Fulham Football Club said farewell - but not goodbye - to our long-serving Supporter Centre Manager Sandra Coles who retired this week.
Sandra, a lifelong fan of the Whites, has been employed by the Club for four decades – witnessing many of the pivotal moments in our history, from the lows of relegation, to the highs of reaching the FA Cup and UEFA Europa League Finals.
She began her career at Fulham in the Pools Office back in 1973, before being promoted to the Commercial department, and eventually running the Ticket Office. A real favourite of the Fulham fans, Sandra was known for her above-and-beyond attitude whereby she would do everything in her power to assist supporters of the Club.
Sandra will be missed by everyone at Fulham, although she’ll remain a regular at the Cottage as she can now enjoy the matches alongside her family in the Hammersmith End.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to work for the Club I’ve supported all my life,” Sandra told fulhamfc.com in her final week of employment. “There have been many lows and highs during my 40 years at Fulham but I’ve enjoyed every minute of every season.
“My lowest was probably Swansea City away when we were relegated, but the match that I always refer to with the most enjoyment was Carlisle United away. After so many years of struggling in the lower divisions, it finally looked like we were going to get the promotion we all wanted. It was wonderful just to see the joy on the faces of all our supporters.
“And, of course, how could I forget our European adventure. The Ticket Office team were tremendous and I thank them all for their support leading up to the Final.
“When the Chairman took over the Club, the transformation was unbelievable. He turned a ground full of weeds, and stands with missing seats, into the stadium we’re so proud of today.
“I’ll be sitting in H4 next season with the family, looking forward to seeing the whole match at Craven Cottage which I have not been able to do for the past 40 years. COYW!”
The Club hosted a special tribute night in Sandra’s honour on Tuesday, with a plethora of famous Fulham faces expressing their gratitude to her in a commemorative programme. Many thanks to David Lloyd, who helped produce the programme, for use of the below testimonies.
“When I first bought this Club in 1997, I was told of the staff who had worked for many years, through the times of celebration and through the tough times. The first name that I was given was that of Sandra Coles. Sandra has been part of the fabric at Fulham for 40 years, and has given everything during that time. Come rain or shine, she was there to wave fans off on away trips, and to make sure everyone who walked through her Ticket Office doors was greeted with a smile and attentive service. Sandra, you will be missed, but I wish you a long and happy retirement and know that we will see you at the Cottage cheering on the Whites.”
Fulham CEO, Alistair Mackintosh
“It’s always a pleasure to be able to celebrate commitment and loyalty. Those who work for the Club are expected to be true custodians and Sandra has certainly demonstrated that over the course of her tenure. Sandra will have seen the most incredible transformation of the Club over 40 years and should be exceptionally proud to have played such an important role in it.”
England and former Fulham Manager, Roy Hodgson
“I knew when I arrived at Craven Cottage that Fulham was a Club steeped in history and tradition and this has never been more clearly demonstrated than by Sandra’s career and story. Sandra is one of Fulham’s most-respected ambassadors. Her unswerving loyalty and dedication to the cause typifies her own personal qualities and demonstrates, once again, what a unique and special Club it is to work for.”
Former Fulham Captain and Manager, Chris Coleman
“Sandra loves Fulham. She’s had to deal with everything from dwindling attendances and paper tickets to a resurgent football club, a computerised ticketing system, an ever-increasing demand for tickets and, don’t forget, Fulham’s wonderful tour of Europe in 2010. She’s the sort who just gets on with her job, and does it magnificently. Sandra’s a great girl, I loved her. Best wishes for your retirement Sandra. I miss you. And Fulham Football Club’s gonna miss you.”
Former Fulham player and Manager, Micky Adams
“I was privileged to be offered my first management position at Fulham and Sandra, along with others at the Club, offered me invaluable support as I found my feet in my new role. We shared some happy times there, including promotion from the old Fourth Division, and Sandra is one of the people who helped to shape those good memories. They will always stay with me. Over four decades, Sandra will have witnessed the highs and lows of football and she has the proverbial Fulham t-shirt. I’m certain she will be missed by everyone at Fulham and I’d like to send my very best wishes for her retirement.”
Fulham’s all-time leading scorer, Gordon Davies
“If Johnny Haynes is Mr Fulham then, without a doubt, Sandra is Mrs Fulham. She typifies what Fulham Football Club is all about - as a fan, a true supporter, and a loyal member of staff. Sandra has been a very good friend to both Sue and myself since 1978 and she will be missed within the Club throughout all areas. I can now truly say: ‘Sandra, it’s time to start enjoying yourself. Love you loads.’”
Fulham legend, Les Strong
“You can talk about players being legends; if you want a true legend then take a bow Sandra – a real Fulham legend for me. She’s been at Fulham all her working life and is an avid supporter too. I always find it amusing that she has to walk all of 16 paces every morning to get to work. That’s my idea of a strenuous training session! Sandra has been absolutely fantastic for Fulham, a great professional and a really, really nice person as well. I wish her lots of luck in her retirement.”
Former Fulham Captain, Simon Morgan
“Through the bad times and then the good, Sandra has remained a constant at Fulham and not changed one bit during that time. She would always offer the same cheery ‘hello Simon’ greeting from the first time I met her back in 1990 when I went to the Cottage for talks with the then-Manager, Ray Lewington, through the dark days of 91st in the league, through the renaissance under Micky Adams, Kevin Keegan and Jean Tigana, through the enforced years at Queens Park Rangers and then back to the Cottage for the Europa glory nights. Sandra was always there, always supportive and brought a calmness to the Club.”
Fulham Match Announcer, David Hamilton
“You came with us when we decamped to QPR and you sang with us on our three fantastic promotion seasons. You’ve been here for so long, you can even remember the days when Les Strong was a sex symbol. You never kicked a ball or wore the black and white strip, but you were a Fulham legend. We’ll miss you, but I know you won’t be far away. Just around the corner, in fact. And there in the stand on matchdays supporting the Club you’ve loved for so long.”
Club Historian, Dennis Turner
“She has been Ticket Office Manager for around 1,500 matches (around a third of the games played in our history) and has dealt with thousands upon thousands of enquiries about matchday tickets, Season Tickets and away travel. In addition, she has had to cope with a technological revolution in the way tickets are sold. No member of the current staff has had such a long association with the Club, and it’s unlikely that anyone in the future will either. She will undoubtedly disapprove of what has been written here because Sandra naturally shies away from the limelight and prefers to get on with her job quietly in the background. But this is an appropriate time to acknowledge an important job well done, to say thank you and wish her a long and happy retirement.”