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History of Fulham Football Club
Formed in 1879 by members of the Star Road Church, West Kensington makes Fulham the oldest club in London. It was here that schoolboys kicked the ball at each other on dilapidated playing fields that founded the English club we all know today. Their first cup triumph was winning the West London Amateur Cup in 1887 and 12 months later they changed their name from the long drawn-out Fulham St Andrews Sunday School Football Club to the shorter Fulham FC. In 1893 they won the West London league in their first venture, but the club remained in the amateur competition for another 5 years. Fulham moved their ground to the now renowned Craven Cottage in 1896 and then completed their transition to professional football in 1897 playing in the Southern League. In 1907, with two titles in the Southern League, they were accepted to participate in the Football League.
Fulham’s first game in Division 2 was at home to Hull City; unfortunately, they lost 1-0. This was only a small setback as they raised their game and position in the table and managed to finish their first season in a respectable 4th place. High hopes of the club gaining promotion to Division 1 were soon dashed and the realization that they were to spend the next few decades in Division 2 became cemented only by back-to-back performances. Football, or the lack of it, dealt Fulham a crueler blow at the end of the 1927 season, as the club were relegated to Division 3; officially known as the 3rd Division South. To some extent, Fulham’s skills and footballing gifts were better suited to this lower division and it would take a fundamental change for the club to aspire to a better state of affairs. Modifying the basic principles of the club from top to bottom did not happen overnight. Spending 3 seasons in Division 3 taught Fulham an invaluable lesson about complacency and self-deprecation. In 1931/32, Fulham were up to the task and were once again masters of their own destiny as they topped the table with victories such as 10-2 against Tork United and an impressive 111 goals scored that season and were promoted back to Division 2.
Fulham’s footballing gifts and new form continued into the following season as they climbed the table and back-to-back promotions looked likely, but with some good wins from Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur, they squeezed into 3rd place.
In 1949, entering what has been described as the modern era of football, Fulham’s dreams and ambitions became a reality when they won that promotion to Division 1. With this also came the responsibility of competing alongside experienced football clubs who had world class players. class. which they have at their disposal. In Fulham’s debut season in the top flight, they struggled and poor results were regular and almost became the norm for the club. The end of the season could not come sooner and by some miracle Fulham remained in 17th place in the table. More of the same followed in the season after the club managed to avoid relegation once again. However, it is inevitable that in the 1951/52 season their bottom in the table meant that Division 1 had expired for them during that time.
The few years that followed Fulham never proved anything special until they found form and gracefully reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1958. This gave them the confidence they desperately needed. Another boost for the club came when they returned to the top tier of football. Looking more confident, this attracted the football gifts of Graham Leggat who made 277 appearances for Fulham and competently scored 134 goals, making him a top five goalscorer for the club. They finished the season in a mediocre 10th place, their highest position in Division 1 at the time. During these periods Craven Cottage could attract more than 30,000 people.
The 1950s brought other talents to the club and one player in particular is synonymous with Fulham Football Club and must be mentioned. John Norman Haynes, from the Kentish Town area of London, was signed by the club as a schoolboy and is regarded by many as the clubs greatest player with unrivaled passing skills. He was also nicknamed Mr Fulham and the Maestro and received further honors in 52 appearances for England, 22 as captain. Haines’ commitment and loyalty to Fulham was total, spending his entire professional football career with the club. He had a brief stint as a player for Durban City, a South African club, but that was after he retired from playing professionally. In his years at Fulham, Heine’s gift of football made 658 appearances for the club and by 1991 he held the record for top goalscorer with 158 goals.
In the mid-70s the club made some big signings with players such as Bobby Moore and Alan Mullery. This affected the performance as the club reached their first FA Cup final against West Ham in 1975. Unfortunately for the club, West Ham scored 2 goals in the space of five minutes to go away as champions 2-0. In the same period the club made another final in the Anglo-Scottish Cup, but lost to Middlesbrough. George Best played 47 times for the club in the 1976/77 season.
However, the 1979/80 season saw Fulham bottom again, relegated once again, and manager Bobby Campbell was sacked. His successor Malcolm Macdonald restructured the team with new signings such as the football gifts of Gerry Payton, Tony Gayle, Ray Houghton and others which created a stronger team and thus returned to Division 2. Fulham were in good form the following season but Unfortunately, an away defeat to Derby in the last game denied Fulham back-to-back promotion to Division 1. Unfortunately, Fulham’s debts crippled the club financially and the decision was made to sell off a number of quality players to keep the sinking ship afloat. Now with a team in tatters and a half-hearted squad left relegation hot on the heels of Fulham. In 1986 they conceded the inevitable and dropped back down to Division 3. The club never found a foothold for the rest of the 80’s and early 90’s but did manage to return to Division 2.
1997 gave the club some financial security when businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed brought the club in that summer and promised Fulham would be in the top flight within five years. The first chapter for this was the selection of Kevin Keegan as manager who was the club’s chief operating officer. That season the momentum grew with Fulham winning game after game. They managed to score an incredible 101 points and with that they were promoted to Division 1. This was helped by the signing of Paulo Peschisolido; West Broms top goalscorer and captain Chris Coleman football gifts. The only obstacle before Fulham is the FA who offered Keegan the position of manager of FC England. A delighted Keegan accepted.
Paul Bracewell took control of the club but not for long as Al-Fayed replaced him in March 2000. French player Jean Amadou Tigana had 52 caps for France to his credit and was given the opportunity to manage Fulham, with great success. All the hard work finally paid off and the past disappointments of relegation could now be put behind them. Thrilling opponents with a 10-point gap between them and second-placed Blackburn Rovers, top-flight football was their first since 1968. Excruciatingly sad for the fans and players, and even more so for Chris Coleman himself, was the serious car accident that he There was huge hope that would make a full recovery to play for Fulham again, but it was not to be. The fantastic team that Tigana strengthened could not maintain their super form in the Premier League. Even as they finished a respectable 13th in the table, this was for many an anti-climax compared to what they expected. Things intensified for the Frenchman the following season with more than favorable results and his downfall came abruptly when they lost 4-0 at home to Blackburn Rovers.
Chris Coleman’s footballing gifts returned to Fulham, but this time not as captain, but as manager towards the end of the 2002 season, much to the delight of many at the club and the fans. Under his reign, the club finished the following season with an all-time record of 9th place. Coleman watched his side struggle in 2005/06, but with this came some great results at the expense of big clubs like Chelsea; beat them 1-0 and then Liverpool got a taste of the Fulham lads when a shocked Scouse club ended the match with just 2 goals past them. Coleman’s talent on the field, however, was not matched off the field and unfortunately his services were no longer required for the 2007 season.
Three days after Christmas 2007, Roy Hodgson was announced as the new manager of Fulham. Hodgson immediately made several signings in the January transfer window.
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