As a New Year breaks, we thought it was time as a team to give you our collective memories from 2018 as Fulham fans and what we hope for in 2019. Enjoy!
Memories from 2018
Dan Crawford –
Alan Drewett –
Last year will be a year that will stick in the mind of every Fulham fan. We eventually got to Wembley and we gained promotion back to the big time. It was a year that started off with a 23 game unbeaten run and just falling short of the automatic places. The addition of Mitrovic was certainly the season defining moment for us. The first half of the season we were crying out for a centre forward that could finish, hold the ball and slot in to our free flowing way of football and he ticked all the boxes.
The play off semi final win at home to Derby will also be a memory I will never forget. We were a team that rarely threatened from corners and it was a Denis Odoi header from a corner that sent us on the way to Wembley. The pitch invasion afterwards allowed my 3 year old son to face the Craven Cottage turf for the first time. Everywhere you looked, there was pure jubilation from everyone on the pitch. Denis Odoi being held aloft is one particular image which will always bring a smile to my face.
Frankie Taylor –
Slavisa Jokanovic’s swaggering Fulham side clinched promotion in dramatic style throughout the play offs following a remarkable unbeaten run towards the end of the season which left Fulham a whisker away from the automatic slot. Our first day at Wembley since 1975 was ended in joy, a day I’m sure no Fulham fan will forget… not less Ryan Sessegnon threading through a gorgeous pass to captain Tom Cairney (and arguably the poster boy of Jokanovic’s era at Fulham) to slot beyond Sam Johnstone in the Aston Villa goal. For the turnaround in fortunes, the style of football and the ultimate success, Slavisa Jokanovic should never be unspoken when discussing great managers of the football, though for whatever reason it didn’t work out in the Premier League, he played a mighty big part in getting us there.
Lydia Campbell –
2018 will stand forever in the memories as one of the craziest, most exciting and most absolutely mad years as a Fulham fan. A 23 league game unbeaten run will always give us some memories, but what came at the end of it was THAT trip to Wembley and our golden ticket into the Premier League via a Tom Cairney goal. What a day, what a year.
We have had some crazy moments along the way, Middlesbrough away stands out to me with Ollie Norwood’s last gasp penalty sealing the points in a game we probably had no right to win. I was working for BBC Sport NI that day at an Irish League game and very nearly ruined the live post-match interview with Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter as the score came in on my phone. Sorry, Stephen…
Then fast forward to Denis Odoi’s header against Derby which could have been the last thing I saw alive as the guy beside me practically rugby tackled me when the ball hit the back of the net, before lifting me above his head in celebration. It was all good though, if that was the last thing I witnessed before coming to an untimely end, it would have been a pretty good way to go out.
Cue Wembley. It’s hard to really put into words what that day meant to me. Things have been very tough for my family over the past 18 months for reasons that I’ll not bore you with here, so getting to watch Fulham win at Wembley with my dad, the man who introduced me to Fulham all those years ago meant more to me that I could possibly have imagined. Special moments.
Hopes and Dreams for 2019
Dan Crawford –
Alan Drewett –
Our return to the Premiership has already been a season to forget. With so many changes made in the summer, 12 players in and £105m spent, we were all hoping to hit the ground running. Unfortunately, it has not gone according to plan. Slavisa Jokanovic has been replaced by Claudio “The Tinkerman” Ranieri and the whole identity is changing. I would like to see us still be a Premiership team come May and use the summer transfer window to allow Ranieri to buy his players and make us a stable top flight club.
I am hoping the board and the owners have learnt something from the summer transfer window and allow the manager to have more of a say on who is brought in. The next 5 months are going to be nervy, tense and certainly a rollercoaster ride with plenty of highs and lows. I hope we use the January transfer window to make the necessary changes to the squad in order to make us compete at this level. It is extremely important we keep the likes of Sessegnon and Mitrovic fit if we are going to stand any chance. I am looking forward to the rest of the season and I am hoping our first away win of the season is just around the corner at Burnley.
Have a fantastic 2019, all! COYW!
Frankie Taylor –
Claudio Ranieri now takes the reigns. A dramatic difference in footballing philosophy brings multiple questions, which players suit? Which players will adapt? And who will the manager like and dislike? Leicester title winning leader has already looked to recreate the hardened defensive set up and whilst it lacks the quality of a Ngolo Kante, Riyad Mahrez or Jamie Vardy, Fulham have a January window to get the squad better suited for Ranieri-ball.
Big changes hit Craven Cottage as work is set to start on the Riverside Stand, and the income of Premier League football is vital to helping us through financially that period of time. Extra outlay may be eye watering for the books, but necessary with the Whites in desperate need for players that better suit the quicker play of the new regime to ensure that a fancier, expanded Craven Cottage plays host to Premier League football.
Although Premier League safety will be the biggest aim for 2019 for the football club, I’d like to see a continuation of youth involvement in the first team, beyond Ryan Sessegnon (who is absolutely established in the first team), Claudio Ranieri hasn’t dipped down to see what he has – though the FA Cup game against Oldham may be the best opportunity for that.
Lydia Campbell –
The back half of 2018 has been hard. Results on the pitch have been pretty dire and we have been left with the momentous task of Premier League survival while being the bottom team at Christmas. My long-term hope is obviously survival, but in the short term, I don’t want us to lose all of the flair and spirit that got us into the top league in the first place. We need to be more effective as a team, and we need to be able to grind out results like all teams at this side of the table, but I would like Ranieri to do that without ripping the soul out of the side.
I don’t think he will as I think the likes of Sessegnon, Mitrovic, Cairney and even Odoi have roles at this club in the hunt for survival, but we all need to accept that changes will be made. He has already made us a much better unit, and we haven’t done that by completely sacrificing our attacking play. We have had copious chances in most of the games under Ranieri, so I hope we start taking them!
As a team we would just like to thank you all for reading our material, and want to wish you all a happy and healthy new year.