Fulham are putting up a statue for George Cohen who will have the same sculptor Douglas Jennings as Johnny Haynes. We are all delighted for George. We can claim unlike Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and Manchester City that we had a player in the only English team ever to have won anything. The World Cup victory is to have its fifteth anniversary this year. We have lost the captain Bobby Moore and Alan Ball and recently squad member Gerry Byrne but the bulk of the team are alive to lead the celebrations.
Whilst you would not call George’s life tragic he has moe bad luck than most. He contracted an injury against Liverpool aged 28 from which he never recovered. Nowadays he would have a simple operation and might have missed 4 games . He had bowel cancer, beat it . His brother, who owned a night club in Northampton and was father to another World Cup winner Ben Cohen, was killed in an incident at the club. With circulation problems George is now confined to a wheelchair.
George became friends with Fulham supporter Bob Howes whose windows I have cleaned for many years and was the driving force behind the project to give George a permanent presence at Craven Cottage. Chairman Shahid Khan is matching every penny raised so the £100,000 necessary is feasible. Fans can donate from £10 to £1000 to have their name on the plinth.
There tends to be more nostalgia for the past when the present is less successful. When my father judged me old enough to to go to Craven Cottage in 1968 on my own fans revered the previous era in the top flight of Johnny Haynes and George Cohen. Apert from the Cup Final side of 1975 and the MacDonald side of the early eighties there was little to celebrate till Micky Adams’ side achieved promotion from the lowest tier and kick started the Al Fayed era which reached its peak that night in Hamburg with the Europa League final. You would have to be sixty plus to have seen George fly down the wing and as often not hit his cross into the crowd. However he was a key part of Ramsay (himself a right back) wingless wonders. The photo of Alf pulling George away from exchanging shirts with Argentine Jorge Albrecht after a feisty quarter final is one of the most iconic of the tournament.
We celebrate George who already haa a restaurant named after him at Craven Cottage not just or even principally because he is a World Cup winner but for that even greater rarity the one club man. He played 459 games for the Cottagers. Nowadays even if he did not fancy a move and Fulham once went through 10 years without a transfer request, agents do. No mention of George would be complete without a reference to his charming wife Daphne whom he married in 1962. He once said he would only come back for a second life if Daphne would be here. George is not Jewish but loves to tell the story when he met another Cohen, Jack the founder of Tesco. The latter said how good it was to see a a Jewish boy doing well, to which George replied that only his grandfather was Jewish. Jack Cohen responded:
“How much did you pay for the name Cohen?”