Posted on: Thu 26 Sep 2013

Season ticket holder Giles Smith deals with history made and history lost in this week's column…

Nice, obviously, to avoid a well-greased banana skin at Swindon in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday night. And nice to be drawn against Arsenal Reserves in the next round. But really, almost anything could have happened this week, good or bad, and it wouldn't have touched us through the lasting euphoria generated by John Mikel Obi goal.

Where were you when Mikel scored? It's a question that will ring down through the ages. And, personally speaking, when my grandchildren ask, I'll be able to tell them that I was in the Matthew Harding stand. And, with all due respect to season ticket holders in the Shed, there's possibly no better end from which to witness these monumental, scrapbook-ready Stamford Bridge moments.

Memories of Claude Makelele bundling the ball into the net against Charlton in 2005 and more recently of Fernando Torres turning on a sixpence, or rather, on a puddle, to score against West Ham. The Matthew Harding end is the place people come to break a duck that had looked suspiciously permanent. It's where the magic happens for people who can't buy a goal, and on such days it's a privilege to be up there.

True, there were no specific songs about it and a disappointing lack of banners in protest. But you could tell, I think, from the general demeanour of the visiting Fulham fans last Saturday that this whole Michael Jackson business has affected them badly.

And why wouldn't it? A new owner, Shahid Khan, comes in, and within two months he's moving the furniture around and announcing the destruction of a piece of the club's history - the more-than-lifesize tribute to the King of Pop that has stood in the corner of Craven Cottage since as long ago as 2011 when Mohamed Al Fayed realised he wouldn't be able to find house-room for it at Harrods.

Breathtaking. Shades, indeed, of Vincent Tan, at Cardiff, changing the shirts from blue to red on some kind of Malaysian whim.

You've got to put yourself in your neighbours' shoes and think how you would feel if something like that happened at your club. It would be like someone taking over from Roman Abramovich and almost immediately deciding that the Peter Osgood statue outside the West Stand had to go. We'd be in uproar.

That's how Fulham fans must feel about the tribute to Jackson, who once pitched up for a home game against Wigan in the old second division in April 1999 and who was, according to Mr Al Fayed, a firm Fulham fan from that moment forward, albeit it that he didn't get to too many away games. Nor that many home ones, in all honesty. But you know: he was busy being the King of Pop a lot of the time. There was a limited space in the diary.

Some people described the statue as tacky, and sneered at the use of the lyrics and music from 'Man In The Mirror' encircling the base. Others noted that, although the statue didn't actually play 'Man In The Mirror' and rotate slowly, it looked like it ought to. Still others suggested that it should have been under a Perspex dome, in a shower of fake snow.

But you'll always get snobs, particularly around artistic matters. The more important point is, whether it's good, bad, or indifferent as a representation of the Indiana-born singer in his pomp, that statue has become part of the fabric of the stadium where it stood. It has come to represent Fulham. In some senses, you could even say the Jackson statue IS Fulham.

Let's face it, you could ask anyone, almost anywhere in the world, what Fulham meant to them and the chances are they would say, 'Isn't that the one with the Jackson statue?'

Not any more, it isn't. Apparently, the statue has already gone. The new owner worked fast - you have to assume he saw the public storm coming - and the removal men went in on Wednesday while the rest of the football world was distracted by the return of Louis Suarez. A good day to bury bad news.


But that doesn't mean this business is over - not by any means. Not if we don't want it to be. The statue, so far as we understand, is still in one piece - or possibly in two pieces that can be screwed back together, we're not sure - and has been returned to the caring ownership of Mr Al Fayed.

So, surely, it can be reinstated, if enough people rise up and make enough noise.

Now is the moment. If you're on Twitter, please do Tweet your support for the campaign which I launched off the noble platform of The Times newspaper last Saturday - a campaign to get the Jackson statue back where it belongs. The campaign is using the hashtag #kingofpopinthecottage4ever.

Tweet if you believe a club's history is important.

Tweet if you believe a club's owner should show respect for the past that preceded him.

Tweet if you don't think fans should simply stand aside and let someone play fast and loose with the traditions which are the very lifeblood of a football club.

Tweet even if you simply loved Michael.

As we all know, it's amazing what a bit of public pressure can achieve.And let's take the trouble to show some solidarity with our neighbours on this one because there's a far bigger issue here, and it's the soul of the game in an increasingly corporate world.


And before anyone says, 'If you feel so strongly about it, why don't Chelsea take the statue at Stamford Bridge?': well, I'm sure we'd love to. And we would certainly provide it with a safe and respectful home in these turbulent times. We could maybe even have a look at the possibility of installing a mechanism to make it turn around.

But we can't possibly. It's not our history. It would be ridiculous.