Yesterday I had lunch at the Indigo restaurant at the Ardington Hotel in Worthing ,where I have a bungalow, with a local Fulham fan. Both Barry and I are old Fulham, our support started in the sixties. All his boys are supporters and I mentioned that on February 14 Jamie, Bob Tickler’s Godson, will be a mascot for the Ipswich game. This is that rite of passage, his first game. Perhaps in 55 years time Jamie will be having lunch somewhere and reminiscing over his years of support.
For Barry and I it’s been more thin than thick. 20 years ago we were the bottom team in the bottom division with every possibility of losing our Cottage home. So, comparatively, being mid-table in the championship marks an improvement in out fortunes. Yet we both said that talking to supporters now there is a pessimism which I don’t recall in those days. We decided it emanated from the speed of our descent from a team that reached the Europa league final to a lower placed championship side in 4 years. The gates 20 years ago reached an all time low of 2500 so this hard core would support Fulham no matter what. With 20,000 for our premier games for 13 years we can say that the majority of Fulham are newer fans inured to top status football. Some support would fall away and I reckon quite a few will give us just one season in the championship.
Though concerned about our present state, we both want Kit to succeed and it should be remembered that he took over when we only had one point from seven games and we are faring better than under Magath. I made the point that if they dispense with Kit that would mean some players would have played under 5 managers – Jol, Meulensteen, Magath, Symons and whoever. Stability is needed. Yet we agreed that we were outclassed by Sunderland and every time we play a top six side we lose so we deserve to be where we are.
It was not just a couple of gins and tonics and some chardonnay that left me in a upbeat mood nor that a town with no gastronomic reputation can offer a delicious meal,of mackerel and slow cooked shoulder of lamb which Daphne would approve but the fact that we have supported a team for all these years and it has created such a bond. So as I remarked to the person who took me to my first match recently one hopes that Jamie will form the same friendships over the next 55 years too and that will compensate for the success other fans enjoy.