Although we haven’t moved in Liverpool’s exalted circles that often there have been quite a few players who’ve plied their trade for both clubs. In this Focus Fives, I count down my top five players who have represented both the White of Fulham and the Red of Liverpool in years gone by.
My first four picks headed from Fulham to Liverpool and although the first two of these didn’t make much of an impact on Merseyside the other two most certainly did. My last choice headed in the other direction via a couple of other ports of call and his contributions at the Cottage make him an eternally popular figure in SW6…
5 – RICHARD MONEY
Lowestoft born Money was acquiring a lot of suitors for his performances at Scunthorpe so Fulham did well to snap him up in November 1977 for £50,000 – Scunthorpe’s record sale at the time. Although primarily a defender he initially made his mark in midfield for us and made a winning debut in a surprise 2-0 victory over eventual Division Two champions Bolton at the Cottage. In fact Money’s arrival coincided with a sharp upturn in form and his first goal for the club helped us to a 2-1 win against another high flying club Brighton over Christmas. Money’s versatility also saw him fill in at right back as Fulham ended that season in a comfortable mid table position
His best position was central defence though and when John Lacy left for Spurs that summer he made the position his own as we at one stage looked like we might make a bid for promotion before the campaign disappointingly petered out. His impressive displays led to him being made captain for the 1979-80 season but, with much the same squad, form mysteriously nosedived. With relegation confirmed we accepted a bid from Liverpool for a club record sale of £333,333 in April 1980 – a very tidy profit which also justified his highly original nickname of Dicky Cash.
Richard joined the Reds at a time they were dominant at home and abroad and found it very difficult to get first team action with the likes of Thompson, Hansen and Lawrenson occupying his favoured position. His most memorable game was filling in at left back in the European Cup Semi Final against Bayern Munich as Liverpool went on to triumph in the competition again. Money left in 1982 in search of more regular first team action and after short spells at Derby, Luton and Portsmouth wound down his career back at Scunthorpe before embarking on a long and intermittently successful managerial career at a host of lower league and Conference clubs.
4 – PAUL KONCHESKY
Paul was a precociously talented left back who became Charlton’s youngest player (at that time) when he made his debut for them aged just 16 and 93 days in 1997. He established himself quickly but when he was frustrated at not being picked in his favoured position he first left for Spurs on loan before joining West Ham permanently in 2005. He scored for them in the FA Cup Final against Liverpool in 2006 before a costly miss from the spot in the penalty shoot-out that followed. Konch lost his regular spot to George McCartney the following season so was happy to join the Lawrie Sanchez revolution at Fulham in the summer of 2007. Things didn’t go well to start with and one of his most notable early contributions was a silly red card against Derby. However under the tutelage of Roy Hodgson Paul redeemed himself and was a key figure in the Great Escape that followed.
Konch further enhanced his reputation over the next two seasons; first as part of a miserly defence that conceded just 34 goals on the way to a club record 7th place finish then as a major component in our remarkable run to the Europa League Final.
Roy Hodgson’s achievements sparked his departure to Liverpool and he took his reliable left back with him that summer. However the move didn’t work out for either party and after Roy was sacked it wasn’t long before Konch followed him out of the door first to Nottingham Forest on loan. There then followed a successful spell at Leicester and stints at QPR and Gillingham before playing non-league football at Billericay as recently as last year. Paul’s career was something of a whistle stop tour but I’d think his spell at Fulham ranks as the highlight. He certainly is warmly remembered by the Cottage faithful.
3 – RAY HOUGHTON
Ray arrived on a free transfer from West Ham in the summer of 1982 to join a side that had just been promoted back to Division Two. He was pretty much the only change to a side that Malcolm MacDonald had great faith in and his belief was justified as we took to the higher level like a duck to water. Houghton was a revelation with his dynamic style and skill on the ball and put in some vintage displays early that season as we scored for fun and took the Division by storm. Probably the most notable of these was the 4-1 win at Newcastle when the TV cameras turned up to laud Kevin Keegan but ended up praising us for the quality of our football. Houghton was amongst the scorers that day and the whole football world was scratching their heads as to how he’d been let go for nothing. To this day I consider him the best free transfer in the history of the game.
Unfortunately, as the season wore on, our lack of squad depth began to tell and we heartbreakingly missed out on promotion on that fateful final day of the season in Derby. It was a watershed moment for the club as I’m sure that team would have thrived in the top flight. Instead the plug was pulled and our best players were to leave over the next couple of years. This of course included Ray who first had a successful stay at Oxford where he scored in their League Cup triumph in 1986 before he found a venue befitting his talents in signing for Liverpool in 1987. Ray was to spend the next 5 years there adding to his medal collection as part of a side that was not only successful but also supremely attractive to watch with the likes of Beardsley, Barnes and Houghton at the top of their game.
Ray went on to serve Aston Villa, Palace and Reading with distinction and also had a successful international career with the Republic of Ireland. I suspect the only major regret of his career was that he didn’t get promoted with us in 1983. It certainly remains my biggest disappointment in all the years I’ve followed the club.
2 – STEVE FINNAN
Steve was one of the less heralded arrivals when the big money was starting to be flashed by Mohammed al Fayed. Kevin Keegan paid Notts County £600,000 for him in November 1998 and he fitted that season’s template perfectly. Coleman, Symons and Morgan were our three at the back and Finnan made the right wing back spot his own with Rufus Brevett on the other flank. I loved Rufus for his whole hearted approach but, without disrespecting him, felt Finnan was in a different class. His engine was incredible as he not only did his defensive duties but was also a major asset in attack.
I lost count of the number of opposing full backs who showed him inside only for Steve to hit an inch perfect cross with his ‘wrong’ foot. He was that good I found it hard to believe that he’d spent his early career in non-league and lower division football. He adjusted seamlessly to each promotion and step up in class and was a model of consistency in the Premier League, making the PFA team of the season in 2001/02 and ending that season by appearing for Ireland in the World Cup. Bigger fish were circling and nobody could blame him for leaving for Liverpool in 2003. Finnan left in a calm, dignified and classy way which pretty much summed up how he was as a player. He performed well for his new club and was part of the side that won a famous Champions League final in Istanbul in 2005 to become possibly the only player to have won the Champions League and the Intertoto Cup.
1 – DANNY MURPHY
Murphy joined Liverpool from Crewe where he’d earned himself a growing reputation at a club renowned for nurturing young talent. Murphy took a little time to make his mark before establishing himself as a key and versatile midfielder. His standout season there was in 2000/01 when he was part of the side that won a cup treble (League, FA and UEFA Cups). He also gained international recognition and was called up for the England World Cup squad of 2002 only sadly to miss out due to a metatarsal injury.
Murphy then headed south to join Charlton in 2004 and from there went on to Tottenham in January 2006. Curiously Danny didn’t show the consistent form he’d demonstrated at Liverpool and, amidst rumours of discontent, Spurs allowed us to take over his contract in August 2007. Lawrie Sanchez got quite a lot of stick in his spell in charge but hindsight shows he made a lot of very good signings in his brief tenure. Aaron Hughes, Paul Konchesky and Chris Baird all went on to make huge contributions for the club with Murphy probably proving his best signing of all.
It was far from plain sailing to start with but with Roy Hodgson engineering the unlikeliest route out of the mire, it was left to Murphy to become the hero with his header at Portsmouth in the season’s finale giving us the win that kept us up. Following Brian McBride’s departure Hodgson rewarded Danny with the captaincy for the next campaign which was to prove a massive success with a 7th place finish. To start with Murphy had to play a holding role with the maverick Jimmy Bullard roaming free. However when Bullard left for Hull, Hodgson delivered the masterstroke of pairing Danny with Dickson Etuhu. Most fans feared this would be a huge downgrade but Etuhu was far more comfortable doing the dirty work which freed Murphy up to take on the playmaking role he was best at.
If 2008/09 was a success the following campaign was to enter folklore as we not only comfortably maintained our Premier League status, we effectively played half another campaign on our way to the Europa League final. Murphy was a cornerstone of the side that shook the continent with a succession of unlikely victories in the knock out stages. Murphy is on record as being devastated by our loss to Atletico Madrid but he should be proud he was the man who led us out that night. It was an achievement that not even the most deluded Fulham fan could have imagined.
Murphy remained a marvellously consistent performer over the next couple of seasons but when Martin Jol couldn’t agree another contract with him in 2012 he was allowed to leave for Blackburn on a free transfer. In my mind it was a mistake as although he was in the twilight of his career it was his speed of thought rather than his limbs that made him such a fabulous player. For 4-5 years he was the man who made Fulham tick. We were privileged to see him in our colours.