Fulham Football Club have this morning confirmed the sad passing of legendary former left back Fred Callaghan at the age of 77.
A charismatic character, popular even with supporters who didn’t see him play because of his cheeky persona and his outstanding hosting of match day hospitality lounges at Craven Cottage over the past couple of decades, Callaghan made 336 first-team appearances for Fulham having signed for his local club as an apprentice in 1962. Born in Parsons Green, Callaghan got his opportunity in the senior side following Alan Mullery’s departure, establishing himself as a regular at either left back or left half after his debut against Aston Villa in March 1964.
Were he playing now, Callaghan – nicknamed ‘Tank’ for his industry along the left flank – would be the epitome of a modern full back: eager to get forward and whip in dangerous deliveries for forwards to attack. He suffered a double relegation as Fulham slipped down the footballing pyramid but remained loyal to the Whites and was a pivotal part of Bill Dodgin’s side that won promotion from the Third Division in 1970/71. Callaghan started all but one of the league fixtures in that campaign – making 52 appearances in all competitions and passing a double century of games for the club in total – as Fulham finished runners-up to Preston North End by a single point.
Callaghan scored twelve goals for Fulham with his most important coming the following campaign at the Valley, where his equaliser ultimately secured the club’s Second Division status at the expense of Charlton Athletic. His career was cut short by a slipped disc and he left his boyhood club in May 1974. He coached in non-league and was a successful manager with Enfield, Woking and Brentford, where his attack-minded approach was popular with Griffin Park regulars as the likes of Stan Bowles, Chris Kamara, Tony Mahoney and Terry Hurlock all featured regularly.
Callaghan passed the knowledge and became a taxi driver whilst continuing to coach in non-league. He was delighted to return to Craven Cottage as a matchday host and I will certainly remember his unique sense of humour, smile and willignness to talk Fulham with anyone. On behalf of everyone at Hammyend, we would like to send our sincerest condolences to Fred’s family and friends, especially his wife Hazel and his children. We’ll miss you, Fred. Thanks for the memories.