At a time when the church was central to working class communities with many of the younger and more enlightened curates preaching the virtues of athleticism as a means to combat urban degeneration, sport was a vital ingredient in the church’s activities. So, when the boys of St Andrew’s Sunday School kicked off on some forgotten park pitch in 1879 they made Fulham one of the oldest of London’s first class clubs. In the library at Lancaster Gate, a minute book of the Football Association confirms that on 12th December 1898, the modern Fulham Football Club was born. Maybe the full name St Andrew’s Church Sunday School FC was a bit of too much of a mouthful for supporters to chant.
Like most small clubs of the era, Fulham had a nomadic existence in their early days. Fulham played on a plethora of undeveloped grounds, both south and north of the river Thames, including Star Road near Earls Court, the Ranelagh Club, Lillie Road, Eel Brook Common, Purser’s Cross and Barn Elms.
The penultimate change was made for the 1889/90 season to The Half Moon Ground, south of the river and shared with the egg-chasing Wasps Rugby Club. Fulham, having just dropped the ‘St Andrews’ suffix from its name, played here for four years and when the ground was closed for development Fulham found their present home north of the river at Craven Cottage.
The history of this idyllically located venue actually dates back much further than 1894. The original Craven Cottage, a thatched building surrounded by gardens within the Bishops Palace, was the family home of Anne Boleyn and provided the nickname The Cottagers. It is named after its builder, Lord Cottage. Not really. It was built by Lord Craven in 1780. It became the residence of the 19th century author, Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote The Last Days of Pompeii during his stay. Later on, the exiled French Emperor, Napoleon III, lived at the house, before it was destroyed by fire in 1888. The present building at the corner of the ground dates from 1903. Whatever Craven Cottage eventually will turn into, and unlike the sad demise of the Trinity Road Stand at Villa Park, the listed Stevenage Road End with its unique frontage will always be saved for posterity, serving as the only surviving icon of British ground architecture.
Fulham has always been faithful to the black and white colours of the church team boys of St Andrew’s. In the main the club has stuck to the classically simple design of white shirts and black shorts. Vague traces of red appeared in the Seventies and Eighties when clubs for some reason decided that it was chic to add a third colour to kits, but in essence Fulham are instantly recognisable. One design however is worthy of mention here. In the late Fifties, the Johnny Haynes and Jimmy Hill era, Fulham had a revolutionary design in socks. They were black with white tops, but all the way down were narrow hoops in white on the black bit, and black on the white bit. Unique and quite stylish.
The club’s previous official badge, first used in 1947, was the arms of the Fulham Metropolitan Borough Council in which area the club is situated. These arms were granted in October 1927. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, under date 879, records that in that year’ a band of pirates assembled and sat at Fulham by the Thames.This event accounts for the Danish galley in the crest. The silver and blue wavy lines in the shield denote the river Thames that runs alongside the Craven Cottage ground. The swords of St. Paul on red and the mitre are from the arms of the See of London, whose bishops, represented by the mitre, held the Manor of Fulham since the end of the 7th century.
The first crest, a large black image of Craven Cottage, was introduced in 1931 when it was felt the club needed a new identity. It lasted throughout the 1930’s. A simple ‘retro FFC logo’, introduced in 1973 was to last just four years before the reintroduction of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham crest in various guises.
In 2001 the present badge was carefully designed ‘to reflect the core values of the club’, coinciding with a new generation of supporters, providing a strong brand for the club. Here we quote: “Using key elements from the shield of the previous crest and the widely used retro FFC logo in the club’s colours in modern format, produces a modern contemporary badge. It symbolises the club’s vision to be progressive, stylish and exciting. The badge reinforces where we have come from and where we are going.”