Club History

Fulham’s club history stretches all the way back to 1879 as the oldest professional football side from London. The Craven Cottage club have also had some heroic highs and troubled times over the years.

Fulham v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Club name

The Cottagers adopted their name, Fulham Football Club, in January 1889 after executives opted to shorten their team’s moniker. A school teacher and churchwarden at Fulham St Andrew’s Church had christened the club, Fulham St Andrew’s Cricket & Football Club, when initially founded during 1879.

Figures from Fulham St Andrew’s Church sought to found the team to provide its students a sport to play. They also focused on cricket over football at first as the latter was the lesser-played sport of the time. But football’s rise and the prominence it got saw Fulham remove cricket from their club name.

Fulham badge

Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Fulham embraced their 10th different badge in the club’s history back in 2001 and have retained the crest uninterrupted since. It took prominence at Craven Cottage 103 years after the club embraced their first crest. Fulham introduced the west London side’s first official club badge way back in 1898.

Craven Cottage chiefs elected to introduce a new badge in 2001 following the club’s promotion into the Premier League. They felt the club’s return to the top-flight after 33 long years in the lower tiers merited the introduction of a contemporary badge to also welcome a new generation of supporters.

Designers created a recognisable brand for Fulham’s latest badge with its simplistic design featuring elements of past crests. It also gave the Cottagers complete control over the identity of their badge for the first time in Fulham’s history as a club. It is a black-and-white shield with just their initials of FFC.

Fulham had previously included aspects in their badge which the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham owned. They incorporated touches of the borough’s coat of arms along with aspects of their badge from 1947 to 1951 when designing the crest Fulham used from 1995 through until 2001.

Compared to their current crest, Fulham’s badge from 1995 until 2001 was vastly more complicated. It featured the borough’s coat of arms surrounded by a castle placed atop a knight’s helmet. It also featured a scroll beneath the coat of arms and its intricate details which included the team’s name.

Fulham have adopted shield badges throughout their history

Fulham also embraced a shield for the very first badge in the club’s history. They adopted an angled black shield with two swords and the team’s initials in 1898. It also remained in use until 1931 when they adopted a white sheriff shield. The club also included an image of Craven Cottage on the badge.

Fans did not wait another 33 years for Fulham to change their badge this time, however. Instead, the Cottagers introduced a new crest in 1945 before making slight alterations to the design in 1947 and 1951. The Cottagers’ crest from 1945 was Fulham’s first badge to feature the borough’s coat of arms.

Initially, Fulham placed the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’s coat of arms on a red shield with a thick scroll including the club’s name beneath it. But the Cottagers ditched its red background after just two years. They also later removed the scroll in 1951 to only embrace the shield as their badge.

A simple crest would later follow in 1972 as Fulham opted to only use the club’s initials for their new badge. Yet they made another change in 1977 with Fulham reviving their design from 1947 through to 1951. They used a colourised and simplified version of the central coat of arms with a thin scroll.

Fulham were soon considering another badge, though, as they adopted the first circular crest in the club’s history in 1982. The Cottagers simplified the borough’s coat of arms to only use its two swords on a red cross and a sailing ship. Yet it lasted two years before Fulham brought their 1977 crest back.

Kit history

Photo by Edward G. Malindine/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Fulham are synonymous with white shirts and black shorts but their history as a club started in blue. The Cottagers first featured in two-tone blue shirts with white shorts when founded by members of Fulham St Andrew’s Church. They only changed the colour of their kit for the first time during 1889.

Once under the name Fulham Football Club, they experimented with white and black striped shirts until 1896. A period in red jerseys also followed until Fulham adopted the first white kit in the club’s history in 1903. Fulham have only changed the design of their shirts since adopting the colour in 1903/04.

League history

Fulham entered a league competition for the first time in the club’s history in 1898. They would also gain professional status on December 12, 1898 after joining the Southern Football League Division 2. While the west London natives’ first league title would also follow as Fulham won the 1901/02 term.

Yet Fulham did not earn promotion and instead retained their title in 1902/03 to secure a spot in the Southern Football League Division 1. While Fulham entered the Football League for the first time in September 1907 following the team’s second Southern Football League Division 1 trophy in a row.

Their time in the Football League nearly got off to the perfect start as Fulham were fourth in Division Two in 1907/08. Yet the Cottagers did not secure promotion into the top-flight for the first time until 1949. They also fell into Division Three South from 1928 to 1932 after a long stint in the second tier.

Fulham tasted top-flight football for the first time in 1949/50

League titles in 1931/32 and 1948/49 secured Fulham promotions from Division Three and Division Two. Yet their first taste of Division One football only lasted three seasons. That was not the case as Fulham returned to the top-flight in 1959 as the Cottagers retained their seat at the table until 1968.

Fulham’s nine-year stint in Division One marked the longest spell they ever enjoyed in the top-flight before the Premier League era began in 1992. It also marked their final spell in the top-flight before the breakaway division later began. Fulham would not return to the top-flight before the 2001/02 season.

Relegation into Division Three also immediately followed Fulham’s fall from the top-flight in 1969. It became normal for the Cottagers to go between the second and third tiers from 1968 to 1994. They enjoyed lengthy runs in a league from 1971 to 1980 in the second tier and 1986 to 1994 in the third.

Another relegation ended Fulham’s eight-year stay in the third tier in 1994. For the first time in their history, Fulham competed in the fourth tier and took three terms to earn promotion. Yet promotion followed in 1998/99 and again in 2000/01 to cap a rapid climb from the fourth tier to the top-flight.

Mohamed Al Fayed turned Fulham’s fortunes on their head

28 Apr 2001: Manager Jean Tigana and Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed of Fulham celebrate with the Division One Trophy after the Nationwide Division One match between Fulham and Wimbledon at Craven Cottage, London. Mandatory Credit: Steve Bardens/ALLSPORT

The arrival of Mohamed Al Fayed at Craven Cottage in the summer of 1997 proved to be the catalyst for Fulham’s resurgence. He took control of the west London club and promised to deliver Premier League football within five years. But he only needed four to achieve what seemed a lofty ambition.

The second tier did not know what hit it as Fulham ran away with the title in 2000/01, as well. They set new single-season records that term with the most wins (30), the fewest defeats (5), the largest points total (101), the best goal difference (58) and boasted the best individual scorer with Louis Saha on 27.

Premier League football even remained at Craven Cottage until 2014. While Roy Hodgson oversaw their highest-ever top-flight finish in 2008/09 with seventh place. He had earlier overseen the great escape of 2007/08 before overhauling Fulham’s first-team squad to earn qualification for Europe.

Roy Hodgson oversaw the great escape to qualify for Europe

Clint Dempsey secured Fulham’s survival with a game to spare in 2006/07 after edging Liverpool 1-0 at Craven Cottage. But Lawrie Sanchez failed to build on the result despite substantial backing in the transfer window. Hodgson ultimately took over in December 2007 with the club sat in the drop zone.

It took Hodgson six games to secure Fulham’s first win in the Premier League under the manager. It also took the Cottagers another five fixtures to add win number two to his CV. Yet four wins in their final five games saw the Craven Cottage side avoid relegation on goal difference to Birmingham City.

Championship football beckoned for Fulham with two games and 20 minutes left of their season as they trailed Manchester City 2-0. Yet Diomansy Kamara’s brace and Danny Murphy’s goal secured a late win on the road. Fulham then beat Birmingham 2-0 to set up a last-day decider at Portsmouth.

Birmingham and Reading knew that Fulham could stay up with win at Fratton Park. They also did all they could to send the Cottagers down by winning away to Blackburn Rovers and Derby County. But Murphy had the final say as the midfielder headed home from a vital free-kick in the 76th minute.

Marco Silva snapped Fulham’s spell as a yo-yo club in 2022/23

Fulham would ultimately hold onto their seat at the Premier League table until 2014. But they failed to find a way back until 2018 after beating Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final. Yet life in the top-flight would be short-lived as Fulham suffered relegation, got promoted and suffered relegation.

Marco Silva would return Fulham to the Premier League once again during 2022 after taking the club to the latest second-tier title in their history books. He also avoided what his predecessors could not in 2018/19 and 2020/21 by keeping the Cottagers clear of an instant relegation with a 10th-place finish.

Fulham trophies

Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

The Cottagers may have enjoyed a storied history as a club but Fulham’s trophy history is scarce of success. No manager has yet delivered a major title whilst in charge at Craven Cottage. Even though they first entered the FA Cup in 1902/03 and the English Football League Cup (EFL Cup) in 1960/61.

Instead, most of Fulham’s silverware stems from their spells in the lower tiers of the Football League and the Southern Football League. Fulham have won one European title, though, having been one of the three teams to take home the trophy for the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2002 to reach the UEFA Cup.

Fulham have also won a number of minor cup trophies or regional league titles over the years. While Hodgson’s heroic tenure as the team’s manager saw Fulham reach the Europa League final in 2010. But Diego Forlan ended the Cottagers’ dream in Hamburg as he gave Atletico Madrid a 2-1 extra-time win.

Players and managers

The highs and lows that litter the Cottagers’ history as a club have also produced an array of Fulham legends. Dempsey’s heroics in west London secured the American’s place in the hearts of countless Fulham fans. As did Saha’s superb showings at striker and Brede Hangeland’s commanding brilliance.

History, and Fulham, also remember the exceptional exploits that Johnny Hayes produced during his time in west London. The Cottagers have honoured their legendary inside-forward with a statue and a stand named after him at Craven Cottage. He served the club with absolute distinction for 18 years.

Legends are not just made on the pitch, though, and what Hodgson oversaw at their helm made the manager a Fulham icon, too. While Jimmy McIntyre oversaw their first title in the Football League in 1931/32. Frank Osborne even became a legend on the pitch with Fulham and then in their dugout.