picture of Ernie Payne stating that he was the first professional footballer and was loaned to Fulham by the Spurs. Both these statements are incorrect, for Payne, though suspended for a month, never became a professional and far from being the first ‘pro’, his playing days were some twenty years after the general adoption of professional football. Furthermore he was not loaned to Fulham, but was ‘poached’ by the Spurs from Fulham. It was also stated recently in the London daily press that this case resulted in both the Spurs and Fulham becoming professional.
Actually only Tottenham turned professional. Fulham, it was seen, did not take this step until later in season 1900-01.
After the period at the ‘Half Moon’ ground, the next important move by Fulham was to Craven Cottage in 1896. The colours were again changed, this time to shirts with red bodies, white sleeves and collars as now worn by Arsenal F.C. At this time the Craven Cottage house and ground were in a very dilapidated state (*), the grounds were all ups and downs, covered with uncared-for trees and shrubs, and dotted with lakes and mud left by high tide floods.
Members of the committee and supporters all put their shoulders to the wheel, and everyone concerned showed great enthusiasm and keenness in efforts to assure a really good home for the club. Harold Wilkins – also a master at Halford Road School – was the secretary, and this player of earlier days had a great hand in developing the Club. The following is an extract from a local paper of September 12th; 1896:
‘ But while the Stanley F.C. are seeking fresh fields and pastures new, the Fulham Football Club have been making extensive arrangements in order to meet the requirements of the sporting section of the community. Their efforts in providing such a magnificent ground as that which is now being prepared at Craven Cottage, Crabtree Lane, deserves to meet with extensive patronage. The new ground, which will be ready for opening in about three weeks time, is in the form of a vast amphitheatre, and is capable of accommodating some 20,000 persons; it is in fact, almost a replica of the famous arena at Crystal Palace.
No expense has been spared by the committee who are now considering plans for the erection of a grandstand and pavilion. A track is to be prepared outside the turf, and its possibilities will be about four laps to the mile. The club hopes to make the ground a centre of athletic sports generally. It is a boon, the need of which has been long and sorely felt in Fulham. The Club this season has entered for the English Cup, London League, London and Middlesex Senior Cups, besides having arranged a capital programme of what may be called private fixtures.
The fact that the organisation has become possessed of the new ground has already given it a splendid impetus in its favour, for 40 new members have joined since the commencement of the year, bringing its total to about 250. Mr Hayes Fisher, M.P. for Fulham, is the patron, and Mt. T.W. Shrimpton, the captain.’
Mr. Arthur Thomas, the honorary treasurer, and Mr. Arthur Wilson, a member of the committee, also put in splendid work for the Club at the time. The circumstances in which the Craven Cottage ground was obtained were these: it was the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and leased to Mr. Tod Heatley. From the latter, Fulham F.C. obtained tenancy on the ‘half gate’ principle, that is to say, half of the gate money was paid to the landlord as rent. In after years, other possession arrangements were made.
On obtaining the ground the then Fulham committee found themselves faced with the task of filling in the creek which led from the Thames, and felling the vast number of trees on the estate. This work was done by contract, and a local firm was given the job of raising the ground some six feet above the high water level and completing it as a playing pitch with a Cumberland turf surface.
The dressing rooms, which comprised substantial wooden buildings, were made and erected by members of the committee and honorary members in their spare time, supervised by Mr Harry Coleman, also an old player and committee man. There were two team dressing rooms and one for officials, in addition to a members’ room with fully licensed canteen.
The Spectators’ bank was first raised by road sweepings supplied by the Fulham Borough Council, who paid the Club a “shooting” fee per load. The contractor was at this time removing material from the Shepherd’s Bush Bank Tube working, from where it was dumped at Craven Cottage to meet the required level and to complete the slopes.
The playing pitch was near completion when difference of opinion arose between Club and the contractors resulting in legal proceedings. To meet the expenses of these, a public meeting of the Clubs’ supporters was held and the money guaranteed by various friends.
One outstanding contributor was the late Mr. W. Pullen of the Richmond Hotel, West Brompton, who generously lent £120 free of interest: the Club won it’s case, and another meeting was convened to return the various sums of money to the many subscribers. This took place at the Richmond Hotel, when an illuminated address was presented to Mr. Pullen for his great kindness in lending the said sum.
The first game on the new ground was Fulham Reserves versus St. Mary’s Recreation. The match was well supported, and the Fulham Reserves won a very close game by the odd goal. The Club had a successful season in the newly-formed London League and the gates of between 4,000 and 5,000 were quite a common thing at First Team games.
The following is the side that represented the Club in many of their Cup and League fixtures in their first season at the Cottage: J. May; T.W. Shrimpton, H. Shrimpton; Pearce, Jackson, Churchill; J. Shrimpton, Witheridge, Bennett, Grimmond and Robertson. It will be seen that there were no fewer than three Shrimpton brothers in this eleven, while Jim Shrimpton, who was captain of the Swan Brewery Club (commonly known as “The Bungs”) assisted the Club on many occasions. Subject to any other claims, for four brothers to turn out for one team seems to be a record.
It may be another record that each of these four brothers served as the Club’s secretary during their membership, and the elder brother, Tom was captain of the Club for many years.
There were many “Bands of Brothers” who did yeoman service for the Club before professionalism was adopted, but more of that later.
When the club gave up the tenancy of the Ranelagh Club’s old ground at Putney Bridge, dissension arose among the members, and several of the First Eleven threw in their hands and formed a new club under the name of “Colton F.C” with headquarters at the “Colton Arms”, West Fulham; but this club had a very short existence.
The members who did stick to the old colours were principally second team players. They continued to carry the Club’s programme and re-organise themselves to suit the circumstances. The club then had no regular or settled playing pitch or accommodation, and prior to going to Barn Elms, the committee made their headquarters in Haldane Road at the home of the Shrimpton brothers, and thus it remained for a number of years.
Here it would seem proper to set down some particulars of the original Craven Cottage. The Cottage was far from being the humble abode the name would suggest. Indeed, it was a superb but perhaps a little pretentious residence full of historical interest, and stood in magnificent grounds.
For some years before the destruction by fire in 1888, the house and estate were under the care of Mr. Emmett, an ex-policeman of Walham Green, and while he was on holiday, the house met it’s doom by fire and the shell only of this once splendid residence remained. As bad luck would have it, the house was not insured. Following 1888 and during the time that Billy Reader of Fulham was the 9-stone Champion of the World, the site became the scene of many prize fights.
Built in 1780 by William, 6th Baron Craven, Craven Cottage was owned by various persons until 1834; when it was purchased by Charles King, a famous money-lender known among his associates and society of the time as “Jew King.” During King’s ownership of Craven Cottage it became a popular resort for the world of fashion.
In 1839, the Cottage became the house of Edward Earle Bulwer-Lytton (Lord Lytton), the distinguished novelist, orator and statesman, and it was here he composed several of his famous works, including “Night and Morning”, “The Last of the Barons” and “The New Simon”. It is said that he also wrote “The Last Days of Pompeii” at the Cottage.
In 1846 Sir Ralph Howard became the owner, and Craven Cottage continued to be the rendezvous of high society. Included among it’s many visitors and guests were the Prince of Wales (Edward VII), the French Emperor and Empress, Prince Louis Napoleon, Sheridan, Disraeli, etc.
In 1868, W. Bentley Woodbury, an American, took Craven Cottage for conversion into a pleasure resort, but the experiment failed. Mr. Tod Heatley eventually purchased the property, and from 1872 the estate was tenantless until May8th, 1888 when the Cottage, as already stated, was entirely destroyed by fire.
North of Craven Cottage was another famous mansion and estate named Rosebank, and between Rosebank and Craven Cottage, adjoining the latter, was the establishment called Rowberry Mead with its famous osier beds owned by the Waldrens, a very old Fulham family. The osiers were cut and dried and used in the Waldrens’ basket-making industry in Fulham.
Opposite the Cottage, on the east side of the estate, was situated Millshot Farm, owned by William Bagley, a descendant of one of the oldest Fulham families.
Lord Lytton, during his tenancy of the Cottage, paid the Bagley family £50 a year for the right of a private road through the Farm, from his house to Fulham Palace Road.
At the south end of the Cottage grounds were the famous Craven Steps. These Steps were at the end of an elevated terrace and concrete wall which ran the full length of the grounds along the riverside. An inlet from the Thames ran into the estate at the extreme south end adjoining the Steps.
On each side of this inlet were rows of beautiful old trees with tremendous trunks. The Craven Steps and concrete wall became famous as landmarks for the ‘Varsity and other famous boat races. The concrete wall was to prevent flooding of the estate from high tides, but in spite of this precaution there were time when the grounds became a vast lake. According to some accounts the purpose of the inlet was to enable visitors to draw close into the house in their State barges at high tides.
Adjoining Craven Cottage at the south end beyond the said inlet was the meadow named “Palesmead” which extended to Bishop’s Palace drive. This meadow was afterwards known as “Fielders Piece” and leased by a butcher of this name whose business was in High Street, Fulham, and who used the meadow for cattle grazing.
“Fielders Piece” was the home of the Old Sherbrookians F.C. just prior to Fulham F.C.’s occupation of the Cottage.
There was no Stevenage Road when Craven Cottage became a football ground. From Crabtree Lane, passing between Millshot Farm and the Cottage, was just a cart-wagon track and continuing on from the south end of the latter to Bishop’s Avenue, alongside “Fielders Piece,” was a narrow footpath bordered by beautiful elm trees said to be 200 years old.
It is thought that when the Club took over the estate the house was used as it’s first pavilion, but the decayed remains of the once palatial residence were demolished when the making up of the playing pitch was commenced.
While the estate was derelict, it became the habit of youngsters to bathe from the Steps (boys being what they are) and several learned to swim at this spot. Also many youngsters unfortunately lost their lives. One particular lad, unable to swim, fell into the river at high tide, and a Halford Road schoolboy named Harry Cane, who happened to be playing in a school representative match, heard his cry for help. Rushing across the pitch, Cane dived in and rescued the child. Then he changed his wet clothes and finished the game.
This incident at Craven Steps occurred in Fulham’s early tenancy, Cane, in after years signed for Chelsea F.C.
A peculiarity about the Cottage was that the house had a room with eight doors leading to different parts of the mansion. During the course of laying out the ground a subterranean passage was unearthed which led under the river towards Barnes, and rumour has it that it was used as a convenient way of giving any undesirable person the slip – probably a “get-away” for political reasons.
Also during the work of converting the grounds, a workman suddenly disappeared from view and was found unhurt at the bottom of an old 12 foot well. In excavating he had fallen through the rotten cover of the well no one was aware of.
I now pass on to clubs of the same calibre as Fulham who were either local or in the near neighbourhood.
Perhaps the strongest and keenest opponents were the Stanley F.C., with headquarters at the “Dukes Head” Parsons Green. This club played on the Putney Lower Common and for a time on the Captain James field, Halford Road. Until they were disbanded about 1896 they were a perpetual thorn in the side of the Fulham Club in all their competitions. The last secretary of the club was genial “Dolly” Webb, who today still trundles “a pretty wood” on the local bowling greens.
It was the Stanley Club who gave Fulham F.C. their heaviest defeat by beating them eight goals to nil at Craven Cottage. After Stanley were disbanded, several of their players joined Fulham, notably Wally Read, Albert Maile and Johnny Pask, who did yeoman service for their new club.
The Gas Light and Coke Co. ran a team under the name of Imperial F.C., their home being adjacent to the gas works in Imperial Road. This club ran for some years and were keen opponents of Fulham until they became defunct about 1900. Like Stanley F.C. the Imperial supplied a few good men to strengthen the Fulham Club, and those who were perhaps outstanding were Joe Chell, Sammy Aylott and Jimmy Taylor.
Old St. Mark’s College, Chelsea, were perhaps the strongest club in Fulham before Fulham F.C. became prominent, This club played on the ground of old Beaufort House, North End Road.
The Colton F.C. mentioned previously, had a very short existence. The Salisbury F.C. another club of brief duration, had as their strongest patron that well known local character, Mr Jimmy Squires, the proprietor of the “Salisbury” and the “Red Lion” hotels.
Jimmy Squires will be remembered by many old Fulham supporters as the gentleman who decked out himself and all that was his in Cambridge blue on the occasions of the ‘Varsity Boat Race.
In the nearby districts were the teams of St. Mark’s, St. John’s and St. Mary’s Colleges; members being resident students. Each of these college teams gave excellent assistance to the Fulham Club, especially St. Mary’s, whose members came chiefly from the Midlands or North of England. One who stood out as a great player was Dick Curry, a magnificent back; the same may be said of H. Gamble of St. Mark’s who was a stalwart figure in the Fulham side when they played on Ranelagh Gardens (Putney Bridge) site.
The last of these senior clubs to be mentioned is the Hammersmith Athletic F.C.who, under the astute guidance of Fred Wastey, became a team to demand respect from the rest of the local senior sides.
There were clubs of well-known business houses who played some great games against Fulham. William Whiteley, Ltd., ran a strong team called Kildare F.C.; John Barker, Ltd., had a good side named Argyle F.C.; Harvey Nichols and Co., had a club called the Prairie Rangers, which was of Fulham calibre: Hitchcock Williams and Co., ran the Condor F.C. and there were also business house sides. Of the less well-known clubs, and of junior strength, the most prominent was the Old Sherbrookians F.C. formed of past scholars and masters of Sherbrooke Road School. They had a ground at Wimbledon Park, afterwards moving to Fielders meadow, adjoining Craven Cottage. This club was, in its day, one of the finest junior clubs in London, and when eventually it disbanded through lack of finance, nearly all its players joined Fulham, and forced their way into the first team.
H.E. Jackson, the first secretary of the present Fulham F.C., Ltd and E. Payne, the player who caused the trouble with the Spurs, were amongst the number.
Messrs. Stansfeld and Co., Swan Brewery, Fulham Road, also had a strong medium team under the name of Swan Brewery F.C., otherwise known as “The Bungs.” Their ground was behind the brewery where Fulham Court now stands, and the team was under the captaincy of one of the brothers Shrimpton. It has been published that Fulham F.C. used the brewery ground, but this is not correct. At no period of their career did they do so.
Although unknown to the public, the Fulham Club, after being at Craven Cottage for a short while, were offered the Stamford Bridge ground before the formation of the Chelsea Club.
Just prior to reaching a decision to take the ground a controversy arose with the party concerned and the matter was cried off by the Fulham representatives.
Among the clubs who had regular fixtures with Fulham were those belonging to the Grenadier, Coldstream and Scots Guards Regiments, and games with these teams were always full of hard knocks, and an ample supply of liniment was required after the encounters. Also it must be recorded that several players of the said Regiments came to the aid of Fulham Club from time to time. Names that come to mind of the soldiers who were regular wearers of Fulham’s colours are George Sharran, an ideal inside-forward; Drummer Cox, a perfect centre-forward; and David Lloyd, a calculating and cool member of the Back Division.
Davy was a typical “Tommy” and knew all the answers. It may be surprising to know that the above-mentioned were regular players for Fulham; this will be more readily understood when it is stated that the writer spent many a jovial Sunday morning with one or the other of the battalions usually at Chelsea or Wellington Barracks. These visits, spent in the Sergeants’ Mess, assured Fulham having a full team each Saturday.
Writing of those games with Guards Regiments brings to mind a diminutive player of Fulham named Patsy Harris. Patsy stood about five feet in height and performed surprisingly acrobatic stunts in leaping to head the ball from the tall Guardsmen. Patsy was full of guts and enthusiasm which well made up for his lack of inches.
In the season of 1894-5 Fulham suffered its one and only act of hooliganism from the supporters of an opposing club. This occurred at Brentford after the home team had been beaten one goal to nil in the second round of the London Cup. The winning goal was scored by Alec Frame, perhaps one of the trickiest centre-forwards ever to put on Fulham colours. The press report stated: “Unusual and extraordinary scenes followed the finish of the game. The spectators crowded the referee and pelted the players with offensive refuse.” The author, who played in the match remembers being escorted by the police down Brentford High Street to the dressing rooms which were at one of the “locals.”
Before passing on to those who were the mainstays of the Club throughout the amateur days, it would perhaps be interesting to many of the present-day supporters to mention that the most successful season of those days was the 1897-8 when the team went through and won the London League undefeated after a neck-and-neck struggle with Barnet F.C. The team was composed of the following: A.J. Maile, H.D. Shrimpton, A.E. Jennings, S.J. Aylott, J. Taylor, A. Knight, J.J. Davies, E.A. Freeman, W.G. Ives, J. Pask and W.A. Robertson.
During this season E.A. Freeman scored 69 goals; most were gifts from Billy Ives, centre-forward, who came from Dunstable and who was an adept at making openings.
Two members of this team were Nonconformist Ministers, two ex-members of the Imperial F.C., two ex-Stanley F.C., and one ex-Queens Park Ranger. E.A. Freeman was also associated with Freeman’s Falstaff Cigars, and W.A. Robertson was of Chelsea Table Jellies fame.
After this successful 1897-8 season the Club became members of the more powerful Southern League, again with pronounced success. Eventually they turned professional in 1900, starting with a part-time list of players.
Before going any further, I must make a few remarks concerning those old players and members who were prominent in raising the the Club to its present level. Throughout the years it is notable that there were several “Bands of Brothers” prominent for service with the Club. First there was Jack Howland, first Fulham captain. Jack stood well over six feet, played centre-forward, and was known as “The Ton of Bricks.” A few years later his brother Claude, another six footer, was occupying the back position. Later, Claude became a regular member of the Southampton F.C., but when they lined up in the English Cup Final he was passed over for the famous C.B. Fry. Suffice to say Southampton lost the cup.
The brothers Brum and Wilf Hobson served the club during the early years when the pitch was at Putney Bridge. Brothers Keefe were also with Fulham during this period. Later came the brother King, Jack and Will. The former was known as the “War Horse,” and in the team with these were Ted and Tim Draper. Ted was noted for his burst of high speed down the wing , and Tim for his precise direction of the ball through goal. Will and Abon Sermon were another pair who did great things in their day. The younger brother, Abon, afterwards blossomed out as a well-known local variety artiste. Then there were the brothers Cass who, however, were content to take a minor part in the game. Two other members were the brothers Mugford. Of Billy, the elder, the author still has a vivid memory of him as outside-right and how he would tuck his head into his shoulders and flash down the field just like a greyhound slipping the leash. When he did this there was surely trouble for the opponents.
The brothers Chell (from the Imperial F.C.) came to the Club as class players and maintained their reputation during their playing careers. Jack and Sammy Aylott also came to Fulham from the Imperial F.C. Jack eventually became a well known London referee, and Sammy carried the name into the Fulham undefeated London League side. Johnny Pask and his brother came from Stanley F.C. Johnny was that tricky outside-right of the said London League team. Harry and Fred Spackman joined from Wandsworth F.C. Harry, originally a centre-forward, played back and Fred was on the wing. Micky and Don McKay cannot be left out. They were also originally Stanley F.C. men, but joined Fulham in the latter’s years. Jack Head and his younger brother also came from Wandsworth F.C. Jack played many a champion game in goal after superseding the famous Johnny May.
Then there were Ernie and Percy Payne, both old St. Mark’s boys, who played for the Old Sherbrookians F.C. before joining the Fulham ranks. Ernie the elder was the player already mentioned who became the “bone of contention” between Spurs and Fulham. Percy drifted from Fulham to the Hammersmith F.C. to become a tower of support to the club. Finally, there were Tom and Bob Pollard. Bob was perhaps the better known of the two. He played back, and was no mean concert performer, having a fine baritone voice.
I feel I must write a word of praise for one of the old original players at the time the Club was called St. Andrew’s, Fulham. He was Tubby Carter, the Club’s first outside-right. Tubby was one big bundle of tricks, and throughout my years of connection with the Club never since his days have I seen such a ball dribbler or one who could manipulate the “leather” as Tubby could. In the Tubby Carter period comes the name of Billy Balster who was an all-round athlete, and before taking to Soccer was well known in the Rugger world, being a Kent County player. Billy went to America and played cricket for Chicago against Lord Hawkes’ Gentlemen of England team. He was also a first-class concert artist.
Of prominent members who piloted the Club in its early years to its present standard of success, one of the men who worked really hard both on and off the committee was Mr. Arthur Wilson, who managed the Club in the Southern League. Known to his many friends as “Ockey,” Arthur Wilson, helped many of the players if and when they struck a bad patch. Invariably they were found situations with a well-known firm of builders and decorators of South Kensington.
Another great asset to the Club was Mr. Arthur Thomas who, after his footballing days were over, became a member of the committee and treasurer, working to push the Club forward. He was among those who were prime movers in the purchase of Craven Cottage. To perpetuate his memory the Arthur Thomas Memorial Cup was made, of which both Arthur Wilson and the author were trustees. Present whereabouts of this cup are unknown to either.
Many supporters of today will no doubt remember Tom Walker, the groundsman who joined the Club with his two brothers some few years after its formation, first as trainer and general factotum. For a great number of years he kept his connection. Tom was an ideal trainer and when in middle age was a sprinter of no small ability. Many valuable prizes adorn his home, the result of his success on the cinder path. It has been said that he was one of the few people who knew why Fulham turned professional, but there was no secrecy about this for the reason was wide open news for the public.
There is one name which stands out in the history of the Club throughout all its ups and downs, and it is a great pleasure for the author to put on record the name of J. May, a very gallant gentleman, affectionately known among the members, friends and associates as “Our Johnny.”
One of the original St. Andrew’s Club, he started his playing days as a back and after having the misfortune to break a leg he became goalkeeper, and remained so for many years until after the tenancy of Craven Cottage had been taken over by the Club. What a wonderful goalie Johnny was! After busting his ribs, breaking an arm and collar bone, he would pop up again between the “sticks.” Eventually he retired with what some people called a “broken heart.” This was when he suffered the mortification of eight goals passing him when playing Stanley F.C.
The author recollects that playing against Newbury, Johnny was knocked unconscious when saving from a corner kick. It was thought that he had regained his senses as he played out the game. After the match the Fulham Club were entertained to a high tea and concert to which Johnny contributed his share. Actually he did not regain his senses until the team were in the train on the homeward journey, when he sat up enquiring where he was and how he came to be there. When the Club was taken over by the present company, Johnny, with H. Shrimpton, took over the Club’s canteen, and it was after two years of his connection with this that he passed to the Great Beyond.
As already stated, Fulham adopted professionalism in 1900 when, for financial reasons, a number of prominent sportsmen and public men were invited to take an active interest in the Club. A meeting was held at the “Kings Head,” High Street Fulham. The Chair on this occasion was taken by Mr. J. Hitchcock, and the honorary Club secretary was Mr. Henry Shrimpton. Sitting at this meeting with the members of the Fulham committee were the late Sir H. Norris, Messrs. Allan, John Dean, J. Wilson, J. Hymers, C. Barter, J. Apps, H. Perks and W. Mugford.
As a result of this meeting the Fulham Football and Athletic Co Ltd., came into being, with the consequent liquidation of the old Club’s affairs. Mr. Bertie Jackson, the old centre-halfback, was the first secretary of the newly-formed company, with Mr. Harry Bradshaw as manager.
The subsequent history of Fulham’s professional career – their struggles in the Southern League and their ultimate promotion to the Second Division of the English League, their whole-hearted play while operating in such a high sphere of soccer, and their splendid achievements in reaching the semi-finals of the F.A. Cup in 1908 – is only too well known by the keen followers of West London soccer.
Dannyboi Stan started as an apprentice at Fulham in the mid-late 1950s. Did he ever talk about this part of his career, cleaning first team players boots etc and how he was treated in general at this age?
Darren I think Dad joined the ground staff in 1957, he would have been 16. He always spoke fondly of these times. He was happy to clean the numerous pairs of boots, it was an indoor job which he preferred to sweeping the terraces! He took special pride in getting Johnny’s boots gleaming. His one criticism of Johnny’s statue was that his boots weren’t pristine! He said that the players used to take the mickey out of the apprentices but that it was all in good fun. He lived in digs in Weiss Road just over the Putney Bridge at this time.
Dannyboi Did he ever explain how he got the opportunity to become an apprentice and his journey progressing to the first team. Did he break through quickly?
Darren I’m not 100% sure on this. He was captain of Sussex schoolboys and I’ve heard that he was scouted while playing. Another version is that a Lewes man Mr West recommended him to the club and that resulted in a trial. I’ve also heard that Jim Langley was involved somehow? He got his chance in the team in 1961 when Johnny Haynes was injured. His debut didn’t go well though, Fulham lost 6v1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday! It was not until the 1962/63 season that he got his next chance but from then on he was pretty much a fixture in the team.
Dannyboi I’ve heard many stories that Johnny Haynes was a perfectionist, which caused a few heated rucks in training with team mates. Did your Dad ever talk about his relationship with the maestro and were there any times Stan was on the end of a moan?
Darren The stories are true but Dad never had any problems with Johnny. I think Johnny appreciated Dad’s wholehearted commitment to his team mates. He recognised that Dad always gave 100% He was less forgiving with some of the others!
Dannyboi Obviously making his debut must have been a proud moment, taking this game aside was there a particular game that he spoke of very fondly as his favourite?
Darren Yes, I definitely know the answer to this one. It was when he scored the only goal when Fulham beat Everton who were unbeaten at the time and went on to win the league that year. It was Dad’s first goal.
Dannyboi Who did he regard as the best manager he played for and or who was the hardest to please?
Darren I’m not sure who Dad would regard as the best manager. I know that he liked Beddy and Bill Dodgin. He said that he found Vic Buckingham a bit ‘odd’ at times. Bobby Robson wasn’t in charge long. Wasn’t too keen on Alec Stock as he transfer listed him! Dad spoke very highly of Dave Sexton who was brought in as a coach in the season we miraculously escaped relegation. He said Sexton played a big part in this.
Dannyboi Your Dad is known as the players player because he was the ultimate team player. He wasn’t a big time Charlie, just an honest pro who gave his very best in every game he played and that’s why he’s so popular with the fans. But did a part of your Dad regret not leaving Fulham earlier for a new challenge? Maybe somewhere he would get more recognition and possibly a few caps for England or was he happy how his career panned out?
Darren No, he never regretted not leaving Fulham. He loved Fulham and never wanted to leave. Yes, overall he was very happy with the career he had.
Dannyboi What team and or player did Stan hate playing against and why?
Darren I wouldn’t say that Dad hated playing against any particular team or player. He did tell a good story about Jimmy Greaves though. He had been given the job of man marking Greaves and told that he must follow him everywhere even if it meant going to the toilet with him. [I’ve toned the language down there!] Dad took on this role enthusiastically and Greaves didn’t get a kick for most of the game. Then for a split second he had to leave Greaves to stop another player from bearing down on goal. In that moment the ball was slipped to Greaves and of course he scored! Dad was gutted… He hadn’t given Greaves a kick but he still got the headlines the next morning!
Dannyboi Did Stan ever say how the team reacted to the sudden sale of Alan Mullery?
Darren Not specifically but I know Dad would have been very disappointed as he rated Mullery very highly. His best Fulham midfield three was Haynes/ Mullery/ Brown!
Dannyboi One of our members is interested to know what Stan made of Malcolm MacDonald in his short career with us. Did he ever talk about him as being a big talent?
Darren Again not specifically that I can recall but I know Dad recognised his talent. Said he was a tough nut too! I know that the striker that Dad rated most highly was Allan Clarke.
Dannyboi When the time came for Stan to leave Fulham on loan to Brighton and then sign for Colchester how hard was it to say goodbye to the club? And why did he leave?
Darren It was incredibly hard for Dad to say goodbye to Fulham. He didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t his choice, he was transfer listed. He didn’t enjoy his loan spell at Brighton, he just wanted to play for Fulham.
Dannyboi Who was the most skilful/player he played with and against?
Darren This one I do know, the most skilful player he played with was Rodney Marsh.Most skilful player he played against was either George Best or maybe Eusebio.
Dannyboi Who was the best team he faced?
Darren Difficult to say but the Everton side that Dad scored the winner against were brilliant at that time and then there was the Man Utd side with Best, Charlton and Law et all….
Dannyboi Other than the Maestro, who did he think was the best player he played with at Fulham?
Darren Johnny Haynes was the man for sure but other than him it would be George and Alan Mullery.
Dannyboi Which players was he closest to and why?
Darren I think Freddie Callaghan, Jimmy Conway and Steve Earle too. Dad lived in Burgess Hill and travelled back after games so didn’t do a lot of London socialising! He always described Fulham as a big happy family.
Dannyboi Stan played in every position possible during his career? He must have had a favourite though?
Darren His preference was midfield so that he was in the thick of the action. He was happy to play in any position though as long as he was in that team!
Dannyboi Did he keep in touch with any players and is there anyone he’s still in contact with?
Darren He would see Freddie when we came up to the Cottage for games and he also saw George, Les Barrett and Alan Mulley on similar visits. He had a long chat on the phone with Tony Macedo a while back as well.
Dannyboi What was his mood like when he was at home after Fulham had lost a game?
Darren Mum says that Dad tended to take everything in his stride so didn’t get too dejected after losing. Obviously, happier after a win though!
Dannyboi Did Stan always support Fulham or are your family all supporters because of his time here as a player?
Darren Dad supported Fulham because Johnny Haynes was his favourite player. Myself and my two boys support Fulham because of Dad.
Dannyboi Did you ever get to see your Dad play for Fulham?
Darren Not 100% sure on this, I’d like to think so but Mum can’t remember me going to a game. I was born in 1967 so I was only 5 years old when Dad finished playing for Fulham. I watched him every week when he dropped down to play in non league football.
Dannyboi What was his favourite goal that he scored?
Darren Definitely the Everton winner. It was his first and got him on the back pages of all the newspapers! There was also a headed goal in the FA Cup against West Brom that he enjoyed. (out jumped a giant centre back he said!) Plus he also enjoyed scoring goals against Chelsea and Gordon Banks.
Dannyboi Thank you for giving us your time Darren. Everyone at Friends of Fulham wishes your Dad the very best. It’s not often I will get this opportunity to ask questions about such a popular player from that era and I’m very grateful for all your help.
I’ve designed a couple of new ‘FREE’ Fulham desktop wallpapers for your PC…
these are available in various sizes:
you can find these and others on the Friends of Fulham wallpapers page…
In this FOF’erview Dannyboi speaks to TOOFIF founder David Lloyd, with interviews and editions spanning four decades there is plenty to ask. We hope you enjoy it.
Dannyboi Hi David, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. TOOFIF has become synonymous with the matchday experience at Craven Cottage…
David If by a “synonymous” presence you mean an “interminable” one, then I suppose you’re right! It’s almost 30 years now, which is remarkable as I’m still only, er, 39. Mind you, to be sure of getting to that 30-year mark I could do with a couple of extra helpers on matchdays to help flog the flipping thing! Anyone up for doing so will be handsomely rewarded (ie we do a good line in personal compliments) and you might get a beer voucher, too.
Dannyboi I suppose the best place to start is back in the latter part of 1987. What made you begin the process of creating TOOFIF, leading to Issue One appearing in March 1988?
David When Jimmy Hill returned to the Club in 1987 as FFC Chairman he decided to prune the number of volunteer programme contributors as they each received free entry to matches in return for their labours. I was one of those to be culled, even though I was playing rather than watching football on Saturday afternoons back then so wasn’t in need of tickets. I was also a Supporters’ Club committee member, and, with the long-running ground saga in its relative infancy, the committee were becoming increasingly active. In the wake of the proposed Fulham Park Rangers nightmare someone suggested starting up a fanzine with long-time FFC fan David Preston. I didn’t know what a fanzine was, or even who David P was come to that, but we locked horns and came up with “There’s Only One F In Fulham”. As a courtesy we wrote to the football club telling them of our intentions to “produce a regular, punchy magazine” that, while always supportive of the club, would offer an alternative view to the often bland, enforced PR-speak typically peddled by football clubs up and down the country. We weren’t looking much beyond frank terrace opinions and concerns intermingled with features such as silly names, crazy haircuts and tales of convoluted away trips. The club weren’t keen, which was understandable. But the main thrust of their response was odd: Why don’t we use our undoubted expertise for the benefit of the club? In those days, that could only mean contributing to the club programme, and I’d just been booted off that particular gig! Issue One hit the streets at Aldershot in March 1988.
Dannyboi So, looking back, despite the difficulties the club faced, 1988 ironically turned out to be a good year for Fulham as it’s the year I was born (lol!), as well as the year that brought us TOOFIF for the first time – a proud moment for you, I’m sure. Do you look back at that time and consider it a good or bad time for you bearing in mind the turmoil the club faced?
David As far as longevity goes, all the sensible money would’ve been placed on you – mini-Dan v the fledgling TOOFIF…? No contest, surely! We weren’t looking much beyond 1988. All the more so when David P decided his social life came first, and legged it after Issue 6. As for it being a proud moment when Issue 1 came out, I reckon ‘bewildered’ is a more accurate description.
Dannyboi It can’t be easy starting out – did anyone at the club play a big part in giving you your big break with TOOFIF?
David No. The mag has always been independent of the club.
Dannyboi Did you imagine TOOFIF would go onto be as successful as it has been and did you anticipate the longevity of its success?
David Actually, there was a “big break”. By the late 1980s, Fulham didn’t own Craven Cottage, property developers Cabra Estates did and they were intent on bringing in the bulldozers. The local council stepped in with the aim of securing the ground via a compulsory purchase order (CPO): this called for a government-sponsored public inquiry, arranged for January 1990. In the event, FFC did an 11th-hour deal with Cabra, taking a chunk of money and a three-year lease in return for dropping their support of the CPO. That controversial deal, however, did provide the fledgling TOOFIF with an unexpected bonus: within the small print lay a clause that barred any Fulham FC personnel from commenting on the deal via its own outlets, i.e. the programme and Clubcall. Remember, this was way before the internet, swish club magazines and the wall-to-wall media coverage offered these days. The independently run TOOFIF, though, was free to carry on unhindered and probably made its name in trying to keep the magnificent diehard supporters as fully in the picture as possible with regard to all the goings-on at the time. There was certainly no thought back then of still producing the fanzine in the 21st century – that was about as likely as Fulham playing in the top flight!
Dannyboi You’ve interviewed so many people over the years, so surely at some point something must have gone wrong in typical Fulhamish style?
David Micky Adams was eager to get several messages across to the fans when he took over from Ian Branfoot – not least that, while he was a big fan of his mentor, this was his time, and he was intent on doing things his way, but he needed the fans to be onside – so former club director Dave Gardner suggested he had a chat with the mag. I bought a new mini-tape recorder specially for the occasion and traipsed down to the BBC Sports Ground in Motspur Park to meet our new gaffer. It all went very well and, after rewinding the tape and listening to our opening exchanges, I headed home to transcribe the chat. On doing so, though, it turned out that I’d only taped the opening three or four minutes. “Oh yes, we had a faulty batch,” said the guy from Currys as he gave me a replacement (and chucked the offending machine into a big cardboard box full of other duff ones). Brilliant. I plucked up the courage to call Micky Adams who, while not best pleased, was gracious enough to agree to an action replay the following day after he’d finished taking a training session. It wasn’t an easy walk into the BBC Ground. All the players had been made aware of my cock-up and they made me very aware of it as I walked round the pavilion. “What a muppet!” and “You’re even worse than Ken Myers [who did Clubcall]!” were about the only two printable remarks. Micky Adams, who went on to give a cracking interview, thought the whole squirming episode was hilarious. Even his sidekick Alan Cork was smiling.
Another nightmare scenario came at Gary Brazil’s house in Epsom. He’d taken a load of stick from the terraces and via the mag, and had been invited to give his side of the story. Gary’s missus made us some coffee. “Enjoy a drink and some biscuits first and then I’ll make myself scarce so you can have a talk,” she said helpfully. It was a lovely warm afternoon and the French windows were open. Gary started to relax as we exchanged pleasantries while I was getting ever-more comfortable in their plush cream sofa. What could possibly go wrong? But it wasn’t just a welcome breeze that came in through the open window. No one noticed their cat enter from the garden and sneak behind the sofa. Out of nowhere, it leapt down onto my lap with its claws digging in as it landed. Even Gary Brazil jumped. Not nearly as much as me, though, and certainly not as much as my cup of coffee, which went everywhere. In the realms of how to make friends and influence people it doesn’t rank right up there. In how to disfigure a sofa, though, it was massive bonus points all round. Gary Brazil could hardly stop laughing and was still chuckling when we did the interview. Fair to say, Mrs Brazil wasn’t quite as cheery.
Dannyboi Who’s been your favourite interview for TOOFIF? You can name several if it’s impossible to have just the one.
David Ray Lewington gave a cracking interview in Issue 127 (Jan 2013). Ray has been Mr Fulham throughout TOOFIF’s lifetime (even more so than Simon Morgan), experiencing the monstrous lows at FFC before deservedly revelling in our top-flight success and that glorious European Tour. Lewy was wonderfully forthright in his chat with TOOFIF and was delighted for the staunch Fulham fans who’d stuck with the club during the tough times that they’d been rewarded with the huge upswing in the club’s fortunes. In the very next issue Chris Coleman tried to outdo Ray with a punchy offering of his own. Those two interviews were extremely well received. The two ex-managers of our club may be ‘Little and Large’ as far as stature is concerned, but both are giants in the club’s history. Both have done remarkably well in their careers but have certainly not forgotten their roots. Roy Hodgson, too, was top drawer company, as you’d expect. In fact, it’s been a genuine privilege to share some time with all the TOOFIF interviewees. Which is why Mark Cooper’s never made an appearance!
Dannyboi Is there anyone dead or alive that you haven’t interviewed that you would/ would have liked the opportunity to?
David I had an interview with George Best lined up before he got really ill. Bestie remains a Man Utd legend rather than a Fulham one, but he loved his time at the Cottage and gave plenty of outstanding displays in a Fulham shirt. I met him and Johnny Haynes during the Fulham 2000 business – both were patrons, and were good mates, full of respect for each other’s abilities. A chat with The Maestro would’ve been the ‘biggie’, but it never happened because I never got round to asking him. We celebrated his 70th birthday in the mag and I had hoped to talk to him when he subsequently came down to London (Johnny was based in Edinburgh), but it wasn’t to be. Jean Tigana, though, remains on the hopeful ‘to do’ list.
Dannyboi Football keeps on evolving. The Matchday Programme for all supporters across the country is becoming less and less of a necessity what with internet access everywhere. Have you ever considered going digital with TOOFIF as opposed to the charming paperback edition?
David “TOOFIF: Charming”! Love it. Going digital is an option but I’ve not figured how to make it work. Any advice on that score would be welcome.
Dannyboi Putting TOOFIF to one side for a second, let’s talk about David Lloyd the supporter. For starters why Fulham and when did your adventure begin?
David I was brought up in Wimbledon, near Dundonald Rec, which became my second home. My near neighbour Reg Stockham took me to a reserve game at the Cottage in the mid-’60s when his wife Joan, also a season-ticket holder, couldn’t make it. I was nine or ten and was totally hooked.
Dannyboi As you mention near the beginning, the club was in a bad place around the time TOOFIF was founded. Describe your feelings as a supporter, did you ever feel the unthinkable that our wonderful club would leave the Cottage or fold up completely?
David Things did get very bleak and it got to the point where the possibility of the club folding appeared on the horizon. Jimmy Hill and Bill Muddyman were instrumental in keeping the club afloat, but the Herculean rearguard action taken by the club’s hardcore support was every bit as important. In the ensuing years, so many fans gave their time and expertise freely for the benefit of the club. And we’re still here. And still at Craven Cottage.
Dannyboi Moving on to a more positive front, you’ve seen some wonderful teams, players and managers down the years. I suppose there’s no point asking anyone who’s seen the Maestro play who’s the ‘best’ player you’ve seen in the wonderful white shirt, so instead lets start off with who was your favourite ever player?
David I only saw Johnny Haynes in his twilight years, although his influence and extraordinary passing ability were all-too-evident. So, the best player I’ve seen in a Fulham shirt has to be Louis Saha – lightning fast, skilful, athletic; simply a brilliant striker in a brilliant team. Mousa Dembele was getting close to that mantle with a host of impressive midfield displays before he headed off to Spurs.
Dannyboi Who’s been your favourite manager?
David Roy Hodgson probably edges it from Jean Tigana and Mickey Adams. It took a while – and the Great Escape! – for Hodgson to get it together. It was a joy to see the players improve before our very eyes, individually and collectively and we became very hard to beat under Roy (and Ray!). Okay, it wasn’t all plain sailing as we never really cracked it as far as our top-flight away form was concerned and yet we grew into a team that could take on and beat anyone on our day and we not only consolidated ourselves as an established Premier League club but also got to a major European final. Adams did wonders on a shoestring to drag us upwards from the basement division in 1997, paving the way for Chairman Mo’s involvement, while Tigana’s French revolution had us rubbing our eyes with disbelief at the consistently brilliant displays for much of the 2000-01 campaign.
Dannyboi Thirdly, do you have a favourite match and/or specific moment that stands out for you personally – highs or lows?
David One of the lowest points was the Fulham hierarchy wasting a page in the Fulham programme in accusing me of snitching details of a private meeting chaired by CEO Brian Naysmith to the press (I’ve never done such a thing). It was basically a vicious character assassination. Now, if you run a fanzine you can’t expect to always have things going your way, there are bound to be one or two run-ins if you’re publishing something that’s contrary to the party line. Also, I’m not daft (believe it or not!); you can’t expect any football club to be overly keen on having to put up with a mag that carries strong opinions on its operations. But I’ve always tried to behave responsibly. And as to that article in the programme, there was never a retraction and certainly no apology – even though it soon became obvious who HAD contacted the paper in question (The Guardian, and not The Independent as suggested by the club). Was that person similarly castigated? No, he was made a director. As a footnote, a few years down the line Naysmith had the cheek to ask for a clutch of free back copies to help with a thesis he was putting together. That request fell into the “You couldn’t make it up” category.
At the other end of the scale, I’ve been fortunate to play in a number of fans’ games on the hallowed turf, even nabbing a goal or two along the way. These were all fantastic encounters, with former FFC players such as Jim Stannard, Simon Morgan, Ara Bedrossian, Jim Hicks and Ray Lewington involved in some of these, plus ex-Northern Ireland player Gerry Armstrong for some reason. Playing against Lewy was a revelation. He never stopped talking – cajoling, encouraging, assisting, coaching, directing; all this with a smile on his face in a low-key game that didn’t matter. The two sides included players of widely varying ages, standards and fitness. But it was a truly uplifting experience as Ray’s input in particular helped to ensure that everyone on the pitch felt involved.
Worst single football experience Fulham-wise was Derby away in 1983. Simply horrible and a cop out by the officials on the day (for ignoring the unfolding unfair circumstances) and then the football authorities for turning a blind eye to the whole fiasco. That game still hasn’t finished. Biggest gradual blow was our relegation from the top flight in 2014. In my view this was wholly avoidable and undid all the fantastic work of so many who not only got us there in the first place but who had transformed ‘little’ Fulham into an established Premier League outfit with a more-than-reasonable European pedigree.
Best Fulham day out was Carlisle away in 1997, complete with congas on (it seemed) every station platform between there and London Euston on the way back. Railway engineering works meant we didn’t get back into the Smoke until the early hours, so I was tired and emotional in more ways than one!
On a general note, it was hard not to get emotional when the transformed Craven Cottage site was unveiled following our two seasons at QPR. We were back!
Dannyboi As you’re someone who is very experienced with asking questions I have an unusual one to ask. I recently had a debate with someone about using the phrases ‘best’ and ‘greatest’ when referring to Fulham goals. So the initial question is do you interpret them as meaning different things and if so, what are…….
-Fulham’s greatest ever goal?
-Fulham’s best ever goal?
-Your favourite ever?
David A quick comparison of two noted Fulham goals backs up that point vividly. John Mitchell’s last-gasp effort against Birmingham in the FA Cup Final replay in April 1975 took us to our only FA Cup Final, but it was as scruffy a goal as anyone has ever scored. The ball just about bobbled over the line in the last minute of extra time so was every bit as dramatic as it was messy. But we didn’t give a damn that it wasn’t a ‘worldie’ (in any case, SuperMitch had scored a belter in the drawn game a few days earlier) – we were too busy celebrating getting to Wembley. Pajtim Kasami’s superlative goal at Crystal Palace in October 2013 was at the other end of the skills scale – a once-in-a-lifetime effort that ultimately counted for nothing. That chest control alone was phenomenal; to then volley the ball so emphatically into the net was the stuff of dreams (and made Steve Sidwell’s belter in the same game look decidedly powderpuff!) and yet the end result became the stuff of nightmares. That 4-1 win did more than anything to paper over the cracks of the crumbling Martin Jol era. The Dutchman was retained for far too long and it was the beginning of the end of our spell in the top flight, no question
In considering those two goals it occurred that we scored two very different goals in a game that did matter. Mick Conroy’s bundled effort at Carlisle in April 1997 brought us back into that ‘must-win’ encounter and was every bit as important as Rod McAree’s wonderfully struck winner.
Other memorable goals that spring to mind are:
* Viv Busby’s mazy dribble against Cardiff in the mid-seventies;
* Alan Mullery’s wonderstrike against Leicester that won BBC’s Goal of the Season in 1974;
* George Best’s majestic effort at Peterborough in September 1976;
* Gordon Davies finding the Putney End net from just in front of the Cottage against Chesterfield in January 1982;
* Roger Brown’s thumping header against Lincoln, May 1982;
* Simon Morgan’s header at Villa Park in January 1999;
* Sean Davis getting that late winner at Blackburn in April 2001 (cue Jean Tigana’s touchline sprint and Souness scowling more than ever!)
* Danny Murphy’s vital headed goal at Portsmouth in May 2008;
* Bobby Zamora’s right-footer against Shakhtar Donetsk, February 2010;
* Brilliant improvisation from Simon Davies to fashion a leveller against Hamburg in April 2010;
* and, for sheer drama, Tom Cairney’s last-gasp strike and ensuing celebrations against Leeds last season.
But you can’t discuss best/great/favourite Fulham goals without highlighting Clint Dempsey’s extraordinary chipped winner against Juventus. That one ticked all the boxes – it was spectacular, audacious, timely, and sealed a phenomenal and unlikely comeback against the mighty Juve. It might even have been a fluke! But who cares, it capped a wonderful night down by the Thames and the European Tour was back on track. Mind you, it would’ve counted for naught but for Dickson Etuhu nicking a precious away goal with that scruffy deflected effort in Turin!
Dannyboi What are your early expectations and predictions for next season?
David The signs and vibes are good as I put this nonsense together. The squad seem committed to not only stay together but to finish what they started last season. We’ll need a couple of astute signings (not least a proficient centre-forward) to bolster what is a decent squad if not strong in depth. We were very lucky last season not to suffer too many injuries, particularly to our middle three, Cairney, McDonald and Johansen, so crucial to our attacking intent. Given how Slavisa Jokanovic got us playing for latter two-thirds of last season, his biggest hindrance might be the great expectations of us lot, especially if we cough and splutter early on. Here’s a tip, Slav: your team’s attacking ways last season were compared to those of the great Jean Tigana squad of 2000-01. Why not calm all our nerves by masterminding a similar start to the campaign? Eleven straight wins should do it! Well, we can dream!
Dannyboi Do you have a FOF account? And if not WHY NOT!!!! Lol
David Yes, of course!
Dannyboi We’re coming to the end of our FOF’erview, So let’s move back towards TOOFIF for a second. Where do you see TOOFIF going in the future? It’s the same age as me so I know the 30th anniversary is coming up in 2018. Are there any special plans to mark the occasion? [I’m assuming I’ll be invited if there’s a big party lol]
David Surely the best way to celebrate 30 years of the mag would be by the club regaining its top-flight status (no pressure, Slav!). As for where I see the mag going in the future, I’d say the nearest paper recycling centre! Frankly, it’s getting harder to produce by the season, mainly because of increased family responsibilities. And, let’s face it, a fanzine should be produced by the vibrant younger generation not an old fart. So let’s see how this season goes. There ARE plans for a book to mark the three decades of the mag. Don’t worry, it definitely won’t be a “Best of…” as that would be an insult to the TOOFIF faithful! More a trawl through the Club’s remarkable highs and lows in that time, but from a fans’ and the fanzine’s perspective.
Dannyboi And finally, I’m afraid it’s a FOF tradition started by my colleague Darren Sonnet (Westcliffe White) to ask…….pie or pasty and which filling?
David Pie. Probably steak and kidney, as I had one last week and it really hit the mark. Incidentally, if you want find out how much a pie weighs, where would you do so? Answer: Somewhere Over The Rainbow. (Sing the first couple of lines…!) Okay, I’ll get my coat…
Dannyboi It’s been a wonderful FOFerview David, thank you so much for giving us your time. TOOFIF is a big part of the matchday experience for our fans and has that personal touch to it thanks to your talent and passion for Fulham, that’s what makes it so special. For further info about TOOFIF, including how to take out a subscription (the mag’s mailed out to addresses worldwide) or to get hold of some back copies, please contact David via firstname.lastname@example.org or message DLTOOFIF on Friends of Fulham.
On behalf of everyone at Friends of Fulham, good luck with the book and with the future of TOOFIF.
westcliff white & Dannyboi recorded their 3rd FoFcast where they discussed several issues, such as the recent results, the new boys, what we think we still need, a bit of a heated debate around formations and looking at some questions sent to them from some of the members of the Friends of Fulham forum.
Have a listen, hopefully you will like what they talk about even though you may not agree with one or both of them.
Through the magic of twitter, Dannyboi was able to get in contact with a true great from the 1980’s, the one and only Robert Wilson. Robert was not only a big part of one of Fulham FC’s most iconic teams under Malcolm MacDonald, he is also a Fulham fan through and through witnessing the highs and lows throughout. He has been a true gent with me over the past couple of weeks and all of us in the Friends of Fulham team really appreciate the time and effort and we cant thank him enough. We hope you enjoy it…
Dannyboi Robert, what was Malcolm MacDonald like as a manager?
Wilson Well, Supermac, what can I can say other than it was a great time for me and many of the lads! He came in on the back of the outgoing Bobby Campbell who I have the upmost respect for as he gave me my debut at 18 away at Blackburn in Jan 1980 in the FA cup tie. My job was to man-mark their player-manager, Howard Kendall, who went on to manage Everton very well but has now sadly passed away.
Malcolm was very good with the lads, liked the banter but had the very good coach Ray Harford (another who sadly passed away and another manager I went on to play for at Luton Town in the first division who I had so much respect for as a fantastic coach.) The training most of the week was taken by Ray. Malcolm was there now and then, it was just a rumour that he only ever turned up on Fridays for our famous 5 a sides which were very competitive and set us for Saturday’s game. Make no mistake about it Malcolm deserves the credit he should get for that team and those 2 years he gave us the confidence to play the way we did and I know the first year was great in that magical night at home v Lincoln getting promoted. Then going into the following season in the second division and as we all know doing so well and going so so close….
Dannyboi Despite not being born until some 5 years later, I know from my Mum & Dad telling me thousands of times what you mean by so so close. So that leads perfectly to the next question. From a players perspective, what was that Derby game like? In particular being kicked by a fan as you went to take a throw in?
Wilson Well the Derby game is still very much in my mind and that of many players and supporters and family members who were all there. If I was honest we should never have been in that situation as we blew many games before that. People talk about the Leicester home game then the bank holiday weekend of the Sheffield Wednesday away and QPR games but hey, we went there with a chance at Derby.
I can remember the build-up was as normal as usual, everyone was as relaxed as they could be. Derby needed to stay up which didn’t help us and once the game started it was a very tense atmosphere. On the day we were not at our most fluent and maybe the nerves got to us but that last 15-20 mins was unreal. I have never played in or seen such scenes like it. I noticed fans were slowly being let out of the penned gates and encroaching around the pitch. I can remember Browny and Galey saying to the ref that this can’t be right but the ref was having none of it. As we all know, it continued and as you say we broke away on the left hand side I had the ball under control heading towards the touchline, probably 4 yards in though and this fan came out and lunged a kick on the side of my arse. Initially I was shocked but as the TV footage shows, I did lose it a bit and headed towards him pointing. By this time the game has been halted. Lew runs over, the ref arrives and really did not know what to do. There was still many minutes left and we all know what happened when the ref blew the whistle some 90 seconds too early. The Derby fans all ran on the pitch. It was very frightening and trying to get towards the tunnel was scary and many including Jeff Hopkins were assaulted. Once there it was mayhem. We were in the changing rooms knowing that our fate was over but Malcom and many Fulham officials were trying to liaise with the ref saying the game was not finished but all to no avail. I went to all the hearings to appeal for a replay as I had been involved in the incident and when the news finally broke that we had no case we were all gutted.
Dannyboi Do you think it should have been replayed and have you ever forgiven Derby for costing us promotion in such a distasteful way?
Wilson As mentioned, I went to all the hearings but deep down I felt we were never going to get the replay. As for Derby, I’ve hated (oops, disliked them!) ever since. I did go back some years later playing for Luton Town and again I did not enjoy a good experience as Mick Harford was sent off after 15 minutes and the gaffer, Ray Harford, sacrificed me as a substitute to put a player on. You can imagine I was not best please!
So it’s a team and set of fans I have no time for.
Dannyboi Who was your room mate when staying in hotels etc. and which players were you closest to in the team?
Wilson My room mate was my best pal while there, Tony Gale, and he was a key figure-head in the team both on and off it. I still to this day keep in contact with him. We had a great team spirit and unlike today there was no cliques, we all stuck together.
Dannyboi Do you still keep in touch with any of your old team mates?
Wilson I still and in the past have kept in touch with a number of the lads, notably Tony Gale, I still speak very regularly with him when he is not on Sky or radio!!
Ray Lewington too, he looked after me with tickets for many years under Roy, both home and away games. As did Mike Kelly, another great guy I admired.
I kept in touch with Sean O’Driscoll and met him many times while he was managing and also while he was at Liverpool with Brendan Rogers.
Ray Houghton was an old next door neighbour of mine in the early days down in Wokingham.
Perry Digweed came to my mum’s 80th in Putney Bridge back in January, along with Galey.
I see Les Strong, the legend, (well – according to him!!) at his bar at homes game. When he invites me in…!
Gordon Davies the same, but not so much now we are not in Premier League as they dropped the bar he was looking after.
I keep in touch with many of the other lads via social media, notably Jim Stannard, Jeff Hopkins and Paul Parker.
Dannyboi Who was the most skillful player you played with?
Wilson Well at Fulham I would have to say George Best and Rodney Marsh! I was 16 and an apprentice in 1977 when they were around and watching them in training was brilliant.
Really again at Fulham I would have to say Ray Houghton. He glided with the ball and could go inside or outside. A really classy player that went on from us to have a fantastic career.
On another note, Ricky Hill at Luton had super skills, and was a joy to play with.
Dannyboi Your second spell was a troubled time at the club, how did the players cope with staying focused?
Wilson Yeah when I returned in 1987 Ray Lew was manager. As I had a bit of a fall-out at Luton he convinced me to come back. Yes it is true what they say second time round is never the same and it was difficult at times, but I still enjoyed it although we were never like the previous year’s team.
Dannyboi What are your memories of Jimmy Hill at the time and how involved was he?
Wilson Jimmy Hill was chairman at the time and although I was club captain (and I don’t think Jimmy agreed with Lew in making me that, I’m not sure why!) I personally did not have much to do with him other than to say hello but I know Lew had some very tough times with him and the board behind the scenes. But that’s football, and the club survived!
Dannyboi How do you think the brilliant 82/83 side would have faired in the Championship last season?
Wilson Danny I feel the side of 82/ 83 would have done well. That’s not taking away from this seasons side who also did well to get themselves in the frame, but I’m biased!
Dannyboi Did you ever consider getting into coaching or management?
Wilson I did not at the time. It was many years later while up in Huddersfield around 1999 my son was training with them in their school of excellence and I came across the the head of their academy, Gerry Murphy, and he invited me to coach the under 12s. I went on to gain my EUFA coaching badges and spent 6 years coaching at various age groups, which I really enjoyed.
In the last 4 years have been coaching at Brighouse Town FC in the Evo-Stick league but again left there the season before last to watch Fulham more, as my son Adam is a mad Fulham fan and wants to watch every game home and away! He managed more home games than me!
Dannyboi We’ve seen with the likes of Jimmy Bullard what a joker can bring to team spirit. Were there any jokers in the team you played in and if so, can you remember anything specific happening like a prank on someone?
Wilson We had a few at Fulham in my time, notably Les Strong, Kevin Lock and Tony Gale. The one that particularly springs to mind (which Strongy will always tell in his mini after speaking role!!) was with Malcolm in a team talk before a game. We had those boards with all the little discs and he would say how we would set up and how they might play as well so Strongy and maybe Galey (don’t quote me on that!) took the sticky bits on the back of them all off and they are on the table as he is starting to present his team picks the first one up puts in the goal keeper area it drops to the floor and we all say “hooray” and laugh he then picks up another to try and (you guessed it) it happened again! “Hooray” was the shout from all the lads, we are now howling with laughter, Malcolm tries one more and yes, hat trick! “Hooray!”. By this time Malcolm is getting a bit mad and I think he just threw the lot in the direction of Strongy!
Dannyboi What was your favourite and/or best goal that you scored for the Whites? Please pick two separate ones if your favourite wasn’t the best goal!
Wilson Best goal has to be Shrewsbury away. Not many Fulham fans would have witnessed this! I think it was in the 1981/82 season. I picked the ball up on the half-way line, I always say that I beat at least 5 players on a mazy run as the keeper came out I dummied him went round him and stroked in to empty net. It was a class goal and I even have Sunday newspaper clippings saying it was as good as Ricky Villa’s cup final goal v Man City. But who out of the fans out there remembers it??
The favourite goal is one I scored up at Newcastle. A great crowd and stadium, and a goal I always enjoyed.
Dannyboi What was it like playing at the Cottage for the first time as a supporter? All fans dream of it but you were lucky enough to do it.
Wilson Well as a kid I grew up with 3 other brothers supporting Chelsea. As a 12 year old I used to go with my dad’s friend to watch West Ham back in 1974 / 75. It was not until I signed school boy forms with Fulham in 1975 as a 14 year old and we had just got to Wembley v West Ham that I really did set my sights on becoming a Fulham player and fan so for it to all come true was a dream and getting a chance so early at 18 I was overwhelmed, as were my mum and dad who followed my career from then onwards. Every time I represented Fulham it was a privilege, and now in later years watching varying teams although its different now, I hope some of the home grown lads feel the same way!
Dannyboi You also played for Millwall, Luton, Huddersfield and Rotherham. How did it feel playing for someone else after leaving your club? And if you had to pick, which of the 4 was the best club to play for?
Wilson I had spells as you say at Millwall, Luton Town, Huddersfield andRotherham.
When I left Fulham in 1985 after the Supermac team started to split up I had a few offers to sign for notably Crystal Palace and Ipswich as well as Millwall! I met George Graham at Heathrow Airport for lunch and they had just got promoted to the 2nd division. I was excited by his plans and I duly signed. I am not going to lie, whilst I scored 12 goals in 36 games, and we had a good season finishing around 8th I think, and we had some great players in John Fashanu and Teddy Sheringham (who played the back end of my one season there), I did not enjoy it at all! I was travelling from Berkshire to Dartford every day, the fans can be great when you are winning and not so good when you are not (I am being kind here in case any Millwall fans read this!!). It was an experience that’s all I will say
Luton Town was a great time on the plastic pitch playing in the 1st division, scoring on my home debut v the legend Peter Shilton for Southampton. Luton had some great players at that time like Steve Foster, Mick Harford, Les Sealey, Ricky Hill, Brian Stein, Peter Nicholas, Mal Donaghy, Danny Wilson, Ashley Grimes… And many more! The social side was…wow…they liked a drink that lot!!
I loved being at Huddersfield and we had a good set of lads and a good manager (Eoin Hand) who I had worked for Republic of Ireland and we had 2 years of just missing out of play offs.
I was only at Rotherham for one season, we got promoted out of the 4th division, it was ok.
Dannyboi Is it more stressful being a player or a supporter of Fulham?
Wilson Definitely as a supporter!! As a player I could always do something about it! As a player there have been more times than others but hey that’s Fulham for you. The season in Europe… Wow, me and Adam came down to every home, travelling 9-hour 500 mile round-trips and the Juventus night will live long into my memory. I could not make any of the away legs that season but we went to Krakow the following season and could not make the final due to the ash cloud and my daughter was getting married on the Friday and she would not let us go in case we could not get back.
Dannyboi Which eleven players and manager make up your favourite team of your time associated with the club?
Wilson Always a hard one this as I played and are friends with lots of the lads but I will be honest
BEST MANAGER MALCOM MACDONALD / RAY HARFORD COACH
KEVIN LOCK / LES STRONG
SEAN O DRISCOLL
PETER O SULLIVAN
Think that will do.
Dannyboi Whats your favourite Fulham goal other than one of your own?
Wilson Tom Cairney this season vs Leeds at the Cottage in the last minute.
Dannyboi Roger Brown’s header at the Putney End vs Lincoln City goes down in our history as one of the clubs most important goals and is accompanied by the most iconic picture as he smokes his cigar. Can you describe the atmosphere for our younger fans and explain your emotions knowing we had achieved promotion for the team you support, again a dream so few have been able to do for real?
Wilson Well what a night that was! I remember the legend rising to power it home. I was just behind him. It was a tense night but those celebrations in the changing room and on the cottage balcony will live with me forever and the after party down at J Arthurs, we all went drinking till 7am in the morning.
Dannyboi Here’s a time machine, you can go back in time and change one moment in the clubs history. Where would you pick and why? That must be a tough question considering the oh so nears as both a player and a supporter?
Wilson I never like to go back but if you pushed me it would have to be the Derby game or that season. I would have loved one crack at the top division with that team because I feel we would have taken it by storm and the type of football we played would have held us in good stead.
Dannyboi And finally we end the FOFerview in style…… pie or pasty (which filling)?
Wilson Pie all day long – filling has to be meat and potato but now all these balti pies are nice in the middle of winter when watching the mighty whites in the baltic north!
Dannyboi Robert I really appreciate you doing this for Friends of Fulham. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions in such detail. That Malcolm MacDonald side remains one of our supporters favourite sides, my Mum and Dad are always talking about it! So I have no doubt this will be an enjoyable read for so many.
Wilson Well I hope I have given all the fans, both old and young, an insight into my playing/supporting times and we look forward to the coming season. I cant wait!
Have you ever wondered how Billy the Badger was created and came to be? Well lucky for us our very own Dannyboi just happens to be a mate of Kyle Jackson, the inspiration behind Billy the Badger, and recently he sat down to have just such a chat.
Dannyboi – What made you a Fulham fan? Did anyone influenced you in becoming a fan?
Kyle – I moved to the UK when I was 8 from South Africa. I didn’t know much about football, and first called myself an Arsenal fan! When I started to play football myself (and wised up), I was a goalkeeper. My mum’s family is Dutch and Van der Sar soon became my favorite player in the national team… So it was Edwin who got me in to Fulham!
Dannyboi – How long have you been supporting the club?
Kyle – I think the first season I could call myself a “real” fan was the 2003/2004 season. My favourite shirt is from that season!
Dannyboi – What has been your most favorite memory from being a Fulham fan?
Kyle – The European games must be up there. That season I was lucky enough to go to Basel, Turin, Hamburg (twice), Belfast, and Twente. Made some amazing memories and some great friends.
Dannyboi – What has been your worst memory from being a Fulham Fan?
Kyle – Obviously getting relegated wasn’t fun and the following couple years didn’t get much better. Those were the 3 seasons I gave up my season ticket as I moved out to Singapore so at least I didn’t experience too much of it. I have to say though, I think my worst memory was when we lost Dembele and Dempsey. We had such great potential that season.
Dannyboi – What led you and inspired you to create Billy tthe Badger?
Kyle – The club had an online competition. At the time, there was a viral video involving dancing badgers, mushrooms and a snake. Back then a friend of mine, who is a Cambridge fan, and I both would put our team shirts on. The team shirts said badger and we would wear them to play in a 6-a-side team called the Cambridge badgers. So, when I saw the competition I thought a badger would work well. So, I sent a picture in of a badger.
Dannyboi – How old were you when you did this?
Kyle – I think I was around 12 years old.
Dannyboi – Were there any other reasons for coming up with a badger, other than your experience in Cambridge?
Klye – When I sent the picture in of the badger, I included a brief reason of why the Fulham mascot should be a badger. Badgers are black and white and are traditionally British just like Fulham. Badgers also live in big families and Fulham is a big family.
Dannyboi – Do you have any drawings or sketches of your original design?
Kyle – Unfortunately I don’t. The club did send me some pictures but that laptop that I had them stored on died many years ago. I should really get in touch with the club and see if they have any in the archive. I also keep meaning to ask if I could have a costume!
Dannyboi – Did you get anything out of creating Billy from the club? An award or a plaque?
Kyle – I got 2 free tickets to see us play against Arsenal. That was my first game! We lost 4-0 in that match and Henry got a standing ovation. I also got a goodie bad that a had keychain, stickers, book, etc. Funny thing is I had to buy my own Billy the Badger toy when they first came out, ha-ha.
Dannyboi – Did the experience of creating Billy have any effect on your future choices for a career? What do you do now for a living?
Kyle – I actually went on to study marketing at university. Then I went on to running pubs where I did do a lot of design work and digital marketing. Since then though I’ve gone into more of a normal office job.
Dannyboi – What is your favorite memory of Billy?
Kyle – I love it when Billy gets into the spot light, especially during games. I remember things like Billy “Attacking” Avram Grant and being sent off for staying on the pitch break-dancing for too long.
Dannyboi – Have you heard of Sir Craven of Cottage and do you know what he looks like? If yes, would you be nervous for Billy if I told you I’ve heard he’s making a comeback.
Kyle Who? ……Just kidding. I’ve heard of and seen Sir Craven (not in the flesh). I wouldn’t be too nervous, he just looked very sun burnt. Didnt Dabs.com have a mascot? Was it a computer? ……now there’s a challenger haha!
Dannyboi – As you mentioned above Billy is not shy of getting into a confrontation like the Avram Grant spat. If given the opportunity to have a boxing match with one of these three, who would he pick? Chelsea’s Stamford the Lion, Brentford’s Buzz Bee or Qpr’s Ian Holloway?
Kyle Well I’m speaking on behalf of my “son”. I’m sure he’d be happy to take them all on. In case there are youngsters reading I won’t go into too much detail on how things would unfold [dannyboi pushing for him to pick one]……oh I guess it has to be Qpr’s Ian Holloway lol.
Dannyboi – What do you think Billy brings to Fulham and its fans?
Kyle – This is my favorite thing; the kids do really seem to love him and lots of friends tell me he is a real favorite of their kids.
FoF would like to think Mr. Kyle Jackson for his time in answering these questions. We would also like to thank Mr. Jackson for having the creativity to come up with our Club’s beloved Billy the Badger.
Sunday 11th May 2008 approx 2am
Couldn’t sleep, the air was muggy. Lying there with the sweat dripping off me as the noise of the Saturday night drunks passed my bedroom window adding to the disturbance. Staring at the ceiling thinking of any excuse as to why this night was proving to be a long unpleasant one.
But deep down I knew why…..of course I knew why! For in just a few hours I was to begin my 15min walk down to Waterloo Station to catch my train to Fratton, a trip I’d planned in my head several times already to ensure that nothing was going wrong today. The OCD worse than ever before as my mums OCD multiplies for the same reasons influencing my own mental state in the days building up to it. I’d never been to Pompey before, not that it mattered much. Reassuring myself that our fate was in our hands for survival thanks to the win against Brimingham last week but at this point…….it was doing little for my nerves.
I eventually dose off but it’s not long before the day begins. I’ve no appetite so I skip breakfast and we head out. There were many fellow supporters on the train and commuters that day would have experienced 3 kinds of Fulham fans. The vocal ones who would sing any song they could think of and really made a day of the occasion, the figgity ones who couldn’t sit still or get comfortable such was the magnitude of what was before us. And the ones like me, quiet. Not really knowing how to feel or what to say. This had never happened to me, I’d only remembered Fulham on the up since the days of Micky Adams. I have a poor attention span at the best of times but today there was no hope of a conversation out of me. My Mum, Dad and little sister chatting away whilst I was there in body yet my head a million miles away.
We go to the pub before the game and do all the usual rituals before any away game. And then it’s time to head to the ground. We walk up the road, houses either side of us. It was a narrow road, at least it was in my head although that could just be my imagination as it felt everything was closing in around me. You could see the ground in front of you, just like walking up Finlay Street to the Cottage I suppose.
At Fratton Park, the away fans walk down what I remember as a bit of an alleyway to the away end. A wall of art with pictures of ex Pompey players from beginning to end. Steve Stone, Linvoy Primus and the very unpopular Dejan Stefanovic to name but a few. I suppose you aren’t really interested in that are you? No neither was I but it was just another excuse not to think about the game as it was now about 2.30pm and kick-off getting closer & closer.
We made it into our seats, about 10 rows back perfectly in line with the top corner to our fans’ right hand side, a view unappreicated at this point but boy would that change……
It’s important for those that weren’t there that day that I make it very clear how hot it was. For every minute we got closer to knowing our fate, the sun seem to blaze over us that bit hotter. I don’t know how the players played 90mins in that heat under that pressure. I suppose we were lucky Portsmouth had bigger things on their mind like the FA cup final. It must have been the hottest day of the year and I remember it that way because I just can’t forget the intensity. This was the most torturing heatwave I’ve ever experienced at a football match.
I remember very little about the game itself. I don’t remember much goal mouth action, it was very much a game that you’d expect in degrees such as this. I didn’t know the Birmingham or Reading scores until half time, they wasn’t spoken of by the people around me, you would have thought no other matches were being played that day…. We all know that it wasn’t good news or was it? I don’t know if I’m alone but my nerves seem to ease once I know things aren’t going our way. I’m at my most nervous when we are hanging on.
The fans throughout were amazing and the atmosphere electric. As Kamara raced through only to be taken down for a free kick to my left hand side of the pitch just inside their half, we knew we had to score a goal. Reading & Birmingham were 4v0 and 4v1 up in their games, we were now desperate to score…….WE HAD TO SCORE!!!!!
It had been a torturing season. A rollercoaster that you queue up for terrified of but are forced on by your kids or friends. The long drawn out wait fearing the worst but doing it anyway. Th anger, you feel upset, tears, stress, sleepless nights, frustration, confusion, acceptance, you don’t care anymore….you do care…..but then comes the worst emotion of them all. The one that causes the most pain in the end………..HOPE! Multiply all those feelings by 100, add in the heat and the fact Reading & Birmingham were home and hosed but helpless if we win and you can almost imagine how it felt being in that seat adjacent to the top corner as Murphy rose highest and guided the ball towards me. I could have caught it if the net wasn’t in the way, I don’t think I would have though. For I had long left my seat and was in the stairwell running down to the front. Those in rows before me with the same idea beat me to it, our heroes in a pile on the pitch as McBride wrestles Murphy to the ground. Us fans piling on top of eachother behind the barrier. Men hugging eachother, crying, overjoyed! It was a minute of my life that will never leave me. I’ve seen the birth of all 4 of my beautiful children. I’m married to the woman of my dreams and although I won’t commit to saying they were inferior experiences, I could describe those feelings. But celebrating that goal……words just can’t describe the feeling. The release of tension just for a few seconds. It was and probably always will be the best moment I will ever have supporting Fulham.
Now comes the worst part, as mentioned above. My nerves eased when I knew Reading and Birminghams results weren’t going our way, almost resigned to the fact we were down. Now they are back, the heart pounding faster in sync with those of all Fulham fans around me. Loud enough to probably drown out the famous Pompey fan with the bell. But I can’t say I heard him that day, I can’t say I remember anything about that last 13 minutes or so.
The sheer joy when the final whistle went. Not as wild as when the goal went in. This was more relief that it was over. A celebration of 9 months of failure that was rescued in the most unlikely circumstances. Defying the odds and players transforming from ars*oles to heroes.
I know some will have the attitude that we have been relegated anyway some years later so it was pointless but it wasn’t. What we went onto achieve after that finishing 7th and getting to Hamburg will go down as the 2 greatest seasons in our history, why? Because on paper it’s a fact. That wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the great escape and whatever happens it’s an era I will cherish forever and tell my Grandkids about just like my Grandad did with me.
On the train home everyone was buzzing. At one point we thought we had got into Europe through the fair play league as Richard Dunne’s red card could have swayed it our way. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way in the end but it didn’t ruin the party back to London.
I read quite often people saying people shouldn’t worry or let Fulham’s poor form affect their daily lives. It’s just a ‘game’. Except it’s not is it? Football for many is much more than that. Fulham goes back in my family to the 40s, I went to my first match when I’d just turned two years old. Fulham is and always will be in my blood. Every club other than the obvious handful at the top are just one bad owner, a couple of relegations or a poor management of finances away from doing what Pompey did or in some cases worse. I can’t imagine life without Fulham, it’s what makes me who I am. It’s what makes me one of you, part of something.
Every fan has a reason for supporting Fulham. Mine was forced on me. I’d supported all my life but it really did feel like I’d come of age at Pompey. I was just turned 18 and something changed that day. I saw Fulham in a different light. I knew it wasn’t just my family tradition, my club…..it is our club and you are my family.
And all this from a supporter. Imagine the small people that nobody gets to meet or know. The ones who work in admin, commercial or in the Canteen. How do they feel knowing their fate lies in the hands of eleven men and a match in Portsmouth. When we were relegated, when all teams are relegated the amount of small people who lose their jobs is saddening. Cuts have to be made and it’s never the players who suffer most. People just doing a job to provide for their families, have done nothing wrong but are helpless as their fate is determined by others failing or not.
So please don’t tell me Football is just a game and don’t dare tell me this is just a football club. It’s not just a football club………..
WE ARE FULHAM!!!!