Ahead of fixture release day, Jack Stroudley looks back at times Fulham started the season on the front foot.
It’s just a never-ending cycle isn’t it? The season finished a little less than three weeks ago and here we are already on the cusp of the 2023/24 Premier League fixture announcement. And we’d not have it any other way.
You always want to get off to a good start, and while Fulham seem to always start slow, we’ve had some good opening days over the years, here are five that stand out.
2009/10: Portsmouth 0-1 Fulham
When you think of Fulham in 2009/10, a certain European run might be the first thing that springs to most people’s minds. But alongside that European run came our first ever away Premier League opening day win. It was a slender victory at Fratton Park thanks to a deflected Bobby Zamora winner, and it was a sign of things to come for Roy Hodgson’s Fulham who went on to have a very successful season. The defeat would be a sign of things to come for Pompey too, who were relegated that season finishing on just 19 points.
2002/03: Fulham 4-1 Bolton Wanderers
Our first ever opening day Premier League win came at home to Bolton Wanderers and was done so in emphatic fashion. It was the visitors who would take the lead in the opening five minutes thanks to a Michael Ricketts penalty. However, Jean Tigana’s side blew the Wanderers away at Loftus Road with a Sylvain Legwinski brace alongside goals from Louis Saha and Steve Marlet. The result meant the Whites topped the Premier League table for the first time – for 24 hours at least.
2003/04: Fulham 3-2 Middlesborough
The opening day at Loftus Road in 2003 would host a thriller, with Fulham narrowly beating Middlesborough in a five-goal contest. Argentine Carlos Marinelli would give the visitors the lead inside the opening ten minutes before three unanswered goals from Steve Marlet, Junichi Inamoto and Louis Saha would put Chris Coleman’s Fulham in cruise control.
Substitute Szilard Nemeth got one back for Middlesborough with 10 minutes to play, but Fulham held on for victory. Striker Malcom Christie also had a penalty saved by Edwin van der Sar, which ensured that Fulham would win back-to-back opening Premier League games.
2022/23: Fulham 2-2 Liverpool
I’m sure this one will need no introduction. Fulham headed into last season the bookies favourites for relegation and an opening day fixture against title hopefuls Liverpool had the recipe to be a disaster. However, Fulham were magnificent and a Mitrovic brace put Fulham ahead twice at Craven Cottage and started to prove those doubters wrong about his Premier League ability. Goals from Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah meant that Fulham could only settle for a point, but it was certainly one to remember and set the tone for a memorable campaign.
2012/13: Fulham 5-0 Norwich City
Wait, this can’t be: Fulham have never played Norwich… right? In all seriousness, this is Fulham’s most memorable Premier League opener, the first time Fulham had scored five in an opening fixture since 1958. Damien Duff started proceedings for the day with an opener just after 25 minutes before debutant Mladen Petric would score a goal either side of half time to put us 3-0 ahead after just 54 minutes. Youngster Alex Kacaniklic would get in on the action with his first goal for the club before Steve Sidwell would round things off with an 87th-minute penalty to give Fulham an emphatic victory.