Knowing a senior work colleague had a strong Fulham connection, we asked him if he wouldn’t mind answering a few questions. In a small office in central London over a cup of tea, we got down to talking some proper business.
Who are ya?
I’m Mark Collins. I’m Chairman of the Residential Division at CBRE, the world’s largest property advisory group, and I’m a Fulham fan since the 1972/3 season.
In the late 90s, whilst MD of Harrods Estates, I was very fortunate to be asked by Mr Al-Fayed to meet with Bill and Andy Muddyman, owners of Fulham, to discuss a potential purchase of the Club. It became Mr Al-Fayed’s in 1997. It was very exciting as a fan to combine business with my love of Fulham.
Upon acquisition, Mr. Al-Fayed appointed me a Director along with Michael Cole and I also had the pleasure of stepping in on two occasions as Chief Exec, once for nine months when Tigana was manager and the second time for three months in the mid 2000s when I had the pleasure of working with another Fulham legend, Chrissy Coleman.
I was also involved in the purchase of Motspur Park on behalf of the Club in 1999 from the University of London which has been a fantastic facility for the Club. More recently, I assisted the Club with buying the BBC ground opposite last year, nearly 20 years later.
What do you enjoy most about going to Craven Cottage?
It has to be the people, without question. But it’s also the style of football that the team plays and has always played. And it’s always great to be amongst like-minded supporters.
What is your fondest Fulham memory?
There are so many but I’ll highlight two.
Firstly, there’s the incredible game where we beat Man City which led to us staying up. After this win, there was an incredible run of results which culminated in the second major highlight, the famous afternoon at Fratton Park. I had never seen Danny Murphy score with a header before but he popped one in, at which point we went into a frenzy. I remember putting my arm around Hugh Grant in pure emotion.
I do have lovely memories from the early days too, standing in the enclosure on the halfway line with my girlfriend (now wife) and treating her to a Bovril at half-time.
What is your darkest Fulham moment?
It’s related to the above. It was at half-time at Man City when we were losing two nil. I was devasted and honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. My concerns were more than just Fulham surviving the drop but related to the wider implications for the Club and its staff when there had been so much hard work put in. Even though I recall leaving the directors’ box in shock I somehow knew we’d come through. The introduction of Diomansy Kamara and him getting two goals, including the last minute winner meant that 45 minutes later I had gone from feelings of pure devastation to an ultimate high. I knew then we’d stay up.
I remember being pitchside at the end of the game to congratulate the team on the outstanding performance and Alistair McIntosh coming up to say well done. Not long after that, we asked him to join Fulham. We’re still good friends and he sometimes watches my son play rugby at Esher.
Who would be your three Fulham related drinking companions/dinner guests?
Easy for me – Tosh Chamberlain, George Cohen and Edwin van der Sar.
And if I could add two more at the end of the table it would have to be Tim and his son Jean-Andre Prager (the unofficial Riverside Stand mascot).
Do you have any matchday rituals/superstitions?
When I was a director I always sat in the same seat and when Mr Al-Fayed attended I took his walk across the pitch along the same route.
Do you have a Fulham claim to fame?
There are quite a few! It’s been amazing to be part of a team that took the Club into the Premiership and maintained that status for so long. Also, from a managerial appointment perspective, working with my fellow directors in appointing Roy Hodgson proved to be a great choice for the Club. I still keep in regular contact with Roy – he is a pleasure to work with.
What makes Fulham special to you?
Craven Cottage has a special place in my heart. It’s hard to beat a winter’s evening game at the Cottage, but actually, it’s the Fulham people and the mentality. It’s the way we welcome all visitors to our home – it makes it an exceptional place to enjoy.
What was your highlight of last season?
The home fixture against Wolves where we won 2 – 0. One of my close work colleagues joined me for the match. Of course, he was a Wolves supporter which made for a very interesting afternoon!
Describe Fulham in 3 words
Success, History, Family