Book Review: The Sad Story of Billy Callender by James (Jim) Wright

“…it has always been said that goalkeepers are a breed apart – often extrovert but also prone to brooding introversion…”

Sadly this statement has come to carry significance in tragic circumstances on two occasions in recent years. Back in November 2009, Robert Enke, goalkeeper for Hannover 96 and a German international and just 32 years old, committed suicide by standing in front of a train at a level crossing in Eilvese on the outskirts of Hannover. After his death, his widow, Teresa, revealed that Enke had suffered from depression for six years and had struggled to come to terms with the death of their daughter, Lara in 2006. Enke’s story was captured in the 2011 William Hill Sports Book of the Year, titled, A Life Too Short by Ronald Reng. The tragedy touched the public in Germany and further afield. As a result, the German Football Association, the German Football League and Hannover 96 pledged to finance a Robert Enke Foundation, which would in future help with mental health issues of players.

Here in England in December 2010, 24 year old Rushden & Diamonds goalkeeper, Dale Roberts committed suicide. At the inquest details emerged that Roberts has killed himself after struggling to come to terms with an injury and national media speculation about his fiancee’s alleged affair with team-mate Paul Terry. Subsequently, his parents set up The Dale Roberts Memorial fund to help worthy causes including providing Christmas presents to children in a local hospital and helping youngsters off the streets and into football.

What struck me about whilst researching this article was firstly how readily available information is about the circumstances of these deaths, secondly that the suicides are seen as tragic and that lastly, the players memory is honoured through memorial funds and foundations, so that some good comes out of these sad events.

However, it has not always been thus. In The Sad Story of Billy Callender by James (Jim) Wright, the story of a goalkeeper who took his life in July 1932 is told. The adopted Billy Callender (real name Coulson) was originally from Prudhoe in Northumberland and worked briefly at the local colliery. Callender played for West Wylam Primitive Methodist Church, then Prudhoe Castle FC. Whilst here he was spotted and signed by Crystal Palace in October 1923, making his first team debut against South Shields in a 1-0 win on 22 March 1924. It wasn’t until the transfer of Jack Alderson to Sheffield United that Callender established himself in the first team at the start of the 1925-25 season in the Third Division (South). He was regarded as one of the “…most effective stoppers in the Football League…” and was selected to play for the Football League against The Army in 1926. In total, Callender played 225 matches for Crystal Palace and as an excellent servant to the club had a benefit match against the Combined Universities in April 1931. However, tragedy struck Callender when in May 1932, his long-term sweetheart and fiancée died from poliomyelitis. Callender travelled to his native North-East to visit family before returning to London in July 1932 for the start of the new season. On Monday 25 July Callender went to Selhurst Park “…to collect his registration papers and to confirm his health and fitness…” He didn’t report for training or the practice match arranged for the Tuesday, but he was found later that day hanged at the ground. At the inquest a verdict was returned that, “…Callender had taken his own life while of unsound mind…”, whilst the Croydon Advertiser wrote that Callender was “…inconsolable…” after the death of Ella.

Author Jim Wright makes some excellent observations towards the end of this book regarding attitudes at the time to suicide, “…death was seen essentially as a private matter – not an issue for too much public expression of grief…suicide was a taboo subject – indeed any attempt to take one’s own life, effective or otherwise, was deemed a criminal offence until as recently as 1961…” This sits at odds with how modern day society reacts (thankfully) to suicide. The author has carried out some wonderful research in writing this tribute to Billy Callender and to Ella, but acknowledges that so much information is just lost to the passages of time and which leave questions unanswered about Callender’s child-hood, his real parents, his brother and any therefore the ability to trace any possible descendants. However this doesn’t detract from this publication and Jim Wright should be proud that he has kept the memory of Billy Callender alive.


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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:

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Book Review: Abide with Me by Ian Ayris

It’s funny how at particular times in your life, little coincidences and things seem to come together. Take for instance the week that has gone by. Last Saturday evening I stepped off the stage after the last of four performances of the Agatha Christie play “And Then There Were None”. It’s a classic crime thriller set in 1930’s England, which despite a story-line which ultimately sees ten deaths, is all done in a language and manner that is not particularly dark or sinister, but is all rather wizard, what. Then the first book I find myself reviewing after my finishing at the theatre is from the stable of Caffeine Nights Publishing, who produce crime and contemporary fiction, “…aimed at the heart and the head…”.

Now given that this is a football website you may be wondering why this book has been reviewed? Well basically because there is a football element that runs through the novel. The title itself, “Abide with Me”, refers to the hymn which is sung before the FA Cup Final (and first started in 1927 for the Final between Arsenal and Cardiff City), with central character and narrator, John Sissons cast as a West Ham United supporter. Indeed the FA Cup Final’s of 1975 and 1980 in which The Hammers took part in, are key to the story.

The football theme is also evident on the cover of the novel in a couple of ways. Firstly the colour scheme used is claret and blue, those of West Ham and secondly there is an image of a football showing in silhouette two boys set against the London sky-line. The book itself is 150 pages long, consisting of 27 snappy and sharp chapters. I did read it in just two sittings and was thoroughly engaged throughout and thus ensured I wanted to keep reading and turning the pages to find out what happened next.

“Abide with Me” can be classified as crime fiction, as with “And Then There Were None”, but they live in very different times with very different language. Christie’s setting of the 1930’s in the rural scenic beauty of Devon is a world away to the brutality of East London in the 1970’s and 80’s created by Ian Ayris in his novel. Indeed the tough landscape is reflected in the language of the books chronicler, John Sissons, which is loaded with expletives and East London expression. Personally I’ve nothing against the London style accent as it helped create a voice in my head which reinforced the story-telling and visualisations of the characters. In terms of the swearing, I’d have to say that at times I thought it was unnecessary, and its overuse meant that it lost some impact.

The novel begins on 5th May 1975 and it set against the back-drop of the FA Cup Final between West Ham and Fulham. As The Hammers lift the Cup, mass celebrations break out in the Sissons’ household, John has his first encounter with the other main character of the book, Kenny. The joy and warmth of John’s family is quickly set in contrast to that of Kenny where there is a “…racket goin on in the house like you wouldn’t fuckin believe. Shoutin and crashing and breakin, and shit…”

That first meeting is the start of a friendship that runs through the 15 years or so that the novel travels. Ian Ayris perfectly creates a believable, but tough world as the boys emerge through school into adult life. The harshness of existence in terms of how people treat each other is all here to see. From the bullying that children inflict on each other, to abuse within marriage and the misuse of power and trust. However, that is not to say this novel is all gloom and doom. There is comedy, warmth and no little hope. Again, these positive elements of the story are well observed and I could directly relate to the bond John has when attending games at Upton Park with his father.

Whether you like football or not, this is a book I would recommend. It is gritty and takes you on a journey through some dark places in terms of human nature and behaviour. However, we know that life is about the ups and downs and the good and bad. “Abide with Me” hits all those notes and Caffeine Nights desire to provide “…fiction aimed at the head and the heart…”


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Book Review: When Fulham Went To Wembley (Four Remarkable Months in 1975) by Martin Plumb and Ken Coton

When the 2011/12 FA Cup Fourth Round begins on Friday night there will be two fixtures taking place. The first of these will see Watford take on Spurs at Vicarage Road. The other will see Fulham travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton. For fans of a certain age this fixture will bring back memories of the Fifth Round tie that took place back in February 1975. A game which pitched then Second Division Fulham against the First Division leaders. It was to be an epic game that was part of an incredible journey by the men from Craven Cottage that took them to the 1975 FA Cup Final against West Ham United.

The story of that Cup run is captured within the pages of When Fulham Went to Wembley (Four Remarkable Months in 1975) by Martin Plumb and Ken Coton. The book took me back to that season and my memories as a 12 year old Fulham fan. Back then I played football for the school on a Saturday morning and then would go off to Craven Cottage in the afternoon. However, when Fulham were away, my dad would invariably take me to other games in London. During that Cup run, we made it to all the home fixtures, the Semi-Final Hillsborough and the Final itself. In a strange piece of football fate, back in 1975 when the Fourth Round tie at the Cottage against Nottingham Forest was called off, we ventured to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea take on Birmingham City. The next time we saw City, well was the Semi-Final against Fulham at Hillsborough – it’s a funny old game. Even more strange is that I’m off to a Fourth Round tie this Saturday, guess who it involves? Sheffield United v Birmingham City. An omen perhaps?

In terms of format of the book, the reader gets a brief Introduction, before a list of the matches from January 1975 which started with the 3rd Round home tie with Hull City and ended with the FA Cup Final in the first week of May against West Ham United. Including all the League fixtures, this amounted to 30 games in 120 days – an incredibly punishing schedule. There is then a brief piece about the manager that season, Alec Stock and a Prologue which sets the scene of the season prior to the FA Cup 3rd Round.

The major body of the text is taken up with detailing each of the FA Cup games in chronological order, but does also summarise the League fixtures in between Rounds. In a nice little touch, the pages for the League games are coloured differently, providing a clear division between the Cup reports. I was glad that the authors decided to go with the full review of all the fixtures in that four month period, since it conveys how busy the period was and provides continuity to the story of the journey. In terms of the FA Cup it’s all here, the three games to get past Hull City in the Third Round, the four games needed to see off Nottingham Forest in the Fourth Round, the Fifth Round victory over Everton, the Quarter Final in which keeper Peter Mellor single-handled keep The Whites in the Cup against Carlisle United and the two games needed in the Semi-Final to get past Birmingham City.

As you would expect there are a generous number of pages dedicated to the build-up to the Cup Final itself. A wonderful little glimpse back to 1975 was the use on Page 145 of the book, of a replica of a “Cup Final Voucher”. I remember cutting them out and sending them off for my ticket in 1975! There are some great pictures of the streets around Fulham decorated for Cup Final day and I remember my dad driving me around to see them on the Friday before the Cup Final.

Cup Final day itself is covered in glorious detail both in words and images, from the players being in the hotel in the morning, the journey to the Wembley, the pre-match build-up and the game itself. Of course, history tells us that there was no fairytale for Mullery and Moore and that feeling of deflation, almost anti-climax, after the game is something I can still remember. The book then closes with typical Ashwater Press attention to detail, as the story of 1975 is placed in context. There are memories from both Martin Plumb and Ken Coton of that incredible four months, as well as David Hamilton. A postscript and epilogue detail how just three years after the Cup Final only Les Strong remained at the club and the part a 20th Anniversary ‘replay’ between Fulham and West Ham had in raising much needed funds during the dark days of the mid-nineties. The ‘Where are they now?’ section is a joy as the reader discovers what happened to those heroes of 1975, but is tinged with sadness as ‘In Memoriam’ reminds us of those no longer with us who were involved in that incredible journey – Chappie D’Amato, Bill Taylor, Tommy Trinder, Bobby Moore, Ted Drake, Alec Stock and Roy Woolnough.

This publication is a wonderful reminder that the FA Cup was a very different beast back in the mid-seventies. At that time, there were unlimited replays, with even the Final open to a replay if required. In fact replays took play in the following week, just three or four days after the original tie. Semi-Finals took place at neutral venues around the country and not Wembley. Teams didn’t rotate their squads and all-in-all there was a real magic about the Cup.

Just as modern day fans have the memories of the quite incredible series of games that lead to Fulham reaching the Europa League Final in Hamburg in 2010, the story of the journey to Wembley in 1975 showed that Fulham just never do things the easy way. Yes it belongs to a different era for the club, but it is part of the history and fabric of Fulham Football Club and is as relevant as all the current journey that is The Whites in the Premier League – we should never forget where we came from.

Ultimately, this is another impressive book from the Ashwater Press stable. It combines as ever the excellent research and words of Martin Plumb and the atmospheric photographs of Ken Coton. The contributions from players and Fulham staff of the time provide a genuine insight to the team and the club during this period. This combined with the attention to detail and love that goes into their books makes this another must for Fulham fans of all generations.

As for the Everton fixture this Friday – well despite their terrible League record at Goodison, Fulham have never lost to Everton in the FA Cup. Anyone for the book titled, “When Fulham returned to Wembley”?

To buy this book or view other Ashwater Press publications click here


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Book Review: Behind the Season by Gordon Bartlett (Edited by Roger Slater and Tim Parks)

Back in February 2011, Off the Bench was published. That book was produced to celebrate 25 years of Non-League management by Gordon Bartlett. As part of the material for that particular publication, Bartlett kept a diary of the 2009/10 season. In December 2011 that diary was used as the basis for a new book, Behind the Season – A Scrapbook of Wealdstone FC 2009/10, with the aim of being a fundraiser for the club in support of Task Force 10 (an initiative to raise £10,000 towards the Wealdstone FC playing budget).

In terms of ‘look and feel’ the editors went for the concept of a scrapbook. This certainly works. The A4 size format with a cover showing various snapshots from the season is a great feature. Inside too, the scrapbook feel is continued and reflected in the layout which has a ‘rough-edge’ approach. Excellent colour pictures are mixed with black and white images along with a range of written material. Whilst the bulk of the material is provided by the diary entries of the Wealdstone manager, it is supplemented by match reports and snippets from local papers, The Non-League Paper and Wealdstone club programme and website. They all contribute to meeting the editors desired scrapbook feel.

The book is first and foremost aimed at supporters of The Stones and therefore the associated knowledge of the club in the seasons before and after 2009/10 would be an advantage. However, the format stands and is readable in its own right to a wider audience. For anyone wanting a view of Non-League football this is indeed ideal. The emotions and sentiments expressed in the diary are genuine and therefore irrespective of the club you support, as a football fan you can connect with this book.

In terms of the time-span the diary begins in mid-July 2009 and ends at the backend of April 2010; some ten months, reflecting how long a season actually is. It is a season that sees Bartlett reach 1000 games as a manager and one that is deeply affected by the severe winter that ultimately shapes The Stones destiny by the end of 2009/10. From that point of view the diary works as the story of just one season that can be viewed in its singularity. As with Off the Bench, the style and tone is straight-talking and honest – conversational and with no-little humour. The diary formats enables the  reader to experience the journey of the season, the highs and lows, the ups and downs and along the way get to know the characters within the playing and coaching staff and behind the scenes at the club.

Beyond that, the book raises and highlights a number of points and issues. What is evident from the diary is the dedication that is required at Non-League level. When reading the book it is incredible to think that Gordon Bartlett also has a career as a teacher and has a home life to fit in around his commitment to Wealdstone. His players too have full-time jobs and as such this affects player availability. Throw in injuries and the reality of getting a side out to play week-in, week-out, is suddenly not such a simple task. The constant struggle with the financial realities of football at this level is incredibly revealing. A tight budget has a significant impact on the club, which ranges from the players wages, to saving money in areas like training facilities, other posts at the club and away game travelling arrangements. This highlights the financial importance of an FA Cup run and possible money from sell-on clauses each and every season. It was also interesting to read of the ‘networking’ that exists. This not only extends to other Non-League clubs, where managers swap information on opponents and players, but also some within the professional ranks. In Wealdstone’s case, this manifests itself in a good working relationship with Watford FC.

Ultimately, this is a book about the season as seem through the eyes of the manager. It is a genuine insight as Bartlett openly details his feelings, win, lose or draw. The frustrations, the pleasures are all there to read and the fact that despite his vast experience, it doesn’t get any easier.


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Book Review: Alfie Jones and a Change of Fortune by David Fuller

Alfie Jones and a Change of Fortune (RDF publishing) is a first novel by David Fuller which is aimed at football-mad children (aged between 8 and 11). The author has writing experience gleaned from eight years working as a magazine journalist and editor. Away from the world of words, David Fuller is an FA Qualified Coach who puts this skill to use each Saturday at a Soccer School in Brighton and as manager of an Under 10’s team. This mix of skills and knowledge provide the writer with the perfect combination for the writing of this novel.

Before getting onto the content of the book itself, it is worth mentioning the illustrations of Rob Smyth. His drawings are used sparingly within the book, but do provide striking images of the central characters (for instance, Alfie, Madame Zola and Jasper) which help the reader in creating an image of the characters. Smyth also created the cover for the novel, which on first picking up the book does not obviously show that this is a football-based story. The illustration depicts Madame Zola looking into a crystal ball, on which there is a small image of Alfie playing football. It wonderfully compliments the book title, but it is only when you read the back of the book that the football focus of the novel is clear.

“…Alfie Jones loves football and used to enjoy nothing more than playing for his beloved Kingsway Colts alongside his best friends. However, ever since Kingsway’s elderly coach was taken ill and replaced by the father of Archie’s arch-rival, Jasper, playing for the Colts has not proved to be such an enjoyable experience…Yet, just as it seems that Alfie will be left with no other choice but to leave the Colts, he meets a mysterious fortune teller who has some important news for the young boy – if he stays with the Colts he will one day realise his dreams of becoming a professional footballer…But with Kingsway’s new coach and his son both determined to make Alfie’s life as miserable as possible, staying with the Colt’s proves to be easier said than done and Alfie soon finds his desire to fulfil his destiny put to the ultimate test…”

At 162 pages and twenty two chapters, it is a good sized read. Overall, it is an engaging novel with some cracking little twists and turns. The central football storyline has an authentic feel about it and the book is not afraid to reflect some of the issues which are pertinent in junior football today, such as, playing for enjoyment versus winning at all cost, fair-play and the role of parents. There is also some mystery and magic provided in the guise of Madame Zola and gentle humour throughout. The characters are believable and readers will connect with them. All in all a recommended read.

Bring on the next instalment in the Alfie Jones story!


Book Review: Johnny Haynes (The Maestro) by Martin Plumb and Ken Coton

As a football fan, there are games and players from the past that you wish you had been able to see. For me attempting to pick just one Fulham fixture where I wish I could have attended is a mightily difficult task. However, when it comes to the player I most wish I could have seen, well that it a different matter – quite simply, John Norman (Johnny) Haynes. The Maestro played his last first team game at Craven Cottage on Saturday 17 January 1970 against Stockport County. It wasn’t until two years later that I made my first visit to The Cottage, by which time Johnny was gracing the football fields of South Africa. Therefore in reading and reviewing this book I make no apology that I have done so as very much a Fulham fan and with an eagerness to discover so much more about this legend.

The first thing to say about this book, in its physical sense, is that it is an object of beauty. This A4 sized tome, rather like Haynes’ himself exudes class. The portrait of Johnny on the cover is classic in its simplicity, whilst inside the reader is treated to a layout, text and paper quality that is a joy to behold. I fell in love with the book even before reading a word; as an object it is in itself a quality item.

So does the content live up to the aesthetic qualities of this publication? Before the main chapters of the book, there are usual forewords, acknowledgments, and contents pages. However, there is also a Notes to the text page, which I found invaluable. The reason being is that it puts into context what football was like during the 1950’s and 60’s; an incredibly different beast both domestically and internationally to that which current fans watch and understand. The main body of book itself is split over thirty-two chapters, which apart from the first three follow Haynes’ life chronologically. The first three chapters each take a different perspective of aspects of Johnny Haynes the player and person. So within the opening part of this publication the reader is given a summary of the footballing attributes, the all-round sporting ability and a look at Haynes’ overall character. Indeed, the authors of the book (Martin Plumb and Ken Coton) ensure that this volume isn’t simply a sycophantic view of the Fulham favourite, as in chapter three, A Jekyll and Hyde character? they explore and acknowledge that, “…like all exceptional talents his (Haynes’) greatness came as part of a complete package alongside his faults and frailties…”

Chapters four, five and six, look at Johnny as a boy and his progression through school and district teams to England Schoolboy Honours and his eventual signing of professional forms for Fulham. Chapter seven begins a season by season (and game by game) analysis of Johnny Haynes’ career, starting with the 1952/53 season and his debut on Boxing Day 1952 against Southampton at The Cottage. The year on year approach allows the reader to see each season progress and Haynes’ part in it. Therefore we see each significant milestone in its timeline. Over the coming seasons, whilst Fulham continue to battle for promotion from Division Two, Johnny goes from strength to strength as England B, Under 23 and Full Honours are attained, as well as playing for the Football League Representative team and taking part in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup for the London XI. His development is such, that by the 1956/57 season at the age of 21 Johnny Haynes is made Fulham captain.

The following campaign in 1957/58 was a case of near, yet so far. Fulham ultimately missed out on promotion and were beaten in the FA Cup Semi-Final after a replay, to a Manchester United team emerging from the shadows of the Munich air disaster. That summer Johnny Haynes played for England in the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden. After the near miss of the previous year, in 1958/59 Haynes leads Fulham to promotion in Bedford Jezzard’s first season as manager.

It is interesting to reflect that with Fulham having been promoted to the First Division and Haynes made England captain during the 1959/60 season that all seemed right with the world. However, it could be seen as the start of a period of struggle for Fulham which obviously had an impact on its captain and focal point. From this season onwards each year The Cottagers battled relegation from the top flight until in 1967/68 they ran out of luck. During that time much happened to Johnny Haynes. In terms of his England career, his finest hour came on April 15 1961 when he led England to an astonishing 9-3 victory over Scotland at Wembley. He then experienced his second World Cup Finals tournament in Chile in 1962. However, England departed at the Quarter Final stage 3-1 to Brazil. He very much split  the football critics of the time, with opinion divided on whether Haynes was the right man around which England should play.

For Fulham, Haynes famously became the first £100 a week player in 1960/61, against a background of transfer speculation and another failed FA Cup Semi-Final. At the start of the 1962/63 season Haynes was involved in a serious car accident in which he broke bones in both legs and damaged a cruciate ligament in his right knee. Whilst he did recover to continue his playing career, in later life Haynes observed, “…it was the cruciate ligament in the right knee that did for me. They used to stitch them together, but it didn’t work like the operations today. For me it was a big struggle and I was, more or less, playing on one leg…”

This was obviously a turning point in the career of Johnny Haynes and as a reader I felt a sadness as he struggled with the injury, the loss of his England career (and ultimately any chance of selection for the 1966 World Cup winning squad) and the constant battle to keep Fulham in the top flight. Rumours surfaced again during these years of a transfer away from The Cottage and Haynes endured testing years during the management reign of Vic Buckingham. As if the relegation in 1967/68 of Fulham was bad enough, the following season offered no respite in Division Two. The Cottagers would ultimately suffer a second successive relegation. They were indeed desperate times down by The Thames. The madness and sadness of it all is summed up in the following episode from the game against Carlisle United in February 1969. Fulham were playing poorly and manager Bill Dodgin was about to replace Malcolm Macdonald with Jimmy Conway. However, “…Johnny Haynes suddenly walked off the pitch with a shrug of the shoulders and disappeared into the tunnel…the truth was that Haynes was totally fed up with the whole episode and since every member of the team was playing so badly, and anyone could have gone off, he decided to make the decision himself and go…”

The Maestro did have a testimonial game on April 28 1969 and a crowd of nearly 25,000 came to celebrate the career of Fulham’s greatest ever player. However, the occasion was tinged with sadness; “…many tributes were made to the maestro – Johnny the Greatest, the Magician, and the miracle Worker. The club conceded that the decline in their own status had probably coincided with the inevitable decline in Haynes’ own career…”

In the 1969/70 season Johnny Haynes played his last first team game in Football League Division Three in a 1-1 draw against Stockport County in January 1970. Fulham sought to rebuild the team for the remainder of the season and the following year would be promoted to Division Two without Haynes. Whilst that was the end of his career at The Cottage, Johnny Haynes moved to South Africa and played until the mid 70’s at Durban City, Durban United, Durban Celtic and finally Maritzburg.

In 1985 Haynes returned to Britain, settling in Edinburgh for the remainder of his life. He never took up a role as a football pundit or really become involved in the game in any real way. However, his love for Fulham never diminished and he was a leading figure in the successful bid to save the club during the dark days of the 90’s. Thankfully he was around to see Fulham promoted to the top flight of English football and visited The Cottage on a number of occasions. As a mark of Haynes’ contribution to the world of football, in 2002 he was an inaugural inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame.

The final two chapters of the book close the story of The Maestro. Chapter thirty-one is an excellent section of statistics covering his Fulham and England career, whilst Chapter thirty-two is the Epilogue. This details the events of October 2005 when a car accident lead to Johnny’s death and also contains tributes from across the football world.

Fulham renamed the Stevenage Road stand The Johnny Haynes Stand with the dedication taking place on August 26 2006 at the home game against Sheffield United. On October 18 2008 a statue of the Legend was unveiled before the home game against Sunderland. Martin Plumb and Ken Coton have produced a brilliantly researched book which sits alongside these as an equally fitting tribute to Johnny Haynes – The Maestro.


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Book Review: Show Some Respect! (The Sound and the Fury of Junior Football) by Chris Kirkham

In the week just gone, the ugly side of football has once again been making the headlines. Firstly there was the news that Wayne Rooney has been handed a three game ban that will see him miss the entire Group Stage of England’s participation in next seasons UEFA European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.  Debate has raged as to whether he should still travel, in the hope that he could play in the knock-out stages. My stance is a simple one – don’t take him. His sending off was unnecessary and violent against Montenegro, and he should be punished by not being involved in the Finals at all. It would be a clear message to footballers, from juniors to professionals that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. The second incident took place in the Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division fixture between Chesham and Redditch United. United striker Josh McKenzie punched the referee leading to the abandonment of the game. This is an extreme and disturbing incident. The fact is that when it occurs at this level of football, you can be sure it will be translated down through the game all the way to junior football.

The FA has and is trying to combat the problems through its ‘Respect’ campaign, which was launched in 2008. The FA stated that, “…Respect is the collective responsibility of everyone involved in football to create a fair, safe and enjoyable environment in which the game can take place…” and set out a number of outcomes including:

•           Increase in numbers in terms referee recruitment and retention;

•           Improvement in On-Field discipline;

•           Reducing assaults on referees;

•           Enhancing the experience of the game;

•           Support of and commitment to the ‘Respect’ campaign.

As overall guardians of the game The FA have implemented the campaign at all levels of the game. In his book Show Some Respect!, Chris Kirkham looks at how “Respect” has attempted to address the issues and the progress being made at the grassroots level of football. Chris is ideally placed to write this book since he is a Qualified and experience Coach who has worked in the USA and in England with clubs including Manchester United, Hull City and Scarborough Town.

It is obvious from reading this publication that the author is passionate about the subject matter and this is backed up by his coaching experience and extensive research from not only the UK but around the world. Chris Kirkham’s aspiration that this publication becomes a must-read for those involved in junior football is to be applauded. Amongst the most invaluable sections within the book are the following:

•           What is the ‘Respect’ campaign;

•           The templates for clubs (for example in relation to codes of conduct);

•           Sites and Source Material for further reference

•           Statistics on the impact of the ‘Respect’ campaign.

If though this publication is to make itself a must-read and a point of reference for players, coaches, parents, referees and club officials, then there has to be changes in future editions. The author recognises this and the following points will be taken into account when producing a format that may be produced for a specific audience (for examples, an edition just for coaches):

1.          Page listings for each chapter for the contents page is a must for quick access.

2.         In reducing the book to around 100 pages, the publication becomes easier to be used as a reference guide and allows it to be more focused on the advice, guidance, issues and examples that need to be put across.

3.         The various examples of crowd trouble, player reaction and referee abuse could be reduced since many of them simply reiterate the same point again and again.

4.         By reducing the examples the book size can be brought down and therefore chapters become tighter and more focused. There are occasions when the narrative jumps from topic to topic, leaving the reader unsure of the thread of what is being written.

My recommendation is that these changes will be of benefit to the book. However, even in its current guise, this publication is about getting all those involved in grassroots football to take a look at themselves and assess whether they indeed respect our national game and how their future attitudes and behaviours can help to improve football going forward.


Book Review: Glory, Goals & Greed (Twenty Years of the Premier League) by Joe Lovejoy

The first thing that struck me about this book is the title. In football terms it is a bit of a ‘game of two halves’. The main title, “…Glory, Goals & Greed…” has a tabloid feel about it, whilst the sub-title, “…Twenty Years of the Premier League…” is a factual statement.

In fact for me, this dichotomy is reflected in the pages of the book itself. Joe Lovejoy seems to have got caught between two very different styles within the publication. On the one hand there are the chapters which provide a ‘best of’, compilation view of the games and names from two decades of Premier League life and on the other a more serious journalistic view of the formation and changing face of football that the League has brought about.

The lighter side of the book gives the reader chapters such as ‘My Top 20 Matches’, ‘Ryan Giggs and Company’ (an assessment of the various Footballers of the Year from each Premier League season by the Welshman), ‘Managers Who Have Won the Premier League’ and ‘Twenty Headline Makers’. In my opinion these particular sections of the book don’t really provide anything new in terms of information or detail that most football fans don’t already know.

Where the book is for me more interesting is when Lovejoy dons his journalistic hat in interviewing key figures of the Premier League, both on and off the pitch and tackles some of the issues arising from the self-styled ‘best league in the world’. The players interviewed for their views of the Premier League years include Teddy Sheringham, Stan Collymore, Alan Shearer and off the field PFA Chairman Gordon Taylor; with their recollections afforded a chapter each.

The more factual, hard-hitting detail comes in the sections where the author explores the issues of foreign players, the financial situation of clubs and players agents. These parts of the book include research with key football administrators such as Rick Parry, Richard Scudamore and Sir Philip Carter. Included in these parts of the book are some startling statistics in relation to how things such as players’ wages, club spending and the number of foreign players has increased over the years. There is also an interesting chapter titled ‘The Mackem Model’ which focuses on the work that Sunderland FC does within the community. These to me are the most important areas of the book and for my part I would rather the publication been given over to more discussion and dissection of these issues than the lighter chapters. This for me is highlighted in the closing passage ‘Onwards and Upwards’, where the author takes the founding objectives of the Premier League and assesses whether they have been met in a couple of lines. I would have liked Lovejoy to expand on why he made those conclusions.

I believe the football reading public and market is mature enough to deal with a publication that investigates and probes what is happening in English football and what part the Premier League has played within it. This curate’s egg of a book unfortunately falls short.


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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.

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