It is my honour to welcome you this afternoon to Craven Cottage, where already this week we have experienced incredible drama and success with the performance of our Under-18 squad in the FA Youth Cup Semi- Finals. Is it possible that we can deliver the same result this afternoon against our visitors from Norwich City? As we say at Fulham Football Club - Believe!
Before I begin my programme notes, however, I would like to recognise that today marks the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, which had an effect on every football fan in the world. Our thoughts are with each family that suffered a devastating loss that day, and we share with them the hope that noone - or the game of football - will ever experience such sadness again.
Now, I am proud to commend Steve Wigley, the Manager of our Under-18s and, of course, his team for advancing to the FA Youth Cup Final with a 3-2 win here on Monday night in the Second Leg of the Semi-Final. If you love Fulham, you understand the importance of our commitment to develop a programme and system from the roots up. That’s what we’re doing here at Fulham, and what we saw on Monday night suggests we’re clearly on the right path. As brilliant as Moussa Dembélé was in scoring all three goals - and brilliant he was - we have exceptional talent and potential throughout our Under-18s line-up, and we got the best from everyone when we needed it most. The fight and resiliency we displayed after briefly falling behind in the second half is what I’ll remember, and the vast promise of this team today and in the future is what I’m looking forward to. Well done!
Fight and resiliency is my theme today. A week ago at Aston Villa, nothing less would do if we were to keep our Barclays Premier League season alive. And again, when we needed it most, we got it - fight, resilience and a well-deserved winning goal late in the match by Hugo Rodallega from a wonderful ball by Lewis Holtby. The effort to rebound from Villa’s equalising goal is why today’s match versus Norwich is full of anticipation, storylines and vast rewards to the team that comes out on top. I have faith it will be Fulham and I’m happy to join you this afternoon at the Cottage to urge our Club to victory.
It would be impossible, however, to celebrate the three points earned at Villa without paying tribute to the 3,000-plus Fulham supporters who backed us in numbers and voice in Birmingham. Off the pitch, that was our performance of the season. If you watched the match on television as I did, you know the effect our fans had in the outcome. If you were one of the Fulham 3,000, on behalf of Felix Magath and the team, my sincere thanks for a world-class showing. And to all home supporters this afternoon, consider this an appeal and challenge to come up just as big today at the Cottage. And now is the time to make plans to join us for our final away fixture at Stoke City on 3rd May. We’re offering adult tickets for only £10, many of which include free coach travel. Please join us and help make a difference!
Finally, a word of thanks to the warm response last week to our announcement on Season Ticket renewal and purchase plans. As I noted in a letter to Season Ticket Holders and at fulhamfc.com, we have a lot to look forward to here at Fulham Football Club. Last month, the Board of the Port of London Authority granted us a river works license to enable us to move forward with the important and longawaited development of the Riverside Stand. With expanded capacity and additional premium offerings possible through this project, Fulham Football Club can now be better assured of overall promise and financial sustainability for many seasons to come. Further, a new Riverside Stand would create a Thames River walkway that could be enjoyed by the neighbourhood and general public for the first time in recent history. Good news all around!
We have a long-term plan for Fulham Football Club, and we’re seeing the benefits of that vision from our Under- 18s to the development plans here at Craven Cottage. But, we also have immediate goals, starting with winning today’s match versus Norwich. Let’s get three points.
Come On You Whites!
Shahid Khan, Chairman