Why I Support Fulham.

Why I Support Fulham…..Keith

I have supported Fulham for as long as I can remember, but I guess 50 years would be close. The first Fulham game I attended was March 27, 1959 against Sheffield Wednesday. A neighbour took me. I was too young to go on my own. I was living in Wembley. This was the nearest that I ever lived to the Cottage. It was not too far in miles (I think under 12), but it was at least three different buses, or a bus and a tube ride to get there. I said this was my first Fulham game. All my dad’s family come from north London and were Spurs supporters, so my dad had taken me to watch Spurs a year or so earlier. You could say I turned out to be the black and white sheep of the family. I did eventually convert my dad, but my sister is a lost cause. In those days it was quite legitimate to hold a Fulham and a Chelsea season ticket. They were both in the First Division and never conflicted with home games. I am probably in a minority, but still like to see other London Clubs do well, but not at the expense of Fulham.

I first supported England’s Johnny Haynes. It was only after a while that I realised he played for Fulham and so I followed his career. Keith at the MLS All-Star Game.However, I did some researching into our family history recently and uncovered some interesting facts. Yes you have guessed it. Sir Bazil is my long lost uncle twice removed. I have always wondered just why I chose Fulham. I always thought it was because of Johnny Haynes. None of my family came from there, or so I thought. I was born and lived in North London, but my grandfather, on my mum’s side, was born and lived in Fulham and so were all his brothers and sisters. It was only when he married he moved to Neasden to be near his job on the railway. So it was in my genes all the time. How Fulhamish is that?

Keith at the MLS All-Star Game.

Keith at the MLS All-Star Game.

I remember being at the Cottage for the second biggest gate in Fulham history, 47,290 on March 27 1967, against Manchester United. At the end, as we exited the Cottage at the Hammersmith end, my feet left the ground descending the steps, because of the density of the crowd. I had to hold on tight to my little cousin to prevent him from being swept away. I have also been there at the other extreme, when less than 3,000 attended. In the wilderness years there seem to be a hard core of about 7,000 followers. This used to be in the 20,000’s every week, when I first started going. Our current Premiership status has seen the support increase a lot. Home games are back above 20,000. Of course this also includes away supporters. In the beginning, I used to always stand at the Hammersmith End, down the front, right in front of the 18 yard line. The people around me were other dads with their sons. As a kid, I had lots of superstitions. I wore the same clothes each Saturday, if we won. I walked the same route from Hammersmith station. I used the same entrance and bought from the same programme seller. I later moved into the enclosure, due to very bad weather, liked it and decided to stay. Here there were more families, men and women, sons and daughters. You met the same people every game and you felt that it was not right unless everyone was there. We shared candy, cut up oranges and apples so small, just to make sure no one in close proximity went without. The banter was great. Everyone was a comedian. The quips were priceless. There must have been different ethics, this is London, but it’s hard to remember individuals. They were all Fulham supporters. I do remember one time, Fulham had just scored a last minute winner and in jubilation I turned and hugged the person next to me. I forgot my dad was standing on my other side. Coincidentally, the person I hugged made the same mistake. We both paused, as I looked into this surprised coloured gentleman’s face, quickly we resumed jumping up and down hugging each other. I later moved to St. Albans and travelled with my dad by car about 30 miles. Some of my comrades travelled from Birmingham.

I stayed in the Enclosure until they built the Riverside Stand. I purchased two season tickets and held them right up until 1994, when I moved to Tampa. In between that, I have lived in Swindon (110 miles) and Portsmouth (75 miles), with my wife and son and travelled the respective distances to home games. My wife is a supporter, it was part of the wedding vows, but my son, I lost him to Liverpool. Where did I go wrong? Now and then I get sudden impulses. I purchase a real cheap last minute air ticket and fly into London for the weekend. Distance 4494 miles. Although the game may not always be spectacular, I really enjoy being there. I plan to have more impulses in the future, like this season. I have been privileged to attend functions at the club and believe me, the supporters mixed easily with cloth caps and Rolls Royce’s. People from different worlds, but with the same passion. It must be no surprise to have seen so many show biz people, with a past chairman like Tommy Trinder. Of course Fulham were quite often used in jokes during his act, as well as others. Never in a malicious way, but sometimes quite funny. Fulham supporters have probably got the best sense of humour in the world. We had to, to keep our sanity. The immediate area around the Cottage has not changed that much over years. There are fewer parking spaces in the streets. No more free parking. The old wharves are now luxury apartments. Some roads have no through access, except for emergency vehicles. The main residential area is still the same.

This last ten years has seen a big change in the Club’s financial status. I had hoped that it would bring the success that is long overdue. Definition of success: at least an FA Cup winner’s medal, but maybe a Premiership Champions title and Europe. I am foam at the mouth with anticipation. The truth is I would be happy with anything. I hope Fulham continue to invest in a strong youth policy for the future. I hope we supporters still retain our sense of humour. I would like to see Fulham become more involved with the community that has backed it for so long. As I mentioned earlier, I now live in Tampa. I support a new generation of soccer, the MLS. It believes soccer can’t survive with out the community. It tries to be a benefactor for the community. I hope with success, Fulham can give something back. Unlike some Premiership clubs that don’t need spectators to pay the way, commercialism in the forms of TV rights, advertising, sponsorships and merchandise have replaced supporters. They all have their place and priority, but let’s get it under control. Every time I read about other clubs less fortunate, that may have to close or go into receivership, I think that could have been us. I am very grateful for our change of fortune.

Thank you Mo.

As Mr Trinder use to say ………. “You Lucky People”

One Response

  1. Keith,

    Enjoyed your article and you are right, us Fulham supporters are a breed on our own. We had to be after the years of ups and downs we had to go through. After watching some of the successes in the last couple of years it is hard to believe how frustration life has always been.

    I was raised in Fulham just 200 yards from the ground and my memories of Fulham started when I was 4 years old in 1948 (somewhat foggy!) when my Dad took me to see all the games…yes even the reserves that played every other week. We used to stand in the open at the Putney end and my Dad used to perch me up on those metal barriers that held the supporters up when there was any chance of a goal and the crowd surged forward.

    I have vivid memories of the passing skills of the Maestro and the antics of Tosh Chamberlain, in particular some of the spectacular goals he scored and, of course, the thrills of the local derby with arch rival Chelsea.

    I left the UK in 1969 and have traveled the world and finished up in the USA (Arizona) but have always made sure I watched The Cottagers at every single chance. I thank god for the appearance of the Internet and FoxSportsTV.com which allows me to follow everything in the Premier League. My American wife, who is not a soccer fan, has learned to “clear the decks” on whatever day Fulham is playing. NOTHING gets in the way!

    I have written many times to the club expressing my appreciation when they achieve and I must say I have always received a reply, most recently from Hodgson. He wrote that the players are really interested to know there is an international club of supporters around the world who follow the team. So to all of you out there, take a couple of minutes and drop them a line!

    Thanks for the blog and I will contribute whenever I can.

    Colin Buckingham

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