Last season saw young Fulham goalkeeper, Ross Flitney, take his first steps on the road to first team action. Before the 03/04 campaign, the highlight of his career was helping Fulham’s youth side through to the Quarter Final of the FA Youth Cup and making a handful of reserve team appearances.
Last season’s loan spell at Brighton saw him make three first team appearances against Chesterfield, Wycombe and Swindon – and keep two clean sheets.
“I initially went to Brighton as cover, but their ‘keeper got injured a couple of times which gave me the opportunity. Obviously our other outfield players who went out on loan had a better chance of playing but with top class international goalkeepers like Edwin van der Sar and Mark Crossley ahead of me at Fulham, the move was a good one.
“Playing in front of 10,000 people at Swindon was a great buzz and a whole new experience for me,” said Flitney speaking exclusively to fulhamfc.com. “The last big game I played in was the Quarter Final FA Youth Cup but that was nothing compared to playing a proper league game.
“The first time I played, I didn’t know until exactly one hour before the kick off when their keeper, Ben Roberts, failed a fitness test. There was nothing to get nervous about because the game was so close. I was absolutely on top of the world.
“It was good to play in a game that had a lot riding on it. It’s a totally different kettle of fish playing in that environment to coming back and playing in the reserve team. I’d like to think that I played a small part in getting six valuable points which got them into the Play-Offs.”
Whilst Flitney was pleased with his performances when called upon – managerial changes at the Withdean Stadium meant that the young goalkeeper had to prove himself twice – first to Steve Coppell and then to new boss Mark McGhee who re-signed Flitney.
“Steve Coppell said that I did very well for a young lad coming in,” said Flitney. “I’d like to think that Bob Booker thinks very highly of me – I still speak to him every now and then. I got on very well with the goalkeeping coach there and the other players made me feel very welcome.”
Having returned to Fulham, Flitney remains realistic about his chances of securing a first team spot. With two international goalkeepers in Edwin van der Sar and Mark Crossley ahead of him in the pecking order, he is fully aware that securing a place in the first team is going to be far from easy.
However, the experience he gained last season can only get him closer to that number one shirt.
“I didn’t progress as far as I would have liked at Fulham,” he said. “The Gaffer made his decision and that’s fair enough. Going out on loan was a great experience for me, I learnt a lot of new things and it was good to get some first team action.
“I’m always interacting with Edwin, Mark Crossley and Dave Beasant. They’re all great and Dave’s been a good mentor for me this season. He’s very down to earth and that makes the sessions more enjoyable. There’s always a lot of banter flying around which is great for the young lands coming into the team.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to take for me to get into the first team – if I even get there at all. But it’s definitely a big ambition of mine. I’ve had a chat with the Gaffer and have received some good feedback – but only time will tell.”