Come back Jimmy Dunne

Tuesday 29 January 2002

For a lifelong Fulham moaner, the FA Cup win at York on Saturday was a chilling echo of our disastrous run in 1975 which so nearly ended in unthinkable Wembley glory. Thankfully we under performed against a heavily bearded West Ham side that ran out comfortable winners despite the presence of world football legends such as Bobby Moore, Alan Mullery and John Fraser.

Back in those days, besides trying to cultivate the biggest sideburns in the south of England, I was desperate to make my name in the whingeing game. I obviously had my work cut out as a popular and gifted Fulham team battled through a memorable 11 matches to reach the final.

Disturbingly we also seemed to be championed by media and neutrals alike making it a nightmare to whinge with any real conviction. However our league form mercifully still let us down from time to time and I was able to moan freely as we caved in miserably to the likes of Hull, Blackpool, Millwall, Oldham and, ironically, York City. In fact the Minstermen beat us both home and away that season. Marvellous.

I was also given a massive boost a week before the biggest game in the history of the club when we collapsed 3-1 away at Bristol City. It was the perfect opportunity to get in some quality griping just in time for my big day out at Wembley.

On that momentous May morning I could barely contain my excitement at the prospect of whining on and on at the final of the most prestigious competition in club football played at the most famous ground in the world. This was surely the time to make my mark.

Sadly, a rather over-zealous approach from a young Terry Spratt saw me reel off my best gripes too early and by the time of the first goal from Alan 'The Rat' Taylor I was reduced to barking out nonsensical gibberish.

The fans standing around me, usually patient beyond belief, clearly felt they too had suffered enough and physically ejected me from the ground. I was strong-armed away to the biggest cheer of the day from the so-called 'Fulham faithful.' I felt betrayed. But I was still young. I'd learn.

As for the current campaign, a 5th round win against Walsall is just about feasible and with some of the fancied sides already out it is now ominously possible that we might repeat our efforts of 1975.

I am writing these recriminations prior to the Ipswich and Villa games when I'll be looking forward to a much-needed return to something like top moaning form. For if we do reach the final this year I will not be found wanting again. Rest assured I will be ready, willing and able to whinge my heart out in Cardiff. Happy moaning.

TERRY SPRATT