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What do the papers, the TV, and fans of other clubs think about your team? In this series, John Nicholson and Alan Tyers look at the stereotypes, coverage and media agendas for each team in the Premier League. This week, it's the turn of likeable West Londoners, Fulham...
Ex-player pundit presence
Danny Murphy is pretty decent, and we like Chris Coleman who, with tight trousers, a scowling expression and very dark hair, seems to us like a character from a Victorian romantic novel. Ray Houghton has carved himself a good career on Ireland's RTE and on Talksport. John Collins does the Scottish football and some ITV highlights gigs, although obviously that's not necessarily because of his West London days. Rodney Marsh, once a Cottager and once rather a popular media gobsh*te, befouled the furniture once too often on air and is now a genuine Z-lister, poor blighter. Brian McBride, a man made of actual granite, does Fox in the US. And of course, the granddaddy of the whole profession, the man who played a huge part in shaping TV football coverage as we know it today, Jimmy Hill who must be wondering why Sunday Supplement doesn't come from his 'kitchen' any more.
Doing this section of this series is providing us with great joy: some of those claimed as one of their own by fans are making us genuinely laugh out loud. Fulham is no different - avid Cottagers allegedly include: Liz Hurley, Pope John Paul II, the rapper Example, Keith and Lily Allen, Russ Abbott's hag-nemesis Bella Emberg, Tony Curtis, Hugh Laurie (to whom half of this column once sold a Dr John t-shirt), Nigel Planer, Benicio Del Toro, Nasty Nick off of Big Brother, Cheggers, Dusty Springfield, Dennis Potter, Wolfie Smith in Citizen Smith and, of course, the single greatest football celebrity moment of them all, Michael Jackson coming to watch them play Wigan in the third tier, in 1999. This column was there, you know...
Back page leaders?
This new owner is shaping up nicely. He's got a funny moustache! Saying all the right things so far about not changing the name, respecting the traditions etc, and to be fair to Shahid Khan, he seems like a decent chap. However, someone who came to America from Pakistan and went from washing dishes for a dollar-twenty an hour to having a $2.5billion engineering empire is clearly not a dude to be trifled with. In media coverage terms, has a lot to live up to after the legendary Chairman Mo, always good for a story in the society pages, the business pages, the sports pages and indeed those bits of Private Eye where they don't have the jokes. The Fuggers get a sympathetic ride from the sports press on the basis that they play in an ancient landmark ground, are tiny and never hurt no-one. In the world of London football, Fulham are the slightly fey, poetic boy at the back of the class.
Gaffer's media skills
Everyone likes a bit of Martin Jol, don't they? Big affable bear of a bloke who doesn't seem to take things too seriously. Comedy Dutcsch Accentsch. Gets on well with the press boys, albeit that he found himself under some pressure last season when the club went on an awful run. Never seemed to get personal with him as it has with others. Jol is increasingly unusual in the top flight in that he looks like a Real Bloke. Unglamorous, un-athletic, overweight, balding, face like a bruised Jerusalem artichoke, the whiff of last night's ale on his breath. It must be like looking in a mirror for all the newspaper lads. No wonder they like him.
Vox pop cliché fan
Quite posh. It all looks very civilised when people are interviewed outside those £700,000 terraced houses that surround the ground. Decent sorts, can hardly believe their luck: it was fewer than 20 years ago that Fulham were bottom of the Football League; now they're in their 13th consecutive season in the top flight. Majority at this family club seem to recognise the amazing impact of Mo's millions, and as such, broadly tolerated the whole utterly surreal Jackson thing, even if they didn't like it.
Keyboard warrior ferocity
No Fulham fans are on the internet. Or that's what it seems like. They don't intrude into your life, don't get paranoid, don't shout the odds, don't complain much about anything. Haven't they heard it's 2013, daddio, and hate is the new love? The only fury we see vented is over their long association with match-day announcer 'Diddy' David Hamilton, with some fans fed-up that he springs to mind so readily on mention of the club. This, on the scale of online football outrage, feels altogether reasonable.
Decency, family, eccentric billionairey with big twirly 'tache. You can call football 'footy' or even 'footer' here and no one will punch you. Hopefully not going to get rebranded as the West London Sex Panthers.
The West London club it's okay to like. Michael Jackson statue was funny. Posh, but basically harmless. The Nigel Havers of football. Old fashioned but in a good way. Had terracing for ages longer than most. Everyone is quite surprised how they've lasted in the top flight so long without a relegation battle. Admirably, resolutely mid-table.
Archetypal news stories
'Berbatov does everything, then falls asleep standing up'
'Berba: Adel Taarabt is talented but a bit lazy.'
'Jimmy Hill still alive aged 141.'
John Nicholson and Alan Tyers
Read Johnny's book, 'The Meat Fix' here
Alan on The Ashes and more here.