Looking back at my time as a supporter there have many highs and lows in the league and that equally applies to the FA Cup. A look back over the past 52 seasons or so have provided some very memorable games, not always for the right reasons of course. But for the purpose of this Focus Fives, I’m going to concentrate on the highs.
Such a list is, of course, subjective but here are my top 5 most memorable wins in the FA Cup as a Fulham supporter…
5 – FULHAM 4-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
30TH JANUARY 2011 (4TH ROUND)
The year ended in a 1 and it was, therefore, due for Tottenham to win the FA Cup. Well, Fulham obviously hadn’t read the script that day with a scintillating first-half performance in which they scored 4 times without reply.
2 penalties in a 3 minute spell for fouls on Clint Dempsey and Moussa Dembélé were converted by Danny Murphy (oh for a penalty taker as reliable as him over the past year or so). Michael Dawson was sent off for the foul leading to the second of these for denying a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Brede Hangeland scored the third from a flicked-on corner and just on half time, Moussa Dembélé put the game beyond all doubt. He collected the ball inside the centre circle, showed a change of pace to pass Bassong, changed the angle and shot left-footed from the edge of the area to beat Gomes in the Spurs goal. He had only just returned from an injury and showed what we had missed. No more goals after half time although there were chances. Aaron Hughes was unlucky with a header that slammed off the bar.
Having scored 10 goals in our 2 FA Cup matches that season (beat Peterborough United 6-2 in the 3rd round) we lost very disappointingly 1-0 at home to Bolton Wanderers in the 5th round.
4 – FULHAM 7-0 SWANSEA CITY
11TH NOVEMBER 1995 (1ST ROUND)
At the time Fulham were languishing in 17th place in the 3rd Division (the 4th tier of English football) and were up against Swansea City, 1 division higher. Fulham were also on a run of 14 games without a win, the previous success being against Doncaster a whole 2 months earlier. What transpired was incredible if only as it was so unexpected.
Micky Conroy had been the subject of a lot of criticism from supporters (although his popularity turned around completely the following season under Micky Adams Management). He opened the scoring after 3 minutes and added a second quarter of an hour later. In the build-up to that goal, Lea Barkus suffered an injury and had to be replaced by Paul Brooker. Paul went on to give the Swansea left-back the total run-around and looked an excellent prospect. Duncan Jupp scored the third to give Fulham a 3-0 interval lead. In that position so many times you’ll see a match have no or very few more goals but on this occasion, Fulham just kept going in a really positive manner. Goals by Conroy (for his hat trick), Brooker, Nick Cusack and Martin Thomas completed the rout.
It was the biggest win in the “proper rounds” history of the Cup by a team against higher league opposition and was also Fulham’s record score in an FA Cup tie. In the second round, Fulham beat Brighton on penalties at the Goldstone Ground after 2 goalless draws. In the third round, we lost a replay to Shrewsbury 2-1 at Gay Meadow after a 1-1 draw at the Cottage.
3 – ASTON VILLA 0-2 FULHAM
24TH JANUARY 1999 (4TH ROUND)
Having beaten Premiership team Southampton in a 3rd round replay we were drawn away to Aston Villa in the 4th round who were joint top of the league at the time. Whilst we were also top of the league there was of course 2 divisions difference between the sides.
On the pitch though Fulham were magnificent and more than matched the high placed opposition. After 10 minutes a Steve Hayward corner was superbly headed in by Simon Morgan much to the delight of the vast travelling support behind the goal in the North Stand and on the side in the Doug Ellis stand. Morgs was also delighted as being a Birmingham supporter, scoring against Aston Villa was extra special.
The second goal, also in the first half came from a free-kick quite a long way outside the penalty area. Paul Bracewell touched it to Hayward who’s shot got a slight deflection on its way into the net.
In the second half Villa obviously came out attacking a bit more but Fulham were more than their match and very solid at the back. To quote Rob Shepherd of the Sunday Express “So comfortable was their victory that it didn’t even feel like a shock”.
Having beaten 2 Premiership opposition we were drawn away to Manchester United in the 5th round. It was a very narrow 1-0 defeat, remembered for a bad miss by John Salako.
2 – EVERTON 1-2 FULHAM
15TH FEBRUARY 1975 (5TH ROUND)
Fulham had needed 3 matches to get past Hull City in the third round and then 4 to get past Nottingham Forest (managed by Brian Clough) in the 4th round. The 3rd replay away at Nottingham Forest was on the Monday prior to the match at Goodison Park. Everton were at the time top of the first division whilst Fulham were mid-table in Division 2.
On 15 minutes Viv Busby took advantage of a fumble by Dai Davies in the Everton goal to put the visitors 1 up. Fulham were more than a match for their higher placed opponents, although when centre half Roger Kenyon equalised on 52 minutes (near post from a corner) it was expected that Everton would go on to win. Fulham had other ideas though and kept going forward with Jimmy Conway supplying the cross for Busby to turn and shoot into the far corner with just 6 minutes remaining.
It was a well-deserved win with good performances throughout the side but a special mention on that day must be made for Bobby Moore who magnificently marshalled the defence. The quarter-final draw was made on the following Monday lunchtime and gave us the long trip to Brunton Park, Carlisle.
1 – BIRMINGHAM CITY 0-1 FULHAM
9TH APRIL 1975 (SEMI-FINAL REPLAY)
The first match at Hillsborough had ended 1-1 thanks to a superb strike by John Mitchell and an equaliser by Joe Gallagher. There was no doubt that Fulham deserved to win the first match but the result meant another long midweek trip.
Birmingham played far better than they had in the first match. Peter Mellor was called upon to make a string of good saves, the best of these denying Kenny Burns and Gordon Taylor. The match itself was not the best and went into extra time. One thing here though in Fulham’s favour was their fitness. Quite a number of Birmingham players went down with cramp whilst Fulham got slightly stronger as the game progressed.
It looked certain for a third match, which would have taken place at Highbury the following Monday when Alan Slough in the final minute sent in a hopeful cross. John Dowie headed it down to John Mitchell who was running in. Mitch’s shot seemed to hit Dave Latchford (Birmingham’s goalkeeper) in the face, rebounded to Mitchell where it bounced off his shoulder and crept over the line. It was a truly scruffy goal and with the timing of it gave Birmingham no chance to reply.
The game itself and the goal was the slice of luck we needed and given the whole Cup run the luck we deserved. The scenes at the goal and then at the final whistle were amazing, mainly in disbelief that Fulham had finally secured a place in the Cup Final at Wembley. Not a memorable match, far from it apart from the final minute, but a most memorable night for those of us lucky enough to be there.