Jamie Reid makes up half of the loveable commentary double act of Gentleman Jim & Jamie. Since taking the role he has become part of the furniture and Fulham Focus’ Darren Sonnet caught up with him to learn more about the supporter behind the Mic and to get his thoughts for this season.
DS – Thanks for joining us today we appreciate it.
JR – No problem at all.
DS – Going to start with a simple, obvious question, how did you come to support Fulham, myself for instance it was due to my dad taking me to my first game which was v Hereford 76, team including Moore, Best, Marsh etc., and I was hooked from then on.
JR – Well you have been supporting the club a little longer than me and I guess that’s because your slightly older than myself. I got the opportunity to go along and watch a match as a youngster and once something gets ingrained in you that you enjoy it stays with you for a lifetime and that is certainly what happened with me. I have been fortunate to watch a lot of good players over the years. To get the opportunity to work alongside Jim last season really was the pinnacle, because you get the opportunity know the people who you have watched and admired, talk to them perhaps that little bit more up close and personal. Ultimately people will say it didn’t end in promotion, but what a season to look back on and now we need to emulate Brighton they went very close and then followed it up a year later.
DS – I agree it was a fantastic season and from where we were I don’t think any fan could realistically expected anything higher than say 8th to 10th. And that is a credit to Slav and his management team, and of course the players who put in a great effort all season.
How did you get involved in commentating, I know you did some radio work is that how it came about?
JR – Yes, that’s how it came about pretty much, I got the opportunity to come along and see how things went really, from my point of view it was something I hoped that we could extend and work on beyond a short-term thing. Like with anything you never know how things will go, how I got on with Jim and vice versa. I must say working with the great man has proved very enjoyable, you know how much the football club means to Jim and that comes across in every commentary but the positive for me is he is just as nice away from the microphone as he is with it in his hand.
Jim is a great role model and ambassador for the club and the fact that he is a dyed in the wool fan is great for the club. I got the chance to see how it went, and the fact I am still here, seems to say it went well.??
DS – Listening on the app Jim’s energy comes across very well. One of my questions was going to be have you worked with Jim previously, but you seem to have covered that already, so how about the chemistry did you guys have to work on that or was it just natural?
JR – It was just a case of going to a local pub and plying us with a lemonade and just sort of integrating ourselves with how it would work. I will be honest; working with Jim is quite easy as I see it. Jim calls the games as he is the commentator and then my view is to almost to fill in the gaps as I see it, offer some support and add a little colour. I think by fact that Jim does such a good job it makes it easier for me to work alongside him and feed off him.
DS – Everyone loves Jim’s commentary, what I like is he says what we all think, he isn’t unbiased and we love to hear that. The chemistry works so well and from a member’s view point we thank you for that and the excellent service you give to us.
JR – Well that’s very positive to hear, we don’t always get feedback, when you do it can be mixed, you don’t know if it’s one person or the voice of many. The positive for Jim and I, is we have done a lot of travelling together and enjoyable times across the country. Fulham fans obviously travel in force which is encouraging, when we pull in at service stations Jim likes to go into and I am probably not breaking any confidences here as everyone knows the kind of person Jim is, well let’s say he is partial to a Krispy cream.
DS – one of the things that interest me is how much research do you guys put in about the opposition.
JR – Working for the BBC, I go and watch football away from Fulham as well, Fulham is what I enjoy most and it is nice to be associated with the clubs and do games, it’s not only being able to work here but also to go to other games. When in the office with the way things work, you get the chance to look at various teams. Another good source of information is the Fulham programme which is a great source of knowledge for opposing teams and their players. We also use social media as it’s very prevalent these days, a lot of Fulham fans follow me and I follow a lot of Fulham fans so we can keep bang up to date on what’s happening.
DS – During the winter, it must be cold up on the gantry, is there anything you take up to help with that, or at any time during the season.
JR – We are very well looked after at Fulham and we were provided with bench coats which helps us on cold days and at away games as people then know who we are with. When you get the chance to watch good football, which we were treated to regularly last season, you don’t worry about the weather as the football warms you up. The opening 45 minutes have generally been very good, and one thing I like from a Fulham perspective is that we are quickly into our stride and you can forget about the elements when your watch football that good.
DS – Jim loves to say we have no replays, is that standard at every game?
JR – No, it isn’t standard at every ground and if the game is televised you do get to watch a monitor or catch the TV footage. At some grounds, you have slightly better facilities than others, but I think Jim just to put that point across, so people know they we are not seeing pictures so anything contentious we are seeing with our eyes the same as everyone else. The thing from last season that stands out is the Neeskens Kebano goal that never stood, we were both confident that it was a goal, it’s a difficult job for officials and we are not saying it isn’t, but when we are on the half way line it is difficult looking on and you do think to yourself in this day and age it shouldn’t happen.
DS – That incident was hard listening to on the app as you don’t know if it is just over or way over, but when you see it on the TV it is clearly over, but what you also notice is the linesman could not give the goal because he wasn’t in line as the shot was from a distance and travelling. I guess that is the life on an official and a football fan some you get right and some you don’t.
JR – I agree with you and it is a very valid take on it, it is very difficult for officials as you cannot get it right all the time and that’s what Jim and I say in the commentary. When you get an opportunity to look at a replay you can have a considered look you can see exactly what’s happened. There have been times things have happened that I have missed, Jim is very good and he spots a lot of things which makes it easier for me.
DS – Looking back to last season we started well, bad October and then back on track, for you what was the big turning point that pushed us into being promotion contenders, I look back and think maybe the Derby game made some of the lads think we could throw this away and really need to push on again?
JR – For me it was the Leeds game when Tom scored that late goal, there was almost a feeling of injustice with what had gone on in the game earlier. For me across the season the team were good enough to grace automatic promotion not just get in to the playoffs. I had the opportunity to speak to Oliver Norwood recently and the positive from that interview was how much he wants to be at the club, he can see how successful the club has the ability to be this season. Speaking to him he mentioned Brighton were fearful because they strongly felt Fulham were good enough for automatic promotion and we could gate crash the top 2. It is also the football we played that helped, the lads putting in the hard yards Monday to Friday and Slavisa getting them fired up for the game ahead, the lads go out there knowing what they need to do.
DS – Oliver made a comment in his interview about the 2 first halves against them and it came across as they felt lucky to get anything from those games.
JR – Yeah, I think they were extremely lucky and I mentioned that at the Amex, they were very fortunate to get the 6 points over the 2 games. I am hopeful that we can learn the same as Brighton did and know how to grind out a win, stop being sloppy every now and then, Brighton had that football know how last season and that’s what we need.
DS – Speaking about this season, we have 3 or 4 signings in so far, do you see any area we need to strengthen this season?
JR – You’re always looking around and your hopeful of new additions. I know the management staff leaves no stone unturned and certainly there is a very good structure in place to strengthen. If we went into the season with the squad that we have then I would be confident we would have a good season, having said that as a fan you always want to be greedy and hope there will always be more additions. The owner has been very good and bought some fantastic players to the club and you hope that will be able to continue. The way we finished the season having some of those players back such as Piazon and Kalas is important, plus you add some of the news signings coming to the club such as Cisse, Norwood, there will be some talented players coming in to add to the excellent squad from last season. When you look across the squad we have a depth where you can see that there are 2 players for anyone position, looking at the squad last season you can highlight this everywhere such as Federicks and Odoi or Malone and Sessegnon, all four of those would get in any championship side.
DS – Sometimes I think people forget we extended contracts of two key players, which for me is almost as good as a new singing, it would have been hard to replace those players like for like, we also have some very talented youngsters coming through as well which we have also tied down on contracts.
JR – There are some very good players coming through the academy and we have worked hard on that area of things. One thing that really stands out is the family atmosphere and that comes not only from a game day / night but also from the Monday to Friday at the training ground. I think the youngsters feel comfortable going into the first team group and that shows the more experienced players are happy to lend a helping hand. Scott was great at that but the armband having been handed over and Tom is exactly the same, he is always happy to help and always has a smile on his face, that resonates throughout the whole group. The two players you mention Tom, too many moments last year to single out and Ryan, what a talent he is, the loyalty he has shown works both ways, he backs what the club has done for him and he decided to stay on and that shows how much he rates and respects what’s going on at the club.
DS – What do you think we can achieve this season, do you think we can make that elusive top 2 and go up automatically?
JR – I see no reason why not, you look at the football last season and the turning points where things didn’t go in our favour, you will look back and think do you know what we could have nicked a few more points. There are also the positives from matches where we were able to win or draw and we took the points there and we deserved them, and that happened more and more as the season went on. Seeing as there were areas we could have accumulated more points I see no reason why we can’t go one better.
DS – Best player you have ever seen play at the cottage?
JR – I will go with a current player, I don’t think you can look any further than Tom Cairney. I know some will go for cult heroes and stars of the past but I think with the attacking style we played Tom was the fulcrum of that.
DS – I think the move inside for him has allowed him to flourish and allowed Stef to do his thing and they complement each other.
JR – Not only those 2 we have to mention Kevin as well, he does a lot of donkey work and covers for the full backs, you need someone like Kevin who understands the game and can just drop into their position.
DS – The last question is a Fulham Focus tradition, a preference between pie or pasty and what flavour would you go for?
JR – I must be honest and say we are spoilt at the Cottage, you only have to listen to the name of the ground to know what I am going to say. Last season home and away there was a big contrast without being disrespectful to some of the clubs we visited. Craven Cottage is a special place the food is fantastic, it has to be the Cottage Pie which takes some beating for me!