Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Fan of a Peculiar Club

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Which English Premier League club do you support? It would most probably be one of either Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool – for they are the so-called big four clubs in the EPL. Otherwise, it could be a more than average team like Tottenham, Aston Villa or Manchester City. But ask me this same question... and my answer would be something you would never imagine – FULHAM!

Yes, you heard it right. I support Fulham. I have been doing so for the past six years, since the year 2004 that is. The question of “Why Fulham?” must surely be bothering you, isn’t it?

Actually, the first club that I had supported in the EPL was Manchester United circa 2002, but that was when I was oblivious to the happenings in the EPL. I supported Manchester just because my friends were supporting them, and also because they were the most popular club.

However, when I started to pick up the papers to read the EPL news and started watching EPL matches a bit here and there, I realised that I didn’t actually like Manchester. And for reasons unknown to even myself, I somehow chose Fulham as the team to support. Maybe because the name sounded unique.

And so, the story of my love affair with Fulham began. From then on, I have been ridiculed a quadrillion times over by friends, family members... you name it. Every time someone spoke of the EPL, and when they asked me which team I supported, I would enthusiastically say Fulham. But then, nobody would believe me, not the first time at least.

Fulham are a relatively new club to Premier League football. They gained promotion into the top flight of British football in 2001. Astonishingly, this was their third promotion up the British league tier in five seasons. This amazing feat was mostly due to the backing of Mohamed al-Fayed, a multi-millionaire who spent a lot of money to bring quality coaches and players into the club.

When I started supporting them in 2004, Fulham were a mediocre team. They usually would be fighting for places in the lower half of the EPL table. They were never threatened of relegation, but nothing to shout about too at the same time. Back then, they had good players such as Edwin van der Sar, Louis Saha and Luis Bao Morte.

In 2008 though, Fulham were on the brink of Premier League oblivion. With just 15 minutes left to play in the final game of the season against Portsmouth, they were mathematically relegated. But a goal in the 77th minute of the game earned Fulham another season in the EPL. Had they been relegated that day, I quite possibly wouldn’t have a team to support now in the EPL.

Now, they are consistently giving the bigger teams a run for their money, featuring prominently in the top 10 of the EPL. The present team, led by Clint Dempsey, Danny Murphy, Brede Hangeland and Mark Schwarzer, have the potential to take this Fulham side far.

Their campaign in the inaugural Europa League has been a sensation – they successfully navigated past the group stages and have an outside chance of making it to the quarter-finals after losing to Juventus in the first leg of the last-16 stage. Not only that, but Fulham are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup too, their first appearance in that stage in many seasons.

Silverware or no silverware come the end of the season, the present 2009-2010 campaign has been the best in the entire history of Fulham. Very soon, we could be in the running for the EPL crown perhaps. I shall then have the last laugh at the many people who have poked fun at me for supporting Fulham. Till then, glory to Fulham!

Which EPL team do you support? Feel free to share by dropping a comment below.
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