The 2009/10 season was arguably the greatest in Fulham’s history as Roy Hodgson’s side defied all the odds to reach the Final of the inaugural UEFA Europa League.
Below is a poem that details our incredible journey to the Final in Hamburg, as originally narrated by Fulham’s Match Announcer David Hamilton in the television build-up to our clash with Atletico Madrid. The Whites lost 2-1 after extra-time, but it was an adventure that captured the hearts of football fans everywhere, and it will never be forgotten.
Our story begins way back in July,
As this epic adventure first takes to the sky,
FK Vetra, then Amkar Perm,
Lithuania, Russia, both overturned,
Hodgson’s army, stampeding through,
Qualifiers over, and onto phase two.
The Group Stage commences in CSKA,
Diomansy Kamara has the final say,
A point to start before Basel at home,
Murphy the hero, as word reaches Rome.
This English side’s to be treated with care,
No quarter given, no inches spared,
A Nordic leap and three points await,
Before Kelly’s lunge hands a point on a plate,
Mighty Schwarzer has other ideas,
Until 93 minutes, when joy becomes tears.
The return in Italy, a torrid affair,
First the lead slips, and then more despair,
Nevland, Konchesky, both see red,
The head of Okaka, the game put to bed.
Third in the table with two games to play,
A win now vital against CSKA,
Murphy’s law, it’s not meant to be,
But no-one tells Gera as he breaks free,
Last minute jitters are rescued by Duff,
Three points secured, but Group E is tough.
Still behind Basel, one point adrift,
It’s winner takes all as they head to the Swiss,
Zamora’s assured, not once but twice,
45 minutes, the champagne on ice.
Smalling handles, Frei converts,
Gera’s finish settles the nerves,
Streller ensures three minutes of hell,
The final whistle, the fears dispelled.
Hodgson’s heroes go marching on,
The last-32, the fans still in song.
Behold the holders, Shakhtar in town,
To upset the party, to keep their crown,
But Gera, Zamora again combine,
Shakhtar sneak one, but still one behind.
Back to Donetsk, a Ukrainian chill,
Hangeland’s header, the defence stands still,
The holders’ grip broken and Fulham are through,
Only one problem, Juventus are too.
The Italian giants at home supreme,
The visitors shaken in the last-16,
Three goals conceded, just one in reply,
Roy’s men return with a mountain to climb.
From Turin to London, from bad to worse,Two minutes in, the omens look cursed,
Four goals now needed, Zamora strikes back,
Forget defending, it’s all out attack,
Gera adds one, and another one too,
Do we dare, should we dare, could it come true?
On cue a twist, a turn and a chip,
A star-spangled beauty, beyond fingertips,
Chimenti beaten, Juve distraught,
16 now eight, but soon there’ll be four.
Next up is Wolfsburg, the German elite,
The Bundeslig champions, tonight they’ll be beat,
That man Zamora steps up once more,
Then turns provider to double the score,
A last minute hitch was not in the plans,
But why make it easy, for all of us fans?
Tension relieved in seconds abroad,
Just 21 needed before Bobby scores.
So solid his finish, so solid the team,
No goals conceded, and on goes the dream.
The Semi in Hamburg, the Final there too,
But let’s not tempt fate, it might be too soon.
Volcanic convulsions are up in the air,
But Hodgson’s boys remain well prepared,
Van Nistelrooy stifled, Zamora is too,
A goalless encounter, but chances are few.
So back to the Cottage, to finish the tie,
Petrić scores first, it’s now do or die,
Our striker departs, the dream slips away,
Don’t tell these people it’s only a game.
Davies responds in perfect style,
The finish sublime, with effortless guile,
One goal decides it, and Gera’s the man,
Hodgson elated, and on with the plan.
25,000 miles now completed,
18 matches, they’ve still not retreated.
So back to Hamburg, one game to go,
Are you ready for us, Atletico?
Unfortunately, winning the competition proved just out of reach for Fulham as Diego Forlan struck with four minutes remaining of extra-time to win the game for Madrid, after Simon Davies had cancelled out his opening goal. They may have left without the trophy but nobody could ever take away the memories that the Whites had created during their astonishing run. The official match report is available here.