Ambition, Football and Fulham

This article also appears in the (print only) Fulham fanzine, There’s Only One F in Fulham, now in its 25th year

Ambition. The word has become quite fashionable in football recently – Fulham have had the word thrown at us in terms of we lack it rather than we have it. In theory, ambition should be a positive. But what does it mean in terms of football?

Mark Hughes got the ball rolling when he left citing our lack of ambition. Interesting theory Mark but you actually left because your arrogance led you to believe you had the Aston Villa job. And when that all fell down you had to crawl to a club that struggles to fill a 18k stadium. That’s ambition? But the Hughes definition of ambition is surely more crude. His definition I would surmise is: ‘the club that gives me the most money, regardless of the consequences to that club’s future – oh, and they have to employ my mates as well’.

So what of that club. Ah QPR. A strange breed. Recently known as the bitters because, well they were very bitter of our relative success. Now rapidly becoming known as North Korea due to their absolute blindness to the reality. They are convinced they are huge, despite their struggle to sell out Loftus Road. They are convinced spending c. £70k a week wages on has beens is sustainable and worthwhile. Getting a keeper in on ridiculous wages and then dropping him after one mistake and signing another one on even more ridiculous wages seems odd at best. Certainly not ambitious.

Tuesday 28th August sees Fulham surrender meekly to Sheffield Wednesday and then to cap a miserable day announce Moussa is off to Spurs. Whilst down in Shepherds Bush (having less than 6k home fans on the same night) the QPR fans were calling Premiership fans ‘jealous’ of them. Never quite worked out what they consider people are ‘jealous’ of. Answers on a postage stamp please.

Meanwhile the Fulham message boards are in debate about what constitutes ambition. Realism is my take. Though to support Alistair Mackintosh and the board is to be labelled an apologist.

To retain some perspective it is often worth remembering the bad old days most of which TOOFIF was alive and our only communication tool:

Fulham Park Rangers, Alan Dicks, Hayes, Stamford Bridge move, being bottom of the entire football league. I could go on.

I was a fairly regular contributor to TOOFIF in the early days to complain (campaign) against the ills that beset us. Indeed the no doubt weary editor even had to announce in one issue that my article had been spiked as he didn’t want to be sued by Jimmy Hill! As I am sure is common, my writing virtually ceased as we became bloody good – nothing more to complain about!

So what is ambition to us now?

Well staying at the Cottage has always been our goal. The ground is probably the most synonymous with a club in the country. The successful application for the new stand should nail that down.

A European final? Been there, done that! Never in our wildest dreams could we have believed we would have that wonderful journey.

Premiership stability? 12 years and counting.

Progress in the Premiership? Undoubtedly.

A decent domestic cup run? Probably the one area we would have liked to have done better.

So what now?

Some argue we should ‘push on’. I often think they mean spend ridiculous money and hope for the best. Not for me. We have to accept we are a medium-sized club and a huge cash boost injection will probably end in tears in the future. The names Portsmouth and Leeds always jump to mind.

No, let’s build an exciting future and supplement the team with experience and exciting signings. Ah, Kacha and Berba. We are on the way.

Let’s enjoy where we are and never forget the real dark days.

If that’s a lack of ‘ambition’ then so be it. But I much prefer that and retain our culture, identity and status than pray to God that a so called money man ‘saviour’ suddenly realises he is throwing money at a bottomless pit.

Finally a word of congratulations to David Lloyd and the TOOFIF team. Often our only vehicle where we could mobilise. 25 years I’m sure makes us all feel too old. I guess the one shame is that we all now know the mag as TOOFIF. We should never forget it’s full title. There’s Only One F in Fulham. Indeed.

About Gerry Pimm

Gerry Pimm is a lifelong Fulham fan season ticket holder who wastes his time watching them home and away. Also has an interest in the non-league game and has an urge for football to return to the good old days of terraces and value.