From the past or present, each week we catch up with a different Fulham personality. This Sunday, Terry Angus reveals what helped the Club back from the brink in the mid-1990s.
Beginning his career in non-league, defender Terry Angus made a name for himself during a difficult period of Fulham’s history in the mid-1990s.
When he joined in 1993, Angus arrived in Division Two, but the Club were relegated in his first season and the versatile defender found himself having to fight hard to help keep us afloat. From humble beginnings, however, Angus was exactly the type of player who relished a battle.
“When I went from VS Rugby, the transition to Northampton Town was quite tough,” he told the official website. “The hardest thing was to adjust your body to training full time - it wasn’t all about diet; I was generally just eating what I wanted to. You have to change your mentality. When you become a professional you have to adopt a selfish mentality as, although it’s a team sport, you have to change.
“When I was at Rugby, we were playing a passing style that was very high tempo and very rushed. I was playing against the likes of Paul Moody, Guy Whittingham, Andy Hessenthaler, Peter Taylor. There were some very good players in non-league at the time and the styles were varied; it wasn’t all kick and rush. In the professional game, there was a lot more strength and power. I actually thought there was more technical ability in the non-league than in Division Two.
“The professional game suited me. I took time to improve my game: I wanted to improve my heading, my speed, my touch and things like that. In non-league you could give the striker 10 chances and he’d probably score one; in the pros it was more like two chances and he’d score one. I had more time to focus on my game and make my body stronger.”
In July 1993, Angus made the move to Fulham after being released by Northampton and would go on to make 137 appearances for the Club.
“When I left Northampton they were in a terrible state,” he said. “I had a feeling of what Fulham were like because we had played against them in the FA Cup [a 3-1 win over the Whites] and I thought ‘They’re not all that.’ When I was released and joined them, I wasn’t thinking I was going to be overawed. There was some tired old pros and some younger players with ability, but I thought ‘Let’s have a go and meet the challenge.’ As a person, I always try to be the best I can be, so the step up wasn’t too bad.”
Angus’ first season ended in relegation, however, as the Club slipped down the Division Two table to finish the campaign in 21st place. We had picked up 52 points (four more than we managed when we stayed up three seasons beforehand) but it was not enough.
“I always told myself to give it the best shot I could,” Angus said. “As the year progressed, you saw things going on that weren’t right. I’m all about the team and there were too many individuals who just cared about themselves and not the team. It was a culture shock to me, but as the season developed and we struggled, then we were relegated, I realised that I could put my hand on my heart and say that I had tried my hardest.
“In my last year at Northampton, when we just about survived on the last day, I had said to myself that I never wanted to be in this position again. Low and behold, the following year it happened again, but I learnt from the experience. When we dropped into Division Three, it was a period of consolidation, but we were able to move forward.”
The arrival of Manager Ian Branfoot was the catalyst, as Angus began to see some changes that shook up the squad.
“He was a bit hardline; a bit of a taskmaster,” he revealed. “Whereas before, a lot of people could get away with things and the football squad was not run properly, when he came in he said ‘we have to get fit and we have to get organised.’ Those were two things that had contributed to us getting relegated the year before, so he brought an injection of confidence which was sorely needed. More important, he made us value our self-worth. For the first time, if you didn’t perform then it was highly likely that you wouldn’t play, and that was great.”
But results on the pitch were still suffering and, in February 1996, we dropped to 91st in the Football League – our lowest ever position. As a result, Micky Adams was promoted from player-coach to Manager and, following a similar philosophy, Angus remembers that he was able to push the Club on.
“He was part of the Branfoot school; part of the Southampton school,” he said. “When Micky came in, he said we were going to get ‘very fit and very organised.’ He wanted us to know our jobs, and everyone else’s job too. We all knew what was expected of us. He may have done some things I didn’t like, but he had an aim and some objectives and we worked towards them.”
Although their relationship was not perfect, Angus was able to develop himself personally, as a season of consolidation saw us finish 17th in 1995/96.
“What he got me to understand was how to be a winner, because of the negative way in which he treated me,” Angus added. “From that season on, I looked at the bloke in front of me on the pitch and thought ‘that guy is stopping me from getting over the finishing line.’ Micky gave me a siege mentality and made me even more resolute because of the way I was treated. Personally, I felt he wanted to get me out of the team, but I said to myself ‘you’ve got to fight even harder now’ and invariably that got the best out of me.”
Having been at our lowest point, within a year it was the heights of Division Two again as 1996/97 saw us explode into life – finishing second in the league on the old Goals Scored rule. Suddenly, we were on the up again.
“Ian Branfoot/Micky Adams/Glenn Cockerill/Simon Morgan started the revolution there,” Angus said. “Ian changed the mentality of the squad and saw through some of the players. He told them they were dragging the Club down and recognised the winners in the side; the younger players who should be developed.
“Instilling in us the will to win and the professionalism, his work was then taken further by Micky who enhanced that. He gave us aims and more organisation. As an example, we had just finished a horrible training session, we were lying on our backs and he said to us: ‘Just think about May, because in May you will be promoted. If you really believe it, it will happen.’
“When Glenn came in at the age of 36, he was able to quietly go about his business with the players and help us through. He was a guiding light on and off the pitch and was able to use his immense experience to show us the way. Simon was like a caged tiger as he had been stifled of any kind of success, and found a release. He was an example to us all and we all wanted to be walking behind him in the tunnel.
“We marched through the season and among the 18-odd players involved, we had an incredible togetherness. We were a unit. If there was a function, we all went; if there was a scrap on the pitch, or a fight in the tunnel, we were all there. When we walked out on the pitch, we knew we were going to win.
“Away at Swansea City, we were awful in the first half. We came in at the break 1-0 down and Micky told Simon to talk to us. Morgs went into his bit and we came out to win 2-1. We were such a team then that if I saw any of the lads in the street now, I would walk right up to them and say hello. That’s what we built there and why we were able to have such success that year.”