On Boxing Day 1963, Fulham reached double figures in a match for the second time in their history – the first was a 10-2 triumph over Torquay United back in the early 30s – when bottom of the table Ipswich Town visited Craven Cottage.
The Tractor Boys had won the Division One title back in 1962, but things had begun to unravel in East Anglia when manager Alf Ramsey departed to take charge of England. When they arrived at the Cottage just under 50 years ago, they were without a win from their 12 matches played away from Portman Road, shipping 33 goals in the process.
Fulham were sitting 16th in the 22-team league going into the game after a solid, if unspectacular, first half of the campaign – although they were unbeaten in the five matches previous to the Boxing Day encounter.
Maurice Cook got the ball rolling just after the quarter-hour mark when he connected with Johnny Key’s cross to send a diving header beyond Ipswich keeper Roy Bailey. And, shortly after, Graham Leggat made history when he scored the quickest hat-trick in top-flight history, bagging his treble in a remarkable three-minute spell. His first was a tap-in after an initial effort had come back off the crossbar, before he spun a second in by the post, and grabbed his third with a powerful strike from 25yards.
Bobby Howfield made it 5-0 shortly before the interval when his corner kick was palmed into the goal by Bailey, although Ipswich striker Gerry Baker pulled one back with the final action of the half.
Howfield grabbed his second and Fulham’s sixth just minutes after the restart, though, with Bobby Robson then netting what would prove to be his only goal of the season – ironically against the club where he would go on to earn legendary status in later life. Howfield joined Leggat in bagging a hat-trick in the 71st minute and, with just moments remaining, Fulham ensured double figures were reached with Alan Mullery and Leggat each popping up in the closing stages.
The victory catapulted the Whites three places up the standings but if Bedford Jezzard and his side were hoping to build on their largest-ever victory then they were sorely mistaken as they lost the following match 4-2. The opponents? In typically Fulhamish style: Ipswich Town.
Fulham team: 1. Macedo, 2. Cohen, 3. Langley, 4. Mullery, 5. Keetch, 6. Robson, 7. Key, 8. Cook, 9. Leggat, 10. Haynes, 11. Howfield