Fulham Football Club and music, a personal journey

Fulham Football Club and Music - www.thepaperlion.co.uk

Bruce, Maddy, Jacko and a bit of reggae
Fulham Football Club and Music

I had an email yesterday from American music label Poptek Records. I get a lot of requests to review music, some of the tunes are good, and some bad, but I always try and give them a fair listen. For once, this label boss Andy Ingram had done his homework, he had spotted that I was a Fulham fan and mentioned it in the email. I was reeled in ‘good and proper’ and it prompted me to give the press release a further look. He has a flatmate who was from Fulham, that’s a good start and Andy had himself been to the ground and seemed quite knowledgeable about the club. Job done I was hooked. It got me thinking about Fulham, my musical life and what links the club had to the music industry. Whether famous musicians or American superstar visitors, we have our share of musical stardust.

1985 a year of change

Some of you reading this will be able to cast your mind back to the 80s, those heady days of lower division crap football, a ground that was falling to pieces (although it had its charms of course!) and the feeling that through underfunding and neglect we would never escape mediocrity.

I was a steward for a couple of seasons around 1985, at this time stewards tended to be teenagers or retired old blokes. I was far too young for the responsibility, but as a 16 year old it was a laugh and I also got to steward at Wembley with some of my mates at events like Live Aid. 

Tight shorts and small attendances, 1985/86 was not a stunning season for Fulham, we came bottom. Dean Coney in action...

Into the Groove

It was around this time that my musical interest started to develop. The tannoy would play the chart hits of the time and tracks like Madonna’s ‘Into the Groove’ and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ got me hooked. I would love to be super cool now and talk about hanging out at trendy independent records shops. But my first record buying was at Our Price in Putney High Street and Woolworths in East Sheen, not very impressive, but you have to start somewhere.

Girls and indie music

When we hit the late 80s and early 90s, my brother Ben and I got our first season tickets. Life was really starting to kick in. Girls, indie music, football and pizza, everything was exciting and what else could we possibly need? With our music taste developing we heard that members of indie band Swervedriver were supporters. Brilliant, I had just discovered their first EP, Son of Mustang Ford (check the video below), it was never off the deck in the record shop I now worked in (Our Price, Chiswick High Road).

This love of the band prompted my brother to write a piece for the match day programme on these musical links. Frustratingly the editor (who shall remain nameless), thinking he knew better, changed Swervedriver to Skrewdriver, a very different style of music! 

Michael Jackson

Swervedriver were great, but they were about to be eclipsed by my next Fulham musical milestone. By now Mohamed Al Fayed was in charge and fortunes were changing. We had investment and with a rag tag team of free transfers, ex Southampton players and some young talent, we had got ourselves out of the bottom division. Success was gathering pace and by 1999 under the management of Kevin Keegan we were promoted from the third tier.

Surreal is an overused word, but the 10th April 1999 was a very surreal day and will stick in the memory! A group appeared on the pitch and the announcer said ‘Please all welcome Michael Jackson to Fulham Football Club.’ or something like that. People seemed to be stunned and looked at each other with disbelief. This was little Fulham and a global superstar was gracing the pitch.

It is a bit of a stretch to call Michael Jackson a Fulham fan, but he seemed to enjoy his afternoon by the Thames, draped in Fulham scarves. There is a snippet of video below. Mr J’s association continued with Mohamed and his infamous statue. I am not going to talk about that, let’s just say the statue of Johnny Haynes on Stevenage Road is far more appropriate!

The list

There is a list on the internet detailing the musical links to the club. Some look a little tenuous to me, I do wonder that if you were a musician and lived vaguely near the ground you got added to it by default. Lily & Keith Allen are certs, although I think Lily has changed to blue, not sure if that is true. Rapper Example is another artist open about his allegiances to the club. Dusty Springfield and Kylie Minogue though? I know Kylie used to shop at Our Price on the King’s Road, one of my former colleagues used to give her a guided tour of the shop and recommend releases. How jammy is that and I always wondered why he did not just propose on the spot!

Okay Lindon, Participation

I have got this far and have not given the catalyst for this piece a proper name check. As I mentioned in my intro, this article was sparked by an email from Andy Ingram from Poptek Records. He is promoting an album by Okay Lindon, out now on Cassette and Digital.

I do see myself as a ‘hardcore’ reggae fan, I love my roots and dub and am sometimes a little sceptical about rock/reggae hybrid acts. This style seems to be the vogue in some parts of the US. But I like this album, the songs are better for a mixing of different influences. For example on the track ‘More Features, More Repairs’ you have the basic reggae bassline and choppy guitar lick. But that main guitar line is pure Smiths and Johnny Marr surely?

Main songwriter Dustin Smith has developed a taste for reggae, here he sums up what pushed him in this direction.

”In last couple years, I’ve become more interested in spirituality and social activism and reggae has just an endless well of content on those subjects. Hearing the music through the perspective of an oppressed people wanting to return to their home in Africa, learning about Selassie and some of the history surrounding the culture provides a lot more depth to the listening. It would be silly to say I can relate to what those people have gone through, but the spiritual aspects of their music, the crying out for peace and social justice really resonate with me right now. It’s art with a big message and higher purpose and I can really get behind that.”

Together with the sweet voice and violin of Erica Beimesche, drummer Jordan Elam, and keyboards from Andrew McEwen, you have a good record here. The press release cites one of Dustin’s influences as Swervedriver! Boom, full circle back to where I started, the band that gave me my first Fulham connection.

Ralph McTell

Check out the Poptek Records website for ordering copies of Participation and the Okay Lindon Bandcamp site if you want to investigate some of their earlier work. Here is a link to the list of music connections to Fulham, as I said some look a little tenuous to me! It’s fitting that this great little club has these quirky connections, just feels right to me that we have cool indie bands and global superstars rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ralph McTell and Les Gray from Mud.

Thanks for reading, if you have any comments please leave them below, I would love to hear from you. A social media share would be much appreciated so please spread the word.


Toby (H4, E73, come and say hello)

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