“Dad, what team do you support?”
“OK, I’ll support them too then.”
This was the simple conversation that I had with my dad when I was about 7 years old or so that condemned my life to one as a Fulham fan. To be fair, I didn’t really have a clue what was going on for the first part of my time following the Whites, and I was too young to remember anything before Fulham being in the Premier League. I was only 4 years old when Rodney McAree scored up at Carlisle, and when we got promoted to the top tier in 2000-01, I hadn’t turned 9 yet.
My earliest memory of Fulham was probably a few years into our time in the top flight when Chris Coleman was the man in charge. I also vividly remember getting a load of stick from the United fans in my class about Louis Saha moving to them in January of 2004. I was genuinely heart broken. My first Fulham game wasn’t until I was 11. Being from Belfast, it was feasibly impossible for me to go to games all the time, but as a treat at the end of primary school my dad took me across to London for to watch Fulham at Loftus Road against Leeds United. We won 2-0 thanks to goals from Sean Davis and Luis Boa Morte and I loved every minute of it. That trip was a trip of firsts- my first flight, first trip to London and my first time watching the team that I had grown to love from afar. It was a special day.
Because of my age, I guess you could say that I didn’t really start supporting Fulham properly until the 21st Century. Fans like me haven’t seen the dark days when Fulham barely stayed in the League. Although I was alive in 1995/96, I had barely started to talk so I missed the days when we recorded our lowest ever finish in the football league pyramid. I recognise that I am quite privileged as a fan to have gotten to appreciate the Great Escape in 2008 and then the Europa League run in 2010. Relegation hurt a lot, and the two seasons that followed were very uninspiring, but I guess fans of my age can’t really complain.
Why do I write this?
Last week at Wembley was the best day of my life, but it wasn’t until then that the realisation of just how big getting to see your team win at Wembley really was hit me. To stand alongside people who have followed this club for a long time was really quite humbling. Those people who had watched this club go through so much including the days of nearly dropping out of the league pyramid and those more recently who fought tooth and nail for Fulham to stay at Craven Cottage, those people are heroes. I was in tears at the final whistle as I was just completely overwhelmed by what I had just witnessed, and to be there with my Dad and others who have followed this club for a lot longer than my lifetime, to see those fans finally realise the dream of winning at Wembley made it another very special day.