By Michael Heatley
Walking around the ground recently, I noticed our hosts had honoured a past QPR and Fulham player, Paul Parker, by naming an executive suite after him. So how long will it be before supporters of both outfits seek similar recognition for Rufus Brevett? He's followed seven years in hoops with five in black and white and, having captained his current club to European (Intertoto) victory, is surely on the way to 'suite' status. Not that he's having any of it! "Well, Paul's a bit of a legend at Fulham and QPR," he grins, clearly amused by the thought. "We'll have to wait and see."
His elevation to the captaincy against Bologna came as a total surprise. "I found out just before the game. The boss rested Andy Melville because we've got a lot of hard games coming up and played Zat instead. He didn't tell me, he just put the team up on the board with the 'C' next to my name. It was very pleasing."
He enthuses that European success is "great for the Club and for the fans as well. We came back from our break early to play in the competition, and we've made it worthwhile. It wouldn't have felt good if we came back early, put in all the hard work and failed at the last hurdle. I didn't play in the first couple of games but, though we were very rusty when we started, we got better and better. The Final showed that."
Our Intertoto win gave us a tenfold increase in press coverage - for a day, at least. Are the players bothered by the lack of coverage? "No not at all. We just go about our business and the more games we win the more people will sit up and take notice."
Rufus insists our disappointing showing at the Hawthorns was not a sign that, like Ipswich last year, we might be letting Europe distract us from the main event. "A lot of people before the game were tipping West Brom to beat us but I didn't think for one second that we'd lose. We had time to get back into the game but we just couldn't." And, as you may have noticed, our man is not a good loser! "For a start, it wasn't a corner, then they took a quick one. I blocked it and the ref said take it again. I blocked it again, the ref said take it again. It was very disappointing too, to lose a goal from a set piece."
Having seemingly seen off the challenge of Jon Harley for his left-back spot, Rufus now faces Cameroon international Pierre Wome, but he won't move over willingly. "You need competition for places and a big squad because nowadays it's a squad game - not just eleven players. If the Gaffer decides to rest me and play him I've got to take it on the chin and try and get back in the team."
But with just this season to go on his contract, he's going to want to feature in every game. "Of course! I love playing for Fulham, I love playing for the Manager and it's great to be a part of it because this Club is definitely going places. Obviously Wome's come here and he's going to want to play - everyone wants to play - but the Manager can't keep 20-25 players happy. He can only pick eleven players, we all know that, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens."
Bolton's Paul Warhurst went into print claiming that not all his side's foreign players pull their weight. And while Rufus would never reveal feelings like that even if he had them, fans clearly identify with his traditional, very British 'up and at 'em' style that he shares with Sean Davis. The alternating snarl and smile, the by-play with linesmen, crunching tackles and rapport with the crowd are very much part of the Fulham matchday experience.
So when it came to choosing a player to depict for his GCSE art lesson, my teenage son Drew had no hesitation in picking our Number 3 as his subject. Could this be the first picture to hang in the Rufus Brevett Suite? As another Fulham-based publication might put it, he can dream.