By Morgan Phillips
Saturday’s home match against Bournemouth brought more disappointment for Fulham supporters and showed that Slavisa Jokanovic is no nearer to finding the line-up that can cope with Premier League opposition.
As expected he made changes from the team that surrendered to Cardiff. Sergio Rico took over from Marcus Bettinelli in goal, and Abou Kamara replaced mid-fielder Stefan Johansen. It was Kamara who gave the crowd early reasons for optimism when Jean Michael Seri provided him with a good scoring opportunity. Unfortunately the Frenchman’s back-header looped over the bar, and from that point hardly anything went right for Kamara or for his colleagues.
With Bournemouth exerting pressure, Callum Wilson sprinted towards the home bye-line and was sent sprawling by Timothy Fosu-Mensah. Fulham supporters gave raucous encouragement to goalie Rico but he had no luck in saving the penalty.
As an immediate response the whole-hearted Kamara chased and almost dispossessed the Bournemouth keeper Asmir Begovic. He then fell to earth in a ludicrous attempt to gain a penalty and received a booking instead. Andre Schurrle seized on a Bournemouth error but his hard shot from a distance was too close to Begovic. Unbeknown to us it turned out to be Fulham’s only effort on target in the entire game. Once again the second half performance lacked both effort and quality.
Rico saved well from Simon Francis, but Brooks scored after the Fulham mid-field lost possession. Then the acting captain Kevin McDonald was sent off for a second ‘professional’ foul, and Kamara nearly joined him. On a yellow card for his earlier simulation Abou kicked the ball away after being rightly penalised for a foul, causing the BBC’s Jonathan Pearce to splutter: “This is the Premier League we’re talking about, not the Sunday morning football league.”
Referee Andre Marriner showed mercy, but Bournemouth were less kind, adding a third (and very simple) goal in the 85th minute. Many Fulham supporters had fled before then. It was a match to forget.
Earlier the crowd had paid a dignified tribute to those who fell in the First World War. Fulham’s jerseys commemorated names from the club’s Roll of Honour. It is a subject on which Alex White, the club’s historian, has done much valuable research. In my blogs I have covered a few of the fallen (Laurence Moon, Bert Perkins and Leigh Roose) as well as Tim Coleman, Leslie Bowker and Samuel White, who all survived the conflict. Alex White’s latest article features Walter Tull, one of the first black footballers in English league football.
When I was writing my book Fulham We Love You (published 1976) I used the local newspapers for my information. In 1915 there had been pressure on the media not to report football matches. When the local Times dared to publish Fulham FC’s provisional list of players for 1915/16 someone wrote in ink on the library’s copy of the newspaper ‘They should enlist’. So there was no local coverage of Walter Tull’s three appearances in a Fulham shirt. It is frustrating to wonder what impact he made in his brief stay with the club. He had already enlisted, and two months after his Fulham appearances he was serving as a sergeant in France. Walter rose to the rank of 2nd lieutenant before losing his life in March 1918. October has been Black History month, and his achievements have received well deserved publicity.
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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