The One With 10 Men – Part 1

Red cards. They are guaranteed to either ruin a game or spark it into life. Some are deserved, some are controversial and quite often they can be memorable. Below I’ve put together a list of the ones that stand out in my mind. They are a mixture of both for and against Fulham since the turn of the Millennium, counting down the top 10 to what I consider the most memorable red card in modern Fulham history. To make this seem a little different to your average article, I’ve combined my love for the American Sitcom FRIENDS with my love for Fulham. Every episode of Friends is titled “The one with…” and that theme has been used to title each of my top 10. Bit random but why not…

Remember that this is how I see our most memorable red cards, it’s certainly not factual. So please share your picks with us on social media. From Murphy’s madness in Donetsk to the ‘Krakers’ decision in Krakov. Perhaps the double trouble in Rome, Rosenior’s ‘Savage’ shove on Robbie & a back to back fiesta from the Ginger Iniesta. There’s plenty out there that are worthy, and it was very hard ‘dismissing them’ from my list.

Anyway, here’s the ten that I went with…

10 – “The one with the very early bath”

Reading 1 – 1 Fulham (2017/18) – Tomas Kalas

No club, not even the likes QPR or Brentford should have the misfortune of playing this Reading side for the sixth time in less than 9 months. But that’s exactly what happened to us and no doubt poor old Kalas would have been up for this as much as anyone. Just a home game against Norwich City had been played since the controversial penalty in the playoffs and sadly he found himself repeating the ‘MadStad’ nightmare having been sent for a very early bath!

It took just 39 seconds for Kalas to receive his marching orders. Having lost possession, the Czech defender slipped taking out the oncoming runner Mo Barrow who was debatably through on goal. Given that the game was 39 seconds young it probably would have been common sense to give the booking and not spoil the game especially as Tim Ream was round on the cover. But no such luck exists against the Royals as we discovered in the playoffs. The team put in a fantastic shift holding on for a point but the fact there was only 39 seconds on the clock is what makes this so memorable. Surely a club record?!

9 – “The one with the fair play, foul play”

Fulham 2 – 2 Arsenal (2010/11) – Zoltan Gera

After Hamburg, Fulham fans had developed an acquired taste for the Europa League. So, it was exciting to hear confirmation that England were to be awarded an extra place through fair play just a year on from our famous final. It was close between ourselves & Blackpool, but we were pipping the Tangerines going into the final game of the season. Fulham were 8th in the table with the potential to match our record league position of 7th with a win whilst Arsenal were looking to secure their regular 4th spot. So, this was anything but an end of season friendly and so it turned out, being a lively end to end game. It was time to get out the calculator to work out how much every foul, every booking etc was impacting on the fair play situation & whether we were still squeezing past the men in orange. Then, suddenly it got ‘juicy’! Zoltan Gera, ironically the man whose goal took us to a European Final had a rush of blood. He lunged in two-footed on Thomas Vermaelen and gave the ref a decision to make. The ref had no hesitation and Gera received our first red card of the season, with just 16 minutes of Football left to play! Cue hearts in mouths as we had to wait anxiously for a few days wondering if that had cost us our place in Europe. In the end, it didn’t but we certainly could have done without the scare!

8 – “The one with the apology”

Fulham 0 – 3 Sunderland (2012/13) – Brede Hangeland

You’d think a Fulham side who’d become renowned for winning the fair play league or at least always being there or thereabouts could be forgiven for the odd bad tackle. Particularly when this red card was to be their first in 50 Premier League games. So how ironic that the first red card in over a year came at home to Sunderland as Brede lunged into a two-footed challenge against none other than red card specialist himself, Lee Cattermole. Yes, the challenge was late and a little clumsy but certainly nothing to write home about.

Fulham have a reputation for being “too nice”. So, this crunching tackle, although costly was quite refreshing to see from the Whites as it showed there was a bit of fire in the belly, at least we thought it did. Instead, our club captain took it upon himself to go to the ref’s changing room at fulltime and apologize for the tackle and then admitted it to the media. I’m proud to support a nice club but apologising for our first red card in 50 games…you really couldn’t make it up, could you?

7 – “The one with the mistaken identity”

Fulham 1 – 1 AS Roma (2009/10) – Stephen Kelly

Before the glamour of the knockout phases and the iconic performances that would follow. Fulham played in what was at the time their biggest game in European Football unless you want to consider the Intertoto Cup Final… AS Roma were the big guns in Group E but you wouldn’t have thought so in the first half. Fulham dominated and took an early lead through Hangeland from a corner. All seemed to be going to plan until Mummy’s boy (JA Riise playing for Roma at the time) was brought down in the box, penalty awarded. The ref reached for his pocket and showed Brede a straight red. But that’s where it gets interesting and why this is so memorable. The Norwegian Captain refused to go off asking for an explanation as the situation became calamitous, even the ref seemed confused!

Cometh the hour, cometh the pointless official behind the goal who finally did something useful. He advised the ref of mistaken identity and that it was indeed Stephen Kelly who committed the foul. So eventually Kelly got his marching orders which in a weird way was a sense of relief because you would rather lose Kelly over Hangeland for the last 15 minutes… no offence Stephen! The penalty was saved which unfortunately turned out to be a false dawn as Roma equalised in the last minute of stoppage time. It was a minor setback ruining what would have been our greatest European triumph at the time. But as the away fans will tell you… Rome wasn’t built in a day.

6 – “The one where the little Devils saw red”

Fulham 2 – 0 Man Utd (2008/09) – Paul Scholes / Wayne Rooney

It goes under the radar that this was not only our first Premier League ‘home’ win against Utd but also our first triumph over them at the Cottage in 45 years. That’s why these red cards are so memorable. How often do you hear of two Man U players being sent off in the same game?

It all started when Van Der Sar did well to react to Zamora’s goal-bound header from a corner. But despite the Dutchman’s efforts, the rebound came straight back to the jolly striker who’s second effort was again saved superbly, this time by the Ginger Barthez…Paul Scholes. Just like his tackling, there was nothing subtle about the way the midfielder handled the ball on the line. See ya later Paul. As one Midfield Marshall’s day ended, another just got better. Murphy stroked the penalty high into the net to give Fulham a well-deserved lead.

Second half quickly came around and the local away fans were soon on their feet. Cristiano Ronaldo raced through and squared across the face of goal for Ji Sung Park to surely score. Schwarzer however, expertly saved and the veteran Aussie keeper sprung up like a Kangaroo to react to the follow up from Wayne Rooney. A world-class double save! The Man Utd pressure was really building as they searched for an equalizer which never came leading to many frustrated Red Devils on the pitch. None more so than Wayne Rooney who watched on as Andy Johnson set up Zoltan Gera whose awful first touch conveniently turned out to be the perfect set up for an overhead kick to seal the three points at the Hammy End, game over.

Seconds remained as Utd rushed every ball to somehow find a way back. Rooney tried a quick freekick, but Phil Dowd pulled it back because the ball hadn’t stopped rolling. Rooney was so angry, (he appeared to grow a full head of hair!), picked the ball up and threw it at the ref. He missed but it was bye-bye Rooney who then decided to take it out on the corner flag.

The top 5 to follow next week…