I now pass on to clubs of the same calibre as Fulham who were either local or in the near neighbourhood.
Perhaps the strongest and keenest opponents were the Stanley F.C., with headquarters at the “Dukes Head” Parsons Green. This club played on the Putney Lower Common and for a time on the Captain James field, Halford Road. Until they were disbanded about 1896 they were a perpetual thorn in the side of the Fulham Club in all their competitions. The last secretary of the club was genial “Dolly” Webb, who today still trundles “a pretty wood” on the local bowling greens.
It was the Stanley Club who gave Fulham F.C. their heaviest defeat by beating them eight goals to nil at Craven Cottage. After Stanley were disbanded, several of their players joined Fulham, notably Wally Read, Albert Maile and Johnny Pask, who did yeoman service for their new club.
The Gas Light and Coke Co. ran a team under the name of Imperial F.C., their home being adjacent to the gas works in Imperial Road. This club ran for some years and were keen opponents of Fulham until they became defunct about 1900. Like Stanley F.C. the Imperial supplied a few good men to strengthen the Fulham Club, and those who were perhaps outstanding were Joe Chell, Sammy Aylott and Jimmy Taylor.
Old St. Mark’s College, Chelsea, were perhaps the strongest club in Fulham before Fulham F.C. became prominent, This club played on the ground of old Beaufort House, North End Road.
The Colton F.C. mentioned previously, had a very short existence. The Salisbury F.C. another club of brief duration, had as their strongest patron that well known local character, Mr Jimmy Squires, the proprietor of the “Salisbury” and the “Red Lion” hotels.
Jimmy Squires will be remembered by many old Fulham supporters as the gentleman who decked out himself and all that was his in Cambridge blue on the occasions of the ‘Varsity Boat Race.
In the nearby districts were the teams of St. Mark’s, St. John’s and St. Mary’s Colleges; members being resident students. Each of these college teams gave excellent assistance to the Fulham Club, especially St. Mary’s, whose members came chiefly from the Midlands or North of England. One who stood out as a great player was Dick Curry, a magnificent back; the same may be said of H. Gamble of St. Mark’s who was a stalwart figure in the Fulham side when they played on Ranelagh Gardens (Putney Bridge) site.
The last of these senior clubs to be mentioned is the Hammersmith Athletic F.C.who, under the astute guidance of Fred Wastey, became a team to demand respect from the rest of the local senior sides.
There were clubs of well-known business houses who played some great games against Fulham. William Whiteley, Ltd., ran a strong team called Kildare F.C.; John Barker, Ltd., had a good side named Argyle F.C.; Harvey Nichols and Co., had a club called the Prairie Rangers, which was of Fulham calibre: Hitchcock Williams and Co., ran the Condor F.C. and there were also business house sides. Of the less well-known clubs, and of junior strength, the most prominent was the Old Sherbrookians F.C. formed of past scolars and masters of Sherbrooke Road School. They had a ground at Wimbledon Park, afterwards moving to Fielders meadow, adjoining Craven Cottage. This club was, in its day, one of the finest junior clubs in London, and when eventually it disbanded through lack of finance, nearly all its players joined Fulham, and forced their way into the first team.
H.E. Jackson, the first secretary of the present Fulham F.C., Ltd and E. Payne, the player who caused the trouble with the Spurs, were amongst the number.
Messrs. Stansfeld and Co., Swan Brewery, Fulham Road, also had a strong medium team under the name of Swan Brewery F.C., otherwise known as “The Bungs.” Their ground was behind the brewery where Fulham Court now stands, and the team was under the captaincy of one of the brothers Shrimpton. It has been published that Fulham F.C. used the brewery ground, but this is not correct. At no period of their career did they do so.
Although unknown to the public, the Fulham Club, after being at Craven Cottage for a short while, were offered the Stamford Bridge ground before the formation of the Chelsea Club.
Just prior to reaching a decision to take the ground a controversy arose with the party concerned and the matter was cried off by the Fulham representatives.