This will be my last article for a little while and I wanted to focus on something different before my summer break.

I want to talk about my memories growing up as a Fulham fan, specifically the memorable ones. Most fans would remember 2007/08 season that culminated in what became known as “The Great Escape” and what a season! I remember the Manchester City game we were losing 2-0 at half time, we were mathematically relegated at that point. It was absolute chaos, the shouting everything in the household. The sheer disappointment on my dad’s face until Diomansy Kamara comes in the 64th minute. He took six minutes to score – immediately lifting the gloomy mood.

Nine minutes later and Mike Dean points to the penalty spot having spotted some shirt pulling in the box. This was the only league spot-kick that Danny Murphy ever missed, with perhaps the nerves of a high pressure penalty causing him to place his finish too close to Joe Hart, but there was no time to even rage at a lost opportunity, as he calmly tucked away the rebound to level matters. Suddenly, the City of Manchester away end was bouncing. In an incredulous finish, after Kasey Keller had made a stupendous save, Fulham remarkably completed one of the best comebacks in Premier League history. The red and black shirts swarmed forward in the second minute of added time, a precise pass from Jimmy Bullard released Kamara in the inside left channel and the mercurial Senegalese forward lashed a finish high into the net.

A nervous afternoon at the Cottage against Birmingham, one of our major relegation rivals, followed. Fulham shaded the first half – creating the clearest opportunities – but hadn’t broken the deadlock before Brian McBride measured a magnificent header past Ben Foster from a Bullard set play at the Hammersmith End. Super-sub Erik Nevland reprised his goalscoring role from Reading by punishing a mistake from former Fulham full back Franck Queudrue to set up the chance of salvation at Fratton Park on the final day.

I didn’t get to Portsmouth, but that was probably the best thing for an eight year old’s nerves. I was left watching a Soccer Special on Sky, hearing Jeff narrate the closing stages of a three-way fight for safety. With 76 minutes played, Fulham were still in deep trouble. Birmingham and Reading were winning and time was running out. We all know hat happens next. I turned the speakers up with Bullard standing over an attacking free-kick. Murphy, about to substituted by Roy Hodgson, ran off Sean Davis – a recently introduced substitute – to head home, sparking delirium amongst the away fans. The last quarter of an hour felt like an eternity, but we held on and remained a Premier League side.

Hodgson’s Houdini act was only the first element of his remarkably achievements at Craven Cottage. We went from being fifteen minutes away from the drop to sealing a European place within twelve months. The Whites, following some shrewd summer signings including Bobby Zamora and John Paintsil in a cut-price double deal from West Ham and the arrivals of Mark Schwarzer and Zoltan Gera on free transfers, improved their away record and turned the Cottage into something of a fortress as they finished seventh. It was the 2009/10 season that seemed most miraculous of all – with victories over the might of Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, Wolfsburg and Hamburg taking us all the way to the Europa League final. The memories of Clint Dempsey’s deft chip that beat the Old Lady and Gera’s glorious finish against Hamburg are as fresh now as if they happened only yesterday. For all those wonderful memories, thank you Roy.

But my favourite memory was the very first Fulham fixture against Wigan on October 30 in 2010. I read MoTD magazine on the way home from school, discovering that there was a competition to name our number 23, and win some tickets to the Cottage. We joked about entering and so I did but I couldn’t believe it when my Dad told us that we’d won the tickets. Ten year old me thought this was the best thing ever – especially as my family circumstances, being looked after by ill parents who couldn’t work, meant that live football was largely out of reach. I’ll always be grateful for the moment I experienced the Cottage for the first time: listening to the crowd, taking it all in at our unique and historic home, even if my head hurt afterwards following the raucous reaction to Clint Dempsey’s double.

When I was sixteen, my Dad management to get me and my brothers season tickets in the Johnny Haynes’ family section. We made friends with some fellow youngsters and soon my brother was shouting at Stefan Johansen to backheel the ball. The Norwegian midfielder heard him and did it, but lost the ball – something we never allowed him to forget. It was a magical season not to miss a single home league game. We even dubbed a fan who looked a little like our billionaire owner ‘Mr. Khan’ because he loved to vociferously get behind the team. We were so close to a return to the Premier League, until that dubious penalty at Reading ended the dream.

The past six years have been tough for my family – we haven’t been able to watch the matches together as we became distanced across the country – and it hasn’t been the same going on my own. A lot of perusing of Fulham news comes via Twitter these days, which is as infuriating as the bird app allows anything to put across their views: sometimes forthrightly. The Fulham family is special and, of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but some of the rage seems a little over the top to me. I understand the frustration of the silly season, especially with so many people claiming to be in the know. We try to report only genuine news here, but everyone can get carried away at times.

Peter Rutzler’s report of Marco Silva’s frustrations yesterday sparked something of a meltdown across social media. I had to laugh at the outpouring of opprobrium at Tony Khan – as if the collective anger would propel new signings to Motspur Park even more quickly. Who knows where the faults truly lie behind the scenes but it seems to me that the club are aiming high in their recruitment this summer. That means our targets are coveted by other leading sides and, we have seen in previous seasons, that selling clubs can quickly revise their valuations of players. That’s what happened with Matt Targett in 2018, I think. We have regularly had to take our second or third choice and sometimes that works – look at how well Tosin and Joachim Andersen gelled after coming in at the last knockings last September. Then there’s all the agents who are massive disrupters in what looks like a poorly regulated process – the likes of Zahavi and Mendes have derailed deals already this summer.

The players are now much more in control than ever before – even if in a very roundabout way that process began with our very own Johnny Haynes all those years ago. It is clear that average footballers can demand a fortune these days. Look at Jesse Lingard, now a free agent after leaving Manchester United. We have been linked with his services this summer, but he is said to want more than £120,000-a-week. We have been in talks with a series of free agents if you believe the rumour ill and other reports have us spending between €14m and €20m on Turkish goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir, something that hasn’t been noted outside of the custodian’s homeland. The protracted Solomon saga hasn’t helped anyone’s blood pressure: it seems more confusing than Riverdale (if you know, you know). Reports say we signed him, then agents wanted more money, Fulham adjusted the agreed fee, various representatives blew up the deal and then we tried to pay nothing at all, citing a FIFA ruling. Who really knows what’s going on?

Marco is right to want a significant number of signings. Everyone knows that there isn’t enough quality in the current squad to keep us up. I agree that we should have ideally signed someone by know and am a little concerned by the lack of links with centre backs – where we are remain light. I could see us signing three central defenders, another pair of wingers, a goalkeeper, two full backs, Palhinha as the holding midfielder, a replacement for Fabio Carvalho and a back-up striker. The new Premier League rules allowing nine substitutes will require squad depth, which is why I am not as bothered as others about the links to Andreas Pereira, who to my mind would be a great option off the bench at the very least.

It is also clear that Silva is a serious manager, with a higher reputation in the game that the likes of Jokanovic and Parker. He will be able to attract a higher class of player, but Fulham must also tread carefully in the current financial climate. Overspending could be disastrous if it caused the Khans to pull their generous funding of the club and could reverse our remarkable rise from the foot of the Football League over the past twenty years.

I’d like to finish with a word about my pride at being part of the Hammyend team. Seeing the call out for contributors on social media last summer, I couldn’t resist the chance to write about our beloved club. It has a been joy covering the Whites – from scouting reports, my ideal signings and offering a view on the madness of the transfer market. Just having my words digested by the Fulham family and discussing my thoughts is a great pleasure – and I hope to be able to contribute as we tackle the top flight once again.