Funny where idle conversations can lead you. Last time my French partner, Suzanne, was in London I was trying to both extol the virtues of - and acknowledge the chequered previous career in England – of Kermorgant. Then on a boat near Charing Cross ahead of the Fulham game I was outlining why I blamed them for at least two of the six relegations I’ve suffered as an Addick (more later). Both streams of thought may, I hope, prove to be fruitful, not least as I’ve found it hard this season to post much other than match reports. This might be pressure of work, but may also relate to the fact that there’s been really nothing to take issue with regarding team formation, selection, tactics, signings (and departures) etc. I don’t profess any understanding of these things in any event, but the spleen venting of recent seasons (very happily) just doesn’t apply.
Taking these in turn, I was telling Suzanne about Yan’s rather unfortunate penalty for Leicester in their Championship play-offs semi-final and - in addition to unearthing a video of the strike (it’s hardly difficult) - came across the song that Leicester fans subsequently penned to sum up their feelings about him. I’m not going to include any links as it’s annoyingly catchy and totally inappropriate for a guy who’s been truly splendid for us (may he continue to be). I was decidedly uneasy when I saw the Mail’s piece on Celtic making a play for him (I wouldn’t read the obnoxious rag if you paid me but the BBC’s gossip page had the link), especially as it indicated that he was “available” for £1m. Just sloppy journalism I trust, but reassurance came with the SkySports report indicating that after Celtic made contact it won’t go any further. This report suggested he is happy where he is, as he should be.
Nevertheless, we do need to come up with a song for him and, as there’s a decent chance he’ll line up for us against Leicester next season, what better than to adapt their one, with more appropriate lyrics? They just might sing it next season and we should be prepared to drown them out with our version. They used the Bonnie Tyler ‘classic’ Total Eclipse of the Heart. This repeats ‘turnaround’, for which Kermorgant is substituted. The rest should remain unsaid and not listened to (the original and the Leicester version) but an appropriate ending for us might be ‘knocking ‘em in from the start’ So, for me it’s ‘Kermorgant, he’s been knocking ‘em in from the start’ (repeat ad infinitum).
Having failed miserably before to generate support for an adaptation of David Essex’s Rock On for Therry Racon (‘Racon .. ooh my soul’) I hold out no hopes, but we’ve a team to be proud of and they deserve more songs. (Should be said, Racon’s been doing a standout job since moving to Millwall; takes their money and so far one appearance, in the League Cup.) Surely we can redo the Nicky Bailey one for someone. It might help if the club site published the places of birth of all the first team. We don’t have to have someone from Portugal (or Senegal) to pin the Jorge Costa/Semedo one on; there’s Donegal for example. I thought if Michael Smith made an early breakthrough into the first team he might get it, coming from Newcastle (or thereabouts). OK, it’s stretching it, but if we can make Solly rhyme with quality .....
It’s a well-worn mantra, but as with the team’s focus the vocal support on Saturday has to be spot-on. It’s going to be a big crowd, a tough game, so pleeeeze no moaning, no howls of anguish at every misplaced pass. They deserve better.
So, back to Fulham and first clearing up the number of our relegations they should be held accountable for. Most of us were there for the linesman’s gaffe that did for us in the Premiership (yes, the blame could be spread around a bit but I’m content to continue to blame Fulham). One. Now our relegation from the Championship can be directly linked to the turmoil following eviction from the Premiership. Two. Before that, in 1971/72 a Fulham revival in the final third of the season (which admittedly coincided with us not winning any of our 10 games, including a 2-2- home draw against Fulham when they equalised with a couple of minutes left) saw us replace them in the bottom two after the final game (we were never in the bottom two until after the final game). Three.
Now it might be pushing it to blame Fulham for us going down from the old Second Division in 1979/80. We did finish bottom and seven points adrift of third bottom .... Fulham. But if you look at the stats we failed to win in our last 12 games and these included two 0-1 losses to Fulham. If we had instead won both, we would have stayed up. Four.
Just how we can point the finger for the 1989/90 relegation from the old First Division under Lenny Lawrence, or for the one from the Premiership under Curbs, is not so easy. Fulham weren’t in our division. So for now the count stands at four from six. If anyone has any good suggestions for why it should be higher I’m open to suggestions. (For the record, I have nothing but good feelings about Fulham, a splendid club with tremendous supporters.)
Anyway, the said onboard conversation about the 1971/72 season centred on my befuddled memory at the time telling me that Fulham’s revival that season was sparked by them getting Alan Mullery in on loan from Spurs at a time when this was exceptional (we’ll pass over us having borrowed a certain Swedish forward at an opportune time some years back). A fellow Addick checked the records and saw that late in the season Mullery turned out for Spurs in a European game, suggesting my recollection might have been faulty. This in turn prompted me to dig out the scrapbooks that I kept, from the mid-60s through to the mid-70s (can’t think why I stopped). This did confirm that Mullery didn’t play for Fulham against us in the game towards the end and further research suggests that Mullery did indeed go on loan to Fulham, was behind their upturn in fortunes, but was recalled by Spurs before the season ended.
The trawl through the scrapbooks threw up all sorts of reminders of past glories and I hope to put together a mini-series, not exactly reviewing the seasons concerned but perhaps highlighting some of the dafter cuttings that I kept and some of the more memorable moments (as I remember them, which must be the truth). After all, following victory on Saturday there’s going to be even less otherwise to carp about.