Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nostalgia - Fred Callaghan

It's been a while since I posted any of Gordon's nostalgia. This arrived via Rich@CCN the other week who also recently posted this rather excellent piece about baseball and sporting history and vintage Fulham footage.

Article written by Gordon Mills

When Fulham inexplicably and shockingly sold Alan Mullery to Tottenham one March Saturday in 1964, many of us felt much as Bobby Robson did – rumour has it that after the game with Liverpool which Fulham won 1 – 0 thanks to a Reg Stratton goal, and the players heard the news of the transfer in the changing room, Robson had to be physically restrained from barging into the directors’ room and sorting them out. The transfer left a gaping in the Fulham midfield that was partially filled by local St Marks alumnus and self-confessed hard man, Fred Callaghan.

Fred had often been part of our games on the gravel of Hurlingham and South Parks and we had all been proud to name him as friend when he was offered terms at Fulham. We had sometimes been chased off the Richmond Park golf course by him and some other apprentice professionals too.

He had been captain of a very strong Fulham Youth team that included John Dempsey and Rodney Marsh and was an abrasive, tough tackling wing half with, paradoxically, a very cultured left foot. We looked forward to his promotion to the first team with high expectations.

A bunch of us travelled to Aston Villa the following Saturday to witness Fred’s debut in the number 6 shirt and what an inauspicious start he made! It seemed that every time he went near the ball in the first half he fouled someone – and these were unintentional fouls not the usual clattering Fred tackle - and at least four of his “tackles” were so late that he even missed the Villa man in possession. To say that the pace of the old Division 1 was a bit too much for him was a gross understatement. However, he gradually found his feet and actually managed to pass the ball to a fellow white shirt a couple of times in the second half and began to regain his stature after being withered by a few stares from captain J Haynes. Fulham drew the game and so began Fred’s career as Fulham player.

He kept his place in the midfield for a while but his great days came after he switched to left back when Jim Langley moved to QPR. He quickly established himself as a solid defender who made up for a certain lack of quickness on the turn with good positional sense and was ever willing to support the attack with marauding, swashbuckling runs down the wing that usually concluded with a dangerous cross towards Allan Clarke or Steve Earle. He was an excellent partner for George Cohen on the other flank.

He stayed with Fulham through the dreadful relegation years at the end of the sixties and, ironically, was a member of the team when Alan Mullery returned in 1972. Unfortunately, he didn’t feature in the team in 1975 when Fulham reached Wembley.

My recollections of Fred after this are vague – I think he had some association with Brentford and also managed Carshalton and I think he’s working for Fulham in some hospitality capacity now...

NOTE: Gordon's right. Fred is the Matchday Host for the Riverside Restaurant (details here) and also has a small section in the programme.


Mike Hopkins said...

Lovely piece. I have fond memories of Fred. They used to call Emlyn Hughes "Crazy Horse", and for me, Fred was our own Crazy Horse. He would launch vigorous runs from defence, beating opposition players with exagerrated turns and weaves which looked out of control, but were very effective. Often culminating in a cross, or a powerful shot, sometimes into row Z, but I think he scored several valuable goals for us.

Chopper said...

Thanks Mike - thanks for the nod on TiFF too.