Fulham can claim to be London’s oldest football club. They were formed in 1879 as Fulham St Andrew’s Church Sunday School FC when a local schoolteacher and church warden formed a team for local boys to keep fit. As is often the case with English clubs, they were born out of a cricket association but quickly became adept at football.
In December 1888 their name was shortened to their present iteration of Fulham FC and in 1893 they won the West London League in their first attempt. Their original nickname, “The Saints” was dropped with the name change. Down the line in 1898 the club gained professional status, becoming only the third London team to do so after Arsenal and Millwall. After a nomadic experience typical of many fledgling clubs of that era, Fulham moved into their current home Craven Cottage in 1896. It is from this ground that they get their current nickname, The Cottagers. Despite many changes to the club’s crest, they have remained faithful to the white and black kit of the old church boys.
Between those early days and the 1950s, Fulham reached two FA Cup semi finals and were finally promoted to the top flight in the 1949/50 campaign. They were immediately relegated and after another decade of mediocrity, they once again made it to Division One, where they stayed for nine seasons, making that era one of the most consistent in the club’s history.
Apart from an FA Cup Final defeat to West Ham United in 1975, Fulham’s fortunes between 1968 and 1997 were mostly dark and dismal. Their luck changed with the takeover of Mohamed Al Fayed in 1997, who injected much needed funds into the club which brought about the acquisition of star players Chris Coleman and Paul Peschisolido and former England legend Kevin Keegan as manager.
“The Whites” as they are more commonly known today have since enjoyed some great moments in the Premier League era. Despite some time spent outside the top flight, they have been a semi-regular presence and have achieved some respectable finishes, even qualifying for European football under Roy Hodgson in 2008-09. That year they finished seventh, still their highest ever placing, subsequently qualifying for the inaugural UEFA Europa League.
The following campaign, 2009-10 was arguably the most successful in the club’s entire history, as they finished 12th in the Premier League, reached the quarter finals of the FA Cup and lost the final of the Europa League to a heartbreakingly late goal from Diego Forlan which snatched the trophy for Atletico Madrid. Despite this trauma, Fulham fans will always be proud of their European journey.
Their most notable managers Kevin Keegan and Roy Hodgson had the fortune to field some fantastic players. Whether it be as part of gallant promotion-winning squads or European underdog teams, fans fondly remember the likes of Louis Saha, Chris Coleman, Edwin Van Der Sar, Scott Parker and Danny Murphy for bringing many joyous moments to Craven Cottage over the previous two decades.
Fulham have often played local derbies in the top two divisions with their West London neighbours Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers and Brentford. They most recently defeated the latter to win the Championship Playoff Final in 2020 to return to the Premier League once again. While they usually have less luck against Chelsea, young hungry manager and club legend Scott Parker will be trying to galvanize The Cottagers to consolidate themselves in the Premier League for as long as possible.