Memory Lane

Saturday 6 October 2012 08:30

From the past or present, we catch up with a different Fulham personality. This week, it’s Glenn Cockerill.

The class of ’97 have gone down in Fulham history as the men who helped us on our way to the top.

After finishing in 17th position the previous season, Micky Adams led his side to automatic promotion in the 1996/97 campaign – narrowly missing out on the Division Three title after scoring fewer goals than champions Wigan Athletic.

Adams built a side that worked hard for each other, with strength in every position on the field. One astute acquisition was that of 37-year-old central midfielder Glenn Cockerill. Despite his veteran status, Cockerill went on to play a significant role for the Whites that season, providing competition for places with the likes of Richard Carpenter, Nick Cusack and Simon Morgan.

“I really loved my time at Fulham,” Glenn told the official website. “Micky Adams, who was my neighbour and ex-teammate from Southampton, signed me from Leyton Orient on a free. We had a good chat and, to be fair, he just wanted me in the dressing room to keep the lads going when they were down.

“When I first arrived at the Club, Simon Morgan was the Captain. I think he was a bit apprehensive about me joining at first because he perhaps thought Micky was bringing me in to replace him, but that wasn’t the case.

“We went over to Ireland for pre-season and had a drink and a chat and everything was fine after that. I think I surprised a few people with how many games I played that year. I think I played 30-plus matches and we, of course, got promoted.

“It’s a great Club that has done fantastically well. Micky was unlucky and he knows that, but then Ray [Wilkins] took over with Kevin [Keegan] and I also enjoyed that period, seeing all the big boys come in and help the Club reach the top flight.

“When I was at the Club, not many people actually lived around Fulham but there were always people to go for a drink with. We’d arrange drinks because about four of us used to live in Southampton. When we did go out it was a good group with Simon Morgan, Mark Walton, Terry Angus and Micky Conroy. There was a good mix and I still keep in touch with Simon.”

Having spent 30 years in football as a player and coach, Cockerill looks back on his career with fondness, having been a fans’ favourite wherever he played.

“I wouldn’t swap my time in football for anything because I loved the social side of it,” he said. “I used to love being mobbed when I pulled up outside The Dell, signing autographs for the kids and doing some community work.

“It was a social job and I used to like opening a local pub or a shop. The kids don’t see players as much nowadays. It was all part of a footballer’s life back then but I don’t see that happening anymore.

“On a Saturday night we’d go out and mix with the fans and it was never a problem. Even if we’d been beaten you’d be told, ‘you were crap today!’ I’d say, ‘yes I know, but we’ll sort it out next week.’ That would be that and we’d move on. You’d hear the thoughts of the supporters, and whether you took them onboard or not, they were good to listen to.

“From day one when I started in 1976 with Lincoln City it was always the same until the day I finished at Brentford. You could always nip out and have a pint with people and go into the social club after the game.”

Fulham’s next match is one that Glenn will be watching with interest as we take on Southampton, the club he made more than 300 appearances for over an eight-year spell.

Clearly thrilled that both sides are plying their trade in the top flight, the former midfielder anticipates a tight game between two teams close to his heart.

“I’m delighted for both clubs,” Cockerill said. “I think Fulham have done brilliantly and Martin Jol has done a great job. He’s recruited some fantastic players and replaced the ones he’s lost. All credit to him.

“Nigel Adkins has also done a fantastic job of getting Southampton back in the big time. They’ve had a tough run of fixtures to start the season but to get the win against Aston Villa was a good result. Going away to Everton last weekend was always going to be tricky.

“It’s going be tight and I think Southampton will be looking forward to playing at home again. It’s tough to call but I’ll go for a 2-2 draw.”