Fulham have had some interesting experiences in European competition, but one of the very best came in 2002 when we won the Intertoto Cup with a 5-3 win over Italian side Bologna. The two-legged tie saw us draw 2-2 in Bologna, before a Junichi Inamoto hat-trick saw us claim a famous 3-1 win at our temporary home of Loftus Road.
Having navigated past Finland’s FC Haka, Greek side Egaleo and a Semi-Final against French team Sochaux, we found ourselves in the Final but had to battle from behind twice in the First-Leg. Giuseppe Signori gave the opposition the lead with a penalty, but Japanese midfielder Inamoto scored an equaliser just two minutes after arriving as a substitute. Another Signori spot-kick put them in control, but Sylvain Legwinski earned Jean Tigana's men a draw five minutes from the end to give us hope.
Going into the Second-Leg we were slight favourites and showed our strength as Inamoto kept up his fine form by scoring in 12th minute, finishing off a one-two with Facundo Sava. Tomas Locatelli’s deflected shot saw an equaliser arrive on 34 minutes, but Inamoto bagged his second with a stunning volley after the break and his hat-trick was complete by the 50th minute to cap a virtuoso display.
The win ensured our route into the UEFA Cup, but more importantly gave us another trophy to put in the cabinet. Inamoto, who had been released by Arsenal, stayed on at Fulham until 2004 but never matched the heights of his Intertoto glory.
The honour of being the first Manager of the Football Club goes to a man who took over in April 1904, just ahead of his 50th birthday. Harry Bradshaw is described as a “good administrator, shrewd businessman and clever tactician” by historian Alex White and he made his way into the game as secretary of Burnley in 1891.
Having never been a player himself, Bradshaw had an understanding of what it took to run a club behind the scenes and was made Chairman two years later, before he took over as manager in 1896. Sealing the Second Division title in 1897/98, he attracted the interest of London’s premier club, Woolwich Arsenal, and joined them in July 1899. In the space of five years he took them from the brink of bankruptcy to promotion to the First Division.
When Bradshaw joined Fulham - newly formed as a company and playing in the First Division of the Southern League (effectively the Third Division) - as Manager in the spring of 1904 it was something of a coup. He took his two sons Joe and William with him, and led the Whites to become Southern League champions inside two years, a title they defended successfully in 1906/07. Coming close to promotion from Division Two, the side also reached the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup during his time and Bradshaw played a huge role in developing Craven Cottage into a modern stadium. He left the Club in 1909 to become Secretary of the Southern League and died in 1924.
There were some nomadic years for Fulham Football Club before we settled at the Cottage. One of the first places that we played was Eel Brook Common - named after the brook which ran through it, down to the River Thames - but soon we were on our travels in the surrounding area to Lillie Bridge, on the site of the Queen's Club, and Lower Putney Common. The Ranelagh House grounds proved solid for a few years, but in 1894 we were afforded the opportunity to play (and purchase) a site on the banks of the Thames.
In 1888 a fire had destroyed what used to be a hunting lodge owned by Lord William Craven and the site was unused in a state of serious disrepair. Indeed, when Fulham took the chance to purchase the land and develop it into a sporting ground, it took two years for the work to be completed.
Finally the Cottage was opened in 1896 and an extract from a local paper of September 12th read: “Fulham Football Club have been making extensive arrangements in order to meet the requirements of the sporting section of the community. Their efforts in providing such a magnificent ground as that which is now being prepared at Craven Cottage, Crabtree Lane, deserves to meet with extensive patronage. The new ground, which will be ready for opening in about three weeks time, is in the form of a vast amphitheatre, and is capable of accommodating some 20,000 persons; it is in fact, almost a replica of the famous arena at Crystal Palace.”
One of the greatest transfer moves in the history of Fulham Football Club came in 1950 as we snapped up a precious young talent by the name of Johnny Norman Haynes at the age of 15. Haynes had rejected offers from Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal to follow his friend Tosh Chamberlain to the Cottage and remained loyal to the Club for the rest of his 20 year career.
Those who negotiated his arrival could never have predicted the impact of the man who would come to be called ‘The Maestro’. Haynes became arguably Fulham’s greatest ever player as he made 658 appearances in all competitions and scored a record 158 league goals before that feat was surpassed by Gordon Davies. His career is perhaps best summed up by some of the greatest to have played the game. "He's the best passer of the ball I've ever seen. It was as if he possessed his own internal guided missile system,” Brazilian legend Pele was quoted as saying; while Bobby Robson revealed: "He was without doubt one of the greatest players this country has ever produced.”
Having become the first ever player to earn £100-a-week, the Maestro’s later career was hindered after a car crash - which ended his international career with England on 56 caps - and he retired in 1970 with. Haynes died in 2005, but was honoured as Fulham renamed the Stevenage Road Stand the ‘Johnny Haynes Stand’ that same year; three years later a statue of the great man in one of his legendary poses was unveiled outside Craven Cottage.
Micky Adams was responsible for lifting the Club from our lowest ebb in 1996 (number 23 on the list) but arguably his achievement in gaining promotion to Division Two the following season leaves that in its wake. Without the 1996/97 season, the arrival of Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed may never have happened and we could have been stuck languishing around the lower divisions fighting for our right to survive.
Credit then, to Adams and his team for making Fulham a side capable of pushing for the top flight with a season that saw us finish second in Division Three behind Wigan Athletic on the old ‘Goals Scored’ rule, having both topped the standings on 87 points. Striker Mike Conroy led the charge with a 21 goal haul in the league and the duo of Darren Freeman and Rob Scott also chipped in with nine goals apiece.
It helped to have a settled squad as 12 players from that squad played over 25 games throughout the season, with veterans Nick Cusack and Simon Morgan only missing two all season. The Club also gave a debut to 37-year-old Glenn Cockerill (a record) and based our promotion efforts on some solid away form when we set a record of six straight away wins between 27th August and 19th October; finishing the season with 12 away wins. Our incredible ascent would continue over the next five years.
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