Every club has its unique aspects some are subtle some are glaringly obvious, Fulham is no exception. The word Fulhamish get's brought up a lot when fans get together and can be a source of pride and even justification during the harder times. What it means is probably slightly different to everyone. West ham have their favoured style of play that they always expect and has lead to a large number of supporters becoming enraged at big Sam's management style. Fulhamish certainly isn't just about a style of play in my definition. I do like to think as a fan base and club we demand a standard of attacking, fast, slick, football where we try to keep the ball down and play wherever possible, at least at home, away from home anything will do to get some points.
On the native Sky broadcasting company presenters would always comment about our idyllic setting by the river which provides a great atmosphere for the whole family to enjoy football. This certainly contributes to my Fulhamish ideals but other clubs have some impressive stadiums and locations. Something I think is synonymous with Fulham is its family appeal and reputation of being a ‘nice' club. This shouldn't be confused with being a club lacking ambition or a killer instinct (Mr Hughes) but with how it genuinely recognises the bigger picture, outside of just 90 minutes on a football pitch.
I'm lucky enough to have worked with young people in schools for the past few years and have built up links with a few of the local clubs. It's been interesting to see how the academy has changed and community projects have expanded. From my experience Fulham put a lot of money and effort into providing sessions for all abilities and ages, not just for those who might have future first team prospects. There are special needs camps that are run in and out of schools, and the new schools program that has been set up focuses on improving the health of all children and invests time progressing the state of PE teaching in this country, which although improving is sadly a low priority subject, especially for primary (elementary) schools. Under Roy Hodgsons reign the first team gym facilities were open to all staff, a small gesture maybe but this isn't common practice, it really attributed to the family feel around the club allowing everyone to meet on a common ground. This was sadly stopped by Mark Hughes upon arrival as his methods were more autocratic, he wanted to develop a definite hierarchy. There's nothing wrong with this and he produced some good results for Fulham it's just not... Fulhamish.
When chatting to some of the academy coaches and youth development workers it was interesting to hear what changed under Magath, it might come as no surprise to hear that morale dropped. Youth development should always be key to any football club and Magath was happy to promote players from within however at community level, something Fulham has prided itself on things were not the same. I'm confident in thinking this downward spiral has been stemmed with our caretaker manager embodying the Fulhamish spirit, the staff I've worked with are very happy, reporting a happier atmosphere all round the Motspur Park training ground.
When I look at the supposed shortlisted three of Steve Clark, Kit Symonds and Chris Houghton I think all of them have Fulhamish qualities, all three come across as one of the ‘nice guys' of football and have some relative success playing a good brand of football at differing levels, ultimately I just hope that our five person committee chooses someone with all the right credentials. Roy was clearly determined to improve every aspect of Fulham football club from the bottom up and should be regarded as the benchmark for managers to come. The committee of five all have a love of Fulham and cover most aspects of the club, from fan to academy coach to former player. I believe they are a great choice of people to be pivotal in the process, and it's a refreshing and logical way of appointing a new manager. Credit should go to Mr Khan for having the confidence to try something new and, all being well, it could be the start of him creating a strong relationship with the fans and we can really sing with pride that we have our Fulham(ish) back.