Gentleman Jim

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by HatterDon, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    When I was listening to the Parma match yesterday, I remembered this article that I wrote for the 2010-11 Fulham Review. My only regret from my visit to England in the fall of 2011 is that I didn't get a chance to meet the great man. Also, I really miss the Fulham Review. Anyhow, enjoy:

    The View from South Texas – Gentleman Jim

    A couple of seasons ago, the Setanta USA that was went bankrupt. In its place, Fox Soccer Channel added the matches it had been covering to a new channel, Fox Soccer Plus. At that same time, ESPN2 began Premier League coverage. Suddenly, those of us who previously had the opportunity to watch only three or four of the ten Premiership matches on offer each weekend, were faced with the happy prospect of being able to watch them all – as long as our cable provider added Fox Soccer Plus. Imagine my surprise when little old San Antonio’s Time Warner Cable was one of the lucky affiliates. Now, at last, we’d be able to watch at least 9 of the 10 matches each weekend, and miss none of the midweek games. Even more important, our measly portion of 5-10 Fulham matches a season would approach the full 38! Naturally, many of them would be tape delayed, but that was okay. As Valentine Michael Smith was fond of saying, “Waiting for fullness is all.”

    Prior to these two seasons, we few, we happy few Fulham supporters on the left side of the pond had only one way to share in the Fulham game-day experience: Fulham radio and Gentleman Jim McGullion. Earlier this century, American Fulham supporters coalesced like the formation of an underground cell. We had our message drop – generally – where we would share articles and exchange information about the strange addiction whose power we were under. A big feature of this shadow society was meeting at 0900 on a Saturday morning in the FulhamUSA chatroom and to dial in to Gentleman Jim. A highlight of each match was Jim’s shout-out to supporters in Canada and the United States. Line after line of typed cheers would appear. We were part of the club – for real.

    Many of my fellow countrymen, especially the younger ones, still preferred to look for illicit video links so as to actually see the lads regardless of the visual quality and the language spoken by the announcer. For those of us of a certain age, however, the Internet version of radio was just fine. As a first year baby boomer born in very far West Texas, I was used to being several time zones from the top flight teams I rooted for, and even the local minor league games were too expensive for us to attend except on special occasions. And so the radio was my savior. This little collection of tubes, glowing lights, and too sensitive dials helped me create what has been called “The Theatre of the Mind.” Thanks to announcers, I knew what Baltimore’s Memorial and St. Louis’s Busch Stadiums looked like, and I knew every inch of El Paso’s Dudley Field. Thanks to their art, I knew how Gene Woodling turned on a fly ball, and what Stan Musial’s batting stance looked like. All I needed was a play-by-play announcer, and I could populate the field and stands with players and supporters all unquestionably real to me.

    And so, in the years before South Texas’ television largesse, I listened religiously to Gentleman Jim. I appreciated his knowledge of the game. I also came to first recognize, then to smile tolerantly at, and finally to rejoice in his quirks. There was the one match where all we had was dead air between the pre-kickoff sound check and the beginning of the second half. Somebody forgot to throw a switch and Jim nattered away only to those in the grounds of Craven Cottage. Then there is his quiet refusal to utter the word “Chelsea” when he broadcasts an SW6 derby.

    Legendary also are his comments on certain players. “Diop [then with Pompey] is a big unit,” Jim told us one morning, “But he’s a bit of a fairy, really.” And, “With that haircut, Luka Modrić looks like a 14-year-old girl.” We also enjoyed his sartorial report – how would you describe that boot color, who is needlessly wearing gloves, and don’t get him started on the “snoods” – his self-censorship: “Get up, you … ,” and “Now the supporters are booing Danny! What a bunch of … .” A personal favorite event for me is the three or four times a match that he evidently forgets that we can’t see what he’s seeing: “Will you look at that!” And then there are his attempts at humor: "Huth just hoofed one on the roof. There's a little bit of alliteration for you." Well, not so much, Jim, but it does start with the same letter!

    Jim is a supporter, and as a result, he has his personal favorites. The chatroom filled with Yanks would erupt when Fulham were about to bring on Erik Nevland. Jim was hugely smitten with the Striking Viking and never passed on an opportunity to show it. When Erik was finally released, many of us wondered who would replace him as GJ’s man crush. The results aren’t all in yet, but the early returns favor Moussa Dembélé.

    What’s that you say? You mean you’re still listening to GJ even with all this television available? You betcha. Whenever I have a free Saturday morning, and the televised match isn’t going to be shown for several hours, I still click into the official site and listen to the master. Even though FulhamUSA’s match-day chatroom is a victim of the hacking that all but killed the site and I’ll usually have nobody to share the experience with, I still look for the things that only GJ can give me.

    When I first started attending live matches in England, I was in my mid-20s. Inevitably, I’d find someone on the terraces to chat with while waiting for the match to begin, during half time, and on our way out into the street after the final whistle. Even though you never saw him anywhere else, it would only take two minutes to get your friendship back in synch. Before kickoff you'd discuss the previous weekend's away match, talk about the lineup in today's program, and discuss the injuries. You’d chat about who looked promising in the reserves and the youth squad. Once the whistle blew, you'd assist him in kicking every ball, agonizing with every foul, and bemoaning every missed chance. He'd moan with you at the appalling nature of the opposing players, and then jump up and down with you like a pair of escaped lunatics when your side scored.

    For me now, GJ is that guy. When Fulham score late to rescue a point or three, Gentleman Jim goes from broadcast-voice to hoarse babbling in about 12 seconds flat. That's what standing on the terraces used to be all about for me, and that's what Gentleman Jim brings back to me every time I listen. I swear, when I come to England in the fall to see Fulham play, more than any player on the side, the man I want most to meet and shake hands with is Gentleman Jim McGuillion.
  2. Clevelandmo

    Clevelandmo Active Member

    Sep 13, 2007
    Nice Don. Thanks for posting. GJ certainly is one of the things that makes Fulham special. Love his play by play.
  3. SoCalJoe

    SoCalJoe Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2006
    Walnut, CA
    :clap: GJ is an icon.
  4. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Alamo City, Texas
    Ah, the good old days. I'm old enough to remember going to sleep to the sound of Orioles or Caps games on my radio many nights as a little kid.

    While I'll never forget things like GJ's Viking Love and his obsession with boot colors, it was fun to read and reminisce, since with the availability of matches on tv, I don't listen to GJ all that much anymore. There's always the Cup matches though.
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