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The FA Premier League

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Fulham F.C.

Fulham Football Club (FFC) is a football team based in Fulham, London. Founded in 1879, they celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2004, and they are in the top tier of English football, the FA Premiership. Fulham FC are in fact the oldest professional football team in London (usually considered to have been founded in 1879, although some say 1880), a record that might surprise a few fans of some of the bigger clubs in the City.

They spent much time in the Old First Division (Premiership) through the 60s, but are yet to gain any major honours, their only FA Cup final appearance being in 1975. But they won qualification to the UEFA Cup in 2002 by winning the Intertoto Cup, beating Bologna F.C. 1909 3-0 in the final.

They currently play at Craven Cottage, their home since 1896, a beautiful riverside ground on the banks of the River Thames in Fulham, having spent two years at Loftus Road while Craven Cottage was undergoing renovations to bring it up to Premier League standards. The club achieved their main aim of avoiding relegation for the 2005/06 season, eventually finishing 12th.

The club's training ground is found near to Motspur Park, where the Academy is also situated. The Ladies' team also played the majority of their games here prior to being dissolved in summer 2006.

History

Fulham Football Club started its existence as Fulham St Andrew's Church Sunday School FC in Star Road W.14 1879. They won the West London Amateur Cup in 1887 and, having changed the name to 'Fulham' in 1888, the West London League in 1893 at the first attempt. They gained professional status on December 12, 1898.

They played in colours more akin to Arsenal in this era.

After turning professional, it was a number of years before Fulham gained admission to the Football League, they did so by winning the Southern League Championship twice in succesion in 1906 and 1907. Having been admitted to the Southern League Div. 2 in 1898, and promoted in 1903. Fulham's first league game saw them losing 1-0 at home to Hull City on September 3rd 1907. The first win came on September 7th 1907 against Derby County, away W 1-0. When they eventually found their feet in the division they impressed, ending up only three points short of promotion in 4th place. Another highlight of that first season was an 8-2 away win at Luton Town. It remains to this day Fulham's biggest away win. They also reached the semi-final of the FA Cup that year losing 6-0 to Newcastle United, which is still a record loss in an FA Cup semi-final.

They didn't come any closer to the First Division for a while, finishing consistently in the mediocracy up until the outbreak of World War II. They won one minor cup, in 1910, the London Challenge Cup.

They were relegated to the Third Division South in 1928 but were promoted as champions four years later, having scored 111 goals in just 38 games including a 10-2 victory over Torquay United.

Post-war, Fulham's first experience of top-flight fotball came about in 1949 after winning the Second Division. It lasted just 3 years, with them finishing in 17th 1949-50, 18th (1950-1), and then 22nd out of 22 in their last season.

Fulham were again promoted to the First Division in 1959, and had crowds regularly exceeding 30,000. They never pushed higher than mid-table though, and were eventually relegated in 1968, having never being higher than 19th all season. They were then relegated to the Third Division the following season. They were then promoted back to the Second Division as runners-up in 1971.

In the mid 1970s, whilst under the management of Alec Stock, they later saw stars like Bobby Moore play for the club, and Alan Mullery return for a time and reached the FA Cup Final in 1975, losing to West Ham United.

An FA Cup record which is now unlikely to be ever broken, saw Fulham played 12 games (including replays) just to get to the final. From Round 3, it should be just 6. (3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, Semi Final, and Final). In the build up to this, Tony Rees and The Cottagers released a single, "Viva el Fulham" which is still played and chanted at Fulham games. It reached No.46 in the Pop Charts in 1975. George Best played 50 times, and back for a 2nd time - Rodney Marsh played together for a while in 1976 & '77.

They were relegated again in 1980, after one of their worst ever seasons, and their manager at the time Bobby Campbell was sacked in the autumn of that year, heralding the take over by Malcolm MacDonald.

Despite his team from 1980-84 which looked to be the start of a new revolution (with players such as Ray Houghton, Tony Gale, Paul Parker, Gerry Payton, Ray Lewington), they won promtion again in 1982 to Div. 2. After narrowly missing out on back-to-back promotions, to the First Division losing 1-0 to Derby away on the last day of the season (the match was abandoned after 88 mins due to a pitch invasion) in 1983, the following year saw the team gradually being broken up and sold off to pay for debts and were relegated again to the Third Division in 1986.

A team that cost all but nothing to assemble, yielded nearly as much when sold. Continuing money troubles meant they nearly went out of business in 1987. And an ill-advised proposed merger with Queen's Park Rangers meant it wasn't all smiles and only an intervention by Jimmy Hill installed as Chairman meant that a re-structured Fulham FC 1987 Ltd. were able to continue. Fulham hit the football league basement in 1994, in being relegated to the Third Division, the 4th tier of English professional football. With their darkest day possibly being in February 1996.

Recent history

After the side's relegation, Ian Branfoot was installed as manager. His first season in charge (1994-5) yielded a seventh place finish, which would have given them a place in the play-offs if not for a restructuring of the league. Branfoot's second season (95/96) was a disaster, with the side languishing near the foot of the table and only seeming safe due to Torquay United being hopelessly adrift at bottom position. The situation came to a head when Fulham (by then in 91st place in The Football League) or 23rd in Div 3 played Torquay (92nd or 24th) at their Plainmoor ground on Feb 3rd 1996 and lost 2-1, meaning that they had only won two from their previous twenty league games. Fulham followed the match with three draws which hardly improved the situation, and Branfoot was fired two weeks after the Torquay match (though retained in other capacities for a while afterwards). But managed to finish 17th by the end of that season.

Micky Adams was appointed as manager and oversaw an upturn in form that lifted the side out of what little relegation danger was present. The next season he engineered a complete turnaround in form and his side, captained by Simon Morgan finished second, only missing out on first due to the league dropping the old "goal difference" system in favor of a "goals scored" tally. While Fulham's goal difference was one better than that of champions Wigan Athletic, they scored twelve less goals. This was subtly ironic, as the club's then Chairman Jimmy Hill, had successfully argued that goals scored should decide places of teams tied on points while sitting on an FA panel.

Millionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed purchased the club that summer and fired Adams in the aftermath of a poor start. In Adams' place he installed a managerial 'dream team' of Ray Wilkins and Kevin Keegan, pledging that the club would reach the Premiership with five years.

After an argument over team selection, Wilkins left the club in May 1998 to hand over the full managerial duties to Keegan, who steered the club to a spectacular promotion the next season, winning 101 points of a possible 138, captained by Chris Coleman - the first £2million footballer outside the top two divisions of the English league. He then left to become manager of the English national football team, and veteran player Paul Bracewell was put in charge.

Bracewell was sacked in March 2000 as Fulham's promising early season form dwindled away, and Jean Tigana was put in charge, and having signed a number of young stars, including Louis Saha, he guided Fulham to their third promotion in five seasons, again in emphatic style, giving Fulham top flight status for the first time since 1968. During this season club captain and subsequent manager, Chris Coleman, was involved in a car crash which eventually finished his career. Fulham were widely tipped to take the Premiership by storm, with many pundits predicting a challenge for the UEFA cup or even Champions League places.

The expected challenge never materialised and a 13th place finish was much lower than had been hoped for. The following season saw Fulham dangerously close to the relegation zone, and chairman Mohammed Al Fayed told Tigana that his contract would not be renewed at the end of the season. But an awful run of results, culminating in a 4-0 home defeat by Blackburn Rovers led him to be sacked before the season came to an end and relegation was desparately near.

Chris Coleman took charge for five games at the end of the season, earning Fulham 10 points out of a possible 15 and preserving a place in the Premier League for the next season. Coleman was given the manager's job on a permanent basis in the summer of 2003 and kept the club well clear of relegation, guiding them to a club record ninth place finish. Coleman continued to defy the odds in 2004-05 and guided Fulham to a secure 13th place finish, which surprised many pundits who predicted that Coleman's relative inexperience would cost Fulham their Premiership status. The 2005-06 season proved a tougher affair, but safety was once again mathematically assured with three games left of the season and a 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic. There were three relative high points in an inconsistent season: a 6-1 rout of West Bromwich Albion, a 1-0 win over rivals and champions Chelsea in the West London derby, and a 2-0 win over current european champions Liverpool FC. Fulham's home form was the best outside the top six, with 12 wins from 18 games, while their away form was the worst in the entire league with one win and four draws from 18 games. A game they were winning away, versus Sunderland, was abandoned after 21 minutes because of a persistent snowfall with the score at 0-1. However, on 29 April 2006, Fulham finally achieved its first away victory of the campaign with a 1-2 win over Manchester City F.C.. Despite the difficulties experienced throughout this season, Fulham achieved a 12th place finish - an improvement on the previous campaign.

From the beginning of the 2006/2007 Fulham will dispose of paper tickets to enter the ground and will assume electronic swipe cards as used by other clubs such as Manchester City.

The current set-up

Chris Coleman's assistant manager is Steve Kean. The pair are helped in their roles by three coaches including ex-manager Ray Lewington, Scottish legend Billy McKinlay. The third is goalkeeping coach Dave Beasant. The first team physio is Australian Jason Palmer and the Fulham Academy is headed by John Murtough.

Craig Brown was appointed by the club in summer 2005 as their "International Representative".

Rivalries

Chelsea F.C. are another Premiership football team, also based in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham; this creates a clear rivalry between the two clubs. While Fulham fans have incorporated this rivalry into several of their football chants, it is generally not reciprocated by Chelsea fans since the two clubs have spent most of the last 40 years in different divisions, which has made the rivalry stagnate somewhat. Fulham have rivalries with other West London clubs QPR (based in nearby Shepherds Bush) are considered the bigger rivals by most Fulham fans, and Brentford However once again these clubs are in separate divisions, and will remain so for the time being providing QPR or Brentford fail to win promotion to the Premiership.

Fulham also have rivalries with other London clubs including West Ham United F.C., Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur, Charlton Athletic, and Arsenal. There are no teams outside of London which would necessarily be considered rivals for Fulham, although Blackburn Rovers and Fulham have contested some high-tempered games, and the two were involved in a 1st Division title race during the 2000-01 season

On 19 March 2006 Fulham recorded their first victory over Chelsea in nearly 27 years, after captain Luis Boa Morte latched onto a deflected Steed Malbranque shot and subsequently scored. In a very heated and crontroversial game, Didier Drogba had a goal disallowed for a hand ball, despite the assistant referee's view being possibly obscured, and Chelsea's William Gallas was sent off for a deliberate and potentially leg breaking challenge on Heidar Helguson which led to a melee between the two sets of players. As Gallas walked off the pitch, he made "thumbs down" gestures to the Johnny Haynes Stand, because of this Gallas was made a subject of an F.A. investigation into his actions. A missguided, but celebratory pitch invasion by Fulham fans after the final whistle didn;t help matters; this led to very minor crowd trouble when a very small group of Chelsea fans reacted badly to the Fulham fans celebrations and entered the pitch. There was one arrest which led to a police caution, which shows that the subsequent media coverage was totaly out of proportion to the actual events. Given the defeat of Chelsea and the controversies surrounding the game, it is though that this may well re-ignite the West London Derby between the two clubs in the future.

Managers

Fulham have had 30 full-time managers in their history. All but one have been British, the exception being Frenchman Jean Tigana. The dates given here are for their stretches as club manager, numerous people have played at the club (e.g. Bracewell) or been employed by the club before or after actually being first-team manager (e.g. Keegan).

  • *Ian Branfoot continued to be employed by the club after his dismissal as manager.
  • **Kevin Keegan was employed by the club as Chief Operating Officer during his predecessor's reign.
  • ***When Paul Bracewell was fired half way through the 1999-2000 season, there was a temporary period of Fulham being managed by their striker Karlheinz Riedle and his old boss at Liverpool Roy Evans. Riedle actually injured a lung in the season's penultimate game - his last for the club.

Between the years 1879 and when Fulham had a ground to call their own in 1896, they played at a number of grounds, only some of which were recorded and should not be regarded as a full or complete list. Even when they purchased Craven Cottage in 1894, they had to wait 2 years before they could play a game there.

Grounds

  • 1879-1883 - Star Road, West Kensington/Fulham
  • 1883-1884 - Eel Brook Common, Fulham
  • 1884-1885 - Lillie Road Recreation Ground, Fulham
  • 1885-1886 - Putney Lower Common, Putney
  • 1886-1888 - Ranelagh House, Fulham
  • 1888-1889 - Barn Elms Playing Fields, Barnes
  • 1889-1891 - Parsons Green, Fulham
  • 1891-1895 - Half Moon, Putney
  • 1895-1896 - Cpt. James Field, West Brompton
  • 1896-2002 - Craven Cottage, Fulham
  • 2002-2004 - Loftus Road, Shepherd's Bush (groundshare with Queens Park Rangers during Craven Cottage renovation)
  • 2004 to present - Craven Cottage (read the Craven Cottage article for future prospects of the ground.)

Honours

Fulham Football Club have never won a major trophy, however, they have a reasonably long list of achievements. In the list below, all trophies and leagues are referred to by the names they held at the time, which due to commercial and practical reasons have changed over time. For more information see articles in individual leagues from here.

  • 1906 & 1907 - Southern League Champions
  • 1907 - Admission to The Football League as Southern League Champions
  • 1908 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
  • 1932 - Division Three South Champions
  • 1936 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
  • 1949 - Division Two Champions
  • 1958 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
  • 1959 - Promotion from Division Two
  • 1962 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
  • 1970 - Promotion from Division Three
  • 1975 - FA Cup Finalists
  • 1975 - Anglo-Scottish Cup Finalists
  • 1982 - Promotion from Division Three
  • 1997 - Promotion from Division Three
  • 1999 - Division Two Champions
  • 2001 - Division One Champions
  • 2002 - FA Cup Semi-Finalists
  • 2002 - Intertoto Cup Winners

Club Records and Statistics

All Time Results Record

Correct for the start of the 2004-05 Season

Played  : 3434
Won : 1289
Drawn : 853
Lost : 1292
Scored : 5085
Conceded : 4956
Points (3pts/win) : 4720
  • Won = 37.5% (Roughly equal to winning 3 in every 8 games)
  • Drawn = 24.8% (2 in 8)
  • Lost = 37.6% (3 in 8)
  • Goals scored per Game = 1.48
  • Goals conceded per Game = 1.45
  • Points per Game = 1.44

Performance in the top division

Fulham have spent 17 seasons in the national top flight, finishing in these positions:

  • 9th - Once (2004)
  • 10th - Once
  • 12th - Once
  • 13th - Twice
  • 14th - Once
  • 15th - Once
  • 16th - Once
  • 17th - Twice
  • 18th - Twice
  • 20th - Three Times
  • 22nd - Twice
Correct for Start of 2006-2007 season.

Appearances

There are five Fulham players who have been in the club's starting line-up more than 450 times, all of whom have since retired from football.

Johnny Haynes  : 657
Eddie Lowe  : 511
Les Barrett  : 487 + 4 as substitute
Frank Penn  : 460
George Cohen  : 459
Correct for start of 2005-2006 season.

Current Players

The three most often-starting players still at the club as of January 2006 are:

Luís Boa Morte  : 220
Steed Malbranque  : 196
Sylvain Legwinski  : 163

Goalscorers

There are seven men to have scored more than one hundred goals for the club, all of whom have since retired from football:

Gordon Davies  : 178
Johnny Haynes  : 157
Bedford Jezzard  : 154
Jim Hammond  : 150
Graham Leggatt  : 134
Arthur Stevens  : 124
Steve Earle  : 108

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