20 Years On: Part Four

Thursday 6 June 2019 06:00

A major by-product of Fulham’s success was Kevin Keegan’s rising stock, and he subsequently became the FA’s number one target in their search for a new England manager following the sacking of Glenn Hoddle. He was officially appointed on Wednesday 17th February, but his decision to only commit to four matches while he continued to focus on Fulham’s promotion charge came as a shock to many. “Kevin has made his wishes absolutely clear - he wishes to complete his contract at Fulham,” FA executive director David Davies said at the press conference. Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed was also happy to help out the Three Lions: “When I was approached by the FA last week and asked if I would give them my permission to hold talks with Kevin, I could do nothing but concede to their request. Kevin has been the people’s choice since Glenn Hoddle departed and I am not the sort of man who will stand in anyone’s way, especially when the best interests of the country’s national sport are at stake. Kevin has been exceptionally loyal to us at Fulham and I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to him for the change in fortunes the Club has experienced.”

Following the appointment, Chris Coleman wrote in his programme notes: “The English lads have been feeling very pleased with themselves since the announcement that the gaffer was going to take on the national job. I’m not saying that they are letting themselves get carried away but Morgs has already told the gaffer he will be fit for the Poland match! And poor old Geoff suffered an injury at York that slightly derailed the ‘Horsfield for England’ campaign that he himself started.”

Fulham’s highly productive February/March was personified by the devastating form of two clinical finishers, although one is more obvious than the other. We hit 23 goals in our 10 fixtures (eight wins & two draws) across the two months, with Geoff Horsfield responsible for 10 of those (nine of which arrived in a phenomenal six game purple patch), and centre-back Kit Symons contributing six. It was comfortably the best scoring period of Symons’ career, and he ended the campaign with 11 to his name, meaning he was one goal from equalling Roger Brown’s record for a defender in a single season.

Such was the Whites’ form that it was just a matter of time before promotion was confirmed, and that moment arrived on a Tuesday night at the Cottage when Gillingham were beaten 3-0 thanks to goals from Barry Hayles, Chris Coleman and Geoff Horsfield. “I think everyone enjoyed the celebrations at the final whistle, not least the Chairman,” Coleman said. “At one point towards the end of the game I thought he was going to come on. As I glanced over at the bench, there he was, sitting there. Oh well, he’s younger than Morgs so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t get a game.” Morgan added: “Two years previously, Gillingham had come to the Cottage and got promoted, and really rubbed it in that day to us, so it was nice to get our own back.”

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