We went to visit some of the contributors to the My Fulham Story section on our Facebook page to hear more about our fans’ relationships with the Club they love. Liam Pratt has seen his Team ascend through the football leagues over the years.
Liam's Fulham Story
I’ve been a season ticket holder since 1999, when I was seven. My family was football mad; Mum was an Arsenal season ticket holder and Dad a Chelsea season ticket holder. We lived in Guildford and I checked out the local clubs, the lower league teams, but didn’t really like any of them.
I didn’t know much about Fulham before I went to a Division Two game against Gillingham towards the end of the 1997/98 season. I was five or six and we were standing on the terraces and I couldn’t really see properly. A steward noticed that I couldn’t see and lifted me over the advertising hoarding and I watched the whole game by the side of the pitch – that did it for me and I’ve been a Fulham fan ever since.
The first couple of years that I went to the Cottage we were standing in the Hammersmith End. Then we moved to the Riverside Stand with Mum but these days she can’t make it to the games. After she stopped going I moved back to the Hammersmith End as it’s more vocal.
The best game I’ve been to was Blackburn away in 2001. We were top of the Championship, or Division One as it was then, and they were just behind. Graeme Souness, their manager, was saying before the game that he felt they were the superior team. We had a player sent off and were one nil down and we got it back to win 2-1 with virtually the last kick of the game. I had to bunk off school for that but it was well worth it.
All my friends, when they introduce me to someone, they say: “He’s the Fulham fan.” They point me out as the fanatic fan, of all my mates, as I’m the one who goes to the most games.
The club makes you feel valued whereas I think at some other grounds you’re seen as just a customer. The fans at Fulham are the Club. Going to Bournemouth for a pre-season friendly in 2000 I was waiting for players’ autographs outside their coach but I couldn’t get any. Our kit man saw I didn’t get any autographs and helped me out. He took me into the dressing room with him to get autographs and it’s little things like that which make me love Fulham.
My favourite Fulham player ever is Steve Finnan. As I was growing up, that was the position I played; right-back. I looked up to him. He played for us in three divisions and never put a foot wrong in my eyes.
On matchdays I get the train into Putney Bridge tube station and go to the café opposite and get a sandwich. I always walk through the park to the ground – I think it’s got to be the most unique ground in the league. I pick up a programme and then a group of us hang out by a wall near the Johnny Haynes statue. We catch up, see who’s going to the next away match, and stay there until five or 10 minutes before kick-off.
In terms of away games, it is always good at Everton, though we never win there. Blackpool on the August Bank Holiday was a good ground to go to as well. I’d probably say that in my opinion QPR is the worst. It is quite pricey and there’s no leg room. I’m a slender guy but even I struggle with those seats.
I think there’s cause for optimism in the 2012/13 season throughout the Club as we’ve got a really good Academy set-up. I also think now that Martin Jol has had a season to settle in that things are going to continue getting even better.
You can share your Fulham story on our official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MyFulhamStory|.