Football: GET PERSONAL WITH PARRY: Fulham Fans Have to Start Thinking SMALL

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Parry

APART from setting fire to Harrods a day after the insurance runs out, I can't think of a surer way for Mohammed Al-Fayed to lose the pounds 100m he has lavished on Fulham.

What's more - even if the Craven Cottage site is sold to a developer and Mr Al-Fayed profits from the scheme, I still can't see him coming out with a wad of dosh in his back pocket.

If he had not got involved in Fulham there would still be just four or five thousand Cottagers turning up to watch Darlington or Hartlepool at the dilapidated old stadium.

What Al-Fayed has done at Craven Cottage is to create a very expensive decade-long ride in a kaleidoscope for those dedicated life-long fans and about 10,000 more who suddenly became Fulham badge-kissers.

But now, almost certainly, the roller-coaster is about to come hurtling off the rails. It was always going to happen.

I went to a TalkSPORT Forum of more than 1,000 Fulham fans in west London this week and discovered they can be divided into two kinds.

The first lot are those we call the "Courvoisier Cottagers".

These are people who discovered football during the 1990s when stadiums became all-seater and footballers turned into film-stars.

These were the guys who liked to leave their plastic season-ticket holders lying around on their desk and had to spend two seasons warming up with the person sitting next to them before they could feel part of a football crowd.

The Courvoisiers want Mr Al-Fayed to subsidise their ridiculous aspirations and build them a state-of-the-art stadium.

I have absolutely no problem about enjoying a glass or two of chablis in a corporate box.

I did it at Spurs recently and felt the sense of BIGNESS around me. There is no BIGNESS about Fulham.

But there is a sense of greatness - thanks to the other set of fans who number no more than six or seven thousand.

They have been Fulham fans since Tommy Trinder was a household name - and he died before most of us were born.

What they want is a continuing identity. A club has no identity unless it has its own ground. …