Promising new talent, and yesterday's heroes


Morgan Phillips

By Morgan Phillips

That’s more like it!

After four disappointing results in the Championship, Fulham travelled to Ipswich on the last Saturday in August and won by two clear goals.

Though it was a team victory, supporters were hugely impressed by the newcomers Rui Fonte and Sheyi Ojo.

Ojo, on loan from Liverpool, has an excellent CV: not least scoring twice for England against Italy in the semi-final of the Under 20 World Cup.

Ryan Sessegnon was in dazzling form on the left, but it was his partner Ryan Fredericks who cut through the Blues' defence and facilitated Neeskens Kebano's perfect header into the left-hand corner of the net.

The second half brought an even better goal. Tom Cairney's long ball to Sessegnon was passed on to Stefan Johansen and then to Ojo. The youngster's left footed shot was punched out only for Rui Fonte to score from the narrowest of angles.

Though Kebano and Fonte each only had two efforts on goal during the match, their accuracy was deadly.

Fulham defended almost without blemish and the strikers ensured the maximum points. Slavisa Jokanovic and his players came good just in time for the international break.

Yesterday's heroes

My cousin Alan sent me a link for Neil Mumford, who is researching the life of Syd Gibbons, a regular member of the Fulham team between1930 and 1938.

Sadly I suspect that very few supporters survive from that period but I will give the link just in case.

After leaving Fulham Syd Gibbons became a player-manager of Worcester City, new members of the Southern League.

In 1940 he guided City to victory in the Southern League Cup Final. Later he returned to West London, running a tobacconist's shop in Putney Bridge Road.

In the late 1950s, when I was studying away from London, I  regularly watched Southern League football, and I saw plenty of former England internationals in their twilight years : Wilf Mannion, Ted Ditchburn, Johnny Hancocks, Jesse Pye, Bobby Langton, Bernard Streten.

It may have been a slight comedown for them, but thanks to local businessmen they were often paid more than Football League regulations would have allowed.

I also saw two of my former idols from Fulham's promotion winning side of 1948/49: Jim Taylor and Bob Thomas.

Bob had been a prolific goal scorer but by the end of the 1950s his body was starting to rebel.

In the game that I watched, he made an early attempt at a spectacular goal, pulled a muscle and limped off.

Jim Taylor (another England international) did not even start his match. Chain-smoking, his leg in plaster, he watched his Yiewsley team succumb to yet another defeat.

As Lou Rawls used to sing, they don't give medals to yesterday's heroes.

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