50 Moments That Made Fulham

Monday 17 June 2013 09:00

30. Sir Bobby Robson signs for Fulham – 1950

The man who would not only become a Fulham legend but an England one too, joined the Club in 1950 after we fought off competition from his local sides Newcastle United and Sunderland, and kept him from a life in the mines of the North East.

The story goes that it was a personal visit from the then-Fulham manager, Bill Dodgin, which made the 17-year-old decide that his future lay in London, but an offer of £7-a-week probably helped as well. At the time, Robson’s father, Phillip, was unsure whether his fourth son would be able to make a wage in football so insisted that Bobby study electrical engineering whilst playing for the Club.

He need not have worried as the Wing-Half formed a formidable partnership in an inside-forward trio alongside Bedford Jezzard and Johnny Haynes. Indeed, although he left for West Brom for £25,000 in 1956 he would return to the Cottage for another five seasons and, in total, his playing career saw him play 636 games and 141 goals.

Retiring from the game in 1967 after making a total of 20 appearances for his country, he moved into management. Fulham was his second stop after six months with Canada’s Vancouver Royals and, although his spell in charge lasted only 10 months, he went on to become a legend in the game and led England to the Semi-Finals of the World Cup in 1990 before being knighted just over a decade later.

Sadly, Sir Bobby died in 2009 after a long battle with cancer but remains a legend in SW6.

29. Bedford Jezzard reaches 142 goals – 1954

After joining the Club in 1948, ‘Beddy’ terrorised Second Division defences in the early 1950s and beat Jim Hammond’s aggregate goalscoring record (142) for Fulham in an incredible 1953/54 season for the forward. (A feat later overcome by Johnny Haynes in the 60s.)

With the assistance of forward partners Robson and Haynes, he bagged 39 goals that season – notching four goals against Derby County in October 1953 – to set a new post-war record and that included scoring in a record nine consecutive games between Christmas Day and February 27th.

Rounding off the season by netting two as the English League beat the Scottish League 4-0 at Stamford Bridge, Jezzard went on to score over 20 goals a season for his Club between 1953 and 1956 and finished his career at the age of 30 with 154 in 292 league appearances.

After hanging up his boots, Jezzard continued his Fulham legacy by becoming the Club's youth coach, and nine months later, Manager, immediately taking us back to the First Division.

28. George Cohen joins the Club – 1956

Joining as a 16-year-old, Cohen was thrown into the deep end when he was given his debut a year later in replacing Robin Lawler at right-back. Still, he proved himself more than worthy of keeping his place and cemented the spot from 1958/59 until a decade later.

Netting his first goal for the Club on Boxing Day 1958, he played a key role in helping us gain promotion that season and rarely missed a game until he was injured against Liverpool in 1967 and was forced to retire prematurely two years later.

Described by the great George Best "the best full-back I ever played against" and by 1966 World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsay as "England's greatest right-back", Cohen is the only player to have won a World Cup winner's medal while at the Club, which is some feat. After a spell running the Youth side until 1971, he is now a part of the Hospitality team at the Cottage and has the restaurant named after him.

27. Kevin Keegan takes over as Manager – 1998

The winds of change were blowing through Craven Cottage after Mohamed Al Fayed’s 1997 takeover and expectations were increased alongside the budget. New Manager Ray Wilkins had sealed a place in the Play-Offs in 1997/98 but it was not the promotion that was desired, so one of the country’s best ever players, Kevin Keegan – who had arrived as Operations Manager along with the takeover – was given a chance after impressing as Newcastle manager in the early stages of the Premiership.

Taking the helm in May for the Play-Offs against Grimsby Town, Keegan was unable to push us over the line on that occasion but did not disappoint in his first season in charge: sealing top spot in Division Two with ease in 1998/99 alongside a massive 101 point haul.

In September 1997, he had told the Independent: “we're talking about a five-year plan. Of course we want to be in the Premiership, just like about 30 other clubs." It took only three years for that dream to become a reality, but Keegan would not be a part of it as he had left to take charge of England in May 1999.

26. Edwin van der Sar signs – 2001

The Club’s return to the promised land of the Premiership saw a number of high profile arrivals land in SW6 in the preceding summer. The first was Netherlands goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar who came from Juventus for a transfer record of £7m (a record broken less than a month later by £11.5m Steve Marlet).

A product of the famed Ajax Amsterdam youth academy, van der Sar moved to Italy in 1999 but lost his place when the Turin club spent £32 million on Gianluigi Buffon. His unhappy time in Serie A only made for an easier transition to SW6 and the 30-year-old, who signed a four-year contract, said upon arrival: "It reminds me of eight or nine years ago at Ajax when the football was important but there was a nice friendly atmosphere. It's like a family here. I feel at home and I feel appreciated."

Edwin made 154 appearances in his four years at the Club but left to join the side against whom he made his Fulham debut [an away 3-2 defeat] – Manchester United.