Book Review: A Fulhamish Tale – by David Hamilton
A Fulhamish Tale by David Hamilton is the latest offering from Ashwater Press. It is written by the broadcaster nicknamed “Diddy” and charts his life story in terms of his association with the club from Craven Cottage.
In terms of the physical appearance of the book, it is all that you expect from an Ashwater Press publication, in that it is the usual combination of wonderful pictures and excellent presentation (format and layout). The content is 168 pages set over 33 Chapters and essentially follows his Fulham story in chronological order. The chapters dedicated to certain aspects of the various season’s Hamilton followed the club, are interspersed with tales about his time with the Showbiz XI and various ex-players (including Les Strong, Les Barrett and George Cohen) and people who through their Fulham connections have made an impression on Hamilton and become life-long friends.
The opening three Chapters detail amongst other things, Hamilton growing up in Fulham and his first game at the Cottage in October 1949, as well as his first journalistic efforts as a teenager for the Soccer Star magazine and his time as Station Manager of the British Forces Network radio in Cologne. In Chapter 3, the early stages of his life are all covered at a pace and after finishing his National Service and returning to the UK in 1960, Hamilton work as an announcer and programme presenter in Newcastle and Manchester. The Chapter ends with his return to London in 1968 to work for Thames TV and his reconnection with Fulham FC.
Chapter 4 takes up the story of the 1970/71 season and how in Fulhamish style, in the last game of the season needing a point to clinch the title, the Whites lost to Preston who went up and took the title instead. Chapters 8 and 9 focus on the 1974/75 season and the incredible run to the 1975 FA Cup Final and Hamilton shows how he is a fan at heart, expressing the joy and disappointment of all Fulham fans during that marathon journey.
Where this book really comes to life for me is from Chapter 12 onwards, as Hamilton details his own role during a very difficult period for the club. Here Hamilton looks at the 1976/77 season and the Fulham team that had the names of Moore, Best and Marsh in the line-up. Yes there were some magic moments on the pitch, but Hamilton nicely offsets this with the turmoil behind the scenes as Alec Stock and Tommy Trinder leave the club. Hamilton is persuaded to become a director at the start of the 1978/79 as concerns about the intentions of then chairman Ernie Clay are played out. However, Hamilton resigns midway through the 1979/80 season.
There is a positive spell on the pitch in 1981/82 as a return to the (old) Second Division is secured and a second promotion is snatched away in controversial circumstances at Derby at the end of 1982/83. Hamilton then in Chapter 21 picks up the story with the dark days of the ground sale to Marler Estates and the intended plan to merge with QPR and the light at the end of the tunnel with the emergence of people like Bill Muddyman and Jimmy Hill who looked to take the club forward from a perilous position. One of the most telling images is on page 97 of the book, and is a reminder to those who have only known Fulham in the ‘good-times’ what life was like before the Premier League. The caption reads, “…Spot the spectator – Fulham v Bradford City, May 1992. As the weeds grow on the terraces, two lonely fans try to find something to be cheerful about…” The book is worth buying for this image alone.
Hamilton moves onto his involvement and the main protagonists behind Fulham 2000 and Crusade for Craven Cottage campaigns. From Chapter 24, the story is of the resurgent Fulham and Hamilton as in December 1996, he hosts the half-time entertainment at the Cottage. As Hamilton moves into the role of match-day announcer, so Mohamed Al Fayed become Chairman. Hamilton provides his personal view of how the club changes under Al Fayed, including the various managers and players. However, there is a blip in the personal story of Hamilton as prior to the return to a revamped Craven Cottage he is removed from his match-day duties. However, it doesn’t last long and is restored after a meeting with the Chairman at Harrods, which makes interesting reading. As the book reaches its closure, the Hodgson years (‘the Great Escape’ and the Europa League Final) are all detailed from Hamilton’s unique position as an insider, but also as a fan down on the pitch. The final chapter is one of reflection, of how the club has changed through his years supporting the club and is a thank-you to so many Fulham characters, whether players, fans, and officials etc who have made the club what it is today. By the end it is clear David Hamilton is a genuine fan, who just happens to be famous and has through his time been a director and has been fortunate to have witnessed some of the club’s greatest moments as MC pitch-side.
For any potential reader one thing to be aware of is that this book isn’t to be considered a biography of David Hamilton and what it is about is how Fulham FC has intertwined with Hamilton’s life, the various characters and anecdotes from his years following the Whites. Personally the second half of the book is stronger than the opening, as there is more ‘meat on the bone’ in the events detailed by Hamilton. A good book for the summer as all Fulham fans await the 2012/13 season.
This book and other Ashwater Press titles can be purchased by visiting the following website: