The news that the Fulham Supporters’ Trust has organised a special evening for the supporters with the hero of my early years of following the Whites, Micky Adams, brought a massive smile to my face. I’m sure not the only one who still treasures the memories of that magical eighteen months when a man brought in from Southampton to bolster Fulham’s flagging defence instead ended up shoring up the club’s position in the Football League after taking over Ian Branfoot as player-manager and, after telling the press ‘to judge me what I do next season,’ went on to guide the Cottagers to promotion on a shoestring budget.
A much younger version of your correspondent was crestfallen when Adams was cast aside in favour of Ray Wilkins after a League Cup defeat at the hands of Wolves. After a week that has had Fulham fans agog at the stories coming out of Motspur Park, it seems strange to reflect on events from more than 20 years ago and think about how the club badly mistreated the man who engineered the revival that ended up sparking Mohamed Al-Fayed’s interest in purchasing London’s oldest football professional side. But they did.
Adams has written at length in his new autobiography, which I devoured in a single setting, about the circumstances that led up to his departure from Craven Cottage and you wouldn’t blame him if it still rankled. The famously driven son of the city of steel had performed a minor miracle in getting Fulham, a quaint club that barely had two pennies together, out of English football’s basement at the same time as transforming the fortunes of striker Mike Conroy, who went from surly Scottish forward to the terroriser of Divison Three defences seemingly in the blink of an eye. At the end of a managerial career that initially saw him as the game’s answer to the emergency services as he specialised in putting clubs in crisis back on their feet, a more rounded Adams is in more reflective mood.
For supporters of a certain generation who remember the first time they clapped eyes on a shaggy-haired Darren Freeman, an injured Terry Angus leading the signing at Leyton Orient, ‘Fish out’ and the extraordinary scenes after Rodney McAree’s wonder goal at Carlisle United, Adams is a cult hero. Let’s hope, more than two decades since his abrupt departure, he gets an idea of just how fondly he is remembered by the Fulham faithful in a couple of weeks time.