It took 31 tries but this afternoon Fulham Football Club achieved something that they had never before, they beat Liverpool Football Club at the Reds home ground, known as Anfield, in Liverpool, Merseyside, England. With a 1-0 victory on the afternoon Fulham scored their first ever win at the historic Anfield ground which opened in 1884. This win also ended a long losing streak in the city of the Liverpool for the Fulham Cottagers as they had gone the last 48 league matches winless in the northwest England city (against both Liverpool FC and Everton FC who now play across city at Goodison Park in Walton, Liverpool).
Fulham FC is a football club from Southwest London who currently play in England’s highest division, The Barclays Premier League. This is the 11th consecutive season that Fulham has been competing in the Premier League, so they are relatively new to the party in comparison to the seven clubs who have been competing in the league since its inception in 1992 (Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, Aston Villa, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham Hotspur). And while the Cottagers have not experienced as much success as they would like in the BPL, just competing in that division and staying of relegation is an accomplishment. And as evidenced by today, the team still has new achievements to conquer before they are a top-of-the-table title contender.
A huge reason for the recent successes for Fulham is midfielder, #23 Clint Dempsey, from the United States. Dempsey, a native of Nacogdoches, Texas, joined Fulham in 2007 after appearing in 71 games for the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer, and since signing on with the Cottagers has been an integral member of the squad. Last season Dempsey was the club’s leading scorer with 13 league goals and was named the club’s player of the season for 2010-2011. This year he will likely receive the same honor, as he has already scored 16 goals with two matches left remaining on the season. Dempsey is the club’s best player not only because he scores and creates goals (he has six assists on the BPL season) but because of the energy, enthusiasm, toughness, and the incredible ability to just flat out makes and make good things happen. Even today you could see the impact Dempsey has on many games despite not always getting on the score sheet, as the American created the opportunity that led to Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel defecting the ball past his goalkeeper and into the net.
There are reports coming out of London that Everton is highly pursuing the opportunity to acquire Dempsey from Fulham over the summer signing period at the conclusion of this season. If Fulham decides to transfer him to another team in England it would be a huge mistake for the club and would be a giant step backwards for the team who needs as many playmakers as they can get. Joining Everton would be an intriguing possibility for Dempsey, as the Blues currently have another USA international superstar in goalkeeper Tim Howard on their roster. Everton is also where one of Dempsey’s USA midfielder teammates has some experience, as Landon Donovan has played 17 games on loan for the Blues over the course of two seasons (2010 and 2012).
Today is not a day to worry about the future for fans of Fulham though. This afternoon they finally beat Liverpool on a field that they had never been able to pull that feat off, so tonight they celebrate in Southwest London. Things will shake out and if it at all possible Fulham will do their best to hold on to Dempsey, and at the very worst they still have two games with him this season. As he has 49 career goals in the Barclays Premier League he will likely reach the milestone of 50 over the upcoming weekend back home at Craven Cottage against Sunderland on Sunday, and if not then on the road against Tottenham Hotspur the following week. While Fulham fans wish their team was higher than 9th on the Barclays Premier League table, tonight the beer should taste just a little bit better. One less monkey on their back.