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The Oppo: Fulham FC

Reading are looking to make it six wins in a row against Fulham. But what's the history between the two sides?

Jeff Hopkins represented both Fulham and Reading during his career.
Jeff Hopkins represented both Fulham and Reading during his career.
Getty Images/Getty Images

After despatching of Bristol City last weekend, next up is a trip to the Cottage and a tough looking fixture against Fulham. Slavisa Jokanovic's men will be looking to perform similar to last season against the Royals, the 4-2 win at Craven Cottage followed up with a deserved 2-2 draw at the Madejski.

Head to Head

Fulham are a club that for a while I associated as being in and around the same divisions as Reading throughout their history, perhaps because in my early days of supporting the Royals Fulham were around the same level. A look at the history of fixtures between the clubs belies the fact that Fulham are a club that for decades were punching well above the Biscuitmen.

In all there have been 38 league meetings between the sides, Fulham having marginally the better of the record between the sides with 15 victories to the Royals' 14. Reading have won on five occasions at the Cottage, most recently of course Nigel Adkins's maiden Reading win when we were already relegated from the Premier League in May 2013.


Played

RFC Wins

Draws

FFC Wins

RFC Goals Scored

FFC Goals Scored

Craven Cottage

19

5

5

9

25

31








Madejski Stadium

6

2

2

2

9

8

Elm Park

13

7

2

4

17

16

Reading Overall

19

9

4

6

26

24








Overall

38

14

9

15

51

55








Memorable Match

6 March 1993, Fulham 0-0 Reading. I'd defy anyone to find a more boring match between the two sides. A strange choice for recalled match I hear you cry, but please allow me the indulgence because it was in fact the first ever away match I attended as a Reading supporter.

4,818 supporters attended, an above average crowd for Fulham at the time in part thanks to the massed ranks of Royals on the open terrace of the Putney End. My uncle and the 10-year old I located ourselves under the relative sanctuary of the Stevenage Road stand due to the menacing cloud cover (our fears didn't materialise into liquid sunshine).

The match itself, uneventful. My recollection of affairs on what was a mild day compared to recent weeks (the matchday programme featured an action shot taken in the weeks preceding complete with snow and orange ball) was a game of two significant events, firstly Jimmy Quinn hitting the bar in the first half in front of the Hammersmith End with typical aerial prowess, while in the second half near the end a Fulham striker, Gary Brazil if I recall correctly, poked home only for a foul on Steve Francis to be given in the build-up.

The point was a solid one for Reading against a Fulham side that finished the season just three positions lower than the Royals in 11th. Reading at the time were well in the midsts of an impressive 11-match unbeaten run which at one point suggested Reading were gearing up for a genuine playoff push, the run dating back to late January's 2-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers and which would last until early April. However, just three wins in nine during a tough run-in that included matches against Port Vale, Stoke City, Stockport County, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City (all of whom finished in the playoffs or automatic promotion places) put paid to any promotion hopes in 1993. However, the seeds were being sown by Mark McGhee at the time, the addition of full backs Ray Ranson and Dylan Kerr in the summer proving pivotal to the structure of the side. And didn't they do rather well the following season?!

Lineups:

Fulham: Jim Stannard, Simon Morgan, Martin Pike, Gavin Nebbeling, Mark Newson, Glen Thomas, Julian Hails, John Marshall, Sean Farrell, Jeff Eckhardt, Mark Kelly (Subs: Gary Brazil, Martin Ferney).

Reading: Steve Francis, Mick Gooding, Darren Jackson, Keith McPherson, Jeff Hopkins, Phil Parkinson, Michael Gilkes, Kevin Dillon, Jimmy Quinn, David McDonald, Scott Taylor (no subs used).

They Played For Both Teams

Welsh internationals have been a popular theme in Reading over the last 30 or so years. Chris Gunter currently represents the principality while the likes of Hal Robson-Kanu, Adi Williams, Lee Nogan and Michael Meaker all earned caps for Wales while at Reading. Added to the list of Welsh internationals to don the blue and white hoops? Jeff Hopkins, a player who I personally met at youth club in Theale just a couple of days after his first goal for the club in 1993 (a late winner at home to Port Vale which incidentally was only three days after the Memorable Match).

Swansea-born Jeff commenced his career at Fulham on apprenticeship terms in the very early 1980's and would last at Craven Cottage until 1988. In his first season Fulham were promoted thanks to a final day victory, and in total he made 260 appearances for the Cottagers (six goals scored) before a £240,000 transfer to Crystal Palace in August 1988 where he would play under the tutelage of Steve Coppell. A promotion in his first season again (1989), and then a member of the squad that reached the FA Cup Final the year after, and a third placed finish in 1991 followed, however after falling completely out of favour he was loaned to Plymouth Argyle in October 1991, although just nine appearances materialised for the Welshman during Argyle's relegation from the Barclay's League Division 2. Returning to Palace in March 92, he was released the day after by Palace and was snapped up by Bristol Rovers, then midtable in Division 2, on a free transfer until the end of the season. Overall Hopkins played 93 times for Palace, scoring four times.

During his short term contract at Twerton Park, Hopkins made six appearances, ensuring the Gas placed well away from relegation in 13th before his release at the end of the season. Never one to miss a bargain, Mark McGhee took the opportunity to snap up the experienced defender, and quickly installed him into the Royal's backline, and Hopkins quickly endeared himself to the Elm Park faithful with wholehearted and committed displays. Hopkins would play a significant part in the rise of the club under McGhee, contributing to the turnaround in fortunes in early 1993 and earning his third promotion winners medal in 1994 before appearing at Wembley in 1995 in the heartbreaking playoff final defeat. Hopkins would last at Reading until 1997, progressively a more bit-part player although he did make 19 appearances in 1996/97 under Jimmy Quinn and Mick Gooding's joint player/managership. During his five years at Reading the popular defender make 156 appearances scoring four goals, while he also earned 16 Wales caps between 1983 and 1990.

After leaving Reading, Hopkins took up playing in Malaysia, before heading further down and under to Australia, finishing his playing days for Gippsland Falcons. Since retiring Hopkins has taken up managing in the women's game for both Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory Women's teams (where he currently plies his trade), as well as two spells as Brisbane Roar Assistant Manager and Youth coach.

Grudge Moment

Who could forgive Fulham in 2008? A side completely incapable of winning away, so mercilessly and deservedly winning 2-0 at the Madejski in April 2008, before going on to score three in 20 minutes at the City of Manchester Stadium to secure victory from 2-0 down, and then a final day victory at Portsmouth thanks to Danny Murphy's header. I still maintain to this day that the seven goals required were within reach against Derby, it would have been a spectacular way to save our own skins but Derby were so utterly abject and disinterested throughout it was well within our capabilities.

As it was, Danny Murphy had the final words, perhaps a small amount of payback for events some 20+ years previous. Supporters of a certain age will understandably curse at the mention of the name Futcher, Ron Futcher of course being the man who broke Martin Hicks's jaw. Ron suffered dog's abuse from that day forward whenever he faced the Royals, as did his twin brother Paul who probably wondered what he'd done to deserve it. What is little known to Reading fans, however, is the Futcher brothers had a sister, who bore a son. That son? Danny Murphy.

For the record, Paul and Ron Futcher also had another brother who played professionally for Chester City, while Stephen Futcher and Ben Futcher are also of the same footballing dynasty.

Fact, Interesting or Otherwise

Why a Cottage in a football ground? A little research answers all -€” Craven Cottage was originally a hunting lodge built in 1780 by William Craven, the sixth Baron Craven, when the surrounding area was forest. Destroyed by fire in 1888, the original thatch-roofed cottage was rebuilt to the structure we see today and dates from 1903.

Whatever happens to Craven Cottage in terms of redevelopment, the Cottage and Stevenage Road Stand will last the tests of time, both being listed buildings in their own right. The Stevenage Road Stand is a fine example of an Archibald Leitch design, which pre-all seater status encompassed a lower paddock, upper seating and a fine gable (all clubs should have one). The old Putney End and Hammersmith End, previously uncovered and covered terracing respectively, have had semi-permanent stands built over which bring a far more modern feel to the stadium which somehow doesn't detract from the historic nature of the place. A remarkable achievement if you ask me.