Wally meets... 'Diddy' David Hamilton
Above a corner shop in Knightsbridge, ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton was ushered in to meet the owner and learn his fate.
Already devastated to lose his privileged job as Fulham’s matchday host on the public address system, Hamilton feared the worst.
But when the door opened Mohamed Al Fayed, the Harrods owner and Cottagers chairman, reinstated the former Radio One disc jockey as the voice of Craven Cottage and assured him he had a job for life, plonking a bottle of whisky and a box of Viagra on the desk chortling: “This is what you need!” By Fulham’s next home game the campaign to restore Hamilton to the microphone, driven by a perceptive journalist with a deep-rooted affection for the club, had achieved its goal.
Among his more inspired moments — which include the appointment of Roy Hodgson as manager, sprucing up the Cottage and 20 per cent off all cheese in the Harrods food hall — reprieving Hamilton was another example of Al Fayed preserving Fulham’s best traditions.
“We had a great laugh, especially about the Viagra, and he apologised profusely for the gig being taken away from me in the first place,” said Hamilton.
“But I walked out of that office walking on air. The previous week, Fulham had only just moved back into Craven Cottage after two years of ground-sharing with QPR and I was very upset not to be on the air for our first game back there.
“Now I have established such a good-natured rapport with the chairman, which I value very much, and we have a chat before every home match when he does his little lap of honour.
“Like every Fulham supporter, I can hardly believe the transformation we have witnessed in the last 13 years or so.
“When Mr Al Fayed came in, there were weeds growing in the Putney end and we had been through some terrible times — like losing at home to Hayes in the FA Cup and Leyton Orient fans chanting ‘You’re the worst team in London’, which was factually correct based on the League tables at the time.
“Now we have one of the best managers in the business, a team who are regularly top, or near the top, of the fair play... and to top it all, we’re in the final of a major European competition. Unbelievable.”
Hamilton, now 71, belongs to the Smashie, Nicey and Tony Blackburn era of broadcasting.
But he is also a genuine lifelong fan. How sad, then, that Hamilton should be silenced in Fulham’s finest hour when the PA system packed up at their Europa League semi-final comeback against Hamburg nine days ago and he was unable to broadcast news of Zoltan Gera’s historic winner.
During his previous incarnation, the original P. Diddy used to pick out new releases destined for the charts and dubbed them ‘Hamilton’s Hotshots’.
The same label could be attached to the team Hodgson will send out for next week’s Europa League final against Atletico Madrid. Fly the flag, boys. And bring it home.