Fulham St Andrew’s

The Club was born when a school teacher and churchwarden formed a team for local boys at Fulham St Andrew’s Church in 1879. Although cricket initially took the priority, seven years later, the team won their first silverware, the West London Amateur Cup, beating St Matthew’s 2-1 in the Final.

New name, new home

In outgrowing its origins the Club’s title was shortened to Fulham Football Club in January 1889, meaning the original nickname of the Saints had to be dropped.

As results improved and progress was made, we also found ourselves a new home – moving from park pitches, pub changing rooms and a groundshare with Wasps Rugby Club to a seven-acre site located on the north bank of the Thames.

Craven Cottage

In 1896, after two years of development, the Club finally took residence in their new home – one that would not only match our ambitions but also offer a more secure foundation to move forward.

Fulham won their first home game too, beating Minerva 4-0 in the Middlesex Senior Cup, and very quickly the symbolic relationship between Club and ground was forged. To this day, few clubs can claim to be more synonymous with its home.

Onwards and upwards

Having gained professional status on 12th December 1898, Fulham rose from the Southern League divisions to reach the national Football League in September 1907.

In our first season we would finish fourth and just short of promotion from Division Two, although we did reach the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup, as we would again in 1936.

It may have taken us a little while to reach the top division, but promotion to Division One was finally secured for the 1949/50 season as Fulham went up as Division Two champions.

The 50s and 60s

After struggling to adjust to the step up, Fulham finished bottom of the First Division at the end of the 1951/52 campaign. We had to wait seven seasons for a return, although the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup were reached for a third time in 1958.

With that momentum, the Club pushed on and made it back to the top for the 1959/60 season to usher in what is largely considered as one of the most exciting eras in Fulham’s history.

The Club would spend nine seasons in the top flight (our longest spell outside of the Barclays Premier League years), thanks largely to a wonderfully talented group that included the great Johnny Haynes, Tony Macedo, George Cohen, Jim Langley, Alan Mullery, Bobby Robson, Graham Leggat, Fred Callaghan and Rodney Marsh.

Wembley heroes 

Having slipped down to Division Three by the 1969/70 season, the FA Cup Final was the unprecedented highlight of the 1970s. Having reached the Semi-Final for a fourth time in 1962, Fulham finally made the Wembley showpiece in May 1975 after a staggering 11-game run (a never-to-be-beaten record of most games en-route to the final) that included six replays.

Then a Division Two club, Fulham would meet Division One West Ham United in the final – a match that would sadly end in a 2-0 defeat. However, against all the odds we had finally got to the Final and in going close the side, led by Captain Mullery, would be remembered for many years to come.

Darker days

While a number of high-profile players like Bobby Moore and George Best had joined during the mid to late 1970s, promotion back to the top division had still proved elusive.

As the Club bobbed up and down between the second and third tier, Malcolm Macdonald’s young side of the early 1980s did offer a moment of hope only to be denied on the final day of the 1982/83 campaign.

Mounting financial pressures followed and as a result the majority of the Club’s key players were sold as Fulham again dropped to Division Three. In 1987 the situation worsened and the Club came dangerously close to extinction. Only the intervention of a group led by ex-player Jimmy Hill just about kept Fulham in business.

Form continued to wane out on the pitch, and by the end of the 1995/96 season we recorded our worst ever league finish in ending the campaign 17th out of 24 in Division Three.

Rising from the ashes

Former player Micky Adams would help steer the Club out of danger when he took control of Team affairs in March 1996 with Fulham occupying 91st spot in the football pyramid. With confidence improved and the squad strengthened (albeit on a very small budget), the Team started the 1996/97 campaign in positive fashion and never really looked back achieving promotion with four games to spare. Fulham’s ascent was under way.

The Al Fayed Era

Al Fayed took control of the Club in the summer of 1997 and on his arrival promised top-flight football within five years. The revolution began with the appointment of Kevin Keegan and the funding of Club record signings Paul Peschisolido (£1.1m) and Chris Coleman (£2.1m).

Very quickly Al Fayed’s Fulham blazed a trail through the lower divisions and even knocked Aston Villa and Southampton out of cup competitions. The Whites were crowned Division Two champions in May 1999 but Keegan’s success came at a price as he was headhunted for the post of England manager. After a brief period of juggling both roles, he was replaced by Paul Bracewell at Craven Cottage.

Despite a bright start, the 1999/2000 campaign proved a frustrating one for Bracewell who was then replaced by Jean Tigana.

Rivals

Fulham fans consider their main rivals to be Chelsea. Despite this fixture not being played that often in the years preceding Fulham’s ascent to the top division, this is a clear local derby as Chelsea’s ground, Stamford Bridge, is actually within Fulham. However, it is only recently that the two teams have been competing in the same league.

Fulham consider their secondary rivals to be Queens Park Rangers. Fulham last played QPR in the 2000–01 season before meeting them again twice in the 2011–12 Premier League season in which Fulham were the victors with a 6–0 victory at Craven cottage, and beating them 1–0 away from home at Loftus Road. Fulham also have rivalries with other London clubs, including Brentford and Crystal Palace.

Outside of London, Gillingham are still considered rivals to Fulham supporters despite the two clubs having played in different divisions for the past 11 years. Fulham and Gillingham have been involved in several ill-tempered matches in the lower leagues, including the death of a Fulham supporter.[101]

Shahid Khan era
Fulham Football Club is owned by Shahid Khan. Khan completed his purchase of the club from Mohamed Al-Fayed on 12 July 2013 for a reported £150–200 million.

During his ownership of Fulham, Al-Fayed had provided Fulham F.C. with £187 million in interest-free loans. In March 2011 Fulham posted annual losses of £16.9 million, with Al-Fayed stating that he
would “continue to make funds available to achieve our goals both on and off the pitch” and that “the continued success of Fulham and its eventual financial self-sustainability is my priority.” As of January 2013 Fulham were effectively debt-free as Al-Fayed converted the loans into equity in the club.

Kit manufacturers and shirt sponsors
Fulham’s sponsorship by Betfair in 2002–03 was the first gambling sponsorship in English football, and came before the Gambling Act 2005 permitted the industry to advertise on television and radio; within fifteen years half of Premier League teams were sponsored by such companies.