|I like the use of 'the' here|
Ah, Craven Cottage. Such an odd combination of quaint and prefab.
I always have it in my head that the Cottage is a proper old ground but the reality is three quarters of it is new.
The press lounge and box are in the last remaining old bit, the Johnny Haynes Stand (except the Cottage itself), named after the ground-breaking cabaret act of the same name.
He used to entertain the troops after their submarines docked at Fulham harbour with his monkey juggling act (the twist being he juggled the monkeys) until his death from lead poisoning in 1978.
I had to smooth my way in at Fulham as I'd forgotten to get my press pass request in early and they were full but I went along anyway and, after some whimpering on my part, they let me in.
This was a few years ago and there was still a touch of 'we're just glad to be here' about the club. Here being the Premier League and Craven Cottage I suppose.
Decent spread before the match and at half time (Marksies sarnies if I'm not mistaken, and soup I think) but the press box is stuck away at the back of the stand towards the corner. Like you might with do with a relative you're ashamed of at Chrimbo.
My word they were friendly. Another of those clubs where two people seem to do everything. Helpful, nice, good spread (sarnies and pies with a choice of brew - most of the clubs in the bottom two divisions offer the same sort of thing), good press lounge, good bogs, good view from the press box - all good. Famously Gillingham has the highest ratio of chip shops to people in the country, 1:3.
|Llllllet's get ready to rrrrrrumble!|
I got to the door and was told in no uncertain terms that my attire was inappropriate for the day's event. I had on jeans, some kind of plimsolls, and a shirt. But Huddersfield - certainly at the time - operate a dress code for the press area and just weren't ready for the hard rocking lifestyle my clothes represented.
They had to get the chairman down to give me special dispensation, a mild rebuke and eventually entrance to the stadium. He was right of course, I'd not thought to check and just assumed. But it's his gaff and I should have made sure (something I always did after this).
Anyway once inside it was all very nice. Can't remember much about the lounge but the press box itself is ace - loads of room and split into pairs so you're not surrounded by the brutes.
Absolutely brilliant - ace facilities, ace ground, ace people, ace grub, and beer afterwards. It was absolutely sodding freezing and they gave us these little square things which, when cracked, went all warm. I sat on mine.
Joe Royle was Town manager at the time and he was smoothness personified in the press conference. Just breezed in, sat at the top of the weird stage-like area he was to make his address from, poured himself a glass of red, listened to the question which was already being asked, took a sip and started.
He knew all the local press cats' names and was engaging, funny, and massively likeable. After he finished, Royle and the Ipswich press man headed off down a corridor. I pursued, introduced myself as a reporter and an Evertonian and said: 'I know it didn't end well for you at Everton but that cup run of 95 was one of the best times of my life. I just wanted to say thanks.'
He was slightly taken aback at first but then said: 'Great days weren't they?' And chatted about the moderate blues until the press fella gave him the hurry-up.
Bolton to Everton