Interview: Jack Grimmer

Image: Fulham FC

Daniel Smith caught up with former Fulham defender Jack Grimmer to look back on his time at the club. Jack was signed from Aberdeen as a 16-year-old and broke into the first team in the 2014/15 season…

DS – Hi Jack, thanks for answering our questions for us mate. Really appreciate your help!

JG – I’m happy to help Dan and hope the website is a success. It’s a club I have great memories of.

DS When did you learn of Fulham’s interest in you and were there other clubs interested around the same time? If so, who were they and why did you pick Fulham?

JG – I learnt of Fulham’s interest probably a few months before I moved around October time, it gave me the chance because I was young to fly down and see the facilities and meet some people. Wolves & Stoke were interested as well but Fulham felt the best option. Made me feel the most welcome and at home.

DS How did you find the transition to London life & were there any staff/players who helped you to settle into the club?

JG – The transition was made a lot easier by people at the club. Couldn’t do enough for me. People behind the scenes like Dan Rice & Lee Hagger were always there to lend a hand if needed. The club as a whole has some great people behind the scenes. 

DS What was it like the season we were relegated with regards to all the changes. Was it hard trying to adjust to 3 managers and a new owner in the space of a few months?

JG – It was difficult as you want some familiarity and a solid base, so you at least know where you stand. That season was very up and down with a lot of changes which made it extremely difficult as a young player to try to catch the eye. 

DS What was the atmosphere like after relegation and heading into the first Championship season? Was team morale good, or was there a hangover?

JG – It was always going to very tough after getting relegated. Preseason might have had some good team morale as there were players at the club that really cared for the club and wanted to push on that season but after the preseason and then start to the season we had, it was always going to be a long hard season. 

DS What was preseason training like under Magath?

JG – As I just mentioned, it was incredible. Like nothing I’d witnessed before. Survival of the fittest and that’s OK for boot camp but when you’re trying to prepare a team for a long gruelling Championship season it was useless hence why the team started off so badly. The legs were gone by the 1st match of the season however it taught me a valuable lesson – when you’re tired and think you can’t go on, you’ve always got that little extra in the tank. 

DS I remember your debut away at Brighton very well. I was there and thought you gave a very good first impression and showed bags of potential. How much warning were you given that you were going to start and how do you think it went personally?

JG – I remember it well too and fondly because we won thankfully! Kit rang me to tell me he wanted to recall me back from Shrewsbury, but I was already in London at the time as we had a day off, so I had to drive back to Shrewsbury for all my belongings and then back to London for training the next day! 3 times in 1 day wasn’t ideal! The match was sort of a daze as it was a moment I’d waited for such a long time. I was happy but more relieved that I was finally getting to make my debut. I tried to keep things simple, run a lot and was praying we won!!

DS – Most fans will remember this game for one thing and that’s Darren Bent’s celebration when he scored against us. Did this annoy the players and make them even more determined to mount a comeback or was it just part of the game?

JG – Yeah, I remember that as well, it was uncalled for and made me extra glad we managed to turn it around.

DS What position is your strongest? At times it was hard to tell if you were more suited as a fullback or a centre-half or maybe even a right-sided centre-half in a back 3?

JG – Honestly, I’ll always say whatever gets me minutes on the pitch. I’ve been playing right back this season but have also played once at centre back where I did very well and because of that, I’d maybe say right of 3 centre-halves maybe is my best!

DS Of all the players you played and trained with at Fulham, who was the best and who are you glad you didn’t have to play against?

JG – It’s a long time ago but some of the players the club had when I very first joined were sensational. Dembele in training always stands out for me. Before his move to Spurs, it was impossible to get the ball off him. I also looked up to Reither quite a lot because of our similar positions. Bags of energy and work rate was always the baseline for his performances and he gave me a few tips here and there on my own game.

DS What’s the match that stands out most for you in a Fulham shirt?

JG – It might have to be an FA Cup replay up at Wolves where at one point we couldn’t see each other or even the ball because of the snow! It came out of nowhere! Stands out as one of the best as eventually won on penalties after a replay. We also played Huddersfield away in which Betts saved a pen and Cauley got sent off for something Shaun Hutchinson did. We won 2-0 somehow and as a defender, it was one of my most satisfying clean sheets as they hit the woodwork 3/4 times along with Betts penalty save!

DS Who were your closest friends in the team & do you keep in touch with anyone from your time here?

JG – I had a lot of good friends at the club as I grew up there and feel I partly am the man I am today because of that club and the people in it! I’d have to say Marcus Betts is the one that sticks out, we’re still great mates now and I go to London to see him when I can. Me, him and Matt Smith all keep in touch and went on holiday last summer. 

DS Who do you feel had the biggest influence on your development at Fulham?

JG – Kit Symons without any doubt. Coached me at U18, U21, U23 and then handed me my 1st team debut. Something I’ll forever be grateful to him for. 

DS Was it a hard decision to leave Fulham and was it something you knew was going to happen well in advance?

JG – It wasn’t as difficult as you may think as I felt distant from the club for some time having been on loan for 18 months before my departure. It was weird not having the comfort of the club to go back to after my loan or report to any Fulham staff members over the offseason but it was something I had been expecting for a long time. 

DS How excited are you about the next chapter in your career with Coventry City & how have you found it so far?

JG – Extremely excited. I’m very grateful at being given the chance to play consistently and show what I can do and with that win matches and get us promoted. It was made very clear to me the aims of a club that have had problems in the past but hopefully, this is a new chapter for me and for the club. I’ve settled in really well with a great bunch of lads. And now we are back in League One!

DS We’ve got to touch on that Bank Holiday Weekend… Fulham and Coventry were both promoted at Wembley. I know how it felt as a fan but as a player, what was the feeling like and is it the best day of your career so far, especially being at Wembley?

JG – Definitely the best day of my career so far and best weekend of my career with Fulham securing promotion on the Saturday. I’m still close with Betts so if it hadn’t been for my game on the Monday, I’d have been at Wembley supporting them on!

DS The feeling was mutual mate, all of the Fulham fans I spoke to had their fingers crossed for you. Did you get any advice or messages of support before the game from your ex-FFC teammates etc?

JG – Yes, I got good messages wishing me all the best from a few ex-teammates along with some of the staff. Fulham obviously have great players but it’s the staff that make the club special.

DS How important do you think next season will be for you in regards to establishing yourself at a higher level and are you excited about the challenge?

JG – I’m excited for the season to begin. It’s a level I’m used to having played in this League for most of my career, so it’ll be good to be back. I hope that we can take the momentum from last season and kick on.

DS Finally Jack, I’m sure a fit lad like you doesn’t eat many but which do you prefer pie or pasty – Which filling?

JG – A steak pie once in a while never goes a miss!