• Home
  • /
  • Football
  • /
  • The Cottage, Purgatory, and Wembley: The Life Of A Fulham Fan

The Cottage, Purgatory, and Wembley: The Life Of A Fulham Fan

Ste McGovern
By Ste McGovern
Share this article

This weekend will see Aston Villa play Fulham in the most lucrative match in English football, a one-off shot at promotion to the Premier League: the Playoff Final.

The playoffs are one of the most exciting events in football and the cruelest, all at the same time. No one wants to lose this game, least of all me. That's because I am that rare breed, an Irish Fulham fan.

Just every football fan thinks they're club is special, that it's unique or different in some way. The truth is most clubs are exactly the same as each other. They are just a carbon copy of one another with subtle differences here and there.

And yet I am one of the fools who genuinely thinks there is something different about my club. We have a blooming Cottage in our ground, sure!

We even have a word for our uniqueness, a phrase to describe the quirks surrounding this little club of ours: Fulhamish. Don't ask me to define it because I wouldn't know where to start, but it suits us perfectly.


I must confess I did have a brief flirtation with a 'top' English club before Fulham, and it was nice while it lasted, but I never truly fell in love. When the thing that attracts you to a team is the success, then success is the only thing that can sustain your fandom. And that is, frankly, boring.

I would still be a fan of that particular team had it not been for Merlin's Premier League sticker album.


In 2001 I, like many other children at the time, feverishly collected football stickers, although I never completed a full album. I did, however, complete a team for the first time ever that year: Fulham Football Club. And that's where it started.

I don't know whether that's an amazing way to start an affinity with a sports team, or a really lame one, but that's where it began; the sticker album. That, and the fact that their sponsor at the time was Pizza Hut. Fulham actually sold less jerseys that year than the year previously when they were in the First Division, but kids fucking love pizza and I was no different.

I didn't immediately become a super fan there and then. They became my second team for a while, but as time went on I realised I cared more about a routine league game that featured the South West London side than I did about my original team winning major trophies. Against the odds Fulham won out.


Hamburg holds a special place for Fulham fans. It was in the German city that the Cottagers played their one, and likely only ever, European final.

Fulham lost that day, another to add to the short list of finals lost, to an Atletico Madrid side featuring the likes of Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan and a very young David De Gea. There was no shame in losing to such strong opposition, but an opportunity was lost.


The destination didn't turn out how we hoped, but the journey was exquisite. It started in July with a 6-0 win on aggregate over Lituanian side Vetra, continued with AS Roma in the group stage, leading us to a huge win over Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 32.


The moment we began believing was the next round, where we met Juventus. Everyone knows the story by now; losing 3-1 in the first leg, only to come back and win the second 4-1. It might be the single greatest night in the history of the club.

From there we beat Wolfsburg to get into the last four, where we met Hamburg. The German club, one time winners of the European Cup, were hoping for a home final. But in a thrilling tie and another come-from-behind victory, Fulham advanced.


It was the most surreal feeling I've ever had as a football fan, reaching a European final. I remember thinking it would never get so good again. Or so I thought...

Win or lose this Saturday, this past season will go down in the history of the club. Not only did the team end the season with an incredible 23 game unbeaten run, but they did so while playing some of the most attractive and exciting football in any of the major leagues in Europe. It's one the supporters will never ever forget and has gathered a lot of admirers along the way.

The high point thus far was undoubtedly the playoff semi-final win over Derby County. Becoming only the second side in playoff history to win a semi-final after losing the first leg, a pitch invasion followed the final whistle. Craven Cottage has never witnessed scenes quite like it.


Criticism on social media followed, while Ireland and Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane said Fulham acted as if "they've won the league." To those on the outside, the players and fans alike have committed the crime of supposedly having a small club mentality. Which is bizarre, considering Fulham is exactly that, a small club.

The sort of begrudgery that claims you can't celebrate victories, no matter how big or small, is a personal bugbear of mine. While Aston Villa are far more acquainted with finals than we are, there is no harm in making a big deal out making it to Wembley. After all, out of all the clubs in the Football League, no one has waited longer to play at the hallowed turf than Fulham. With Bobby Moore in their ranks, they lost to West Ham in the FA Cup final in 1975.

The irony is that for years Fulham fans have been accused of being boring shites, which is exactly what we would have been called had we muted our celebrations.

In any case, the players know full well the job wasn't completed last Monday. If any club knows there is still a lot to be done, then it is this one; a club who have never won a final in their history.

The joy of supporting a small club is that victories mean so much. For a so-called big club it is more about the absence of defeat. Winning becomes the be all and end all, sucking much of the joy out of the experience. There are no glory hunters here, no plastic fans.

Although it can sometimes fell like purgatory when your team is flailing in the lower reaches of the second tier, we wouldn't want to be anywhere else than Fulham. COYW.

See Also: Former Premier League Striker Set To Make Wrestling Debut


Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are now subscribed!

Share this article

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com