Death of Christy 'Bunny' Fulham
14 Jul 2011, The Irish Times
Former Drumcondra defender Christy "Bunny" Fullam has passed away at the Mater Hospital in Dublin. The celebrated footballer, who was 80, was born in Cabra and started his career as a schoolboy with Brugh Mhuire before moving on to Seaview Rovers and then Bohemians.
In 1952 the defender made his League of Ireland debut with Shelbourne and helped the club to the title in his first campaign. By the end of that season he had added Inter League caps to the "minor" and amateur ones he had won during his teens.
During the early part of his career he declined offers from a number of English clubs to leave Ireland as he was reluctant to leave what he felt was a well paid job as a bricklayer. Still, he did briefly end up playing with Holyhead Town before returning to the league when he joined Drumcondra in 1955.
He subsequently went on to win league titles with the club in 1958, '61 and '65 as well as the FAI Cup in 1957. A set-piece specialist he scored 37 goals for "Drums" in his first seven seasons with them, a tally that included a penalty against Atletico Madrid in 1958 that was the first ever goal scored by an Irish club at home in a European game.
"BUNNY" FULHAM (Drumcondra) Recalls ....
SUNNY SPAIN & SOME SOCCER SORCERY
THE heat had reached 84 degrees, there is a clear blue sky overhead and, as the sun blazed down, 84,000 rabid Spanish fans are urging on their champions in their vast bowl-like stadium in Madrid-Maurice Swan, our goalie, is playing the game of his life despite two early reverses.
Lady Luck deserted us in the opening minutes, for instead of gaining a dramatic first minute lead, we found ourselves 2-0 down after six minutes-there's now only twenty minutes left for play, our shirts, dripping wet from perspiration, are stuck to our socks then the avalanche hits us as these Spanish soccer sorcerers bewitch, bother and bewilder us with their football wizardry and run in s ix goals in t hose closing minutes.
That, in brief, sums up one of the great moments of my football career - the day that Drumcondra played the mighty Atletico de Madrid side in Spain.
I laugh when I think back to that time of the advice I got from a friend in Dublin before we went to Spain - "Tackle those Spaniards hard and often, they don't like close tackling, it puts them off their game"! What he forgot to tell me was how I was supposed to catch up on those supercharged Spanish sprinters.
From playing in such exalted company it seems like going from the sublime to the ridiculous when I tell you that my first real taste of competitive football came at the age of 16 years when, playing at centre-forward with Brugh Mhuire, we won the Cup and League for Dublin Youth Clubs that year.
The following year I joined Seaview Rangers under 17 team, and found myself settling down as a centre-half. From Seaview 1 moved nearer home to Dalymount when I signed for Bohs Minors and played at right-full.
Whilst with Bohemian, four Amateur Caps came my way - two against England and two against Scotland. Like all the League of Ireland clubs Bohemians took part in the Festival of Britain Competition. We played against Oldham Athletic. Accrington Stanley (whom we defeated) and Rochdale. One of the highlights of that tour for me was our visit to watch the young Busby "Baber" playing Bury in the Lancashire Cup.
From Dalymount I moved to Shelboune, as a professional, and had the honour of playing at left-full on their League winning team for most of that season, and crowned a great year by winning my first Inter-League Cap for the League of Ireland against the Scottish League.
Being somewhat of a soccer rolling stone I threw in my lot with that "Irish" club in Wales, Holyhead, the following season. My traveling companions each Friday night were "Shay" Nolan and Noel Snell, and we used to get back to Dublin early on Sunday morning. With Holyhead I gained a Welsh Challenge Cup medal and a League runners-up medal. In between times I played a few games for the Seasiders – Bray Wanderers.
At the beginning of the 1956 season Frank Radford of Drumcondra, invited me to have a trial at Tolka Park and after that game. Roy Prole offered me a month's trial with the club, which I accepted. I have been with Drumcondra ever since having played In over 300 games and scored 45 goals hom penalties and frees.
My associations with Drums, both as right and left back have happy memories in the form of thophies - 13 Inter-League Caps, 2 League of Ireland Championship medals, an F.A.I. Cup medal, a Shield medal, 4 Leinster Cup medals from six successive finals, City Cup medals, and a Casey Cup medal. I was selected five times as reserve for our International team and gained "11" International caps against South Africa and Iceland. Both of these games ended in victories for Ireland.
Even though Drumcondra were the first League winners to carry off the "Independent" Top Four Cup, it was our Cup-winning victory over Rovers, in April. 1957, that brought me my biggest thrill.
We had played second fiddle to Rovers all that season, being runners-up to them in practically every competition, but within the space of four days we had beaten them in the F.A.l. Cup Final, and on the following Wednesday gave the "Hoops" the knock in the Top-Four Cup Final.
At the end of that season our goalie, Alan Kelly, and centre-half, "Sonny" O'Neill were transferred to Preston North End.
ATLETlCO de MADRID
The following season we won the League Championship and that gave us the option of competing in the European Cup competition for the first time. Atletico Madrid were our opponents and Irish soccer fans were afforded an opportunity of seeing the six-foot Portuguese International inside-forward, Mendoza, with rocket-like power in either foot, the Brazilian International centre-forward, Vava; Spanish Internationals, inside-left Peiro and outside-left Collar- the fastest winger in Spanish football (that I can vouch for!); whilst centre-half Callero, and outside-right Miguel, from the Canary Islands, were other Spanish Internationals on this star-studded Atletico side - probably the greatest club side ever to come to Dublin.
My memories of our trip to Spain are still very vivid, the lavish banquet at the Palace Hotel, our visit to Chamartin to see Ferenc Puskas and Co. play a practice match against the Real Madrid reserves, and of little Miguel, the Spanish boy, who adopted us and became our guide and mascot. At 7.30 each morning he was at our hotel waiting for us.
Our next excursion into the international club sphere was against Nuremberg. Though not as internationally stacked as Atletico Madrid, they still boasted one player, Max Morlock, at inside-right, who had twenty years' service with the club and twenty-six International caps to his credit. Heinz Strehl, their centre-forward, was stand in for Uwe Seeler, of Hamburg, in the National side and along with Wenaver, centre-half, had a couple of "B" and Junior caps in his collection.
Our game in Nuremberg was played in one of the best laid out grounds I ever played on. Actually, it was the first match ever on it, having originally being used by the Hitler Youth Movement and later by the U.S. occupation forces, and had only been handed back to the town before our visit. I must pay tribute to that sporting crowd of 50,000, who stood in the open for this game, which was played in lashing rain, and not one, I'm sure, left till the end. After the game we had the pleasure of watching it in full on television and learnt a lot from it for our return game in Dublin.
And so to the present season when we became the first Irish club to play in the European lnter-Cities Fairs' Cup. Fortunately for us we got a home draw and made the most of it by winning 4-1. Our Danish opponents, Odense, were, in fact, the pick of four clubs - O.B., B1913, B1909 and K.F.U.M., all of the party were either full "B", or youth internationals. In the return game we lost by 4 goals to 2 - but passed on to the second round on aggregate. On our return journey from Odense we stopped at Amsterdam and were fortunate to meet the famous Santos Club, of Brazil, who were touring in Europe. The thing that struck me about this team was that they were not very tall, except Pele - a most unassuming player who signed autographs and posed for many photos for us.
Many times I have been asked about training methods for big games like those I have mentioned above. Normally, we don't have an opportunity of seeing our opponents in action, so we just play our usual game against these foreign teams -that is to try and score first and keep going for goals.
For myself I usually put in an extra bit of preseason training, mainly cross-country running, with Jimmy Douglas, of Avondale Athletic Club, on two or three nights a week before our club training commences in July. Club training is collective, that is, first team and reserves train together, and there is as much variety as possible brought into this important aspect of our game.
I have been asked, from time to time, what I would consider to be a foootballer's most important assets: (1) Physical fitness and a fair measure of speed; (2) Ability to kick a ball hard, direct and a reasonable distance; (3) Knowing how to play off the ball; (4) Listen to those who know the game and learn as much as you can from them.
My biggest dislike is the player who, having gained much from the game ceases to have any interest in either promoting it or giving the benefit of his knowledge to young players.
My top three opponents were Collar, of Atletico Madrid, George Robb, the English Amateur International, and Liam Tuohy, now with Newcastle United.
In conclusion I would like to say how much I enjoy every game and will continue to play until I cease to enjoy it. Most of the credit for my success at Tolka Park is due to Roy Prole, Frank Radford and Matt Giles (our backroom staff), who have always been most helpful to me during my career. Last, but by no means least, my team-mates whom it is my pleasure to skipper.