Eager ballboys and happy clappers

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Harry Kane scores for Spurs against Fulham. PICTURE: ACTION IMAGES


Morgan Phillips

By Morgan Phillips

In the Championship match against Nottingham Forest, the Whites started the game badly but still achieved victory. The FA Cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur had a similar opening but a very different outcome.

Unforced errors gave Spurs two early and simple chances, which went unpunished. In the 16th minute a misunderstanding between Cairney and Malone gave Spurs a cheap throw-in, which led to Kane scoring the first goal from an Eriksen centre.

An overawed Fulham eventually hit back, and Spurs goalkeeper Vorm and defender Vertonghen both made crucial mistakes. Though neither Cairney nor Johansen took advantage, the incidents at least gave the home fans cause to hope.

Six minutes into the second half Eriksen again helped Harry Kane to score. Fulham appealed for offside – but it would have been harsh to disallow the goal. With the result now a formality it only remained for Kane to complete his hat-trick and for Scott Parker and Mousa Dembele to come off their respective benches and receive a united welcome from both sets of fans. Parker had perhaps Fulham’s best effort on goal.

Jokanovic also sent on Sessegnon and Cyriac. Ryan made less impact than usual – that was true of most of the team – but Cyriac showed potential as a striker.

To his credit Mauricio Pochettino had fielded a very strong side. Watched by 22, 557 at the Cottage and many more on TV, Fulham’s players did not reproduce their best form, but they could not be faulted for effort, and the supporters cheered them off at the close.

My only complaint is with the press and the Spurs fans who made a meal of a minor incident. A Fulham ball boy’s prompt delivery to Kieran Trippier allowed the quick throw-in that caught the home defenders unprepared. Within three seconds Harry Kane had scored. Come off it, you lot. The ballboy was doing his job, which does not include marshalling the Fulham defence. In any case, Trippier was so near the ball that he could have collected it himself and still found Eriksen unmarked.

Years ago the consequence of a ball girl’s efficiency was spotlighted by Jimmy Hill and other pundits on Match of the Day. The girl’s home club was quick to absolve her from any blame, and I imagine Fulham will act similarly if it is thought necessary.

Happy Clappers

One last comment on the Spurs match. Those like me who have supported the club for half a century or more will have relished the picture on the back of the free clapper.

It shows a delirious crowd on the open Putney End terracing in the days before floodlights. Several people have black and white scarves, almost certainly hand-knitted – my grandmother supplied our family with ours. There is even a bobble hat, which surprised me.

One press photographer has a fine Homburg, another a sporty flat cap. One woman has a scarf, doubtless protecting her perm. It is hard to spot many other females in the crowd. A duffle coat is another clue to the date. Several boys are wearing school caps, as I happily did in the 40s and 50s.

Though the young fans at the front are in ecstasy their seniors have expressions ranging from stoical to amused. Some of them will be away supporters, for there was no segregation. But it could be one of those staged pictures taken during half-time, with the photographer’s assistant exhorting everyone to cheer.

Whatever is or is not happening off camera, it is a wonderful piece of nostalgia.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and unless specifically stated are not necessarily those of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.

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