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Former Glories - Portsmouth 0 - 1 Fulham (11th May, 2008)

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To report on this match wouldn't be to report on this match. It would be to report on the result and what it means to Fulham Football Club. It would be to report on a culmination of sheer belief in a season of doubtless lows and sublime highs, laced sporadically with undeniable talent and desire. It would be to report on a wave of euphoria for all those connected with this humble club and it would remove credence from all of the financial stories that are consistently entwined with tales of relegation woe. This achievement wasn't about monetary gains. It was about resurrection. It was about repayment of faith. It was about hushing each and every one who doubted. 

Danny Murphy and midfield team mate Jimmy Bullard removing their shirts to reveal nipples so diminutive they were practically non-existent was perhaps the only memory of May 11th 2008 that Fulham fans would like to forget. The remainder was truly magical.

For an occasion so substantial, the game started off at a steady trot as opposed to an expected gallop. Portsmouth had other things on their mind - most notably an F.A Cup Final - but it was Fulham's sheepish early exchanges that proved worrying. Jimmy Bullard was as creative as ever, but his movement was not paralleled by those around him.

Hodgson's men were more than aware that a victory was a requisite. "Three points gained and safety assured". That's all the manager really had to say to get his team going. But clearly it wasn't enough.

Simon Davies provided the only real effort on goal in the first half - a tame effort that lacked the conviction a match of this calibre needed. Results elsewhere were not going Fulham's way and the whole ground was aware of such developments. By the time Portsmouth began to settle in the game, with Defoe and Kanu spurning decent opportunities, both Hodgson and the fans who recklessly lauded his name were facing a year in England's second tier. A feat Fulham haven't suffered since 2001.

Yet, as long as the defence stood firm, there was always hope.

Returning after the break, Fulham looked more prepared. Not quite galvanised, but certainly more potent. Danny Murphy provided the second half's first test of goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown, heading into his hands.

Hodgson then began to wince as Bullard attempted the ludicrous from long range - the former Inter boss clearly displeased at the lack of cutting edge and the wasteful play that was becoming tiring.

The travelling faithful were then left suppressing their celebrations as chaos ensued inside Pompey's penalty area, before the home side eventually cleared. It would be oh so Fulhamish to come out of this spectacle deflated and defunct.

Then it came. Not quite out of nothing but not quite the result of relentless pressure. Jimmy Bullard lined up a free kick on the right hand side of Portsmouth's half and the usual set piece routine kicked into action. The ball was floated neatly and poetically into the penalty area where a goal so vital, so immense and so gratifying was created.

Danny Murphy's header just about summed up this whole season. He left it late but the finish was emphatic and it was summoned from the depths of his soul. The goal wasn't about footballing finesse but about pure, unadulterated determination. The skipper's conviction to get there first spoke volumes for not just him, but the men around him and the fans whom supported him. He'd done it but he didn't know that just yet.

Hodgson was unmoved on the touchline, supporting his head with his wisdom-brimmed fingers. He looked on, wary of the 14 minutes that remained. Wary of the 14 minutes that separated Fulham from another season in England's elite. Everything he had been employed for and everything he had strived to ensure in this club bound with instability barely 6 months ago rested not only on Murphy's goal, but the team's desire to defend it.

And that they did. They defended their goal and they defended their status. Fulham lived to breathe another Premier League day and the fans jubilation was unfathomably sincere. After experiencing so much in a year that had promised so little, they had a reason to sing. They had a reason to be happy. And they had a reason to be proud. 

Portsmouth nil, Fulham one. Remember it, because it's the backbone of everything we'll ever do.