Yesterday I had lunch with 2 fully paid up members of old Fulham. They soon established their Craven Cottage cred by stating they had skived off school to watch the 1958 semi final replay with Manchester United which, as it took place after Munich, the whole of the country except our fans wanted the Reds to win. They even had been one of the 39,200 at the greatest game ever at Craven Cottage when in January 1956 inthe fourth round of the FA Cup Newcastle the Cup Holders went three up. Tosh Chamberlain scored a hat trick to put Fulham level and then Jimmy Hill netted to give Fulham the lead (the goal was shown on the excellent documentary on Jimmy Hill broadcast last Wedenesday). The Magpies then scored twice to win the game. Linesman Jack Taylor, the referee who officiated in the 1974 World Cup Final, overruled a Fulham goal to the consternation of the home crowd. It’s tempting to say that the best Fulham side of the recent Premiership era (Van Der Sar; Finnan Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky, Davies, Murphy, Malbranque, Boa Morte, Saha and Dempsey) was the greatest ever but the Fulham side of the late fifties and but early sixties I believe would have beaten them (Macedo, Cohen, Robson, Lowe, Langley, Mullery, Haynes, Hill, Leggat, Cook and Chamberlain.
One of the group is a close friend of George Cohen and the staple force behind the campaign and appeal to raise money for the statue in his honour. He is typical of old Fulham, working selflessly and tirelessly to ensure that the Fulham World Cup winner will see the statue unveiled near to his great mate and Fulham legend Johnny Haynes. The maestro played in the 1958 and 1962 World Cups but a cart accident in Blackpool resulted in a broken leg and Alf Ramsay did not select him. George had a distinguished rival in Jimmy Armfield who still analyses on radio 5 but it was George who was paired with left back Ray Wilson in every game in the 1966 winning side. We have lost since Bobby Moore and Alan Ball, Martin Peters is not well, but the majority of the team is still around for the 50th anniversary of the only England side ever to win anything.
We all enjoyed the tribute to Jimmy Hill. A side of Jimmy that we appreciated that not everyone knew was his kindness. Ivan Conway recently had lunch with the former Brighton Chairman Bryan Bedson. His then company Wyndham Press once offered two Wimbledon Mne’s Final tickets for an auction but he could not lay his hands on these. Jimmy as a debentute holder gave him his . He deserved a knghithood and better reputation in his life time as he was much more than a big chin with an opinion on anything and everything. Much, much more.