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Farewell, Dougie...

July 30 2008

Dougie Freedman

Dougie Freedman

Jamesey religiously attended the testimonial rites of Dougie Freedman and found himself in some illustrious company.

All good things come to an end and so it was we came to pay homage to Dougie Freedman in a game against Fulham.

The game was a disappointing 0-0 draw but, of course, we weren't really there for the football. It was a sort of farewell to a great servant of the club and I have already given my eulogy (Date with the Doog, June 27) so I won't bang on any further in this column.

Calling the game a "farewell" is not strictly true because Dougie has been given the No 25 berth in the squad for 08-09 although the No 9 is still vacant. Has Neil Warnock got a striker up his sleeve?

It is always a pleasure to attend Selhurst Park for the first time in a new season and, at my time of life, to celebrate still being around!

But it was an unprecedented pleasure, sitting in my season card seat in the top corner of the Main Stand to find myself in some high-calibre company.

As the punters filed in and took their seats I realised that some of the surrounding faces were very familiar. The club often allocates seats to players and celebs in the seats surrounding mine so it is not all that unusual to see the odd VIP.

But this time it was a bit special, with Aki Riihilahti occupying the berth in front of me, Simon Rodger on my right and in fairly close proximity, Jobi McAnuff, Ray Houghton, Wayne Andrews, Jamie Smith and Dean Gordon. Blow me, I was surrounded by legends, almost-legends and you-must-be-havin'-a-laugh-legends.

And shame on the supporters who abused Jobi at the Watford game last season. He had the decency to turn up for Dougie's testimonial, smile and chat to us all, and I applaud him for that.

Apart from most of the above-mentioned names a veritable plethora of famous personalities appeared on the pitch at half-time, including Dean Austin, Phil Barber, Dave Bassett, Tommy Black, Mark Bright, Jim Cannon, Curtis Fleming, Danny Granville, Andy Johnson, Alan Pardew, John Salako, George Ndah, Richard Shaw, Neil Shipperley, Geoff Thomas and, wait for it, folks, Ron Noades.

Well, you either like Ron or loathe him and personally, Mark Goldberg apart, I thought he did a great job as chairman and my fondest memories of being a CPFC supporter are when he was at the helm. Many of the crowd who booed him obviously disagree.

During the game, I introduced myself to Aki and being a courteous gentleman he pretended he had heard of the HOL website.

He also asked me to send his sincerest good wishes to all HOL members and to thank everyone for the happy days he spent at Selhurst Park.

So there. As the great comedian and former Fulham chairman, Tommy Trinder, would have said, "You lucky people..."

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