By Morgan Phillips
During the (rather brief) close season, Fulham FC’s media team discovered a treasure trove of ephemera from the club’s history.
It included Ronnie Rooke’s 1946 contract. Ronnie was one of the club’s finest centre-forwards, similar in style and physique to the newly re-signed Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic. It is interesting to note how close Ronnie lived to the Cottage – and 107 Inglethorpe Street may well have belonged to the club. He would have had no excuse for arriving late for training.
One item was familiar to me: a printed page of players’ autographs from 1948, the year when I started watching Fulham. I remember seeing this but failing to secure a copy. My first favourites among the signatories were goalkeeper Ted Hinton and inside forward Randy Jenkins (yes, Randy was an acceptable name then). Sadly, neither of them made much impact at the club.
Doug McGibbon and Jimmy Jinks, also on the autograph page, took it in turns to replace the absent Ronnie Rooke but without success. It took the arrival of centre-forward Arthur Rowley in December 1948 to ensure promotion to the top tier.
This month, Fulham will begin its fourth stay in the highest echelon of English football.
We season ticket holders have received, along with the customary plastic card and wallet, some lovely photographic reminders of the Wembley triumph, but we won’t deceive ourselves. Our club was beaten into third place by Wolves and Cardiff, and our promotion owed plenty to loan signings such as Mitrovic and Matt Targett. Jokanovic needed new signings to prepare Fulham for the Premier League, and the club’s owner Shahid Kahn has spent millions on reinforcing the team. Mitrovic now has a full contract, Andre Schurrle comes on loan from Borussia Dortmund and new signings include Jean Michael Seri, Maxime le Marchand (both from Nice), goalkeeper Fabri (Besiktas) and Alfie Mawson (Swansea). Alfie commendably belongs to Juan Mata’s Common Goal, donating one per cent of his earnings to charity.
These are daunting but exciting times.
It would be wrong to infer too much from friendly matches, for the disappointment of losing lose a penalty shoot-out against Fiorentina (I thought we had exorcised that curse…) was counterbalanced by Mitrovic scoring the first goal and making the second against Celta Vigo. No doubt Fulham will endure some sharp shocks in the coming months but the team will also win some new admirers, particularly if it can avoid the last spot on Match of the Day.
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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