On Saturday May 13th, Fulham enter their first promotion playoff since 1997/98, and their first playoff to win promotion to the top flight. Fulham were last promoted to the Premier League in the 2000/01 season after winning the Football League First Division. They spent over a decade in the Premier League before being relegated in the 2012/13 season.
Unless you are a fan of one of the other three clubs in the playoffs, you should be cheering for Fulham, and here’s why:
Fulham has a long history of American players. Eddie Lewis, Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra, Marcus Hahnemann, Clint Dempsey, Kasey Keller, Eddie Johnson, and Emerson Hyndman have all been with the club. Luca de la Torre is another American Fulham academy product on the verge of joining the first team and Tim Ream has been a solid contributor to the team after solidifying his place as one of the first-choice center backs this year. Fulham have long been one of the clubs not scared to give Americans a chance and with an American owner, you can expect this to continue. If you want to see more Americans in the Premier League, Fulham going back up is almost guaranteed to make that happen.
Would you be interested in a left back who had 7 goals and 4 assists in less than 2,000 minutes this year? What if I told you his first goal came when he was still just 15 years old. The best prospect in England might very well be Fulham’s 16-year-old left back. It would be a shame if Fulham had to sell him and he ended up in the loan army of one of the bigger clubs. If Fulham goes up, he’ll stay a little while longer and everyone will get to see him on a big stage.
The only stadiums older than Craven Cottage in the Premier League are Ainfield, Goodison Park, Turf Moor, and St. James’ Park. Ainfield and Goodison Park might not be around that much longer, as the top sides in the league are all trying to maximize game day revenue. St. James’ Park has been expanded and renovated so much you’d be hard pressed to tell it’s not a modern stadium. Turf Moor is in Burnley, no offense to Burnley but has anyone ever really looked to them as a destination? Craven Cottage is old, and still looks it. They didn’t get rid of their terraces until 2004. It’s a fun place to watch a game and you basically sit on top of the players. Oh, and it’s basically right on the River Thames in London. Unfortunately, the Michael Jackson statue isn’t there anymore.
London’s Oldest Club
Fulham were founded in 1879, making them the oldest club in London. While being old doesn’t really mean much, being in London does. Are you a West Ham, Spurs, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, or Arsenal fan? Craven Cottage is a nice easy away trip. Are you a fan of a team and live overseas? You can see your team when they play Fulham with some mostly friendly fans and with tickets that are far cheaper and easier to get than at the other big clubs.
Perhaps you remember him as a Chelsea player. Maybe you remember him being the fourth Watford coach in five weeks in the 2014/15 season. Somehow he managed to get Watford promoted that year, yet was not given the job of managing the team as they joined the Premier League. After that he took Maccabi Tel Aviv to the UEFA Champions League group stage before accepting the head coaching role at Fulham in the middle of the 2015/16 season. After keeping the team up in that campaign he’s installed the kind of attacking, free-flowing football at Fulham that neutrals should love. Under his leadership the Cottagers led the league in possession, pass completion, shots, goals, expected goals, and had 7 of the top 10 successful passers. He turned a dumpster fire of a defense into one that gave up zero counter-attacking goals and the fewest goals on set pieces in the league. If there’s a coach that deserves a shot in a top league, it’s him.
It’s a shame Tom Cairney doesn’t get more recognition. One of the few holdovers from last season, he led the league in passes and pass completion. He was tied for second in assists and third in key passes. He also chipped in 12 goals. It’s a shame he only has one international appearance for Scotland. Especially when he can score goals like this.
Hopefully you’re ready to jump on the bandwagon. Fulham fans are by and large wonderful people who are happy to be everyone’s second favorite club