Long hard road

Friday 11 January 2002

We received a nice piece from Fulham fan John Dixon earlier this week. Known to many on the Club's message board simply as 'Johnnyboy' we think you'll enjoy the read as much as we did.

Firstly, a little about the writer... Born in 1946 at the old Charing Cross Hospital in London, John 'Johnnyboy' Dixon retired early in 1993 due to a severe mobility problem and along with his family, wife Margaret and two daughters Eileen (15) and Audrey (13), they moved to the village of Ballineen, a small village about 30 miles southwest of Cork City near the town of Bandon in Ireland.

John says: "I am very happy here, but I do miss two things from home, My beloved Fulham and a good pint of Youngs bitter in that order."

A Fulham supporter since around 1954/5 Johnny Haynes is his all time football hero: "Because of him I started to support Fulham.

He continued:

"Another reason was Trevor (Tosh) Chamberlin, who used to pass through our flats near Kings Cross, when he visited his grandparents in Grays Inn Road. He did have a kick about with me once, he always had time for a hello and how are you.

"I was about 12 or 13 when my parents first allowed me to travel across London to my first match at the Cottage.

"I cannot remember the game because, I had met and spoken to Johnny Haynes by the railings in the Stevenage Road stand as he was looking at the pitch before the match. I was to gob smacked to see or think of anything. A Childhood Dream come true! Since that moment Fulham has been in my blood."

John wrote the following piece, an if you ever bump in to 'Johnnyboy' its a pint of best...

'IT'S BEEN A LONG HARD ROAD'

Fulham are back where we belong, so says a Fulham supporter of countless years. His feet have stood in every part of Craven Cottage; he has leaned on every crash bar, he has withstood all that the elements have thrown at him. But through it all he has waited, his optimism carrying him through the darkest of hours, to the paradise of the Premiership.

He has seen Chairmen, Managers, Players, and Staff come and go through the hallowed gates in Stevenage Road, each one trying to fulfil his dream.

He has watched his fellow supporters over the years, laid to rest before their dreams were fulfilled.

He has been part of the great joys and many sorrows of the past, seeing the hard earned rewards being snatched at the last moment, the triumphs so few, and the disasters so many.

But he waited, waited for that day when the cream of the English Football League would grace his beloved ground Craven Cottage once again.

On August 19th 2001 he boarded a train along with many others, to make the journey to the home of the Premiership Champions, at Old Trafford. He was very quite on the journey, for he could not really grasp where he was going. But as he finally sat in that awesome stadium waiting for the teams to appear, his mind was filled with the whites, who would not be pulling on the strip to play.

He thought of his hero Johnny, of Alan, George, Tony, Rodney, Graham, Gordon, and many, many others whose skills would not have been out of place on this day. Now the new heroes of Fulham were about to take their place, in the record books of his club, and all because of one mans dream being the same as his own.

I have said all this because this is not the story of just one man but of many, all whom over the years, have been waiting for this season to come. They have not been thinking of the title Premiership Champions, F.A. Cup holders or European Qualifiers, they are content for the moment just being a Premiership League team.

A new optimism has not been awoken in them just yet, this will happen in a few weeks time when the first target of the season is reached and our safety is assured. Once this has happened then they will think of the impossible dream, of a cup run to the final or a European place, but if these dreams fail, it will not matter because there is always next season in the Premiership.

Having read the message board and seen the papers many supporters and the press seem to want more now. They forget where we have come from in such a very short space of time just to remind them all it was 91st PLACE.

I do not want Fulham to have climbed all this way, and for us then to rip up the game plan. Staying in the Premiership is what we wanted and this we will get, anything else is a bonus that should not be sought, but accepted if it should come our way.

We should not think of major victories being achieved in one go, but to cheer ourselves with the occasional triumph in this our first season.

Fulham under the Chairmanship of Mr Al Fayed, and the management team of Jean Tigana have never ever been in such a strong position to finally win major trophies. We are not ready just yet to achieve this, but the game plan is in place, let us not rip it up, so that we can hurry the process on.

To all Fulham Supporters have Faith, Patients, and Optimism, and let the good times roll.

COYW

Johnnyboy