Recently I have been enjoying the discovery of the wonderful www.fulhamfootballprogrammes.co.uk an Illustrated History of Fulham Football Programmes and matches from the club’s formation to the present day. Created by Fulham fan Phil Cowan, it really is a labour of love and features full scanned copies of Programmes from every era of Club’s history.
Initially I thought I might do a top 5 programme covers. This is, after all, how my brain naturally works. However, having realised that every season has some lasting memory for me I decided I might work my way through the years highlighting a particular game that has particular resonance for me.
My first season following the Fulham was 1979-80 and my first ever live match was the home game against Burnley. It was the middle of September and we won 3-1 but the season went downhill thereafter. I love the fairground style font used for the second season in a row to depict the club name. I love the colour and of course the montage of Ken Coton photos. The shot of the top showing the “ghosts” at the back of the Stevenage Road stand. Les Strong battling against an unknown Leicester City player, Tony Gale and (I think) John Lacy in mid-aerial lunge, Peter Kitchen our most expensive purchase at that point with the spikey hair and seventies ‘tache.
I don’t remember a great deal about the game itself other than it being a gorgeous sunny afternoon. Peter Marinello got sent off with the score still 0-0 and the crowd sang “There’s Only One Marinello” for the rest of the game. The referee, Ron Challis (Tonbridge, Kent), took a lot of stick for that decision and I learned a few new words. Despite this we went on to win 3-1 thanks to two goals from Gordon “Ivor” Davies and one from Kevin Lock. Goals, sun, singing, excitement. It’s what football is really all about and why I still have a primal connection with watching it live.
After the game Dad walked me round the ground, under the Eric Miller (Riverside) stand and along the Putney Terrace, to take a look at the famous Craven Cottage. As we were about to head home Peter Marinello came out from the changing rooms, heading for the player’s bar. Someone stopped him to ask about the Old Firm (I didn’t know what that meant then but it sounded quite exciting). Marinello stopped for a chat before heading on his way, every inch the dashing hero. It was Ivor though who had really caught my imagination. It was Ivor who scored the goals that mattered and would continue to do so quite regularly from then on. It was Ivor who always had a cheeky wink or word with the crowd.
I went home very happy, expecting every game to be like that. I soon learned that wasn’t the case. Fulham struggled to maintain consistency and were relegated at the end of the season. I’d been bitten by the bug though and our Saturday afternoons were never quite the same again.