Memory Lane

Sunday 25 November 2012 08:00
From the past or present, we catch up with a different Fulham personality. This week, Barry Lloyd talks to Club Historian Dennis Turner.

He played 290 times for Fulham, captained one of our promotion-winning teams and was on the bench at Wembley. He also played for three other league clubs, had a spell in the United States and then had a stint at management.

Today, aged 63, Barry Lloyd is still involved on a full-time basis at Championship club Brighton & Hove Albion and talks about of lifetime and football with all the enthusiasm of someone just starting out on their career.

“It's in my DNA,” he confessed. “And football has been a passion all my life. I love the involvement, I like being with football people and it’s a joy to be at Brighton, a club which is clearly on the up. After some really difficult years, we now have a terrific stadium, a good side which is capable of challenging for a place in the Barclays Premier League with very healthy attendances, and a very supportive board. The Bloom family have done for the Seagulls what Mr Al Fayed is doing for Fulham, and it’s an exciting time on the Sussex bit of the South Coast.”

It all started for Barry as a 17-year-old in 1966. After a schoolboy career in the Middlesex area in which he collected a host of representative honours, and also played for England Youth, he had attracted the interest of a number of London clubs.

“I chose Chelsea,” he explained, “because under Tommy Docherty’s management, they were an exciting team, with the likes of Peter Osgood, Charlie Cooke and Bobby Tambling. And Dave Sexton was the reserve-team manager, a really nice man and terrific coach. In four years at Stamford Bridge, I learned a lot and think I developed good habits as a professional which helped me later in my career.

“Although I made my (old) First Division debut in April 1967 when I was only 18, there were so many good players at Chelsea that it was hard to establish myself as a regular. So I took a gamble. When the opportunity arose, I left Chelsea, a club near the top of league and heading for FA Cup and European success, to join Fulham, a club in free-fall.

“They had been relegated to the Second Division the previous May and looked like dropping straight into the Third. By the time I arrived, Bill Dodgin was the fourth Manager in 12 months and he had inherited a pretty demoralised team. But he was a good Manager and I liked him a lot. I got to talk a lot to him about football and it was clear that he believed in playing the game the right way. He wasn’t afraid to make changes and to keep faith with the players and methods he believed in. His approach not only stopped the rot but got us back to the Second Division.”

Although he is too modest to admit it, Barry was probably the symbol of the new Dodgin era. He was made Captain, the successor as skipper and in midfield to the legendary Johnny Haynes.

“His were big shoes to fill,” Barry admits. “And it was a real challenge. But Johnny was terrific. I obviously had seen him play before I arrived at Fulham and knew how good he was. But even at the veteran stage, he was early into training, always with a smile and bags of enthusiasm. He was especially good with the youngsters and we all enjoyed learning from him. He was a role model and an inspiration.”

In his first full season at the Cottage, Dodgin’s team took shape, with Steve Earle and Les Barrett scoring freely and Jimmy Conway and Barry patrolling midfield. In his second season, 1970/71, it all came right, and we won promotion.

“That was a good season,” said Barry. “I remember getting one of the goals in midweek at Bradford City which clinched promotion. We had been amongst the leaders from the start and should have won the title. But we blew it on the last day at home to Preston North End. Still, we went up and that’s what mattered.

“We struggled the following year and it was hard to see why. We had the same players and we played the same style. But it was a big jump, even in those days, and we really didn’t bridge the gap. Games were much tougher, goals were harder to come by and we were punished for our defensive lapses. We did stay up, thanks to a spirited rally in the last few weeks, and it was a real shock when Bill Dodgin was sacked. We all felt it was unfair but life isn’t fair, especially in football.”

Within days, Alec Stock had been installed as Dodgin’s successor.

“He built a solid Team, not as attack-minded but consistent,” said Barry. “Although few of the players knew Alec, he knew us and steadily changed the Team around. He wasn’t afraid to introduce youngsters and was a shrewd operator in the transfer market, signing Alan Mullery and Bobby Moore, as well as Alan Slough and Viv Busby from his previous club. But he never got very involved with the coaching or tactics. He left that to the coaches and in Bill Taylor, he had a particularly good one.

“Bill was the coach who guided us through to Wembley in 1975. That was a remarkable run. We won every round away from home and never once faced a team from a lower division. The Everton game was a standout performance and we surprised a lot of people that year. Although I was involved in all the rounds up to Wembley, I had a feeling I would be on the bench on the big day, and I was. There was only one substitute in those days but I didn’t get on the pitch. Even though we lost, it was a great day for the Club and one of the highlights of my career.”

Despite beginning the 1975/76 season amongst the promotion favourites, the Club started on a long downward path. Events behind the scenes were starting to take their toll and that Team broke up quite quickly. Ernest Clay pushed out the Deans and Tommy Trinder from the Board, and Bobby Campbell replaced Alec Stock as Manager.

There were huge changes amongst the players as well. When we kicked-off in August 1978, just three years after the FA Cup Final, only one of our players had played in the Wembley match, and that was Kevin Lock who had been with West Ham United. Barry, though, is too discreet to talk about the instability behind the scenes and the impact of the new Manager.

“He was in a very difficult position and tried to shield us from what was happening at Board level,” stated Barry. “But Les Barrett, Alan Slough, Peter Mellor and myself all moved on very quickly, while Alan Mullery and Bobby Moore both retired. Les went to Millwall, Alan to Peterborough United and I went briefly to Hereford United. I wanted to get away from London but in the event didn’t stay away long. I even bought a house down there but wasn’t around long enough to live in it. I did manage to get my full coaching badge, however, because Lilleshall wasn’t far away and as I came up to 30, it was time to think about life after playing.”

First stop, however, was Brentford’s Griffin Park as a player where once again Barry teamed up with manager Dodgin, whose number two was his old Fulham teammate Fred Callaghan, a regular in the 1970/71 promotion side.

“I had a good time there and helped the Bees to promotion from the Fourth Division and it was a nice way to round off my first class playing career,” said Barry. “I then went into management, starting with Yeovil Town, who were then a non-League club. I enjoyed my time there. Yeovil is a nice town and the people enjoy their football but sustaining league football is a serious challenge. After that, I went to Worthing and helped them to jump from the Second Division of the old Isthmian League to runners-up in the Premier Division.

“In 1986, I got the chance to get back into the league with Brighton as assistant manager and a few months later I was manager. We got promoted from the (old) Third Division to the Second in my first season and then had an extended run in the Second, the last until the current side. My involvement now is on the recruitment side and it occupies me fully. I see a lot of Fulham people around and everyone is so pleased with what has happened at the Cottage. And much of the credit must go to the Chairman who has overseen the remarkable progress.

“He has generally appointed good managers, let them get on with it and the results speak for themselves. The ground has never looked better and the training facilities are top class. And everything he has done has kept faith with the best traditions of Fulham.

“Unlike some chairmen and owners, he has not hogged the limelight or tried to change the character of the Club. I still have great affection for the Club where I spent so many happy seasons and try to keep up to date with what is happening at the Cottage.”

Despite being of an age when he qualifies for a bus pass, Barry retains a youthful enthusiasm that is very refreshing. Although there must have been darker moments in his career, all his reflections and memories are positive and he seems genuinely grateful to have enjoyed a working life in football that stretches back more than 45 years to the mid-1960s.

There is no sense of bitterness of opportunities missed or envy of the modern footballer. This is how supporters want to think of their favourites - that they have enjoyed playing football as much as the fan has enjoyed watching. And also that they both share the same passion for the Club. Any Fulham supporter who feels like this would find a conversation with Barry very rewarding.