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Who was Wilkins Micawber?

Fulham res vs QPR res 1910/11

I haven't written on these pages for some time, mainly due to the extraordinary circumstances of 2020 and moving house in 2021. But I'm returning with one of my favourite programmes. Perhaps I shouldn't say such a thing as Fulham are regarded as anathema to most QPR fans but this issue, only for a reserve fixture, is just brilliant. Thanks to the magnificent Wilkins Micawber (and if any historic Fulham fans can identify this gentleman I'd be delighted to hear from them).

I read a quote recently that Dickens' Wilkins Micawber was "the human embodiment of the poetically expressed contention that Hope springs eternal in the human breast" and this Micawber certainly has a poetic way with him.

While the whole 8 page programme is a wonderful read but Wilkins' 2 pages, Tales of the Cottagers, are superb as he oscillates between brutal honesty and coyness especially regarding Fulham's recent loss at Chelsea. "Primarily I was disappointed because our forwards did not shoot more frequently. There is no reasonable excuse for this backwardness"...."There were several disappointments to me in both teams - still, I won't say what they were."

He goes on to bemoan the fact that, in his opinion, the Chelsea that Fulham had beaten the previous December were a better unit than the one that had proved victorious the preceding week. "Still, that does not remove the plain fact that we lost to Chelsea on April 8th. That's the rub!"

After this mild rant the Benefit for Arthur Collins is his next subject; "I need not go off the deep end and tell you what Collins has done for Fulham."......"If every Fulham player had been as consistent as Collins, well, I venture to think one or two regrets that exist at the Cottage today would not be about. His greatest football sorrow is that Fulham are not yet in the First League."

Arthur Collins was the fourth Fulham player to be awarded a benefit match and amongst the others was Bob Waterson ...."I remember 'Wattie' taking his shekels. What a smile! What a bag! Wattie should have been a comedian - he had the talent for it."

Wilkins finishes his spot with a brief look at the match this programme covers, a top of the table clash for the reserves against Queen's Park Rangers though a certain sourness comes through again "The Reserve team have not exactly scintillated since last I reeled off my lines".

Preceding the Wilkins Micawber piece is 'Made a Note of' , small paragraphs covering all manner of things throughout the football world beginning with;

Newcastle for the Cup. Eh! what?

This is followed by a note about the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper, Davidson, being the smallest but smartest goalie in the league. Another about the most coveted ball in the history of the game. Apparently this was the one used 'in the ill-fated International match at Ibrox Park. It is at present in the possession of Edward Doig'. I wonder where it is now. There is also a piece relating the L.R Roose, the ex-Sunderland and Welsh international goalkeeper has played his first match for Huddersfield. While the note in the programme was relatively straightforward it caught my eye as Leigh Richmond Roose was a well known footballing eccentric (take a look at Wikipedia). It is said that the 1912 alteration to the laws of the game that restricted the goalkeeper's handling to his penalty area was due to Roose's using his hands right up to the halfway line. Sadly he died during the First World War.

The programme continues with 'Our Friends the Enemy' which on this occasion is 'Taking Stock of the First Leaguers Previous to the Close of the Campaign'. This begins with a broad summary of the top division bigging up Aston Villa's chances of the championship (they lost out to Manchester United who were not mentioned) and commenting how disappointed Newcastle United would be (8th finish). Then a shorter view of the second division where Fulham would finish comfortable mid-table (equal points with the now-defunct Leeds City).

'Argus' then writes a whole page split between Bob Dalrymple an ex-Fulham man plying his trade with Clapton Orient and Lincoln's Brightest Jewell in attack - a diminutive forward only identified as Haycock!

Finally before the back page that contains the Fulham and QPR reserve lineups, is a full page cartoon relating to the Benefit man himself, Arthur Collins. I'm a sucker for a cartoon.

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