JAMIE FULLAR­TON

Chris Dunlavy pro­files the new Notts County man­ager Jamie Fullar­ton

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

JAMIE Fullar­ton de­scribed him­self as a ‘Ford Fo­cus in a league of Mercedes’ dur­ing his Premier League days with Crys­tal Palace.

Those on the re­ceiv­ing end, how­ever, would most likely de­scribe the new Notts County man­ager as a bull­dozer.

Knee high tack­les, ram­pant ag­gres­sion, brute force. “Jamie wasn’t the quick­est or the most tech­ni­cal” said Neil Ship­per­ley, a team-mate at Sel­hurst Park.“But op­po­nents knew they’d been in a game with him. He was a de­mon.”

Just ask David Beck­ham, flat­tened by Fullar­ton within sec­onds of com­ing on dur­ing Manch­ester United’s 0-0 draw at Palace in 1998. The Scot still owns a com­mem­o­ra­tive print; Eng­land’s skip­per prone and at­tended by phys­ios whilst the ref bran­dishes a yel­low card in Fullar­ton’s face.

Then there was the match against Dum­bar­ton in 1992 when, still just 18 and new to the St Mir­ren side, Fullar­ton man­aged to pick up a red card in­side nine min­utes.

Af­ter­wards, and some­what am­bi­tiously, Bud­dies man­ager Jimmy Bone de­scribed his young mid­fielder as “a fu­ture cap­tain of Scot­land”.

In­jury and abil­ity would end such dreams in their in­fancy. Fullar­ton could tackle, run and or­gan­ise but there was a rea­son Palace fans nick­named him ‘hot potato’. The ball just wouldn’t stick. Yet that ruth­less tough­ness, forged in the town of Bell­shill as a child, would prove the iron back­bone of a solid ca­reer. As a kid at St Mir­ren,

his self­as­sur­ance en­sured in­ter­na­tional hon­ours at Un­der-21 level and the re­spect of ex­pe­ri­enced peers.

Those same qual­i­ties would also en­sure ac­cep­tance at French side Bas­tia, where Fullar­ton spent the 1996-97 cam­paign.

“I don’t think those play­ers have even seen a tackle in train­ing be­fore,” he told the Scot­tish Daily Record. “In my first few days here the rest of the lads were stunned at the way I went at it in our ses­sions. I've got them all wear­ing shin­pads in train­ing now!”

Painkillers

Then, of course, there was the hor­ror in­jury that al­most ended his ca­reer. Shortly af­ter join­ing Dundee United in 2000, Fullar­ton col­lided with Kil­marnock’s James Fowler, leav­ing his an­kle snapped at a grue­some an­gle. Think Ed­uardo against Birm­ing­ham.

“Peo­ple are sur­prised I re­mem­ber so much about the night af­ter the painkillers I was given,” he said. “But I still re­call the doc­tor twist­ing my boot around and pulling the foot down to get the blood flow­ing again be­cause it had turned black due to the loss of cir­cu­la­tion.” It was only later, once he’d been patched up and propped in a hos­pi­tal bed that spe­cial­ists ad­mit­ted am­pu­ta­tion had been con­sid­ered.

Fullar­ton, though, was back on the park within nine months. “That was typ­i­cal Jamie,” said Steve Cop­pell, his man­ager at Palace.“He is so de­ter­mined and has such a great fight­ing spirit. That’s just his na­ture. In fact, he of­ten pushed him­self too much to play.”

Steven Hunt, a teenager at Palace dur­ing the mad Mark Gold­berg years, also re­mem­bers Fullar­ton fondly.

“There were a few egos knock­ing around and I never felt at home,” he said in 2003. “But I got on very well with Jamie. He was one of the es­tab­lished play­ers and he did his best to of­fer me ad­vice and keep me on the right track.”

Later, when a se­ri­ous knee in­jury fi­nally fin­ished his play­ing days in 2005, Fullar­ton had the nerve and acu­men to fol­low his dream of set­ting up a Span­ish academy in the mould of Glenn Hod­dle.

A huge suc­cess, Costa Unida CF runs teams from U-9 to U-19 and re­cently saw its first grad­u­ate to La Liga.

Yet if Fullar­ton’s sin­gle-mind­ed­ness has served his ca­reer well, it has also made plenty of en­e­mies.

St Mir­ren fans haven’t for­given him for ex­ploit­ing the Bosman rul­ing to en­gi­neer a free trans­fer to Bas­tia at a time when the club were des­per­ate for cash.

For­mer Palace chair­man Si­mon Jor­dan called the mid­fielder a “bar­rack-room lawyer” who un­der­mined man­ager Alan Smith, even­tu­ally forc­ing him out of the club.

Later, dur­ing a spell as a de­vel­op­ment coach at Bolton, Fullar­ton’s hard-line, dis­ci­plinar­ian ap­proach was widely seen to have dam­aged morale and up­set staff.

Im­por­tant

Yet ac­cord­ing to For­est boss Dougie Freed­man, who worked with Fullar­ton at Palace and later took him to the City Ground, it was a role he pre­scribed.

“Jamie was very im­por­tant,” he said.“His role was to try and weed out any things that could give me a prob­lem when a player gets passed on to me.

“When a player comes to me, I can’t be spend­ing half of my day coach­ing a kid on his at­ti­tude to train­ing or what he’s do­ing off the pitch. I want to show him how to be a first team foot­baller.

“Jamie made sure they knew what stan­dards were ex­pected in cer­tain things be­fore they could start think­ing about the first team.”

Bolton’s for­mer chair­man Phil Gart­side con­curs, cit­ing the dou­ble-fig­ure num­ber of first­team grad­u­ates un­der Freed­man.

“Jamie was the cat­a­lyst for our young tal­ent break­ing through to our first team,” he said. “An ar­tic­u­late, in­tel­li­gent young man, based on my many years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in foot­ball and mul­ti­ple man­age­rial ap­point­ments, I have no doubt he will be­come a very good man­ager at a high level.”

Now, af­ter cross­ing the Trent to take over from Ri­cardo Moniz, it is time to see if Fullar­ton, who once in­sisted that he is “not a hard man”, can prove him right.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

DRIV­ING SEAT: New Notts County man­ager Jamie Fullar­ton once la­belled him­self a ‘Ford Fo­cus’

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

EA­GLE EYES: Fullar­ton in his Crys­tal Palace play­ing days

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