So the football season is nigh and hope springs eternal.
As a lifelong fan I seldom tire of the prospect of a new campaign and Fulham are often decent with the sun on their backs. August still fills me with a somewhat blind hope but after last season’s dashing displays we have every reason to feel confident. In Slav we trust.
However, hot August openers always take me back to my first full season following Fulham.
For some reason, my Dad initially used to take us into the Putney End, but it only lasted a couple of games. This was mainly due to an experience with a band of Cardiff City fans on the first day of the 1974-75 season.
In the 1970s, the preferred look for lads on the terraces was rolled up jeans, scarves round the wrist and DM boots. Clockwork Orange meets The Bay City Rollers. This had obviously got as far down the M4 as Cardiff as a motley crew of these troglodytes were scattered across the away end, some with painted blue faces that added to my creeping terror.
I was a six year old kid in a David Cassidy t-shirt so didn’t offer much threat but I also had a silk Fulham scarf round my wrist which lead to some snarling on their part.
My old man wasn’t one for confrontation so we shuffled away without further conflict and Fulham were soon on their way to a comfortable 4-0 victory courtesy of two goals apiece from Jimmy Conway (including a rare header) and Viv Busby, who conjured up a goal of such individual brilliance that I was immediately smitten, with the place in my heart cemented through his heroics in the FA Cup later that season.
“When will I see you again” by The Three Degrees rang out in the car on the way home. A quick check of the match day programme revealed it could be as soon as the following Wednesday when Notts County came to town.
These days, I take my kids to the game. Fourth generation whites, block H6 of The Hammersmith End.
Terrace attire is more conservative and Viv Busby has since emigrated to Spain. But I still have the programmes from that season; sepia tinted masterpieces complete with ‘Ken Coton’s Centre Spot’, my FA Cup Final rosette and some very special memories.
Another opening day corker saw the visit of our friends Norwich City in August 2012, and saw us administer an immensely satisfying 5-0 victory. Little did we know that it was very much a false dawn and Fulham would tumble out of the top flight the following season after Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen and Felix Magat failed to steady the rapidly sinking ship.
It appeared the decline was inexorable until our formidable Serb strolled into SW6 and with pride restored we look to return to the promised land.
Fulham Price Boosts
Promotion boost: 10/3
Winner boost: 10/1
Grosvenor Casinos are the official team sponsors for Fulham F.C. for seasons 2017/18 and 2018/19. You can see the Grosvenor-fronted shirt at Craven Cottage for its Premier League premiere this Saturday.