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It’s going to be Fulham’s year

The above title does not refer to the present but to an article I wrote some 40 years ago.

Its theme was the perennial optimism of Fulham fans.

Ironically, between Fulham’s relegation from the top tier in 1968 to their return in 2000, there was little to cheer save for promotion from the third tier in 1971 and 1991, the Cup Final defeat to West Ham in 1975 and promotion from the third tier after Fulham had nearly tipped out of the league altogether.

Then, after promotion achieved on a shoe string by Micky Adams, Mohammed Al-Fayed bought our club and we had an owner with both ambition and the money to back it.

Promotion to the top flight in five years he ordered – and it was achieved in four.

If the manager looked unlikely to achieve that aim – like Ray Wilkins or Kevin Bracewell – he was sacked.

Most of the next 20 years from 2001 were spent in the Premiership.

It was clear though that even Al-Fayed could not compete with the wealth of Roman Abramovich up the Fulham Road at Chelsea, nor other foreign owners.

Fulham survived in the Premiership under Roy Hodgson – when we reached a European final – and Mark Hughes.

Al-Fayed then sold the club to Shahid Khan, who made his fortune in car bumpers, and owned the Jacksonville Jaguars. There was more investment but less success with two promotions in between three relegations.

Now there is less optimism and many Fulham fans and analysts fear another relegation.

After the recent 1-1 draw with Villarreal head coach Marco Silva said the squad had insufficient depth.

You might have thought that older fans would appreciate the achievements of the last 25 years, not least that the ground is safe, we have a superb training ground and an elite academy – and have seen quality players like Louis Saha, Steed Malbranque, Edwin van der Sar, Steve Finnan, Bobby Zamora, Dmitri Berbatov, Scott Parker , Chris Coleman, Brede Hangeland – but these fans are amongst the most vocal pessimists.

For me, the biggest change is within the club itself.

At the start of the season I would carefully inscribe the fixtures in my diary but to do so now is meaningless as many will be moved to suit Sky and BT Sport, rather than the fans.

In the ticket office you used to be able to dealt with the admirable Sandra Coles, there for years, who could sort any problem.

Now there is a dedicated ticket line, you receive a slick welcome pack (which has yet to arrive) and last year’s season is loaded up, so there is no new one.

In the old days the walk down Finlay Street to the Cottage was accompanied by greetings from old Fulham friends – now many have passed on.

It’s simply not the same club it was.


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About Alan Tanner

After a distinguished military service in the Catering Corps, Alan Tanner did well in mufti with his chamois as a window cleaner. Sadly he had to retire after falling from the fifth floor of Danny Murphy's mock Tudor home. He spends his retirement watching and writing about his beloved Fulham whom he has supported for over 50 years. The Alan Tanner Report is sponsored by Tanner Crystal Clear Ltd, Window Cleaners to the Gentry. More Posts