John McCormick writes: I can only remember one game against Fulham, and that was at Craven Cottage, where, like Pete Sixsmith, I enjoyed a walk through the park and a stand that overlooked the river.
Other than that, my mind is its usual blank. Was I at this match (indeed, any home games v Fulham between 1964 and 1974?) I really don’t know, possibly because it was a totally forgettable game. No matter, Saturday’s visit allows Pete and his prodigious memory to provide yet another trip to Roker, where some memorable players graced the sacred turf.
Roker Park on a damp Saturday in October 1964; we have no manager, the team being picked by a “selection committee” comprised of senior board members (who knew lots about running a laundry or a building company or a fish and chip empire but b****** all about football) and Arthur Wright, the first team trainer.
The start to our first season back where we thought we belonged had not been brilliant. We were sitting one place above the relegation places, had stopped scoring goals and had started the season with a 15 year old in goal. Three weeks prior to this, half of County Durham (as then was) had decamped to Blackpool to see the illuminations and to hope that Sunderland’s season could begin to light up at Bloomfield Road. We lost 3-1. A week prior to this, we returned to Old Trafford, the scene of the first game in that epic FA Cup treble That had ended 3-3, after we led 3-1 with minutes left. Seven months later, we went down to a single goal scored by David Herd towards the end of the game. We weren’t a bad side, we just seemed to lack any real direction – words that have been used many times since.
So, when Fulham pitched up at Roker on October 17th, a home win was required – just like it is 53 years later. They were in a similar position to us (we would finish 15th, they would end up 20th – remember, there were 22 clubs in the old First Division) and were beginning a period of decline after a solid spell as a top level side.
They were managed by Bedford Jezzard ( sounds like the name a car company would use for a pick-up truck ) and were captained by Johnny Haynes, a former England captain and reputedly, the first £100 a week English footballer. The money came partly from the wealth of their chairman, the comedian Tommy Trinder. Trinder was the archetypal Cockney comic – loud, brash and much loved by the Royal Family, who have always had a tin ear when it comes to comedy. He was a huge star in variety, made a number of films (“The Foreman Went To France” was a decent one and was scripted by J.B. Priestly) and made the switch to television in the 50’s. He was the first host of ATV’s Sunday Night At The London Palladium, charming the viewers with his catchphrases “You lucky people” and “Trinder’s the name, laughter is the game.”
He had a lifelong love of Fulham, mentioned them whenever he could and made a middling West London club into a household name during the 17 years he was Chairman, watching them rise to the top division, slip back to the second and get to an FA Cup Final in 1975 with a team that contained two former England captains in Alan Mullery and Bobby Moore.
Whether he was at Roker that day, sharing quips with Syd Collings and chums in the Directors Box, is unknown. If he was, he sat through a miserable afternoon as neither side could manage a goal and I can remember absolutely nothing about the afternoon.
We lined up like this;
Sandy McLaughlan; Cec Irwin, Len Ashurst; Martin Harvey, Charlie Hurley, Dave Elliott; Tommy Mitchinson, George Herd, Nicky Sharkey, Johnnie Crossan, George Mulhall
Fulham’s team was;
Tony Macedo; George Cohen, Jim Langley; Bobby Robson, Bobby Keetch, Stan Brown; Graham Leggat, Maurice Cook, Rodney Marsh, Johnny Haynes, Pat O’Connell.
There are some interesting figures in that team. Tony Macedo was a genuine exotic in the days when nearly all players were from the four home nations plus Eire. Macedo was from Gibraltar and was a spectacular keeper in an era when showy was seen as suspect. He thrilled the crowds, made mistakes and became a genuine Fulham legend.
George Cohen went on to play in the World Cup Final 20 months later and Jim Langley was an attacking full back before Terry Cooper and his ilk. Small, balding and quick, he starred for QPR in their League Cup win three years on – as did Rodney Marsh, recipient of the best song I ever heard at Roker Park.
Bobby Robson was welcomed back as a favourite son of the North East although a far inferior player to his opposite number on the Sunderland side, the imperious Martin Harvey, and he played alongside Bobby Keetch, whose Wikipedia page describes him as “quite a man about town.” When Keetch died in 1996, Fulham were so skint that their pantomime villain Chairman, one Jimmy Hill, said that they could not afford to send a wreath. One did turn up.
This was the year that M Salut and I had our first season tickets. We chose the Main Stand Paddock and a 21 game pass cost the princely sum of 6 guineas – £ 6.6s.0d. for common folk like what we was – which equates to £6.30 now, which would get you a programme and a pie now.
I was in Year 3 at Bishop Auckland Grammar School, Colin may well have been on the road to junior paper clip executive in the offices of British Rail Shildon. The ticket was my Christmas present for 1964, although I am pretty sure that I would have got a copy of The Boys Book of Soccer (I did; I have just spied it on the bookshelf). I was also taken down to Doggarts and was allowed to choose a pair of side fastening shoes which were neither winkle pickers nor chisel toed. Like many in South West Durham, Doggarts Club provided most of the presents and a good proportion of school clothes for the rest of the year.
I have mixed feelings about The Cottagers. I quite like elements of them (lovely walk to the ground, interesting stand, great riverside location) but they can irritate (they have clappers, dreadful away support, too bloody nice) and I hope that the small number who arrive at the SoL on Saturday are sulking in their drinks on the Grand Central on the way home on Saturday night. I shall be ho, ho, hoing……
* If there is any copyright claim, not answered by ‘fair use’ exemptions, on the images Pete uses to illustrate his report, please make us aware and we will add credits or remove as requested …
And if you can’t be there on Saturday and need to fill the void: