Fulham First XI

Wednesday 2 October 2013 13:45

Former Whites Captain Andy Melville talks footballing beginnings in this week’s Fulham First XI.

First professional match attended

That was Swansea City’s 5-1 win against Leeds United in August 1981 at Vetch Park. It was quite a famous match for the club because it was their first game in the top flight – the old Division One. John Toshack had taken Swansea from the bottom tier to the top, much like Fulham did. Alan Curtis scored a hat-trick too, on what was a fantastic day for everyone – including this young fan. 

First club supported

Swansea was my local club and the team that I've supported for as long as I can remember. They’ve enjoyed some success over the past couple of seasons, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing – but that’s the joy of following a team isn’t it? They deserve to be where they are today, though, and turning heads in the Premier League. 

First club joined

That would be Lonlas at the age of 10. They're still going strong, based in Skewen on the outskirts of Swansea. It’s a terrific little club, and one that John Hartson used to play for, too. I joined Swansea at 14, so they were my first professional club. 

First manager

When I signed for the Swans it was John Toshack, but by the time I made my debut John Bond was in charge. 

First position

Believe it or not, initially I started out as a striker. I gradually moved further back, but the switch in position served me good because I did well from it. For a defender, I was always quite comfortable on the ball – I suppose that stems from those early days as a striker.

First match for Fulham

I made my debut in a 2-2 draw with Birmingham City in August 1999. My first game at Craven Cottage came a few weeks later – we drew 0-0 with Manchester City. We soon got in the habit of winning, though! 

First match for Wales

That came against West Germany in Cologne back in November 1989 and we narrowly lost 2-1. Neville Southall, Mark Bowen, Dean Saunders and Mark Hughes were all in the side that day. What a place to make your debut, hey? We played well, with Malcolm Allen opening the scoring. But West Germany hit back with goals from Rudi Voller and Thomas Hassler. If I remember correctly they qualified for the 1990 World Cup as a result and, as we know, they went on to win the tournament. 

First goal

I actually scored a fair few for Swansea in my early days, but unfortunately I can’t recall the exact details of the first. I’m pretty sure it was against Leyton Orient, though. 

First roommate

At Swansea we didn’t really stay over the night before away games, we just didn’t have the money. But if and when we did, it would have been with Chris Coleman. My first roommate with Wales was Malcolm Allen, while at Fulham it was Paul Trollope. 

First shirt number

I wore a few different numbers as a kid, but as soon as I started playing for Swansea it was the number five. I always liked that number! 

First football hero

I really liked watching Alan Hansen play during his Liverpool days. He was a very classy defender, and so good at bringing the ball out from the back. As I got older, that was something I tried to do – that was the way I liked to play.