Interview with Allyson Latta

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Maestro Reaches Out

and touches hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of loyal supporters. The other day, I came home to over 800 hits to my blog from Fulham supporters across the world. As far away as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Virginia, Brooklyn, Missouri, Austin and Houston, Texas, Ireland, California, Switzerland, Spain, Prague, the Bahamas and of course London, London, London... Brilliant. My folks always said that The Cottage, FFC, was a real family affair - and judging by the response to the Johnny Hayne's blog - that family is stronger than ever! I was amazed by some of the emails I received and by the great comments - thank you! To Dave from TOOFIF - that asked if he could use the posting in his fanzine There's Only One F in Fulham - by all means Dave, I'd be honored. I must clear one thing up for the supporter that asked about my brother - he's alive and well and living in California. Ironically, Fulham had just played Manchester United that day and after the game my dad drove the wrong way across Putney Bridge at full speed in a panic to get to my brother at the hospital! One of the comments that really struck me was from a Fulham supporter in California who said, "As a fan of the club and growing up in South-West London most of my life we sometimes idolised certain player's and most certainly hated other's....but......we never thought of them as family men or father's!!?? Our focus was totally on the pitch and that's where it ended." Being a daughter of a footballer, football's always been our life and our lifestyle and I never thought of that - poignant!

Writing about Johnny Haynes has sparked so many incredible memories for my folks and for me. It seems that those days at the Cottage, the fifties and sixties were an extremely special era in Fulham's history. My mum and dad were having a good laugh reminiscing about those great days then the frivolity sobered the moment I told them that Manchester United are heading to Craven Cottage tomorrow. "Wow," my Dad said. So I asked, "Dad, what would Johnny Haynes have said to you all before a game like that?" My mum laughed and said, "Did you even have team talks before a game?" Dad said, "A little bit." Then he said,"If it were now Johnny would say the same thing that he would have said to us, We know they're good but let's go out and prove that we can be good too! I asked if that's what their manager Beddie (Bedford Jezzard)would have said? Dad said, "No, Beddie wasn't as serious, he would have said, just go out and enjoy it!"

So Fulham that's got to be sage advice - just go out and enjoy it! Show United that you can be great too! Do it for the Maestro.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Let's Hear It For The Hometown Boy

I remember the day my dad Graham Leggat called to tell me that Johnny Haynes had died in a car crash. It was October 18th, 2005. I met Mr Haynes as a very young girl when my dad was still a professional footballer in England. He's one of those people from my past that always felt like family and he was a big part of our family. As was Fulham Football Club. My Mum and Dad loved Johnny, in the same way I've gathered that everyone who knew him personally, played with or against him or as a fan does. My dad played alongside him at Fulham and says, "Johnny was a wonderful all-round player and a captain that led from the front." When I ask what he was like as a friend Dad says, "loyal and concerned." He also added that he was a 'one club man' from game one. My mum Marilyn Leggat says that Johnny was greatly loved."He was prized and a big part of English football history, very special." She recalls, and it brings her to tears, an incident after a game at Craven Cottage that she had attended when she received a call that my brother, 4 yrs old at the time, had been struck by a car. Johnny immediately went to my mum's side to ask what was wrong and what could he do. Mum says, "He was so concerned that day. He was always so lovely and such a great player. He was low-key, not flashy. Those were the days! When men were men and football was football. And Craven Cottage always had such a great atmosphere. It was all about the club; the fans, the players and Johnny - Fulham was Johnny and Johnny was Fulham."

For those of you who don't know much about #10 Johnny Haynes, Fulham's greatest inside left, or midfielder as they call them today, he began as a young seventeen year old and became their gallant captain and the captain of England. His career spanned from 1954-1970, when he left Fulham for South Africa for a while. My Dad was his supportive colleague at Fulham but the very opposite when it came to their international meetings. My Dad remembers the 1956 England versus Scotland game at Hampden, it was his very first international cap. "I scored the opening goal for Scotland," he says. "Then in the last 3 minutes of overtime Johnny tied it up for England! It was devastating for the Scottish fans and for me."

When we heard that Fulham fans want to erect a statue for Johnny at Craven Cottage we were all for it. This would be a fitting tribute to 'The Maestro'. So jump on the band wagon you Cottagers and lets help do it!! There's a link to Fulham F.C. on this site. Drop them a line in support of this wonderful project.

That day, almost three years ago, when I heard that Johnny Haynes had died, I wept and dug through my precious chest of football treasures for the silver beer stein that was given to my Dad then passed onto me. I filled it with a cold brew and drank to one of the greatest players ever - engraved on its front it says, With Thanks from Johnny Haynes 28-4-1969.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Pro Bowl

I have an ongoing debate with pals over the significance of the Pro Bowl. A lot of the guys I talk to say that they have absolutely no interest in it. Yet, they can tell me everything about what they didn't like about last year's and the years before. In other words, despite their machismo, they watch it. Probably for the same reason I watch it, to see a bevy of great players, favourite players, having a laugh, and to take them in for one more afternoon before the long drought. So I pour out my sentimentality, drink it all in then wait for the next draft.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Poetic Justice

I felt very calm throughout the first half of yesterday's Superbowl. It was unpredictable, Brady was getting rattled by heart and soul, and Manning was unflinching. The last few minutes of the game, however, I was in an utter state of panic, head covered by my blanket, relying on Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to tell me what the hell was happening. Still, in my gut, I knew the Giants were going to win. Their defence went for the jugular and the team as a whole stopped at nothing to gain the win. I used to get so nervous watching Peyton Manning with his wizardry and unpredictable changing of the play at the line of scrimmage. It's always unnerving to watch a genius action. Like his brother, Eli was at times otherwordly. He exuded an incredible sense of calm throughout the game that prevented me from seeking refuge beneath the kitchen table and when he threw the final clincher to Plaxico Burress, it was such an incredible feeling of exaltation, like doves exploding from a balloon! Both teams fought like hell to the finish but the phoenix rose in the youngest Manning, heroically, within the entire team itself. Plaxico's tears said it all. It was such a beautiful game to watch - pure.

Congrats Giants!! You deserve it.