Crystal Palace defender Mark Hudson is plotting to get his own back on Fulham for robbing him of the chance to play in the biggest match of his career.
Hudson was determined to leave Craven Cottage and sign for the Eagles on a permanent basis after a successful three-month loan spell at Selhurst Park last season.
But the transfer broke down over a contentious buy-back clause, and Hudson was forced to miss Palace’s play-off final triumph at the Millennium Stadium.
Luckily for him, the Eagles came back in for him during the summer – and Hudson completed a £550,000 move across London. But he is still bitter over his treatment by Fulham and is out to prove a point when the sides meet on Monday.
Hudson said: “It was last April when Palace first tried to sign me and it dragged on for ages.
“Fulham wanted it written into the contract that if Palace didn’t get promoted within two years they could have me back. I’d never heard of it before.
“I didn’t understand it and I would never have agreed to it, so the transfer fell apart. I missed three or four games, including the play-offs and the final. It was gutting, because I’d played in all the games leading up to it and then had to watch the final in the stands.
“But Palace were promoted by the second time they came in for me in June, so it went through. It dragged on for another month, but they sorted it out in the end.”
Fulham were loath to let their man go, and Hudson added: “I had a meeting with Chris Coleman, and he told me he wanted me to stay and be a part of the future there.
“But I’d had a taste of playing and I didn’t want to miss out for another six months. He obviously didn’t think I was good enough to play.
“I hope I’m proving a point now by playing in the Premiership and I hope I can do that again by stepping up another level tomorrow night.
“It will be my first game against them and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since the transfer. I was at Fulham from the age of 13 and went all the way through the youth ranks.
“I was disappointed never to get the chance I thought I might, but it’s less sour for me now that I’ve got the chance to play Premiership football for Palace. It’s worked out for the best.”
Eagles boss Iain Dowie first spotted Hudson’s potential when he signed him on loan for Oldham and he promised the defender he would monitor his progress.
When he became available again after Dowie was appointed manager of Palace the pair jumped at the chance to renew acquaintances.
Hudson is just back after an ankle injury and will start against his old club following injuries to Fitz Hall, Mikele Leigertwood and Darren Powell.
He believes it is vital Palace pick up their first league win of the season to gain ground on their closest rivals at the foot of the Barclays Premiership.
Hudson said: “It was always going to be tough for us.
“It’s a big step up – a massive jump – but we’ve done enough to get more from our first seven games. We’ll be expecting to get something out of the game against Fulham.”