Article written by Gordon Mills.
The Christmas period in 1963 saw one of the most amazing victories in Fulham’s somewhat checkered history. On Boxing Day 1963, Ipswich came to a cold, damp Cottage to play on a pitch that cut up from the kick-off and ended up like a glue pot. The conditions assisted Fulham though, because they ran in what is still their record victory, I believe, a thumping 10 goals to 1. There is still an air of disbelief when I reminisce on this game because not too many weeks before Xmas we had had to endure 5 or 6 consecutive games when the team couldn’t even manage one goal. Then, suddenly and oh so unexpectedly, they piled in 10. The records didn’t finish with the score either. Graham Leggatt, whose goal tally during his stay at Fulham was something like 125 at an average of one every two games, scored the fastest hat trick in First Division history. I think the three goals came in four minutes during the first half – this may have been beaten since but I’m not sure. He added a fourth in the second half with a long shot from way outside the box that was something like the goal Harley scored a couple of years back against Aston Villa, I think it was. Another enduring memory of this game was Mullery’s goal – a Fulham shot hit the post and the ball just stuck in the mud in the goalmouth and Mullery, slipping and sliding in the mud, beat the floundering Ipswich keeper to the ball and tapped it in.
Graham Leggatt now was a really good striker. He came to Fulham in 1958 as a winger who had already played for Scotland and had he come the year before when the deal all but went through, I’m convinced his goals would have secured not only promotion – we finished fifth just a couple of points behind Blackburn who came second – but also a cup final place; remember, that year we lost 5 – 3 in a semi final replay to Man Utd. However, having come as a goalscoring winger, he was pressed into service as a centre forward in our first season in the top flight and scored a hat trick on his first appearance as number 9 in a 3 – 3 draw at Old Trafford.
I believe he was the first of the modern forwards – not very tall but quick and difficult to shake off the ball. He had a great shot with both feet and was very good with his head. He could play anywhere in the front line. He was also tough: when he first came he played with his wrist bandaged to protect a fracture and the programme one day had a little snippet of dressing room talk in it. Apparently, Tosh Chamberlain remarked to Leggatt when the Scotsman was bandaging his wrist, “When I see you doing that it makes me think you’re getting ready for a fight.” To which Leggatt replied, “Well, Tosh, you never know.”
Leggatt’s Fulham career ended at Xmas 1965 when Fulham played Leicester twice, winning 2 – 0 there and then thumping them 4 – 2 in the return with Leggatt poaching another hat trick. The next day he was sold to Birmingham to make way for our new striker, Allan Clarke but that’s another story.
Just getting back to the Ipswich game – two days later was the return at Portman Road and nobody was surprised when a still hungover Fulham capitulated 4 – 2. Strangely, that wasn’t the only huge turnaround in scores that Xmas. On Boxing Day Blackburn went to West Ham and won 8 – 2; at Ewood Park two days later West Ham won 3 – 1. On Boxing Day Burnley thumped Man U 6 – 1 and two days later Man U beat them 5 – 1 at Old Trafford. On Boxing Day Liverpool hammered Stoke 6 – 1, the return two days later was postponed but when they played in Stoke at the end of the season, Stoke prevailed 3 – 1. So maybe some strange gods were at work for the fixtures.
Anyone who remembers this era is welcome to reminisce with Gordon at email@example.com