There’s a cracking interview in the Sentinel with the former Chelsea, Stoke and Arsenal midfielder Alan Hudson about his surprising love for Fulham.
Hudson, whose boyhood hero was Johnny Haynes, was turned down by Fulham as a schoolboy and will be one of the guests of honour as the Whites take on Stoke at the Britannia Stadium next weekend. His support for the Craven Cottage side came from his family first of all.
My dad Bill was Fulham born and a Fulham fan and was a good player himself who could have played. He met my mum and moved to Chelsea, but he was always a Fulham fan from a family of Fulham supporters.
I wanted to play for Fulham and be the next Johnny Haynes. I saw him play as a kid and later became friends before his untimely death.
I remember later in life being at a dinner when Johnny was on the top table with Jimmy Greaves and others like Terry Venables and Bobby Robson. Like Jimmy Greaves, if you told Johnny what a great player he was he would get embarrassed. Anyway, that night I shook his hand and asked him for his autograph.
He said ‘you’re joking aren’t you?’ I then said I always wanted his number 10 shirt at Fulham, but I ended up getting Jimmy’s number eight at Chelsea.
Hudson, who won two England caps in 1975, clearly reveres Haynes, who spent his entire career at the Cottage.
He’s one of the most under-rated players and he could have probably gone on to any club in the world, including the great Real Madrid at that time. But he would never leave Fulham because he loved Craven Cottage and he was idolised there.
I remember Rodney Marsh once telling me the story of when he was at Fulham and went out on to the pitch for a fitness test on the Thursday before a game on the Saturday. He said he threw the ball and went to run after it when the groundsman came over and said he couldn’t play on there before a game. He said ‘there’s only one man allowed on there and that’s Johnny Haynes’.
Fulham’s fortunes might have been a bit different in the late sixties and early seventies had they not opted against signing a young Hudson.
My dad took me to Fulham at 12, but they said I was too small. My dad hated doing it, but he then took me to Chelsea and they took me on. I remember being on a train a few years later when Bobby Robson, who was then Fulham manager, was also on it.
My dad told him to go and watch a kid he had seen, but Robson never did. Then the next year, Chelsea went to watch a game at Cambridge to watch one kid, but came back with another. It was Ian Hutchison, the same kid my dad had been on about.
So just think, if things had been different, Fulham could have had me, Hutch, Marsh, Johnny Haynes and Malcolm MacDonald. And then later on George Best and Bobby Moore.