What a cracker

Sunday 25 November 2001

From Paul Thorpe

Late on Saturday after returning home from Bolton my wife (the organised one of us) casually asked me if I had any idea what I fancied for Christmas.

For some reason the mention of the festive season reminded me that Fulham also came home with a point from the North of England five years ago this very weekend.

In Christmas like conditions (heavy sleet and snow to be more precise) and in front of just 5,039 supporters Rob Scott scored Fulham's leveller at Wigan on November 23rd 1996.

Anyone present that day will remember it well, probably because the large away following was in danger of suffering from hypothermia had The Whites not given us something to celebrate.

Back then we were looking forward to taking on Chester, Leyton Orient, Scarborough and Exeter City in the build up to, and over the Christmas period.

Surprisingly, we only took 6 points from those four matches and in front of just 19,024 supporters. A figure that you'd expect to be beaten by any one of our fixtures in the month ahead, which is busy, by anyone's standards.

Of course, before December kicks in, there's a small matter of Spurs in the Worthington Cup this coming Thursday. Cup fever at the Cottage and that unique atmosphere that only an evening game can seemingly produce. What a prelude!

Imagine that day at Wigan (I seem to remember it being dark even before kick off) that five short years ahead and we'd be looking forward to Leeds, Everton, Spurs, Liverpool, Middlesbrough and Charlton... Oh, and throw in Man Utd for good measure!

The 19,024 souls that turned out in December 96' is expected to be around 175,000 this time around. How times have changed. Which brings me back to my wife's original question and what I wanted for Christmas.

I think a glance at the fixture list means that I've already got what I've always wanted from any festive period. Fulham taking on the biggest of guns, home and away in the top flight, in front of packed houses.

Ho ho ho...