TOOFIF: A Dreamer’s Dream

Credit: Travis Forden

The anticipation and excitement of stepping into the unknown,
A dream fixture to get us started, Man United away from home.
The butterflies, the goosebumps as we watched on from the stands,
19th August 2001, the day it all began.

Fresh faces in the line-up, Edwin and Steed to name a few,
I kept thinking “this team’s so exciting, this team is something new”.
Tigana’s men led twice and King Louis showed his class,
But the Premier League is ruthless, and boy did we learn fast.
We came away empty handed, we lost 3-2 that day,
Yet we took away belief that this Fulham was here to stay.

We carried on the campaign fulfilling the potential we had shown,
The only downside to our season was that Steve Marlet wasn’t on loan.
Tigana’s men had done us proud and as the first year came to a close,
We packed our bags, we said goodbye and headed for Loftus Road.

That two-year spell at our temporary home provided moments we’d never forget.
3-1 at Old Trafford, the comeback against Spurs and Harley’s rocket that flew into the net.
Sava with his mask, Pierre Wome’s free-kick and of course winning the Intertoto,
The only trophy our Club has won thanks to a hat-trick by Inamoto.
As it was time to head home, Tigana had left and Cookie had taken the reins,
If you’d predicted back then what the future would hold, I’d have accused you of being insane. 

Defying the pundits in our fourth year, again we avoided the drop,
We drew with United under the lights with a screamer from Diop.
Three penalties missed in a game with Villa and a late goal from Lee Clark,
A 6-0 win to send Norwich down as we played them off the park.
With the good times, there are sad ones too,. like the day “The Maestro” died,
When beating Liverpool we remembered him, standing side by side.
Later that year a statue was built as a tribute to all he had done,
How fitting to dedicate our oldest stand to Fulham’s favourite son.
In 2006 we gave Chelsea the blues and history was made,
Our only Premier League win against them came via a Boa ricochet.

Cookie started to come under pressure that year after a poor run of results,
Though we celebrated the 15,000th Premier League goal scored by our German, Moritz Volz.
Whenever a team spirals down the League, the manager’s first to go.
But always be careful what you wish for, as Sanchez was soon to show.
He managed to keep us up and Clint Dempsey saved the day,
Briggs became the youngest-ever player, on the 13th of May.
I’d like to thank him for Konchesky, Baird, Hughes and Murphy, too,
There’s nothing else I’m grateful for, the man just didn’t have a clue.
The football was so dire, the worst I’ve ever seen,
I remember screaming at the dugout: “You’ve destroyed my football team!”
“That’s it,” I said. “It’s over now, my dream is all but gone.”
Until an angel came down from above and gave us… Roy Hodgson.

A few games passed and still no win as Brede and Nevland arrived.
How vital the return of Bullard would be, as well as Brian McBride.
It was Jimmy’s free-kick to seal Hodgson’s first win, but we still had so much to do.
With three games to go and still dragging behind, somehow we won 3-2.
We went in at the break, after a poor first half, down if results didn’t change.
So Roy made a sub, Kamara came on and he slotted home from close range.
Scores elsewhere were starting to swing as Nevland was fouled: penalty!
My palpitations would start, as it was saved by Hart – but the rebound tapped in by Murphy.
Both teams doing their all to win, injury-time had begun.
Kamara put through, just the keeper to beat, he scores: Fulham have only gone and won!!
The penultimate game was Brum at home, a six-pointer I guess you could say.
McBride heads us in front, then a Queudrue mistake allowed Nevland to save the day.
As the sun glared down across the South Coast, the pressure was heating up too.
Reading were winning 4-0 away, only a win now would do.
79 minutes gone, a free kick to the Whites. Please God, just please let us score.
Murphy’s header goes in, the crowd go insane, and the team pile up on the floor.

Thousands of whistles encourage the ref as he brings an end to the game,
A legend was to be born that day, Roy Hodgson was his name.
Nothing comes close to our Great Escape, it’s the best feeling I’ve ever had,
Those players became our heroes that day – even though, for the most part, they were so bad.
But they showed guts and spirit as they put up a fight; Roy had started to make them believe.
What a difference a pre-season break can make, I can’t believe what this squad would achieve.

08/09 we beat Arsenal at home, Spurs and United too.
A last-minute goal from Clint Dempsey meant with Chelsea we’d draw 2-2.
The contrast in May to the previous year was there for all to see.
53 points and our highest-ever League finish with a place in the Europa League.

The next chapter for me was so surreal, the most wonderful journey of all,
We overcame Vetra and Amkar Perm playing some silky football.
Sofia, Basel and Roma await, we thought we had a slim chance.
After five games played, on a snowy Christmas night, only a win would make us advance.
A Zamora brace, then Gera’s right boot meant we beat the Swiss 3-2.
Runners-up in our group meant a tricky tie would await: the Cup holders is who we drew.
Things were going so great, we were on cloud nine, it was just like watching Brazil.
Man United up next with a makeshift defence, this time we won 3-0!
Shakhtar were then and still are today the best team that I’ve ever seen,
How on earth we beat them 2-1 that night, these really were the things of dreams.
That thunderbolt from Bobby Z in off the bar gave us a lead to protect in Donetsk.
Brede’s header eased the nerves, we held on for a draw, we had (just about) passed the first test.
The holders were out and we nearly were, too, as we trailed 4-1 to Juve,
But as comeback kings, we never know when we’re beat; could we really make the final in May?
Bobby popped up and got us back in the game as we began to rise from the dead,
Lady Luck was certainly on our side that night as Cannavaro was shown red.
Somehow our team found the net twice more and Fulham had levelled the tie,
Step forward Clint Dempsey with an unbelievable chip as the tears welled up in my eyes…

We blew away Wolfsburg, sat nice in the League, and off to the hosts we went.
A stalemate to take back to SW6; win and we’re there is what it meant.
Hamburg scored first, a superb free-kick but what a horrible time to concede.
Cue a song to drive the Lilywhites on: “Stand up if you still believe!”
69 on the clock, still losing 1-0, as Davies took the ball in his stride.
A delicious flick to turn back on to his left foot and out of nowhere we equalised.
The Cottage erupts as we blow off the roof, “There’s a tidal wave on the Thames!’
20 minutes to go, only one goal to find, and the comeback is on again.

Less than 10 minutes and we were in dreamland, as Davies whipped the corner in,
Etuhu leapt, the ball fell to Gera’s feet, he spun and sealed the win.
The magic we felt at the Cottage that night is why Fulham’s where I fell in love,
These moments should never be expected, these moments should be what we dream of.
But Fulham’s not like any another Club; I think that’s clear to see,
I thought words would never describe how I felt inside ’til I heard that post-match commentary.

12th May 2010, our day is finally here!
“Viva el Fulham” played over again and we started early on the beer,
Buying t-shirts, badges, hats and scarfs, not to mention the black and white flags.
Having banter with the Atletico fans – it’s the most fun that I’ve ever had.
In the ground I remember the ceremony, those robots just went round and round.
All the flags representing club’s badges, all but two of them fell to the ground.
A giant sheet was pulled out with a list of the clubs eliminated that year.
So many of them that I recognised but no Fulham – ’cos Fulham’s still here!

Atletico’s fans went into song, so passionate and loud they would sing,
So Fulham’s reply (and I still don’t know why) was Black Eyed Peas’ “I’ve got a feeling”.
The scene was set as our heroes were led past the silverware by captain Murphy,
With one team stood in our way, would this be the day Fulham would lift the trophy?
Forlan scores first before Davies’ strike reassures us that there is still hope,
Still undecided who will win, into extra-time we go – how on earth did my heart manage to cope?
Four minutes to go and still the winner is unknown; the dreaded penalties soon to start.
Then Forlan, always a threat, finds the net, to break thousands of Fulham fans’ hearts.
As I got on the coach straight after the game, I felt drained and empty inside,
Numb from my head right down to my toes yet at the same time gleaming with pride.
Fulham have played in a European Final! I never thought I’d live to see the day.
So win, lose or draw I’m still as proud as before – maybe next time we’ll go all the way…?

June soon passed as the rumours got worse before finally Liverpool pounced,
Al Fayed tried for Jol, but as time took its toll the arrival of Hughes was announced.
Sparky struggled at first to turn draws into wins but eventually we finished off strong,
Eighth in the League was alright by me but “Mr Ambition” said “So long!”
He decided to walk under a bit of a cloud and before long he joined QPR,
A team that we’d already beaten 6-0, his ambition had taken him far!

Jol was finally our man which made us happy at the time, though Zamora wasn’t keen,
Their feud carried on as the transfer window opened and Big Bob was removed from the team.
In his last month with us we had a few good results, his winner against Arsenal was sweet,
We beat the Toon 5-2 and most of us knew Bobby would be gone by the end of the week.
We’d meet him again in just a month’s time as we were looking to make Hughes eat his words.
Our new man in town, the Pog quickly settled down and the satisfaction was there to be heard.
We finished up ninth and then had to say goodbye to some greats in Murphy and Clint,
Dembele went too, as did Dickson Etuhu and we’ve not replaced their like ever since.

In Jol’s second year we began to see signs that this squad was starting to fold,
Another year older, another year slower, even team morale seemed to go cold.
I guess that wasn’t helped in our Boxing Day game as we took the lead through Berbatov,
“Keep calm and pass me the ball” was written under his shirt, a gesture I wasn’t a fan of.
From that day on the team seemed to get worse but somehow we scraped over the line,
We were starting to pay for not investing the right way and teams were leaving us behind.
Now in desperate need for a change to be made as Jol’s side had already gone stale,
But what I didn’t expect is what happened next: our club was put up for sale.

It had been 16 years of unforgettable highs, I hope Mo’s name will be on a stand one day,
Not just for success or being the best but for letting us do it the Fulham way.
In the months to come many faces would change and Michael Jackson was out the door first,
Some people say on that particular day, our club was put under a curse.

A special thanks to the legend Roy Hodsgon, the greatest manager that there’s ever been.
A quick mention for Pajtim Kasami who scored the greatest goal that I’ve ever seen.
Our U18s have made me ever so proud, the future looks so bright again.
As the fat lady sang, David’s shot off the crossbar and in was an apt way for my dream to end…