Author Archives: chopper68

Losing with style – the new winning

I am still reading Inverting the Pyramid, the brilliant book about the development of football tactics by Jonathon Wilson. This morning on the way to work I read a passage about the Brazil side of the 1970 World Cup. Considered by many (including me) as the zenith of football ability, combining success with artistry. Wilson makes an excellent point that had Brazil not won the World Cup that year many of their most celebrated moments (Pele’s lob from the halfway line against Czechoslovakia that hit the bar and his dummy to evade Uruguay’s goalie which he followed by missing an open goal) would have been viewed as counter productive extravagances rather than beautiful football.

I continue to be frustrated by so called analysis on British television that rarely tells you anything you couldn’t have seen for yourself and is very much focused on contentious decisions and praising the side that won the game. A player might receive great praise one week because he played a key part in a side that kept a clean sheet but be taken apart the following week because he made one mistake that led to a goal. I understand that winning is important, I know I would not be happy if we lost stylishly EVERY week, but I’d like to see football analysts look beyond the result a little more often.

The great thing about live football is that you see the game you want to see. I’m thoroughly enjoying the current style & panache of Martin Jol’s Fulham. Sunday’s match was the first time I can remember enjoying a game we lost. Early on we were so comfortable it looked like we’d cruise to an easy win and there’d be little need to get excited. Hangeland’s sending off changed the game (a ball winning tackle that ironically brought to mind Bobby Moore’s tackle on Jairzinho in the 1970 World Cup) and wasn’t helped by the fact we’d not long replaced Alex Kacaniclic. Despite the imbalance in numbers we still dominated the first half and to my mind were the best side in the second half too.

Berbatov was supreme throughout, drifting into fabulous positions and picking out passes that perhaps only Johnny Haynes would have been able to see as clearly. Ruiz buzzed about and, though he does have a tendency to give the ball away at bad moments, looked like he was going to be able to unlock the Sunderland defence until his unfortunate injury. Having replaced Ruiz, Petric started like a steam train and even when struggling a little after getting studded whilst scoring, looked threatening for the rest of the game. So many positives throughout the team that I felt the performance outweighed the result.

Even at 3-1 down I felt we had a chance to get a result. I was enthralled to the end and proud that we didn’t try and shut up shop and went for the win. Perhaps at times we were a little naive in defence but I think rather than try and posit blame on individuals we need to understand the disruption caused to the team balance from the loss of a player. Poor old Philippe Senderos got a tonking from some of those people around me. Whilst I’ve not yet been convinced of his abilities myself, he really was on a hiding to nothing and left horribly exposed on several occasions.

Obviously results do matter. If we lost stylishly every week I’d soon tire of it but we’re having a great season so far and I’m excited to see this Fulham side playing. We’ve got a tough few weeks ahead in which we’ll be missing key players. Hopefully this will give the opportunity to some of the squad to show us what they’re capable of. Senderos will almost certainly get a little run. He needs to perform. I’d like to see more of Dejagah and Petric. I’d also like to see what Rodallega could do in a more central role. Whoever plays though I’m sure it’s going to be fun.

Christmas Shopping from Ashwater Press

Christmas is just around the corner so it seems like a good time to remind you all about our good friends at Ashwater Press who have a number of goodies available this year that would be just perfect for your fellow Fulham supporters.
Over to Ashwater …

 

THE ASHWATER 2013 DESK DIARY

               

 

After last year’s sell out in five weeks, and by popular demand, it’s the Ashwater desk diary for 2013 with pictures from Ken Coton ’s archive. Again it’s 128 pages with around 70 black and white and colour pictures and Fulham images, a number never seen before. It’s naturally a functional diary and a quality hardback production (9½ x 6½ inches). The pictures are from across five decades of Ken Coton ’s archive. This year it has even more detailed captions and extra snippets/trivia. It contains a weekly ‘anecdote’ relating to Fulham’s colourful history over the last fifty years and also a foreword from David Hamilton. It costs not much more than an ordinary diary, and remember that it’s not just a diary – it’s a Fulham book as well! Like last year, buy 2 diaries and save 10%. We have held the price at last year’s value (£9.95+postage).

Please note: We are once again printing only a limited number, so please order as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. (15% of the dairies have already been pre-ordered before delivery to us.)

And also for the first time:

THE ASHWATER 2013 WALL CALENDAR

         

 

After many requests, we’re delighted to offer our first ever colour Ashwater wall calendar for 2013. It features Fulham pictures from Ken Coton ‘s archive (some of them never seen before), superbly printed to A4 size. When opened up for hanging, the calendar measures 16½ x 11½ inches (420 x 297mm). Each month has a captioned full-page picture above it, and the calendar runs from January 2013 to January 2014. It is priced at just (£5.95+postage).

As this is a new venture for us, we are printing only a limited number, so please order as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. We like our calendar! We hope you will too …

We are also offering multi-buys this Christmas to help out your spending. The multi-buy options will be for the 2 items above plus this year’s Tales from the Riverbank (Part 3) a brand new book with 224 pages and 125 photographs (many never seen before) relating to two full Fulham seasons under Bill Dodgin in the Seventies ending up in promotion! There is also David Hamilton’s popular book A Fulhamish Tale. Buy the 3 or 4 products together posted to the UK and save 20%. (Saving around £10 and £13 respectively) See website for details.

 

Also, to ‘clear the decks’ for the new books arriving in 2013 and for a great Christmas deal, we will be offering a clearance of the few remaining copies of all other Fulham books; The Johnny HaynesThe Maestro book at over 60% off, and a number of books at just £3.95 (plus postage). There is also a very attractive multi-buy offer on eight other books, buy any three of the eight together posted to the UK for just £18.85 INCLUDING postage. See website for details.

 

We will have copies of the Ashwater desk diary and the Ashwater wall calendar at the home games with Sunderland (18th Nov) and Tottenham (1st December), but please be aware that we can only transport a limited number of ‘collections’ to the Cottage, and we always sell out at the home games – so apologies, but it will be first come, first served. If in doubt, and to be guaranteed whilst the stocks last – please order through the website.

 

To order any of our books (or calendar):

Visit www.ashwaterpress.co.uk

Where you can order using a PAYPAL account

Or using your debit / credit card as a PAYPAL guest

Ashwater can also accept a credit or debit card order by phone.

Telephone us on: 01344 – 624231 (Mon – Fri 9am – 7pm, Sat 9.00am – 1pm)

On the Ashwater website you can also download an order form and pay by cheque, using the post at:

Ashwater Press, 68 Tranmere Road , Whitton, Twickenham, Middlesex. TW2 7JB

For any other information, please e-mail us on ashwaterpress@btinternet.com

Ashwater Press – Fulham books written by Fulham Supporters for Fulham Supporters – Thank you for continuing to support us in 2012.

Chop’s Monday Malaise

There are days when I feel a bit of a fraud writing about football. I don’t spend a lot of time watching games that don’t involved FFC. My awareness of the rest of Premier League only extends as far as what I can glean from Match of the Day highlights and my knowledge of players outside of the UK is appalling. So bad I think even Alan Shearer could give me a run for my money. I’ve been reading “Inverting The Pyramid” and Jonathon Wilson’s excellent prose about tactics and the development of the modern game has drawn my focus to how limited my view of football really is.

To compound this as far as Fulham is concerned, I rarely go to away games and this season, because I’m only sharing a season ticket, I won’t even make all the home games. Then I have the audacity to come on here and write something about a game I’ve only followed via online commentary and the subsequent two minutes and forty seconds of televised highlights.

That said, it seems if I had to miss a game Saturday’s toil against Aston Villa was not a bad one to pick. I could sense the frustration building in Gentlemen Jim’s voice as the game seemed to be destined to end goalless but then up popped Bairdinho with a smart finish to what at first glance appeared to be a well rehearsed set piece. Jim was ecstatic, the crowd sounded loud and I … well I was trying to put a straight face on whilst Mrs Chop explained something important to me about something one of my sons will be doing next weekend. Jol later showed endearing honesty by admitting it was probably one of the worst corners he’d seen and he was relieved Chris Baird had reacted smartly and turned into something useful. Of course, knowing Jol, it might be he just didn’t want to give away one of our secret game plays – though based on our historical poor corner taking ability it was most likely the former.

Collecting three points from this type of game is fantastic. This is a team that’s still getting to grips with each other and inevitably we’re seeing some inconsistent performances, so to take 4 wins out of out first 8 matches is an excellent return. There are also some signs that a team togetherness is starting to form. It seemed everyone on the pitch went over to congratulate Baird and Diarra jumped so high to join the group huddle he landed on Karagounis’ shoulders. The joy on the bench was equally unconstrained and there was a nice moment between Jol & Petric that suggested all is well between them.

Following Alex L’s excellent article on Friday Match of the Day 2 provided us with further proof that our squad is getting on a bit. Based on the weekend’s starting elevens we had the oldest team in the Premier League averaging a little over 31 years (and that didn’t include the 35 year old Karagounis). Despite this I’m not hugely concerned, Jol is well aware he needs to bring in younger players but he has a nice spine of experienced players that will surely make that job easier and has already demonstrated he is not shy in giving youngsters a chance. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy watching Hangeland, Diarra, Berbatov and co. whenever I get the chance.

Five Ages of Ray Lewington

I initially began writing this before Ray left the club to assist Roy Hodgson with the England squad. It’s taken a while, maybe I missed the boat a little in marking his departure but an International break seems like the right time to finally publish it. It started off as a kind of top five (people who know me will understand my preference for that format) and I retained the basic structure but sometime in the writing it morphed into something huge. I hope it’s not telling you too much you already know it’s intended as a tribute to a man who has been a huge part of the club and who I think deserves a bit of credit. Hats off to Ray!

Ray Lewington was, in one form or another, involved with Fulham almost the entire time I’ve supported the club. Joining as a player in the early eighties he moved into coaching before becoming manager during some of our most difficult years. After a break in which he enhanced his coaching and managerial credentials at Crystal Palace, Brentford and Watford he returned to the backroom staff under Chris Coleman and during that post-Sanchez and post-Hodgson periods Ray again stepped in to keep the club stable. Having been offered a “job for life” by Al Fayed in recognition of his efforts he was shifted around various backroom posts. In the end his recent elevation to the England staff is perhaps the best reward for his many years loyal service.

1. Player (1980-1985) – Despite having played 85 times for our less erudite neighbours Ray did not take long to win the Fulham faithful over. Arriving at the end of the 1979-81 season, after a short spell at Wimbledon, he proved himself a willing worker who enabled other players to shine. He was a fiercely competitive midfielder, a consistent performer who rarely took the limelight but always gave his best.

He was too late to prevent Fulham’s slide into relegation but was a mainstay in the young side that Malcolm MacDonald put together and his experience helped us win promotion back to the Second Division in 1982. The ’82-’83 season saw us close to achieving back to back promotions and reaching the top flight for the first time since the late sixties. Lewington was an ever present in the league that season and remained a first team regular as that side was sold off player by player. Ray stayed longer than most but was eventually sold to Sheffield United in July of 1985.

2. Player/Manager (1986-1990) – Less than a year later Ray was back at Fulham. Following relegation to the Third Division, Ray Harford was sacked and the club came under new ownership with dubious intentions. Lewington stepped into the breach and received something of a baptism of fire into the world of management. Early results were mixed and included that famous 10-0 thrashing at Anfield in the League Cup. Eventually it would emerge that the owners Marler Estates intended to capitalise on the value of the land at Craven Cottage by merging the club with QPR and developing flats on the ground. It was a dark period in our history and throughout it Lewington was a stabilising influence. Having flirted with relegation in his first season we steadily improved.

Jimmy Hill led a takeover in 1987 and though we still did not own the ground we had received a stay of execution as a club. Results for Lewington began to improve and in 1989 we achieved our first appearance in an end of season playoff. After a narrow defeat in the first leg at Bristol Rovers we were thumped 4-0 at the cottage. The following season Rovers would win the league whilst Fulham struggled and avoided relegation by a single point.

3. Caretaker Manager (1991,1994) – Alan Dicks took over in the summer of 1990 and Lewington was effectively demoted to first team coach. Dicks benefited from an influx of money from the ongoing ground ownership situation and, according to Dennis Turner in 1995’s “Fulham – The Team” managed the worst playing record in our history with “the most expensively assembled Fulham side ever”. Dicks had made a complete hash of the job and we missed relegation that year by two points and a huge slice of luck (league restructuring meant only three sides went down). Dicks survived through to the following November (despite the regular, and unintentionally hilarious, chants of “Dicks Out!”) but finally lost his job following a 2-0 home defeat to non-league Hayes in the FA Cup.

Ray stepped in as caretaker for the remainder of the year until Don Mackay’s arrival in the New Year. MacKay initially appeared to have turned things around but with nine games to go in the ‘93-94 season Fulham were 17th and in trouble again. A particularly chaotic performance at Leyton Orient saw Jimmy Hill storm into the dressing room at half time and relieve MacKay of his duties. Lewington was given his second opportunity as caretaker manager but could not ignite the required change in form and, despite an enjoyable 2-1 win at Brentford along the way, a 2-1 loss at Swansea saw us relegated to the lowest tier for the first time in our history.

4. Reserve/Assistant Manager (2005-2010) – It was the right thing for Ray to leave the club when he did, a fresh start was needed not just for the club but also for Ray. He had spells at Crystal Palace, Brentford and Watford, all clubs where he began as a coach and ended up in either a caretaker or permanent role as manager. At Watford it seemed he’d done little wrong, achieving consistent mid-table finishes amidst familiar financial difficulties. He returned to the Cottage with Watford for a pre-season friendly in 2004 and received a very warm welcome. The same season, following a run of poor results, he was sacked. At the start of the next season Chris Coleman, perhaps beginning to feel a bit of pressure himself, brought Lew back to the club as Reserve Team Manager.

Following Coleman’s dismissal towards the end of the 2006-07 season Ray stepped into a first team coaching role alongside caretaker manager Lawrie Sanchez. When things imploded for Sanchez it was Ray the club turned to for his third spell as caretaker manager. He kept the ship steady over the Christmas period and, despite a drubbing at Spurs, picked up important points at home to Wigan and away at Birmingham.

When Roy Hodgson arrived he was happy to work with the existing coaching team and Lewington became assistant manager. Ray would make a big contribution to the success we achieved in this period and it must have been incredible for him to be involved with a Fulham side that reached the Europa League final a mere 16 years after he’d seen us drop into the basement division. Once again he was called into action as caretaker manager following Hodgson’s departure to Liverpool. He faced no competitive games during that period but undoubtedly played an important role in maintaining morale and ensuring the team was ready for the start of the season.

5. Various coaching roles (2010 – 2012) – Mark Hughes appointment saw him turn up with a veritable menagerie of assistants and coaches. Despite this, and thanks to Al Fayed’s recognition, Lew remained as a first team coach. However as the season progressed it was clear that Ray wasn’t going to have much of a role on match days and he was eventually dropped from the main coaching team and given the job of leading the club’s Youth Development Program.

One of Maarten Jol’s first acts after replacing Hughes in June 2011 was to reinstate Lewington as First Team Coach in June 2011. Jol said at the time “We started off with him because he’s a main figure here, at this club, he knows everything”. More recently it seems they may have fallen out, yet again Ray was dropped to Reserve Team manager and Billy McKinlay replaced him on the bench.

When Roy requested Lewington to help him with the England job there was a mini tug-of-love. Perhaps that had more to do with Al Fayed feeling slighted by Hodgson than any desire to really hold back Ray but compensation was agreed and Lew now finds himself at the very top of the pile again.

As a player between 1979 and 1990 he made over 270 appearances and scored 24 goals. As a manager he was in charge for over 200 matches in five separate spells during which he achieved 70 wins, 59 draws and 81 loses. He won’t be remembered as one of our most successful but he certainly deserves to be considered one of our most dedicated.

A Fulham legend in any sense of the word.

Chop’s Tuesday Tirade

I’ll be honest. I’m running out of words that begin with “M”. Luckily I’m also out off kilter due to the Sunday kickoff and therefore running late enough to push this to Tuesday and open up a whole new world of words. Possibly I should leave it there but if anyone can think of a better name for this, let’s loosely call it, weekly column, I’m all ears.

I followed the game this week via the new Fulham App which enabled me the joy of listening to Gentleman Jim’s wonderful commentary. Jim manages to find the perfect balance between calm, rational comment and total devotion to the Fulham cause. I’ve always enjoyed listening to him but now I can do so via my phone I think I’ll be making a habit of it.

The game itself seemed a mixed bag. Fulham poor in the first half, Southampton poor in the second and neither team really capitalising on their spells of domination. Both Saints goals looked avoidable and both came from set plays. Turns out we’ve conceded more goals from set plays (six) than any other Premier League team this season. Should we be worried? It’s probably too early to tell but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

I’m finally reading Jonathon Wilson’s excellent “Inverting The Pyramid” so I’m hoping my tatical awareness will be suitably improved in the coming weeks and I’ll be able to identify any defensive weakness. Hangeland & Hughes did not appear to be on top form but I wonder what other factors could cause this to happen. Perhaps the way we have Sidwell & Baird deployed, though I’d have thought they would have helped our cause rather than hinder it. Maybe our carelessness with possession (a side-effect of trying to be more positive in attack) contributed to increased pressure on the defence and more opportunities for error. Maybe we just had a bad day (I’m only on page 40).

I’m not convinced we’ve yet played a game with Jol’s preffered starting eleven. We have certainly been unlucky with injuries, though this may well be a result of the age of the squad (as Rich hinted at on Friday we’ve given some young talent a go but are possibly more reliant than ever on the over-30s in the side). I’m enjoying the football though and when we do get everyone fit I think we could see some truly exciting football.

petric

Chop’s Monday Monologue

My original intention with these Monday posts had been to provide an alternative view of the weekend’s action. That’s quite a tricky thing to do when you’ve written the match report yourself so Today’s post may be a little aimless* (* which isn’t to say they weren’t fairly aimless in the first place).

After Friday’s announcement from Richard I feel I ought to say a few words to thank him for all he achieved with Craven Cottage Newsround & The Fulham Review. We both started blogging about Fulham within a week of each other some 6 years ago. Back then I didn’t really have a clue what blogging was all about but after some false starts it was Richard who encouraged me to keep it going.

CCN was always a little different to the other sources of Fulham discussion and that was entirely down to Richard’s style of writing and his desire to really understand what made football tick. I’ve wondered over the weekend if people will really still want to read CCN without him. A bit like the Velvet Underground when Doug Yule took charge after John Cale, Lou Reed & Sterling Morrison had all left. Time will tell but for now we’re going to give it a go and I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of Richard’s writing in some form or other.

Saturday really didn’t go to plan for me. As mentioned in my match report, I was late arriving which meant not only did I miss our goal but I also failed to be there in time to sell some Fulham reviews. There were some positives though.

1. We held the Premier League champions for over 80 minutes and it took the arrival of several millions of pounds worth of talent from the bench to finally break us down.

2. Petric takes almost as good a penalty as Danny Murphy.

3. Reither is looking like he could be our best right back since Steve Finnan, even though I’m struggling to cope with two full backs in the team with only minor differences in pronounciation. I lost count of the number of times I mistakenly shouted well done Riise when I meant Reither. He’s gonna need a nickname.

4. Schwarzer is still a world class keeper.

5. We don’t play in burgandy.

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Fulham 1 Manchester City 2

A gallant effort but one ultimately doomed to failure. Fulham did their best to resist the attacking fluency of City and for 80 minutes seemed to have succeeded until late changes to both sides saw the current league champions finally find a way past our defence.

I’d love to be able to give you some flowing prose about the opening exchanges in which the Whites were perhaps the stronger side. Unfortunately my arrival at the ground was delayed due to my Dad getting stuck on the M25 and we missed the first 25 minutes. In that time we’d taken the lead after Riise had won a possibly soft penalty that Petric calmly converted. Rodallega had almost collected a Chris Baird through ball, and later done well on the left wing to set up Petric, who scuffed his shot over the bar.

By the time I was in my seat City were beginning to take a greater hold on the game and the chances came thick and fast. Riise looking a little exposed on the left (with Fulham lined up 4-3-3) was struggling to contain Zabaletta and City were retaining the ball better than we could. A goal mouth scramble saw the ball poked towards the net but somehow Schwarzer combined with a bevy of Fulham defenders to stop it from crossing the line. It was a brief respite though as, with two minutes to half time, Tevez fired in a deflected shot that Schwarzer did brilliantly to save but our old nemesis Aguero popped up to poke in the rebound.

The second half struggled to find the same spark of excitement. City dominated possession but rarely looked capable of carving out a clear cut opening. Baird & Sidwell worked hard in the middle to disrupt their attacks, and both fullbacks strove manfully to contain City’s wide men. Tevez departed to a chorus of insults to be replaced by Balotelli and Fulham switched to 4-4-2 as Alex Kacaniklic replaced the fading Petric. We managed glimmers of hope with a couple of counter attacks as the game became stretched. Good work from Kacaniklic seemed to have gone to waste as he ran into a wall of defence but he did find room to cut back a pass and Ruiz fizzed a shot towards goal that force Hart into a prompt save.

Baird signalled to the bench he’d done something to his leg and was replaced with 10 minutes to play by the eagerly anticipated Karagounis. The greek was straight into the fray, disappointly conceeding a free kick in the edge of our box. Thankfully, after some ball placing shenanigans, Balotelli smacked his attempt straight into our wall and the threat was wasted. Luck would not remain on our side though. City’s strength in depth was highlighted further when they introduced Edin Dzeko late on. He scored within a minute after out defence, surely running on vapours by now, failed to clear the ball and his sliced shot flew past Schwarzer into the top corner. A well taken goal but a bitter blow.

IHN SPT 181110-15

Chop’s Monday Mumble

These things are always going to be trickier to write when all I’ve got to go on is 8 minutes of Match of the Day highlights but it would be remiss of me to abandon this project a mere two weeks in. Actually 8 minutes is pretty good coverage for Wigan v Fulham. Mike Whalley is no longer tracking who ends up last on Match of the Day but I’m fairly sure in the five years he did this fixture was the one that appeared most regularly.

There were enough glimpses to suggest the positives from our performance against West Brom had been maintained. Berbatov looked guileful, Duff continued to rampage down the right and the Baird/Sidwell combo looked strong in the middle (to the point of taking down the referee). The standout player for me? Mark Schwarzer. Three top class saves (with his shin when faced one on one with Arouna Kone, at close range from McCarthy then quickly up to put off the follow up and a fingertip touch onto the crossbar from  a late header) that kept us in the game and gave us that all important first away win.

We all know how poor our away form has been since joining the Premier League but it’s not really that much worse than 60% of the league. That said, last years’ tally of four wins was our best since 2005 when  Chris Coleman was getting the best out of the team that Jean Tigana built. In his pre-match conference, Jol discussed hoping to pick up four or five wins on the road this season, which suggests he realises the need to improve and will be more prepared to give it a go on our travels.

This is our best start to a season since 2002 and, despite none of the “big” clubs playing, it was rather nice to see us in the top four places come the end of Saturday fixtures. David Moyes made the very sensible point in his post match interview that you can’t really judge a team until they’ve played 10 games. Mark Lawrenson concured and then promptly wrote off Swansea & Reading’s chances this season. Our next five games see us face Man City, Aston Villa & Everton at the Cottage, whilst travelling to Southampton & Reading. If we could pick up another 8 or 9 points from that set of fixtures I think we could all be very pleased with our start indeed.

So, in summary, a good away win (that should prevent the pundits from banging on about our form until at least December), a first goal for Rodallega (that should boost his confidence) and a fine goalkeeping display (that should confirm why he’s our number one).

Berbatov (c) NickSarebi on Flickr

Chop’s Monday Musings

Saturday was my first chance to see Fulham live this campaign. It was a perfect day to watch football and it turned out to be a perfect game too. It certainly inspired me to do a bit of writing again, and I though I’d have another go at a regular CCN post. A Monday morning alternative view of the weekends events, something a little off the cuff but hopefully something worth reading.

The pre-match talk in my bit of the Hammy End was all about injuries to key players (Ruiz, Petric, Richardson & Diarra all out), excitement over Dimitar Berbatov and concern over how the midfield partnership of Baird & Sidwell would cope.

Berbatov (c) NickSarebi on Flickr

Berbatov oozed class. One of those pinch yourself moments when a player of genuine quality plays at the Cottage. He strolled around the park without appearing to break a sweat yet popped up time and again in the perfect position to contribute to our attack. At times he reminded me of Danny Murphy; gaining those vital yards of space thanks to his speed of thought rather than his speed of foot, cajolling his team mates when they didn’t pick the right choice but encouraging them when they did and, of course, calmly sliding home the penalty that effectively won us the game. He seemed a natural leader, a shining example for those around him. Perhaps this was a one off, the thrill of being a big fish again, a game that gave him room to express himself. We shouldn’t get too carried away but I think I’m going to enjoy watching Mr Berbatov.

I love Saturday afternoon games in the sun. There’s a feeling of optimism in the air helped by my memory suggesting we always win in the sun (I know we don’t really but my brain eliminates the losses as abberations). West Brom played some neat football but were let down by a moment of madness from Peter Odemwingie. With Fulham a goal to the good already the normal concerns about playing against ten men were allayed. When the penalty was converted it felt like the games was won (I’ve seen us thrown away leads before, I’m rarely completely confident but this would have taken a complete disaster to lose and so it proved). Not the most thrilling of second halves then but enough to keep us entertained and the joy of three points in the bag.

Other than King Dimitar it was the youngsters that caught the eye.Kacaniklic had a stormer of a first half causing all sorts of chaos down the left wing and creating both the first two goals. Second half he tailed of a little, perhaps the West Brom defence wised up a little, but he continues to show enormous promise. Rich suggested in his match report that Kasami tried too hard but I enjoyed his late cameo in the game. He charged about like a bull in a china shop but there was a desire to make something happen that I felt revitalised the game just when it needed it. The surge forward that led to the final goal was perhaps not the most elegant piece of football but just as it seemed he’d overcooked it he manage to stab in a left foot shot that caught everyone by surprise and eventually fell to Sidwell. Poor old Rodallega must wonder if he’s ever going to score and I felt for him a bit as he pounded the ground with his hand having seen his header bounce back off the crossbar. Finally a word for Alex Smith, who seems to have been part of our academy/reserve set up for ages. He didn’t get long on pitch but it’s great that Jol is happy to give youth a chance.

Riverbank

Ashwater Press – Tales From the Riverbank part 3

Well, it’s been an age since I posted anything on here and I’m not entirely sure I can remember how to do it. I’ve also left this reminder of Ashwater Press’ new book a little late in the day. They go to press very soon so if you’d like to pre-order and have your name printed in the book as a subscriber you’ll need to do so before THIS Sunday (9th September). There will be a limited number of part three of the Riverbank books printed, so don’t hang around if you want to get a copy (I can highly recommend them from the previous two volumes).

With over 125 photographs (many of these pictures never seen before), this 224-page hardback book is a breathtaking and detailed insight into two more turbulent seasons at Craven Cottage (1969-70 and 1970-71). It’s a time when Fulham start their climb back to respectability. Every game, every goal, all the comings and goings on and off the pitch; every detail relating to life at Fulham FC at that time – well over 100 matches are covered. What’s in this volume? Well …………….

The shock departure of Malcolm Macdonald / Fulham go crazy with eight goals at Halifax Town / Fulham score sixteen goals in just three league games / The Doncaster Rovers thugs come to town / Johnny Haynes gets the Fulham goalscoring record / The Luton Town floodlight failure / George Cohen’s testimonial match / The first round FA Cup knock out at Fourth Division Exeter City / George Cohen takes charge of the juniors / The Bristol Rovers leaflet protest / John Richardson scores one of the goals of the season in a rare Fulham TV appearance / Johnny Haynes’ final Fulham game / Fulham’s two wins in eighteen games, and morale at rock bottom / A great revival and Fulham push on to fifteen league games unbeaten / The Fulham youth, victorious in Düsseldorf / Jimmy Conway and Steve Earle head the league’s goalscoring charts / The departure of Johnny Haynes and the arrival of Jimmy Dunne / Barry Lloyd made captain at twenty-one / The Watney Cup thriller with Derby County / All five forwards score against Bradford City / Rodney Marsh’s first return to the Cottage and Rangers being rattled out of the League Cup / Cup specialists Swindon Town become Fulham’s next League Cup victims / Another fifteen game unbeaten run / Stan Brown’s testimonial match / Dad winning the FA Cup duel of the Dodgins / League Cup quarterfinal heartache at Ashton Gate / The Gillingham pantomime on ice / Three goals in eight minutes at Priestfield / The Fulham champagne promotion party at Bradford City / The Preston North End final letdown / Fulham Town Hall celebrations / The Riverside stand gets the go-ahead. ……………………..phew! That’s just a thumbnail summary.

Just to confirm, we are holding the price at the same level as six years ago, despite increases in printing costs. Regrettably postage is now a bit more, but that aspect is out of our control! Tales from the Riverbank Part 3 will be available early into the new season (early to mid October). It will be possible to collect books from both Ascot and Twickenham and for two games outside the Craven Cottage ground (Aston Villa and Everton games).

We can now definitely confirm that we will be producing an Ashwater Desk Diary for 2013 later this year after the great feedback we received regarding last year’s diary. We will print more this year, as we know many were disappointed that we sold out. We will also be producing an Ashwater Wall Calendar for Christmas as well. We will send out another update in a couple of week’s time when the details are finalised.

To order your copy / copies of Tales from the Riverbank Part 3:

Visit http://www.ashwaterpress.co.uk (Click link)

Where you can pay and subscribe using PAYPAL

Or where you can download an order form and pay by cheque using the post.

For any other information, please E mail: ashwaterpress@btinternet.com

Or telephone: 01344 – 624231