By Morgan Phillips
When I first started watched Fulham in 1948 I was lucky enough to live in a street very close to the Cottage.
When a home match finished, we would hurry home to listen to sports reports on the radio for the results and first-hand accounts of the other matches.
Londoners unable to get near a radio in time for the programme would wait for the special editions of the evening papers to hit the streets. ‘Star, News and Standard. Classified results.’ They sold out quickly so some people had to wait till the next day to know how their teams had fared.
This situation persisted for a decade or more until the sources of information began to multiply. making the evening papers less essential. The Star vanished in 1960 and the Evening News discontinued its Saturday editions in 1979, shortly before merging with the Standard.
In other parts of the country similar, sometimes superior, publications survived a lot longer. For a time, West London newsagents offered a Saturday edition from Reading, so while searching for news of Fulham we were able to read about the ‘Rampant Royals’ when Reading won and the ‘Sad Royals’ when they lost.
This season Reading have been pretty rampant in the Championship and their visit to the Cottage was expected to cause problems.
However Fulham’s lively forwards, backed by a determined defence, took the visitors by surprise. As at Brighton the previous week the Whites’ first half superiority produced only one rather fortunate goal. Ryan Fredericks’s speculative cross from the right was unfathomably headed by Chris Gunter into his own goal.
Brighton of course achieved a successful rally after the interval and Reading were surely hoping to do the same. Chris Martin dismayed them with a superb solo effort, after which two unconnected incidents destroyed any remaining hopes of a comeback.
First Danny Williams was sent off after tangling with Stefan Johansen. My view of the incident was blocked (I’m not doing a Mourinho…) but my favourite journalist Brian Granville termed it ‘a crass foul’ and Johansen appeared to have marks on his ribs.
Then Sone Aluko beat two defenders and shot past Al-Habsi. The same assistant referee who had spotted Williams’ transgression raised his flag because Martin from an offside position had followed the ball into the net, seemingly without touching it. After a protracted discussion Mr Langford allowed the goal to stand.
Johansen and Martin further enhanced the score against the dejected visitors, who must have been longing for the final whistle. Even that could not end the pain for Chris Gunter, who had already agreed to appear on that evening’s Football on 5. He took the defeat and his own mishap in good grace.
This delightful match was an early Christmas present. We are greedy for more but Wolves, Rotherham and Derby may not co-operate.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.