Memory Lane – Fulham
This season, I am walking down memory lane back through my 24 years and over 600 games of watching Palace.
For each home game, I will reflect on the highs and lows that I have seen against our opposition. Some clubs, I have a rich history of great Palace moments, and for others, there has been limited encounters but I will try to capture the emotion, context and excitement of the Palace life.
Fulham are a team that I have barely seen us play against. Surprisingly, we have only played them eighteen times in our entire history, with only nine coming in the last 32 years.
Palace…2 (Johnson, Riihilahti)
4th October 2005, Premier League
Seeing as I have only seen one win against the West Londoners, then I can only really pick one game. Leading into this Monday night tie, we had earned just two points from our opening seven matches and were staring relegation in the face. On the night, Palace legends, Aki Riihilahti and Andy Johnson, gave us a 2-0 win and kick-started our season.
Many years later, in July 2017, I visited Helsinki and tweeted Aki to ask to meet up. My hero replied and invited me to share a coffee and watch his HJK Helsinki side train, where he is the CEO. In Aki’s office, he proudly displays a framed picture of himself celebrating that goal against Fulham, arms out, with pure joy on his face. It was a beautiful sight. The moment clearly means a lot to our favourite Finn.
Aki’s other role is that he is the first Scandinavian to be a board member of the European Club Association, alongside members from clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich and others. Soon after Aki joined the board, they all sent polite Christmas messages to each other. Aki joined in and replied to all. He wrote “I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, especially our Ajax representative, Edwin van der Sar” who’d been in goal for Fulham match back in 2004. Aki then attached a picture of himself grinning inanely as his header escaped the grasp of the big Dutchman and flew into the Selhurst net. So fifteen years after Aki’s goal helped us to our first Premier League win of the season in 2004, he was still promoting the club inside the inner circle of some of the world’s most illustrious clubs.
21st October 2013, Premier League
This one is easy too. We had started the 2013/14 Premier League season badly – although slightly better than our 2004/05 season – but we all saw this fixture as our chance to kick start our campaign. Just as it had nine years previously. Adrian Mariappa gave us an early lead and everything looked to be going well. Then my friend Dan, who I have a season ticket with, turned up late from work. Out of nowhere, Fulham player, Pajtim Kasami, scored the goal of the season, and Steve Sidwell followed it up with another stunning strike before half time.
In the second half, Palace completely fell apart. We looked so far off the Premier League pace that I wasn’t worried about staying up – I was still targeting twelve points to beat Derby’s record. I left ten minutes before the end, not in protest or anger, just in despair and a wish to catch the earlier train to get home at a reasonable time. Thankfully, this meant that I missed the overly aggressive protest from the Fanatics against the players and manager.
Two days later, Ian Holloway quit, and while it was clear he was a long way out of his depth, I found it incredibly sad to see a genuinely good man look so lost and beaten. He will never be our greatest manager but he is certainly someone I will always have respect for.
My Personal Record of Live Matches Against Liverpool
- Palace…0 Fulham…2 (Division 1, 2001)
- Palace…2 Fulham…0 (Premier League, 2004) – Johnson, Riihilahti
- Palace…0 Fulham…0 (Friendly, 2008)
- Palace…1 Fulham…4 (Premier League, 2013) – Mariappa
- Fulham…2 Palace…2 (Premier League, 2014) – Gayle (2)
- Fulham…1 Palace…1 (Friendly, 2015) – Souare