George Rossiter looks back at some of Fulham’s best festive fixtures since the turn of the millennium, which thankfully means no mention of 1963!
5. Chelsea 1-1 Fulham, 2011/12
The only draw on this list, Fulham went to Stamford Bridge with a fairly makeshift forward line and gained a creditable point in the SW6 derby. With injuries to Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson, Martin Jol was forced to look at alternative options up front, fielding a frontline including Kerim Frei and Orlando Sa. Meanwhile, Andre Villas-Boas’ side were able to call upon Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda from the bench, while some unknown Belgian called Romelu Lukaku was an unused substitute.
David Stockdale put in a blinder of a performance that gained plaudits post-match from Chelsea’s Portuguese manager, including multiple saves from Fernando Torres, before eventually a pearl from Juan Mata gave them the lead at the start of the second. The Whites retaliated, though, and it was Clint Dempsey who levelled the tie nine minutes later from close range. Jol eventually took Fulham to ninth in the Premier League that season, while Villas-Boas was sacked in March and replaced by his assistant, Roberto Di Matteo, who went onto win Chelsea the Champions League.
4. Fulham 2-0 Southampton, 2003/04
A Louis Saha brace was enough to cure any Christmas hangovers in 2003, as Fulham beat Southampton 2-0 in festive fashion. The Saints side that day included a certain Antii Niemi in net, with a very young Chris Baird on the bench. Southampton’s James Beattie, tipped to join Manchester United and quoted pre-match saying it would be a dream to go to Old Trafford, was kept mostly quiet by the partnership of Knight and Goma on the day.
Ironically, it was Fulham’s main man up top that would eventually sign on for the red side of Manchester. Saha latched onto a pass from Steed Malbranque just shy of the 20 minute mark and slotted home to give Fulham the lead. He should have had another in the first half too but failed to put away a Boa Morte cross. Eventually, just after the hour mark, Saha did make it two. Saints played Chris Marsden bought down our current assistant manager Boa Morte in the box, and after Dermot Gallagher pointed to the spot, King Louis duly slotted his penalty down the middle to complete his brace and secure Fulham victory.
3. Cardiff City 2-4 Fulham, 2017/18
This was a real standout victory in Slavisa Jokanovic’s promotion year. For context; going into this game Cardiff were in second place in the Championship chasing Nuno Espirito Santo’s superb Wolves side who would eventually be champions. Fulham were lingering in mid table, just 10 days after famously losing away at Sunderland and with no idea of the 23 game unbeaten run and eventual play-off win that was in the offing.
Tim Ream, the most unlikely of scorers, had given Fulham an early lead, a lead that remained until half time. Within 15 minutes of the second half kicking off, Floyd Ayite and Kenneth Zohore had exchanged goals within seconds of each other to leave Fulham with a 2-1 lead. When Ryan Sessegnon added a third with 78 minutes on the clock, the game seemed over, but a 92nd minute Callum Paterson goal left the remaining minutes and seconds looking as nervy as could be. Step forward Stefan Johansen with a clear run on goal and a chipped finish that would go down in Fulham folklore. Cardiff two, Fulham four, Merry Christmas, the run had truly begun.
2. Crystal Palace 0-3 Fulham, 2022/23
TIM REAM LOVES SCORING ON BOXING DAY. Anyway, more on that later. The circumstances leading into this fixture were completely unique. France had just won the World Cup in Qatar and the Premier League had experienced an unprecedented Winter break as a result. Fans were craving club football after weeks of international football and Christmas dinner planning, and boy did Fulham deliver at Selhurst Park.
After half an hour where Fulham showed plenty of promise, Bobby De Cordova-Reid found himself on the end of a Mitrovic cross to give Fulham a deserved lead. Minutes later, Tyerick Mitchell was sent off for a challenge on Kenny Tete. The indiscipline didn’t end there, with James Tomkins sent off for a second yellow in the second half, and it was all Fulham from there. Tim Ream and Aleksandar Mitrovic pounced in the area to make it two and eventually three nil, sending the Whites to eighth in the table and just two points off Europe at the time.
1. Fulham 5-0 Watford, 2000/01
Jean Tigana’s Championship winning side were flying by the time Watford came to the Cottage in December 2000. The likes of Finnan, Davis and Saha were Premier League players in waiting and most teams were being swept aside. It was no different for Graham Taylor’s Watford side, containing Heidar Helguson and the festively named ‘Gifton Noel-Williams’ on the bench.
Louis Saha was the main man that year, and got his goal in this rout, but it was Barry Hayles that took centre stage with three gifts of his own for the Fulham fans. Goals in the 42nd, 56th and 75th minutes from Hayles gave the forward a superb hat-trick, contributing to a win that left Fulham 10 points clear of nearest rivals Bolton heading towards the new year. It was the Latvian Andrejs Stolcers that scored the fifth and put the cherry on top of the… Christmas pudding? Here’s hoping for a similar mauling of Bournemouth in 2023.