Today would have been Danny Fullbrook’s birthday. His name might be a new one to the youngest generation of Fulham fans and readers of this website. Danny was the Daily Star and Daily Mirror’s chief football correspondent and a fanatical Fulham follower. He was cruelly taken from us far too soon – ten years ago this summer – by cancer, but fought his diagnosis with the kind of courage and fearlessness that characterised his life and his career. It wasn’t a coincidence that his award-winning Star column was headlined: ‘Frank. Fearless. Forthright’. That’s who Danny was.
I met him entirely by chance standing at TOOFIF corner whilst chatting to David Lloyd, to whom we also send our best wishes. David, the editor of the Fulham fanzine, was kind enough to mention to Danny that the disabled teenager stood next to him had contributed an article to that edition. He talked with me about Fulham for fifteen minutes, asked me what I thought that day’s starting line-up would be, and with the poise of an absolute professional, slipped a business card into my hand and told me to email him.
I did – and a couple of summers later, following his encouragement, this website was born. When we launched what was a bilingual website for followers of Fulham in the summer of 2003, I don’t think Nick or I envisaged that it would last nearly two decades or that we’d have such a loyal following. Danny’s death stunned everyone – and, very unusually, I have never met anyone within the game or outside, who has a bad word to say about him.
Danny’s family set up the Fearless Foundation in his honour and Hammyend has over the past few years ran an informal scheme to mentor the next generation of Fulham fans who would like to become journalists. We are immensely proud of our most successful graduate, Lydia Campbell, who wrote regularly for us when she was still a high school student, and has now just finished covering the Women’s European Championships with the BBC. We are so grateful for the support of Fulham Football Club, particularly captain Tom Cairney, whose first interview as a professional was conducted by Danny when our number ten was at Hull City, and the Football Writers’ Association, especially chair Carrie Brown and the brilliant Gerry Cox.
That’s why it was so special yesterday to watch Fulham’s final pre-season friendly from the Hammersmith End in the company of Danny’s friends and family, including his son Ed. It may have been a warm-up for the main business but I make no apologies for celebrating Aleksandar Mitrovic’s late equaliser like it had won us the league. I just know Danny was leading the chorus of ‘Mitro’s on fire’ wherever he was watching.
Danny’s legacy is the main reason for us continuing to cover events at Craven Cottage. This site is a labour of love – but providing the opportunities for talented Fulham fans to follow in his footsteps is so worthwhile. If you’d like to help us chronicle Fulham’s Premier League campaign under Marco Silva – and maybe get some brilliant opportunities thanks to the generosity of some of Danny’s former colleagues – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.