Book Review: Allan Clarke – His Fulham Years by Martin Plumb and Ken Coton

Programme from Allan Clarke’s Fulham debut.

Let’s start with a question. What club did ex-England international Allan Clarke make his First Division debut with? Many people will automatically assume that it was with Leeds United. It was in fact Fulham, coincidentally against the Yorkshire club he would later join, as a second-half substitute on Good Friday, 08 April 1966 at Craven Cottage.

Clarke signed for Fulham from Third Division Walsall at the backend of the 1965/66 season and played for the London club until the end of the 1967/68 campaign, before moving to Leicester City. Allan Clarke – His Fulham Years by Martin Plumb and Ken Coton, details as the book title states his time playing down by the Thames.

This tribute to the striker who scored 57 goals in his 100 appearances for the club, (his strike rate of 0.57 goals per game remains the second highest in Fulham’s history), is recorded through the wonderfully evocative images of the former Fulham photographer, Ken Coton, and complimented by the words of Martin Plumb.

Programme from Allan Clarke’s final Fulham game.

Format wise the book is dominated by a review of the time Clarke spent at the club on a season by season basis, which is added to with a useful breakdown of the players statistics whilst at Fulham and his career in total. In addition there are brief sections on his time after leaving Craven Cottage and even a Postscript from Clarke himself. This final piece from the man himself makes for interesting reading, in that despite its brevity, readers get the sense that the Clarke is not fan of the Premier League, with his view that “players can’t defend anymore, they really haven’t got a clue”, and was so confident in his abilities adding that, “if I was playing today’s game and hadn’t scored 30 to 40 goals, I would consider that I’d had a bad season.” With such forthright opinions, it would have been interesting to have the book contain more of Clarke’s thoughts on his playing career and football today.

As it is the narrative of the book is as much about Fulham’s battle to avoid relegation from the First Division as it is about Clarke’s goalscoring exploits. Whilst this is interesting, the real beauty comes from the lens of Ken Coton. Here black and white images capture the game from a very different time, with some grounds such as Bradford Park Avenue long since gone and Craven Cottage itself seen before the development of the Riverside Stand, with the long terrace in the 1960s only adorned by the television gantry, score board and various flag poles. Not every image in the book is perfect, but overall are of an excellent quality, testament to the skill of Ken Coton without the wizardry that digital cameras afford today.

It is once again another great addition to the Fulham based series of publications from Ashwater Press and a wonderful reminder of one of the club’s most deadly strikers.


(Ashwater Press. November 2020. Hardback 163 pages)


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Book Review: A Fulhamish Coming of Age (Fulham in Europe 1973–2003) by Alex Ferguson – The Traveller

Alex Ferguson started watching Fulham in the 1950s and did so through the many ‘ups and downs’ the club endured, until his untimely death in 2006. Alex became one of the most recognised, if not the most renowned fan of the club, following the ‘Lilywhites’ wherever and whoever they played. No matter if it was the first-team, the reserves, the youth team, Fulham Ladies – league, cup, testimonial, friendly; Alex was there. He also watched England at all levels with the same enthusiasm and fanaticism and his journeys with both club and country earned him the moniker of ‘The Traveller’.

Alex recorded the details of his years watching his footballing loves and these gave rise to two books published by Ashwater Press. The first in 2003 titled, ‘Pandora’s Fulhamish Box’ and the second in 2006 called, ‘A Fulhamish Coming of Age – Fulham in Europe 1973–2003’ which is reviewed here.

The book begins with an introduction from ‘The Traveller’ which tells the reader that this volume, “…chronicles thirty years spent watching Fulham Football Club competing in recognised UEFA competitions in Europe…comprising Anglo-Italian Tournament, Intertoto, UEFA Cup and Women’s UEFA Cup fixtures…” This equates to twenty three games, with each having their own chapter in the book.

In terms of style, the writing has the intimacy of a diary and therefore a language that is personal and in Alex’s case, a wit and quirkiness that requires the reader to think on their feet as they read. Each game is captured in terms of the facts of time, date, venue, line-ups, substitutions and goals. However, this book is not about page after page of match reports, instead the chapters are more anecdotal, as Alex shares details of the travel, the location, the atmosphere and his observations. The intuitive writing is complemented by a range of pictures, which show programme covers, tickets, posters, press cuttings and team sheets, giving a ‘scrapbook’ feel alongside the diary content. It is an immensely enjoyable read, with the contrast of the first European games in the early 70s and those thirty years later an interesting point of comparison. If I have a criticism and it is entirely a personal view, it is that I would have preferred a chronological lay-out of the chapters, so offering the flow of time and progression through the respective tournaments.

It is interesting to reflect on how the Intertoto fixtures in 2002/03 were written about by Alex as Fulham left the Cottage for their spell at Loftus Road. Thankfully by the time the book was published in 2005, ‘The Traveller’ was still around to see his beloved ‘Lilywhites’ return to the ancestral home by The Thames. Sadly just a year later, Alex died and it begs the question as to what he would have made of the European adventure that lead to the Europa League Cup Final in 2009/2010 and the disappointment of the campaign in 2011/12? Unfortunately we will never know…luckily though, we will always have this book as part of the legacy of ‘The Traveller’ who was there when it all began in 1973.


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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.

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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”?

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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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