Founded in 1879 by members of the church in Star Road, West Kensington, Fulham is the oldest club in London. It was here that schoolboys kicked balls to each other on rickety playing fields that founded the English club we all know today. Their first cup win was winning the West London Amateur Cup in 1887 and 12 months later their name changed from the long-winded Fulham St Andrews Church Sunday School Football Club to its shorter name, Fulham FC. In 1893 they won the West London League at their first attempt, but the club remained in amateur competition for another 5 years. Fulham moved to the now famous Craven Cottage in 1896 and then completed their transition to professional football and began playing in the Southern League in 1897. 1907,
Is Fulham the oldest football club?
Fulham’s first game in Division 2 was at home to Hull City; Unfortunately they lost 1-0. This was only a small setback as they upped their game and position at the tables, finishing their inaugural season in a respectable 4th place. The club’s high hopes of promotion to Division 1 were soon dashed, and the awareness of spending the next decades in Division 2 strengthened with regular appearances. Fulham were relegated to Division 3 at the end of the 1927 season, officially known as 3rd Division South. To some extent, Fulham’s skills and footballing gifts were more suited to this lower division, and it would require a fundamental change at the club to strive for a better state. Changing the fundamentals of the club from top to bottom did not happen overnight. By spending three seasons in Division 3, Fulham learned an invaluable lesson in complacency and self-effacement. In the 1931/32 season, Fulham seized the opportunity and were once again masters of their own destiny as they topped the tables with victories such as 10-2 against Torque United and an impressive 111 goals that season, leading to promotion back to Division 2.
Fulham’s footballing gifts and renewed form continued into the following season as they worked their way up the table and successive promotions looked likely, but with some good wins from Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur they were pushed into 3rd place.
In 1949, entering the modern era of football, Fulham’s dreams and ambitions became a reality when they were promoted to Division 1. With this came the responsibility of competing with experienced football clubs who had world-class players at their disposal. Fulham’s debut season in the top flight saw them struggle and poor performances were regular and almost became the norm for the club. The end of the season could not have come sooner and miraculously Fulham remained 17th in the table. More of the same followed the following season, where the club again managed to avoid relegation. Inevitably, however, in the 1951/52 season, the bottom of the league table meant that Division 1 had by then gone out for them. IN
in the years that followed, Fulham never showed anything special until they found form and reached the FA Cup semi-finals in 1958. This gave them the confidence they so desperately needed. Another boost for the club came when they moved up to the football top. He looked more confident and took on the football gifts of Graham Leggat, who played 277 games for Fulham and ably scored 134 goals, placing him among the club’s top five goalscorers. They finished the season in a mediocre 10th place, which was their highest ranking in Division 1 at the time. During these periods, Craven Cottage was able to attract more than 30,000 people.
The 1950s brought other talents to the club. One player in particular is synonymous with Fulham Football Club and should be mentioned. John Norman Haynes, from London’s Kentish Town, was signed for the club as a schoolboy and is considered by many to be the club’s best player with unrivaled passing skills. He was also nicknamed “Mr. Fulham” and “The Maestro” and gained further honors by playing 52 caps for England, 22 as captain. Hayne’s dedication and loyalty to Fulham was total and he spent his entire professional football career at the club. He had a brief spell playing for South African club Durban City, but this was after he retired as a professional.
In the mid-1970s the club made some big signings with players such as Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery. This had an impact on performance, as the club reached their first FA Cup final against West Ham in 1975. Unfortunately for the club, West Ham scored two goals within five minutes of each other and the champions ran away 2-0. In the same period, the club reached another Anglo-Scottish Cup final, but lost to Middlesbrough. George Best played 47 times for the club in the 1976/77 season.
But in the 1979/80 season, Fulham hit rock bottom again, were relegated again, and manager Bobby Campbell was sacked. His successor, Malcolm Macdonald, restructured the squad with new signings such as the football gifts of Gerry Peyton, Tony Gale, Ray Houghton and others, creating a stronger squad and winning promotion back to Division 2. Fulham were in fine form for the following season, but unfortunately, in Derby’s last game, Fulham lost successive promotion to Division 1. Unfortunately, Fulham’s debts left the club financially crippled and the decision was made to sell a large number of quality players to keep the flow for to keep a sinking ship. With the team in tatters and a half-hearted squad, relegation is hot on Fulham’s heels. In 1986 they gave in to the inevitable and were back in Division 3.
What is the history of Craven Cottage?
In 1997, Fulham gave the club some financial security when businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed bought the club that summer, promising that Fulham would be at the top of football within five years. The first chapter in this was choosing Kevin Keegan as manager, who had been Chief Operating Officer for the club. That season the momentum grew with Fulham winning game after game. They managed to get a great 101 points and thus promotion to Division 1. This was helped by the signing of Paul Peschisolido, West Brom’s top scorer and captain, Chris Coleman’s football gifts. The only obstacle placed in front of Fulham was the FA which Keegan offered the manager of England FC. A delighted Keegan took it.
Paul Bracewell took charge of the club but not for long as Al-Fayed removed him in March 2000. French player Jean Amadou Tigana had 52 caps for France and was given the chance to manage Fulham FC, and did so with great success. All the hard work had finally paid off, and the disappointments of previous relegations could now be put behind them. The opposition were swept away with a 10 point gap between them and second placed Blackburn Rovers and for the first time since 1968 their top flight football. Painfully sad for fans and players alike, and even more so for Chris Coleman himself, was the serious car accident he was involved in. There was great hope that he would make a full recovery to see him play for Fulham again, but this was not to be the. to be. The wonderful team that Tigana had strengthened failed to maintain their superb form in the Premier League. Even with a respectable 13th place in the tables, this was an anti-climax to what they expected. The following season, things intensified for the Frenchman with more unfavorable results, his demise coming suddenly as they lost 4-0 at home to Blackburn Rovers.
Chris Coleman’s footballing gifts returned to Fulham, this time not as captain, but as manager towards the end of the 2002 season, delighting many in the club and the fans alike. During his reign, the club finished with a record 9th place the following season. Coleman saw his team have some tough games in the 2005/06 season, but this produced great results at the expense of big clubs such as Chelsea; they were defeated 1-0 and then Liverpool got a taste of the Fulham boys as the shocked Scouse club ended the game with just two goals. However, Coleman’s talents on the field were not quite the same off the field, and with a string of bad luck, his services were no longer required for the 2007 season.
Three days after Christmas 2007, Roy Hodgson was announced as Fulham’s new manager. Hodgson made some immediate signings in the January transfer window.
Some of these included Liverpool striker Jari Litmanen, Norwegian footballer Brede Hangeland, and some fan favorites such as Brian McBride and Jimmy Bullard. Fulham were still shaky at times and at times they were clinging to the glory of playing in the Premier League by the teeth.
Fulham is a club that has always had to fight hard for its place in the Premier League, just like a number of other clubs outside of them. With players getting more expensive and new transfer records always being broken, it only makes the tough decisions harder to compete with big money clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea.
The 2009/10 season still recognizes Fulham as a Premier League football club, and rightly so.