Fulham FC: The Yoyoing Cottagers History in the Premier League
Fulham FC History and Highlights.
London is the city of Big Ben, red phone booths, and, of course, football clubs. The capital city of England has seven representatives in the 2022/23 Premier League season, including some big names like Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur. However, none of them predate Fulham FC.
Fulham FC, which hails from the western side of London, began its operations in 1879. None of the other 16 London clubs currently playing professional football existed back then. West Kensington churchgoers, who mostly played cricket at that time, started the club to play football alongside cricket.
In 1887, Eight years after its founding, Fulham FC won its first amateur trophy in the West London Amateur Cup champion. Then, in 1893, Fulham FC achieved supremacy in the West London football scene when it won the West London League.
Finally, the move to Craven Cottage, Fulham’s iconic home ground, happened in 1896, two years before the team turned professional. Since then, Craven Cottage has become a part of Fulham’s identity — the club is even known as “The Cottagers.”
Even though Fulham FC was founded earlier than any other professional London side, it was not the first club from London to embrace professionalism. The Cottagers followed the footsteps of fellow London teams Arsenal and Millwall to enter the realm of professional football. After becoming a professional club, Fulham started playing in the Southern League’s Second Division in 1898.
Promotion to Southern League’s First Division
In its fifth professional season, Fulham earned its first promotion and gained entry to the Southern League’s First Division. Up until this moment, Fulham had been playing in red and white jerseys. The club took on an all-white look in 1903 and soon shifted to black and white. Fulham has stuck to the black and white color scheme since then.
Entry into the Football League
After two back-to-back Southern League wins, Fulham FC participated in the Football League’s Second Division in the 1907/1908 season. The West Londoners then came close to securing promotion in their first second-tier campaign. In the end, however, three points separated Fulham from the last First Division qualification spot.
That season, the club also made it to the FA Cup semifinals. Fulham’s 6-0 defeat to Newcastle United is still the highest margin of defeat in an FA Cup semifinal.
The Post-War Years
Fulham’s’ successful run came to a halt when play resumed following WWI and, by the 1927/28 season, it faced relegation to the Third Division South. However, the team eventually gained promotion when it won the competition in the 1931/32 season, gaining entrance to the Second Division in the 1932/33 season.
Fulham was still a Second Division team when World War II broke out. However, as the horrors of the war subsided and football resumed in England, Fulham won the Second Division title in the 1946/47 season and jumped to the First Division.
The Highs and Lows of the Late 1900s
The euphoria of the First Division promotion soon faded away. The club barely held on to its First Division status in the first two seasons before hitting rock bottom in its third. Fulham scraped only eight wins in the 1951/52 First Division season and finished below all other teams in the division.
Return to the Top Flight
Fulham returned to top-flight football in the 1959/60 season. Upon its return to the First Division, Fulham finished 10th. It stood as Fulham’s highest top-tier finish for no less than 34 years. The club’s First Division streak lasted till the 1967/68 season.
Relegation to Second Division and First FA Cup
After scraping by First Division survival for a few seasons, Fulham failed to escape the drop in 1967/68.
Then, seven years after its relegation to the Second Division, Fulham qualified for the FA Cup final for the first, and until now, the only time in its history. But, the club lost to its West London rivals West Ham in the final.
Sale to Mohamed Al-Fayed
In 1997, Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed bought Fulham for £6.25 million. At that time, the club had been absent from top-flight football for almost thirty years.
Fayed set his sights on lifting Fulham from Football League Division Two to the glamorous world of Premier League football. After multiple promotions, Fayed’s Premier League dreams came true when Fulham won the 2000/01 Football League Division 1 title and secured Premier League football for the next season.
The Modern Era
Fulham’s return to the top flight was rough, with a 13th place Premier League finish in 2001/02. Then, in the following season, Fulham only narrowly escaped relegation after caretaker manager Chris Coleman produced some crucial results in the final weeks of the season. Coleman then took the job permanently in the 03/04 season and guided Fulham to a ninth-place finish.
Five years later, Roy Hudgson would take the Cottagers to even higher heights. Fulham snatched a Europa League qualification spot in 2008/09 under Hodgson as it finished seventh.
In the season after, Fulham FC finished 12th in the league, but it was on the brink of European glory. Fulham sensationally made it to the Europa League final, eliminating Serie A powerhouse Juventus and reigning champion Shakthar Donetsk from the competition. But, Hodgson’s Fulham could not deliver the perfect ending to the fairytale it had been writing as the Cottagers lost to Atletico Madrid in the final.
Fulham FC Today
In recent seasons, Fulham has emerged as somewhat of a yo-yo team in the Premier League. Over the last five campaigns, it won promotion to the Premier League three times and got relegated twice. Under the current ownership, which took control of the club in 2014, Fulham has invested heavily to bolster its squad. So, Fulham fans would be hoping their club will be able to stay in the Premier League beyond this season.