I'm originally from Rochester, NY, and I've lived in London (Hoxton Sq) & Barcelona and these days I call Brooklyn home. As a kid I played soccer in one of the ubiquitous youth leagues here in the states, and because I was tall and could really hoof it they stuck me between the posts. I must admit that throughout school my main passion was lacrosse, and I eventually gave that up along with soccer when I had the chance to play junior olympic volleyball year-round.
The short answer to why I support Fulham, along with a number of other dubious choices I've made in my life: "because of a girl."
I started watching European football in college - would come home from class in the afternoon and would find UEFA matches on one of the cable sports channels. I remember being enthralled by the fluidity, the passion, and even John Motson. I was intrigued by the notion that teams like Dynamo Kiev, Galatasaray, Benfica and Ajax came from far away places to compete for trophies and glory, but at the time I didn't really understand the pecking order of continental football or owe any allegiance to a club.
As I was finishing up my degrees in '99-00, I started work at an investment firm. There was a particularly fetching English woman who worked there, 3-4 years older than I, equipped with deep chestnut eyes and sublime accent which did nothing but encourage the flirtatious tension between us. And she was from Fulham.
"Fulham?" I asked. "Never heard of them, but I really enjoy watching European matches on tv."
"We're not very good" she replied, "certainly not good enough to be on the tele. But it's in my blood and recently we've done better..."
I'm not sure if it was the chance to cheer on a not-so-good team (besides the Red Sox, I support the Buffalo teams here in the US and they're pretty awful), if I got caught up in the promotion to the top flight that spring, or if it was simply her smile that did me in. But I had certainly found a European club to call my own.
She moved on to another company before the 00/01 season started and before I was aware how much the team would grow on me, so we never really had a chance to become Fulham mates.. or any type of mate for that matter. I do know how to reach her these days, and will admit to having thoughts of ringing her up and telling her about my trips to the Cottage and to Rome and babbling Fulham nonsense in her ear and letting her know I still follow the team simply because she mentioned it to me one day so many years ago. But as soon as I do I'm confronted with thoughts of a creepy/awkward conversation during which I would have to expose the lasting impression she made on me as a younger man, and I instead resign myself to enjoying all of my wonderful Fulham memories - just the way they are.