Book Review: Following the Fulham…Into Europe by Peter Thomson

Ashwater Press is an independent book publisher which essentially produces publications featuring Fulham Football Club. The driving forces behind the enterprise are Ken Coton and Martin Plumb. Amongst the array of Ashwater Press titles are the following, “When Fulham Went To Wembley”, “The Mickey Adams Promotion Season: 1996-97”, “Johnny Haynes – The Maestro”, “Fulham Photos”, “A Fulhamish Coming of Age” and “Tales from the Riverbank”. To sum up Ashwater Press, real Fulham history, by real Fulham fans for real Fulham fans.

There is also a “Following the Fulham” series by Peter Thomson, which includes, “Around the Grounds“ and “The Premiership Years”. The “Into Europe” publication from this stable was published in 2002 and features The Whites first venture into European Competition, when they took part in the UEFA Intertoto Cup. As the publication is subtitled, “Winning the Intertoto Cup 2002” you would expect it to recount in full the various ties which saw the team emerge with a trophy from their first foray into Europe. However, this is Fulham we are talking about and in typically Fulhamish fashion there is a different logic to this publication. Indeed Peter Thomson, the author makes no claims that it is a complete record of the Intertoto campaign, instead it is “…dedicated to the fans who made it to Haka, Athens, Sochaux and Bologna…” and arises due to the lack of programmes for all but the away fixture in Finland. It is as the auther says, “…a modest record of events for the archivists and a memento of a magic month for those of you who followed Fulham into Europe…”

The publication may be only 24 pages long, but is a little gem for any Fulham fan. It starts with a page which provides the authors Thanks to those in getting the project to print and is followed by a short message from the Club Chairman, Mr Al Fayed. Peter Thomson provides his lament “Programme, Programme, My Euro for a Programme”, as way of introduction to the main content. “A Traveller’s Notes”, by football journalist Chris Hatherall provides a brief piece on his working relationship with Fulham and some of his highlights of the Intertoto away fixtures, as a precursor to double page spreads on the fixtures in Finland, Greece, France and Italy. There follows, a match summary for each away tie with team line-ups and scores, but more importantly a copy of the teamsheets for the games against Egaleo, Sochaux and Bologna. For the FC Haka match, the front cover of the official programme is reproduced.

The remaining pages are a great tribute to the author and reflect the quirky nature of life as a Fulham fan. In “An A to Z of the Intertoto Cup, July/August 2002” my favourite entry is, “…A is for Ashford…7th August 2002 off to Ashford for the Eurostar to the semi-final at Sochaux. Just eight years ago it was off to Ashford for the first round of the FA Cup. Fulham were soon 2-0 down to non-League opponents and drowning, quite literally in the wet, wet, wet. Micky Adams walked on water that day to save us twice from the penalty puddles. He went on to secure our first promotion in 18 years. Let us remember those difficult days as we head off to Europe…” The reason for choosing this entry, is because it should remind Fulham fans that there was a time before the European trips and Premier League. Our club goes all the way back to 1879 and all the highs and lows that those years have witnessed. Fulham didn’t just come into being from 2001.

“A Song for Europe” offers a double-page spread on the various songs and chants that the Fulham faithful used on their travels and a new hero is born in Bologna, celebrated in song with, “…Score Inamoto, we’re going to score Inamoto…” Chris Hatherall returns to offer a review of Fulham’s Far Eastern star, Junichi Inamoto, who in the Final 2nd Leg at Loftus Road scores a hat trick to secure a 5-3 aggregate win over Bologna. The author offers a personal postscript as he records his thoughts as he travels home after the Final triumph. Another two-page spread, “Flying Start – Summer 2002” acknowledges the unbeaten eight games in Europe and the first two Premier League games, which see The Whites beat Bolton on the opening day 4-1 and then gain a point at Middlesbrough coming back to secure a 2-2 draw with two goals in the final minutes. This ten game unbeaten run provides the connection to the final article, “Merula Chirpeth” which at first glance may seem rather strange. However, the author picks up on an article from The Cottagers’ Journal (match programme) from March 7th 1908 for the match against Manchester United. As at the start of 2002/03, Fulham in 1908 had enjoyed a ten game unbeaten run. As for Merula (real name Oscar Drew), he was the editor of the programme and worked on the West London and Fulham Times. Why Merula? Merula is a blackbird, but other than that, I’ve not been able to establish anything more than that. A curious end to a cracking little publication.

Sadly Peter Thomson died in May this year and so isn’t around for this season’s European adventure. The “Following The Fulham” series are a wonderful  tribute to him and a fantastic legacy for Fulham fans now and in the future.

For further information on Ashwater Press

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Posted September 22, 2011 by Editor in category "Reviews

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