Fulham St Andrew's
The Club was born when a school teacher and churchwarden formed a team for local boys at Fulham St Andrew’s Church in 1879. Although cricket initially took the priority, seven years later, the team won their first silverware, the West London Amateur Cup, beating St Matthew's 2-1 in the Final.
New name, new home
In outgrowing its origins the Club's title was shortened to Fulham Football Club in January 1889, meaning the original nickname of the Saints had to be dropped.
As results improved and progress was made, we also found ourselves a new home – moving from park pitches, pub changing rooms and a groundshare with Wasps Rugby Club to a seven-acre site located on the north bank of the Thames.
In 1896, after two years of development, the Club finally took residence in their new home – one that would not only match our ambitions but also offer a more secure foundation to move forward.
Fulham won their first home game too, beating Minerva 4-0 in the Middlesex Senior Cup, and very quickly the symbolic relationship between Club and ground was forged. To this day, few clubs can claim to be more synonymous with its home.
Onwards and upwards
Having gained professional status on 12th December 1898, Fulham rose from the Southern League divisions to reach the national Football League in September 1907.
In our first season we would finish fourth and just short of promotion from Division Two, although we did reach the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup, as we would again in 1936.
It may have taken us a little while to reach the top division, but promotion to Division One was finally secured for the 1949/50 season as Fulham went up as Division Two champions.
The 50s and 60s
After struggling to adjust to the step up, Fulham finished bottom of the First Division at the end of the 1951/52 campaign. We had to wait seven seasons for a return, although the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup were reached for a third time in 1958.
With that momentum, the Club pushed on and made it back to the top for the 1959/60 season to usher in what is largely considered as one of the most exciting eras in Fulham’s history.
The Club would spend nine seasons in the top flight (our longest spell outside of the Barclays Premier League years), thanks largely to a wonderfully talented group that included the great Johnny Haynes, Tony Macedo, George Cohen, Jim Langley, Alan Mullery, Bobby Robson, Graham Leggat, Fred Callaghan and Rodney Marsh.
Having slipped down to Division Three by the 1969/70 season, the FA Cup Final was the unprecedented highlight of the 1970s. Having reached the Semi-Final for a fourth time in 1962, Fulham finally made the Wembley showpiece in May 1975 after a staggering 11-game run (a never-to-be-beaten record of most games en-route to the final) that included six replays.
Then a Division Two club, Fulham would meet Division One West Ham United in the final – a match that would sadly end in a 2-0 defeat. However, against all the odds we had finally got to the Final and in going close the side, led by Captain Mullery, would be remembered for many years to come.
While a number of high-profile players like Bobby Moore and George Best had joined during the mid to late 1970s, promotion back to the top division had still proved elusive.
As the Club bobbed up and down between the second and third tier, Malcolm Macdonald's young side of the early 1980s did offer a moment of hope only to be denied on the final day of the 1982/83 campaign.
Mounting financial pressures followed and as a result the majority of the Club's key players were sold as Fulham again dropped to Division Three. In 1987 the situation worsened and the Club came dangerously close to extinction. Only the intervention of a group led by ex-player Jimmy Hill just about kept Fulham in business.
Form continued to wane out on the pitch, and by the end of the 1995/96 season we recorded our worst ever league finish in ending the campaign 17th out of 24 in Division Three.
Rising from the ashes
Former player Micky Adams would help steer the Club out of danger when he took control of Team affairs in March 1996 with Fulham occupying 91st spot in the football pyramid. With confidence improved and the squad strengthened (albeit on a very small budget), the Team started the 1996/97 campaign in positive fashion and never really looked back achieving promotion with four games to spare. Fulham’s ascent was under way.
The Al Fayed Era
Mohamed Al Fayed took control of the Club in the summer of 1997 and on his arrival promised top-flight football within five years. The revolution began with the appointment of Kevin Keegan and the funding of Club record signings Paul Peschisolido (£1.1m) and Chris Coleman (£2.1m).
Very quickly Al Fayed’s Fulham blazed a trail through the lower divisions and even knocked Aston Villa and Southampton out of cup competitions. The Whites were crowned Division Two champions in May 1999 but Keegan’s success came at a price as he was headhunted for the post of England manager. After a brief period of juggling both roles, he was replaced by Paul Bracewell at Craven Cottage.
Despite a bright start, the 1999/2000 campaign proved a frustrating one for Bracewell who was then replaced by Jean Tigana.
The Barclays Premier League years
The Chairman’s five-year plan was achieved in four as Fulham returned to the top flight as Division One champions after a 33 year absence. The Whites were off the top spot for just two weeks throughout the 2000/01 campaign. In the process they also shattered Nationwide League records for the most wins (30), fewest defeats (5), highest points total (101), best goal difference (58) and highest individual scorer (Louis Saha 27).
We were to finish a respectable 13th in our debut Barclays Premier League season, a campaign that was made even more memorable when the Club was offered the chance to take part in the Intertoto Cup in the summer of 2002. As a result, Fulham would go on to lift the trophy when beating Bologna 5-3 in a two-legged Final, before reaching the UEFA Cup Third Round.
An indifferent 2002/03 domestic campaign saw former player Coleman appointed as Manager with five games remaining, and the Welshman would help steer Fulham to safety by taking 10 points from a possible 15. The following term, Fulham went on to achieve a new highest-league placing of ninth, despite the record sale of Saha to Manchester United for £12m.
With league guidelines dictating that Craven Cottage must be an all-seater stadium, Fulham would leave their temporary Loftus Road abode to make a triumphant return to a transformed home for the 2004/05 campaign – a year that also saw the Club celebrate its 125th anniversary.
A Clint Dempsey goal in a 1-0 defeat of Liverpool would save Fulham from the drop with one game of the 2006/07 season remaining, as Manager Lawrie Sanchez (who replaced Coleman in April 2007) helped guide the Team to safety. Despite considerable backing, Sanchez was unable to ignite his charges during the following campaign with Roy Hodgson installed as our fourth Premier League Manager in December 2007.
With that appointment, Fulham’s ‘Great Escape’ began and a remarkable turnaround in results prompted a stunning end-of-season revival which saw the Club beat the drop with just 14 minutes of the season remaining.
In Hodgson’s first full season in charge, Fulham would record their most successful season at the top, finishing seventh and guaranteeing European football for the following term.
Improbably improving on the fabulous 2008/09 season, Fulham became the toast of Europe as they disposed of UEFA Cup holders Shakhtar Donetsk, Italian giants Juventus, German champions VfL Wolfsburg and Hamburger SV in a stunning journey to the inaugural UEFA Europa League Final – where only a heart-breaking late extra-time winner by Atletico Madrid denied the Club a fairytale win.
In August 2010, Mark Hughes succeeded Hodgson as Manager and the Club achieved another top 10 Premier League finish, ending the 2010/11 campaign in eighth place. An exemplary disciplinary record also earned a spot in the Europa League qualifying places.
Following the sudden departure of Hughes, Martin Jol was installed as Manager in July 2011. With a shift in philosophy, Fulham adopted a more attack-minded, free-flowing style – which yielded the very memorable 6-0 rout of West London rivals Queens Park Rangers.
Impressive defeats of Arsenal at the Cottage and Liverpool at Anfield followed as Fulham enjoyed a prosperous second half of the 2011/12 season and recorded a third top 10 finish in four years in claiming ninth spot.
The 2012/13 campaign began well enough as Fulham sat top of the table after an opening day thrashing of Norwich City 5-0, but the remainder of the season was plagued by inconsistency.
Following the Whites’ thrilling 3-2 victory over QPR on 1st April, only four more points were gained (a draw at Aston Villa and win at Swansea City on the final day) as Fulham had to settle for a 12th-placed finish in the Premier League.
That form continued into the new season. Despite a narrow opening day triumph at Sunderland, Martin Jol’s men found themselves in the relegation zone come November, with a 3-0 defeat at West Ham United proving to be the Dutchman’s last game in charge.
He was replaced by René Meulensteen who had been brought in to assist his compatriot. Performances did improve but the team continued to struggle for consistency, as emphasised by the Christmas period which saw an impressive 2-1 win at Norwich followed up by a 6-0 hammering by Hull City.
Meulensteen won his following game against West Ham on New Year’s Day, but was relieved of his duties on Valentine’s Day with Fulham languishing in 20th position.
Highly rated German manager Felix Magath was the man brought in and tasked with pulling off another ‘Great Escape’ and he came close to making the perfect start only for a late goal to earn West Bromwich Albion a point in a 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns.
Three wins in five games towards the end of the campaign gave fans hope, but relegation was confirmed on the penultimate weekend of the season when our 4-1 defeat by Stoke City, coupled with relegation rivals Sunderland’s shock win at Old Trafford, meant it was mathematically impossible to survive.