Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nostalgia - Tosh Chamberlain

Article written by Gordon Mills.

The Fulham Football Club owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to one man. Not because he was the greatest player or donated vast sums of money or led them to glory. No, that man, Trevor “Tosh” Chamberlain did something that shaped the club for almost 20 years: he persuaded Johnny Haynes to join him at Craven Cottage and not to go to the club, Spurs, nearest his home of Edmonton. I don’t think FFC has ever really thanked Tosh as much as it should have done for this great service, unless you consider keeping him at the club for over 10 years in the 50s and 60s when for ¾ of that time he clearly wasn’t worth a place in the first team as thanks enough.

Tosh was a character and there are hundreds of stories about him – most of them apocryphal. The Guardian’s Frank Keating must take the blame for perpetuating some of the most ridiculous such as Tosh attempting to take a corner and thwacking the flag instead – it wouldn’t have been so bad but Maurice Cook tried to head it in; another was his anecdote about Tosh and Haynes arguing so vehemently with each other that the ref threatened to send Tosh off which led to Tosh explaining that he couldn’t do that because he and Johnny were on the same side. I prefer to remember him for some of his performances: one was a cup game against the might of Newcastle, the cup holders at the time. They came to a packed Cottage – over 40,000 – and Milburn and Mitchell ran the Fulham defence ragged from the Kick off and swept into a 3 – 0 lead. Tosh was stung into action and promptly bagged a hat trick of his own to level the scores. He brought he house down and was already a hero. Unfortunately, the Fulham defence couldn’t match Tosh’s efforts and soon it was 5 - 3 to Newcastle – the fifth a terrible decision by the ref who allowed an assault on goalie Ian Black by Vic Keeble to stand as a goal. But Fulham still weren’t finished: Tosh had a goal disallowed and then we scored a fourth but tragically that was it, a 5- 4 defeat but Chamberlain had scored a hat trick on his debut in the FA Cup.

Not long after this we played an evening friendly against the touring Botafogo team from Brazil, mysterious Latino and black men who nobody knew as it was even before they achieved a certain amount of recognition by winning the World Cup in Sweden. Those days, pre-floodlights, evening games sometimes kicked off at 5.45 and we would dash there from school to get a place behind the Bovril signs. Fulham and Tosh were inspired that night and our hero dazzled with his one trick of pushing the ball past the full back on one side and running past him on the other – well it worked twice, I think - but it led to two of Fulham’s 4 goals in a memorable 4 – 2 win. Tosh, who to my recollection had a shot about as powerful as Roberto Carlos, slammed home the fourth and almost tore the net!

Tosh was a regular during the promotion season 58 – 59 but was not at his best for much of the time and another regular, Jimmy Hill, endured an even worse season. Hill, who later in the 60s gained notoriety for leading the PFA to the abolition of the maximum wage and allowed Haynes to become the first 100 pound a week footballer, had enjoyed a great time in 58, scoring in every round of our cup run to the semi final, but the next year he was in a goal drought. Easter arrived and in those days the fixture list pitted teams against each other on Good Friday and Easter Monday with another match against different opponents on the Saturday. Easter 59 saw Fulham in second place, twice play Sheffield Wednesday who were in first place in real top of the table competition. The Friday was a cracking game that was poised midway through the second half with Fulham just ahead 3 – 2. Hill and Tosh were both having nightmares but suddenly Fulham gained a corner on the right at the Hammersmith end. Tosh went to take it. He swung his trusty left foot and sent over a perfect inswinger. Cook wasn’t there but out of nowhere Hill rose like a dodo and butted the ball home – his first goal for about five months. Minutes later, another corner, another Tosh inswinger, another Hill header – 5 – 2. Just before the end, another corner etc and Hill had his hat trick and Fulham had won 6 – 2. Tosh had magic in his left boot that day. The next day we were home to Grimsby and although we won 3 – 0, the Rabbi, Hill, and Tosh were back to their worst. Incidentally, on the Monday at Hillsborough, we drew 2 – 2, a 5 point Easter that didn’t win us the second division championship but did virtually secure promotion..

Another story to close – for a while Tosh held the record for the longest kick in football because on a very windy day he sent a shot over the riverside terracing – no stand in those days – and into the river where it incredibly landed in a barge and ended up 7 miles down river at Brentford. Not even Frank Keating can better that one.

Anyone who remembers this era is welcome to reminisce with Gordon at gmills@cob.edu.bs


Brian said...

I was at the Good Friday game in 1959, I would have been 10. I think it was an 11am ko. My dad & uncle had taken my brother (7) & I & it was totally packed.

So (& can you imagine this happening these days?!) the cry came up to pass the kids down to the front, as there was no chance of seeing anything on the Hammy End terraces. We were picked up, passed down over the heads & put right over the fence to sit alongside the press photographers. It was fantastic to be so close, almost part of the action.

Chopper said...

My Dad's told me about that happening at games. Amazing stuff.

John Nolan said...

I was also at the Good Friday game,one of the most memorable ever. I was level with the Hill hat-trick goal on the right hand side in a sectioned off area for children?
After the game we got across to Highbury for the 3 o'clock kick off.
It's surprising how far you could stretch 2/6 pocket money.

John Nolan said...

PS!!! can anybody remember the Fulham team that day?