Jimmy Bullard

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Posted by motoman 04/04/2009 @ 09:16

Tags : jimmy bullard, soccer players, soccer, sports

News headlines
Kelvin Etuhu Opts To Represent Nigeria Like Brother Dickson - Goal.com
Dickson, 26, has witnessed a break-through season this campaign, as he replaced out-bound midfielder Jimmy Bullard in Roy Hodgson's plans, and has struck a formidable midfield partnership with former Liverpool player Danny Murphy....
Were Fulham The Best Of The Rest? - Goal.com
In midfield, captain Danny Murphy and Jimmy Bullard formed an excellent partnership in the first half of the season. Bullard's departure to Hull in January appeared to have left a big gap but Dickson Etuhu stepped up and did a good job....
Bullard 'chuckled' at Brown's half-time team talk - Setanta Sports
by Shaun Payne , 19 May 2009 Hull City's Jimmy Bullard has admitted he “had a chuckle” when Tigers manager Phil Brown made his infamous half-time team talk on the pitch at Eastlands this season. Brown's men were 4-0 down in their league game to...
Fulham - A Lament for Bullard? - Vitalfootball
Back in January a certain Jimmy Bullard joined 'The Tigers` amidst a fanfare of glory. Our Jimmy was seen as another piece in a jigsaw that was supposed to cement Hull`s place in the top flight, the fee paid surprised many people as did the departure...
Doomtown rats - The Sun
STEWART DOWNING — will be gone when he regains fitness, whatever happens. TUNCAY — won't care a jot about getting club back up. GEOVANNI — bust-ups show where his head is at. JIMMY BULLARD — once fit will bang on about his World Cup dream and move back...
Hull City 0 - 1 Manchester United - ESPN
"With both games being 1-0 I was looking at Ian Ashbee and Jimmy Bullard behind the dug-out, both with telephones. "Did we have to score a goal or could we afford to lose 1-0? That was a negative vibe I'm not used to - but it was enough....
Boot-camp Brown: Never mind the suntan, Hull boss needs his thick skin - Daily Mail
While Manucho arrived from Manchester United on loan, Jimmy Bullard was signed for a club record fee of £5million and what are said to be wages of around £50000 a week. Bullard appeared to be just the player the club needed. Someone who had performed...
The six easy steps towards Premier League relegation - guardian.co.uk
... too numerous to mention – think Fabricio Coloccini at Newcastle, Afonso Alves at Middlesbrough and David Healy at Sunderland – but Hull were particularly badly stung by the £5m, £50000-a-week January acquisition of Jimmy Bullard from Fulham....

Jimmy Bullard

Jimmy Bullard Fulham cropped.jpg

James Richard "Jimmy" Bullard (born 23 October 1978) is an English footballer who plays for Hull City as a midfielder.

James Bullard was born in Newham, East London and started his career in non-league football with amateur club Corinthian before moving to Gravesend & Northfleet before being signed by the club he supported as a boy, West Ham United for £30,000 in 1999. He did not manage to break into the team, however, and was given a free transfer at the end of the 2000-01 season. After a three-week trial, he then signed for Peterborough, where he first made a name for himself, scoring 11 goals in 62 league starts for Barry Fry's team. This earned him a move to Wigan Athletic for £275,000 in January 2003.

Bullard quickly established himself in the Wigan first team and was named in the PFA Division Two Team of the Year for 2002–03. He helped Wigan secure promotion to the Premier League in 2004–05 and an appearance in the 2006 League Cup Final, which they lost to Manchester United.

On 11 February 2006, Bullard was honoured by Sky's morning football show Soccer AM for running the length of the pitch in an attempt to score when the floodlights went out during Wigan's League Cup semi-final home leg against Arsenal and leapfrogging a pile of players in a goal mouth scramble. They decided to re-name the studio doors and they are now known as Jimmy Bullard's Back Door.

On 28 April 2006, it was announced that Bullard would sign for Fulham at the end of the 2005–06 season after a £2,500,000 offer from the London club triggered a release clause in his contract.

Bullard's Fulham debut came as the team lost 5–1 to Manchester United on 20 August 2006. His first goal for Fulham came against Bolton Wanderers on 26 August, a last-minute penalty to level the scores at 1-1. Three days later, after he scored a 28-yard (26 m) curling free kick against Sheffield United in a 1–0 win, Fulham boss Chris Coleman hailed Bullard as "the best £2million we ever spent".

On 9 September 2006, Bullard dislocated his kneecap in a match against Newcastle United. This injury was thought to keep him out for six to eight weeks. However three days later it was revealed that Bullard would in fact be out for up to nine months with cruciate knee ligament damage. Fulham's new manager Lawrie Sanchez announced that the midfielder was aiming to return around October 2007. However, he did not make a first-team appearance until 12 January 2008, coming off the bench to play against West Ham United. Bullard then started in a 2-1 win against Aston Villa on 3 February, setting up the equaliser then scoring the winning goal from a 25-yard (23 m) free kick and winning the man of the match award. He scored an identical free kick weeks later, to rescue a point against Blackburn Rovers and keep Fulham's hope of Premier League survival alive. After missing a large part of the season due to injury, his return to the team sparked Fulham in to a run of form which saw them move out of the bottom three with one game remaining, after a 2-0 victory over Birmingham City. With Fulham needing to win away at Portsmouth on the last day of the 2007-08 season to avoid relegation, it was Danny Murphy's headed goal from Bullard's free kick that gave Fulham the victory, ensuring their Premier League survival.

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson said "He's been seeking the type of contract we couldn't give him. I congratulate Hull and Jimmy on getting the contract he wanted. It wasn't just wage demands prompting Jimmy to go, but the length of contract too". Bullard signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Hull.

Bullard made his Hull City debut as a substitute in their 28 January 2009 match against West Ham, but picked up a knee injury during the game. The injury is to the same knee that Bullard dislocated whilst at Fulham, but was not initially thought to be related to the prior damage. However, the injury was sufficiently serious to necessitate Bullard flying back to the same surgeon, Richard Steadman, in the US for further knee surgery. On 19 February 2009 it was declared that he will be out for the rest of the season after the cruciate ligament surgery. It has been rumoured that Bullard will be out for up to 16 months but Paul Duffen, Hull City chairman, said he will only be out for up to 6 months.

Although English by birth, Bullard has a German grandmother and is therefore eligible for the German national team. In the run-up to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, it was reported that Bullard was contemplating an international call-up from the Nationalmannschaft, having made his interest known to the national coach Jürgen Klinsmann. He was called into the England squad in August 2008 for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia in September, but did not feature in either match.

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Soccer AM

Image:Soccer AM.png

Soccer AM is a British Saturday-morning football show presented by Helen Chamberlain and Max Rushden. It has been broadcast on Sky Sports 1 each Saturday morning of the football season since 1995 between 0900 and 1200 and recently broadcast its 500th episode. It is also simulcast on Sky1, since the spring of 2007. It is also shown on Sky's Sky Anytime service in a cut down version of around 50 minutes. This is available to view from the Monday after the show broadcasts until Saturday.

Tim Lovejoy transformed the show from a serious football programme to the current popular format when he took over as producer and presenter in 1996 and stayed on screen until Sky announced on 5 June 2007 that he had quit the show after eleven series as co-host. Sky announced Tim's replacement on 22 June 2007 as Andy Goldstein. However, Goldstein lasted just one season as co-host and it was announced on 10 June 2008 that Max Rushden had been chosen as Goldstein's replacement.

The success of Soccer AM has come from an eclectic mix of football, comedy and entertainment every week, and has seen its influence spread well beyond the world of football. Parts of the show have remained since the beginning, whilst new items have been introduced each season. In that respect, it is almost the same every week, the difference being new football footage and comedy skits. Every week sees a new group of celebrity guests, generally featuring at least one footballer who is free on the Saturday, and a mix of musicians, TV personalities and other sportsmen. The show is well known for promoting stereotypes of various ethnic groups and nationalities, and often includes skits of 'typical' Northern Englishmen, Americans, Scotsmen and Frenchmen.

In 2008 current theme music used on the show includes The Maybes? track called 'Boys'.

In 2002, Soccer AM's All-Sports Show was launched for Friday nights, an hour-long show catering for a broader range of sports. Lovejoy and Chamberlain hosted the show initially until 2004 when Andy Goldstein replaced Lovejoy - just as he did three years later on Soccer AM itself.

The close of the 2005-06 season marked the completion of ten seasons of Soccer AM, and also heralded the beginning of its own spin-off - Cricket AM.

The "Fans of the Week" feature has been a mainstay - where eight fans of a British football club come in as studio guests every week, seated in the "Luther Blisset Stand". They are featured in various aspects of the show, culminating in a team footballing challenge at the end of the programme.

Helen Chamberlain also interviews the fans, asks them to sing a song and asks a few other questions.

Should one of the studio guests include a retired footballer, it is customary for them to take a penalty in the car park. A comedy character plays the role as goalkeeper, such as "Oliver Kahn't" (a parody of Bayern Munich goalkeeper Oliver Kahn) and "Gianluigi Bouffant" (a parody on Juventus 'keeper Gianluigi Buffon played by John Dyson until 2005/06). The original keeper was former Brookside actor Brian Regan, who also featured in the show. Crew member, Robbie Knox, who keeps for his local Sunday league side "Dynamo Ealing" took over in 2006/07 and the current goalkeeper is "Baby Elvis", another crew member.

Referees are also parodied in this feature. "Referee Gallagher" was a "merger" of former Premiership-referee Dermot Gallagher and Oasis front man Liam Gallagher who welcomed viewers "outside to the sunshiiiinnnnneeee".

The Soccer AM Soccerette has been a feature of the show for several years, and is a woman - generally young and attractive - modelling the female version a Soccer AM T-shirt, which is re-designed each season and acts as a competition prize. Viewers can win the T-shirt by guessing the number of goals scored by the Fans of the Week in the Hollywood Game. The Soccerette is introduced by the male presenter and is asked a series of questions that almost inevitably lead into pre-prepared gags and innuendo.

The Soccerette is asked about her marital status which results in rampant cheers if "single", and boos if the Soccerette "has a boyfriend" or "married" (although the latter is fairly rare), and a crew member will run on without a shirt and react. Former host Lovejoy used to declare that the Soccerette's relationship will "never last", regardless of how long they had been together.

The Soccerette is asked to play 'Take it to the Max' with a choice of one of the Fans of the Week.

A nutmeg is the term applied when a player plays the ball between his opponent's legs and regains control of the ball after going round him. Another ever-present feature of the show, the weekly edition of "The Nutmeg Files" shows a clip from the previous week's football matches of a player being nutmegged, while the "nutmegger" is superimposed shouting "NUTS!", "¡Caňo!", "Tunnel" (Italy) and "Petit Pont" (France), depending on which country the "nutmegger" is from). This feature is (very loosely) based on The Rockford Files.

Big Tackle is a feature that shows a hard, but well-timed tackle from the previous week, but there are no fouls shown. The clip of the tackle is played with soothing music, with a smooth French accent talking over it. The feature begins with the French person saying 'Big Tackle. Sponsored by Claude Makelele. Featuring... (the name of the 'tackler').' When the tackle happens, a smooth 'Oooh la laaaaaaaa!' is said by the French person.

Third Eye has been a feature of the show from its outset, and involves viewers sending in often-comical mishaps from the television (generally football matches) that may well have been missed by the majority of the viewing audience. These typically involve people falling over or being caught doing something stupid. A classic was a Mancunian woman trying to take pictures on her camera, realising half an hour later that the lens cap was on, or a Spurs ball-boy calmly heading the ball back into play whilst slouched on his seat (the boy later appeared as a 'Stranger On The Sofa'), or one where, during a match, Liverpool's John Arne Riise fell victim to the schoolboy empty chewing gum prank whilst sitting on the subs bench. Jimmy Bullard has also made a few choice appearances in this feature, especially his goal mouth leapfrog incident.

I love football is a new feature added to the show this season. Each week either a current or ex footballer will answer a series of questions related to football, such as "i love football fans because", My favourite piece of memorabillia was", "my footballing hero was". The list of names that have taken part in this so far this season include Wayne Rooney, Pele, David Bentley, Nemanja Vidic, Gary McAllister, Ian Holloway, Emmanuel Eboue and Joleon Lescott. The song played in the background of this feature is by Hard-Fi and is called Watch Me Fall Apart.

The current record is held jointly by Northampton Town and Hereford United who both hit the crossbar 3 times, leading to Tim Lovejoy declaring Northampton as "the best team in the world".

Soccer AM aim to, at some point, visit every team in the league, although this is likely to prove very difficult as clubs such as Manchester United are unwilling to allow players onto shows such as these. However, other clubs like Chelsea have appeared in the past (Arsenal FC appeared on a French show that had copied the challenge) Players who appear as guests on "The Orange Sofa" are always shown their attempt at the challenge if it is one of the many on the database.

The first manager to actually hit the bar is former Huddersfield Town Manager Andy Ritchie.

Rocket proceeds to thrust the ball into the midrift of the winner, while the team-mates usually mob and even sometimes perform some prank.

A famous footballer is asked to name his 3 favourite goals throughout his career so far, and the choices are played (in reverse order) at various stages throughout the show. Notable appearances have included Wayne Rooney, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs. Ruud van Nistelrooy in this section was only asked to pick his top three favourite goals for Manchester United. The song used during the older version of 'My Favourite Goal' is "Strange and Beautiful (I'll Put a Spell on You) " by Aqualung.

Introduced during the 2004/05 season, "the most important goals competition in football" as Soccer AM like to put it, focuses on the goalscoring form of Chelsea and England captain John Terry and his older brother, Paul, currently playing for Leyton Orient. The winner would be the player who scored the most in a season.

This features the two Ferdinand brothers, Rio (Manchester United, Defender) and Anton (Sunderland, Defender) going head to head to see who can score the most goals in a premier league season. Only league goals count and whoever scores the most in the season will win the title of Ferdinand Vs Ferdinand, currently Rio has won all three seasons.

Soccer AM's own goalscoring competition, the "Golden Shoe" is the show's light tug on the Golden Boot award given to the top scorer in a league or competition. This competition is based on a goals-to-game ratio. Only league goals count and a player has to have played in at least half of their team's league games to be in with a chance of winning the shoe. The Golden Shoe is open to every player in the FA Premier League and the Football League.

The "Golden Espadrille" is the European equivalent to the Golden Shoe. The same rules apply, and the only real difference is that it is open to the English FA Premier League, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A players.

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo is the new current holder of the "Golden Shoe", and the new holder of the Golden Espadrille.

The 100 Greatest Goals from the Games that Nobody Remembers except our Panel of Talking Heads was introduced in 2006/7 as a sarcastic take off of the many "100 best..." countdown shows on TV. A piece of unremarkable football action is used, typically a scrappy goal from a lower division game in the 1990s, which is analysed in the same way as these shows tend to do, with the action interspersed with different experts views of it. Jamie Redknapp, Chris Kamara, Jeff Stelling and Matt Le Tissier are a few of the people who enthusiastically talk about the goal as if it were the most amazing goal ever scored.

After seeing the on-pitch antics of at the time Brighton & Hove Albion player Bas Savage, namely his moonwalk celebrations after scoring a goal, a feature called "I Want to Be Like Bas" was introduced in the 2006/7 season. If Savage scores in a game previous to the showing of Soccer AM, his goal and celebration is shown to the music of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal", as the video also features moonwalking.

In this part of the show former footballer and current Sky Sports pundit Chris Kamara goes head to head with Mystic Ed, a horse that Soccer AM insist is magic and can predict the scores. Each week, Kammy and Mystic Ed must predict the score of a live game, usually from the Premier League.

One of the strengths of Soccer AM is its talented crew members. Throughout the show's history, its various producers and researchers have contributed to comedy skits, playing various characters. The level of talent varies, but they are all excellent sports and likeable performers. The show's humour is generally of the corny, old-fashioned variety, but no less hilarious for that.

Current, and former performing crew members include "Fenners" (John Fendley), "Sheephead" (Joe Worsley), "Tubes" (Peter Dale), "Rocket" (James Long), Neil (Smythe), Robbie Knox (TRAMP! is sung every time he is mentioned to the tune of The Champ by The Mohawks), Jon Dyson, Chris Nutbeam and newest member Steve Sutcliffe.

Crew member "Tubes" (Peter Dale) has had a regular feature on the show in recent seasons, where he has "one question and one question only" to one of the studio guests. Max asks "Who is your question for this week", and the answer results in a dimming of the studio lights and a spotlight on the questionee. After the question has been asked Tubes goes to shake the questionees hand thanking them as he does. Tubes' popularity has grown significantly - a public vote saw him being voted more popular than (crew member) Rocket - in part due to his woeful (but comic) rapping ability which he demonstrates every week before actually posing a question, his ability to keep a "straight" face is also one of his main attributes. Due to his weekly binge drinking exploits, Tim Lovejoy called for pub landlords across the country to ban Tubes from their establishments for his own good. Tubes' rapping has also been used in a parody of iTunes, where at the end instead of saying "iTunes", it says "iTubes". Some Of Tubes' Catchphrases include "Sickening" "Sick" and "Sickness".

A VHS video from 2000 was recently broadcast showing Tubes, dressed as a sailor, dancing on stage to the YMCA song.

Each year, the Soccer AM Dance-Off is held which is a dancing competition usually involving all crew members. The crew have 15 seconds each to dance before the next contestant goes on, and each dance usually receives good natured laughing and booing from the audience.

Soccer AM's own little sitcom stars Barry Proudfoot (actually Fenners) as Barry, Pugsy as Pugsy, and Vikki as Vikki The Barmaid. Set at The Wheatsheaf pub in Perivale, Barry dresses in green seventies-style tracksuits and aviator sunglasses, and is known for his hatred of Northerners, and catchphrases "Oooh that's a right touch!" and "He's taking some right liberties". Some famous faces have appeared on this section of the show as well, including Tim, actor Tamer Hassan, West Ham fan Perry Fenwick (Billy Mitchell from EastEnders) and the band, The Rifles. "Two-Hits" and "Bob the Glare" have also appeared on a few occasions as "bouncers" and in one episode brought out their own DVD.

Barry also appeared in a Patrick McGuinness stand up. McGuiness asked Barry to come on stage and tell a few jokes to his audience, composed mostly of "Northerners". Instead of telling "tasteful" jokes to the audience, Barry started telling jokes that would be offensive to "Northerners" and got booed off-stage.

Recently Barry has been on a Soccer AM edition of Partner Swap, (take of Wife Swap), where he was partnered up with Theresa O'Sullivan. After constantly making jokes about Teresa being Mother Theresa, Theresa confronted him, pleading him that there be no more of those jokes. Having been asked this, Barry said there would be none - (nun). That is a right touch.

A cameraman and a man with a microphone went round asking pretend cockneys, who were actually acted by crew members about the TV soap EastEnders. At the end they would say "We larve it, larve it, larve it, larve it, larve it." It was eventually released before the World Cup 2006 as a song by the Soccer AM crew and rap artist MC Neat, with all proceeds going to Barnardo's Children's Charity. Obviously, the song was edited as it focused on the England football team, rather than EastEnders.

The channel is presented by Paul Gardner (Fenners) and Brian Kildare (Sheephead). The two presenters also ask every guest whether they have a 'genuine Coventry accent' and not a "Cod Birmingham" accent.

When a guest(s) or someone they talk to on the phone has written a book, Tim Lovejoy used announce, "I can't read very well, and neither can Helen or any of the crew, but Neil's a good reader, so we had him reconstruct the best bits", which Neil duly did, often exaggerating for comic effect. So far he has reconstructed scenes from the books written by footballer John Hartson, millionaire businessman and TV personality Duncan Bannatyne and Natalie Appleton and Nicole Appleton, ex-Liverpool and Real Madrid star Steve McManaman and horse racing jockey Frankie Dettori to hilarious consequences.

A new addition to the show, introduced in the start of the 10th season, is the Soccer AM Webcam. Refreshing every 5 seconds, it gave viewers the opportunity to view a live feed from the Soccer AM Office. Due to popular demand, it was later upgraded to refreshing every 3 seconds. The webcam soon gained its own feature on the show - a soap picking out the best behind-the-scenes moments from the office, and concluding with a cliffhanger of a will he-won't he. The webcam broke in between seasons in the summer of 2006, but at the start of the following season the team announced that a new webcam had been installed with improved pictures as well as the ability for the team to zoom in on certain aspects of the office.

The part of the show, shown every week, where a member of the fans in the "Luther Blisset" stand do bodybuilding poses, and clips are sent in and shown of the public "showing them the whole thing" to the background music of Oxygene 4 by Jean Michel Jarre.

The sketch apes certain well-known scenes from the 1970s bodybuilding documentary film Pumping Iron in which Arnold Schwarzenegger taunts Lou Ferrigno and mentors other gym users in poses.

Another memorable aspect to the show was in 2000 when Tim started to tell the same gag every week. The gag revolved around steak and kidney pies, and the gag would normally see Tim and Helen discuss what they'd eaten. Invariably, Tim would announce that he'd had a "steak and kidley" pie, to which Helen enquired: "Don't you mean steak and kidney?" Tim would then reply "That's what I said did'll I". This running gag ran and ran, to the point where even fanzone commentators performed the gag. Following on from one such occurrence, Tim pleaded with Martin Tyler and Andy Gray to do the gag during a live game.

Another recurring gag is when someone with the surname "O'Leary" or "Riley" is involved. For example, Helen once announced that Dermot O'Leary was on the current show and would be talking about his role as Big Brother's Big Mouth presenter. Tim then asks "Oh really?", to which Helen reluctantly replies "... no, O'Leary". This is clearly a pre-determined gag judging by Tim's reaction which gains much laughter when done.

One of the most popular mobile phone clips, sent in by Soccer AM viewers, is Crazy Dave. Crazy Dave is a young tractor driver who chooses to over take his Dad, driving another tractor, on a narrow strip of road - with hilarious consequences. He has many phrases which have achieved cult status amongst Soccer AM fans such as "but yeah, YEAH, I do fancy it, big time!" and "He's gonna have my f***ing pants down!". His antics have been parodied by many people which have also been shown on the mobile phone clip section of the show.One of the most notorious MMS clips was David Bentley kicking a ball from a balcony office and getting it into a skip.

For the past few seasons, Soccer AM has had the privilege of being able to draw fixtures for each round of the Football League Trophy (until recently known as the LDV Vans Trophy, it is now called the Johnstone's Paint Trophy).

The fans of the week are usually from a club that is in the draw, and if Tim draws that team he will proceed to dive into the fans.

As of today, the cards have only been dropped on the floor once, for which Tim was responsible. Thankfully, this happened before any matches were drawn properly.

Strangely, before the quarter final draw, Peterborough United fans were asked who they would least like to draw, to which they replied Bristol Rovers. The resulting draw then gave them an away game against... Bristol Rovers, which made the Peterborough fans boo Tim and Helen for their poor fixture making skills.

In November 2004, Soccer AM released a DVD, which became a success, mostly down to being the ideal Christmas gift for men. Since this date, more DVDs have been released. The 2005 edition self titled, Soccer AM II included the 10 greatest players of the last decade, which included David Beckham, Ronaldinho and Alan Shearer. In June 2006, Soccer AM went musical by releasing a CD with music they use on the show with such bands as Hard-Fi, The Automatic and The Ordinary Boys. Later that year another DVD was released titled, Soccer AM III- the greatest matches of all time including the 1982 World Cup Game, 1979-1981 and 2006 F.A Cup Finals. Also included is some extras. Current music in 2008 includes Liverpool five piece The Maybes? track 'Boys'.

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Fulham F.C. season 2008–09

The 2008–09 season is Fulham's 111th professional season and their 8th consecutive season in the top flight of English football, the Premier League, since their return in 2001. They are managed by Roy Hodgson in his first full season as Fulham manager. They are playing in the Premier League by virtue of staying up on goal difference from Reading on the last day of the previous campaign and will be hoping to improve on their placing of seventeenth.

Roy Hodgson added to the team in the summer with signings including goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from Middlesbrough and strikers Bobby Zamora from West Ham United and Andrew Johnson who arrived from Everton for a club record £10.5million. Club captain Brian McBride decided to return to United States, where he eventually signed with Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire. Olivier Dacourt joined Fulham during the winter transfer window.

Fulham also put out teams in away matches against Walton Casuals (won 3–1), Staines Town (lost 2–0), Banstead (won 3–0), Carshalton (won 2–0), Crystal Palace (drew 0–0) and Kingstonian (won 8–0). These matches are not included as part of the official pre-season match schedule and the club fielded second-string sides in each game.

Fulham started the season playing away at the KC Stadium against newly-promoted Hull City. Seol Ki-Hyeon gave Fulham the lead in the 8th minute. Their lead lasted less than 15 minutes because Geovanni equalised in the 22nd minute. Caleb Folan completed the Hull turn-around 10 minutes from the end of normal time, capping a 2-1 victory for the home team. However, the following week the team gained their first victory of the season with a win against much-fancied Arsenal for only the second time in 43 years. The only goal of the game came from Brede Hangeland midway through the first half who scored directly from a Jimmy Bullard cross, from a couple of yards. A slightly off-colour Arsenal played their usual passing game but could not break Fulham down.

The team did not have another Premier League game to play until 13 September due to Manchester United's participation in the UEFA Super Cup, as well as the break from league football at the beginning of September for international World Cup qualifying matches.

Updated to games played on 21 March 2009 Source: premierleague.com Rules for classification: 1st points; 2nd goal difference; 3rd goals scored. P = Position; Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points; (C) = Champion; (R) = Relegated; (P) = Promoted; (Q) = Qualified to respective tournament; (O) = Play-off winner.

Last updated: 21 March. Source: Premier League Matches Notes: Premier League fixture not listed due to copyright. Results will be shown.. Ground: A = Away; H = Home. Result: D = Draw; L = Lose; W = Win; P = Postponed.

The club entered the FA Cup in the third round, with an away match against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on 3 January 2009. Fulham took the lead through Andrew Johnson from a Danny Murphy through ball in the 12th minute but were pegged back by a 25-yard goal from Tommy Spurr after 21 minutes. The game remained 1-1 until the 88th minute, when Johnson scored his second of the game which turned out to be the winner.

Fulham next faced one of only two non-league sides left in the competition, Kettering Town. After a positive opening from the underdogs Kettering, Fulham took the lead in the 12th minute, Simon Davies scoring a volley from 15 yards from a Clint Dempsey cross. But the lead only lasted until the 36th minute as the lively Craig Westcarr scored a deflected freekick. Kettering continued to press after the break and with the additions of Danny Murphy and Bobby Zamora, they regained the lead in the 77th minute with Murphy scoring the goal. However Kettering were not finished and 9 minutes later, Westcarr scored a penalty after a trip from Brede Hangeland. With Kettering planning a trip to London, Andy Johnson and Zamora scored two late goals to seal the tie.

In the fith round, Fulham were drawn away again to Championship side Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium. Roy Hodgson made three changes from Fulham's last Premier League match against Wigan, with Dempsey and Pantsil rested after playing abroad in midweek for their countries. to be replaced by Gera and Stoor while Zamora also dropped to the bench in favour of Nevland. Swansea created some clear-cut opportunities in the early stages, with Mark Gower, Alan Tate and Lloyd Dyer testing Mark Schwarzer. Fulham, however, found the breakthrough a minute before half-time with a slice of luck as Paul Konchesky's corner was deflected in off Swansea defender Garry Monk. Swansea continued to dominate and equalised in the 52nd minute when Jason Scotland scored, evading a challenge before firing the ball low past Schwarzer. With both sides playing attractive passing football the sides could not be separated.

Fulham and Swansea both went into the hat for the quarter-finals and were given the prospect of a tie with defending Premier League and Champions League champions Manchester United. They first had to get through the fifth round replay, which took place on 24 February 2009 at Craven Cottage. It was Fulham's second game in three days but Roy Hodgson put out a strong side with the only changes being Nevland replacing Johnson up front and Dacourt making his first start for the club in place of Danny Murphy. Jason Scotland scored just after half-time following an even first half, knocking the ball in from 15 yards. However, Fulham did not give up, Zamora coming close on several occasions before they equalised through Dempsey in the 67th minute. Four minutes later they turned the game around when Zamora scored his second goal in as many games. The home side held on to secure victory.

Fulham entered the Football League Cup at the second round stage after receiving the bye awarded to Premier League clubs in the first round. They faced a Leicester City side finding their feet in League One after relegation the previous season. Fulham took the lead in the 31st minute through one of their new signings, the Hungarian international Zoltan Gera but Leicester turned the game around in the early stages of the second half. Veteran Paul Dickov drew them level on 46 minutes and just two minutes later Andy King completed the turnaround. The match remained 2-1 until the 83rd minute when Jimmy Bullard levelled the scores. But this was not the end of the scoring and with the game seemingly heading for Extra-time, Danny Murphy scored the winner for Fulham in the second minute of stoppage time to win the encounter and send Fulham through to the third round.

In the third round, a Fulham side featuring the attacking talents of Johnson, Gera and Dempsey lost 1–0 to a Burnley side who had been performing well and sitting in the play-off positions in the Football League Championship. With the match seemingly heading for extra-time, Jay Rodriguez won the match in the 88th minute. He collected a Chris Eagles through ball just inside the area and then slotted the ball past Pascal Zuberbuhler. Fulham were therefore knocked out of the competition.

Elliot Omozusi received Jimmy Bullard's squad number, #21, when Bullard left the club. Giles Barnes was #7 while Seol Ki-Hyeon was out on loan.

Statistics correct as of Premier League match against Manchester United, played 21 March 2009.

Mark Schwarzer arrived on a free transfer from Middlesbrough when his contract expired and fellow goalkeeper David Stockdale came from Darlington. Despite the promotion of West Bromwich Albion to the Premier League, Zoltán Gera rejected "the best contract the club could " and signed with Fulham. The club also signed Andranik Teymourian from Bolton Wanderers on 12 June 2008. Toni Kallio signed a permanent contract after a loan spell during the second half of the previous season. On 15 July 2008, Bobby Zamora and John Pantsil signed on a joint-deal from West Ham. On 30 July 2008, Sweden international Fredrik Stoor signed a deal with the team, moving on from Rosenborg BK. Andrew Johnson was bought from Everton for a fee of around £10.5million, Fulham's second highest transfer fee.

Fulham released ten players, including Carlos Bocanegra, Philippe Christanval and goalkeeper Tony Warner. Paul Stalteri returned to Tottenham after a loan spell and Brian McBride went back home to America to play for the Chicago Fire. Norwich City took two of Fulham's players; Dejan Stefanovic permanently and Elliot Omozusi on loan for the season. Two goalkeepers also left the club, as Ricardo Batista left for Benfica S.L. in Portugal and veteran Kasey Keller was released. David Healy moved to Sunderland, Steven Davis made a permanent switch to Rangers and Moritz Volz and Hameur Bouazza both went out on loan. Alexey Smertin had his contract with Fulham terminated.

The first departures of the winter transfer window happened in December when Lee Cook returned to his former club Queen's Park Rangers on a permanent deal, having spent several months back there on loan. He had not made any first-team appearances for Fulham since signing in the summer 2007 transfer window. Gabriel Zakuani also moved to Peterborough United following a successful loan spell. Midfielder Jimmy Bullard also left the club on 23 January 2009, signing for Hull City in a £5 million deal. He had been a target for Bolton Wanderers but they decided not to pursue their interest in him. Adrian Leijer and Andranik Teymourian moved on loan to Norwich City and Barnsley respectively, with Elliot Omozusi returning from Norwich. Leon Andreasen signed for German side Hannover on loan. TJ Moncur left the club to sign for League Two side Wycombe Wanderers.

Giles Barnes was Fulham's first signing during the winter transfer window, moving on loan from Derby County until the end of the season. He was also joined on transfer deadline day by former Leeds United player Olivier Dacourt, who also signed on loan from Inter Milan. Julian Gray made his loan signing from Coventry City a permanent deal.

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Josip Skoko

Josip Skoko (born 10 December 1975 in Mount Gambier, Australia) is an Australian football (soccer) player of Croatian heritage. He is a midfielder who is currently playing for Hajduk Split.

Skoko's family is of Croatian descent. He previously played for Hajduk Split (1995-Oct 99), Racing Club Genk (1999-2003) and Gençlerbirliği (2003-05). In 2002, Skoko captained the Genk side to the Belgian First Division championship. He was also an integral member of the Gençlerbirliği team, which progressed into the latter stages of the UEFA Cup in 2004.

Skoko joined English Premier League club Wigan on a free transfer at the beginning of the 2005-06 season, although he has failed to maintain a regular place in the first team. On 7 January 2006 Skoko signed for Football League Championship side Stoke City on loan until the end of the 2005–06 season.

In the 2006-07 season, Paul Jewell showed renewed faith in Skoko giving him an extended run in the side. The transfers of Jimmy Bullard and Graham Kavanagh to Fulham and Sunderland, respectively, in the summer of 2006 left a gap in Wigan's midfield and this led to him becoming a mainstay in the Wigan Athletic midfield, partnering Paul Scharner and Denny Landzaat. He signed a new contract deal keeping him at Wigan until 2008. However, at the end of the season it became clear that Skoko had played his last game for the club. The two main reasons were because he did not play enough games for Wigan to trigger a clause in his contract and also the impossibility of receiving a visa for his stay in England due to his international retirement with Australia. It was decided in May 2008 that Skoko's contract would not be renewed and he was subsequently released by Wigan.

Due to various work permit issues when playing in Europe, it took a longer than expected time for Skoko to put pen to paper with a club of his choice. However, on July 21, and after several weeks of speculation, Skoko had finally signed a two year deal with former club Hajduk. The decision, he said, took only minutes for the club and himself to agree terms. Skoko is relishing the chance to return to the side he made more than 100 appearances for between 1995 and 1999, with a club he describes as "a second home".

Skoko was a member of the Australian National football team for ten years, from 1997 to 2007. He made his debut for Australia against Macedonia in 1997 and was a mainstay of the Socceroos side from then on, participating in two World Cup qualifying campaigns. He also represented his country at the 2000 Olympics.

In November 2005, Skoko came on as a substitute in Australia's playoff victory over Uruguay to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He also captained a weakened Australian side against Bahrain in an Asian Cup qualifier in 2006.

On 25 May 2006, Skoko scored a cracking volley from 25m for Australia in a 1-0 friendly victory over Greece in front of 95,103 spectators at the MCG in Melbourne, which he regards as his greatest national team moment. He was selected in the squad for the 2006 World Cup in Germany but did not play in any of Australia's four games.

After being named in the Australian side for a friendly match against Argentina on 11 September 2007, Skoko stated that the game would be his home farewell from international football. Skoko ended his international career 51 minutes into the match in Melbourne when he was replaced by Grosseto midfielder Carl Valeri.

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Wigan Athletic F.C.

Wigan Athletic crest

Wigan Athletic Football Club is a professional football team based in Wigan, Greater Manchester. They compete in the Premier League, the highest division of football in England, in which they have been playing since their promotion from the Football League in 2005. Wigan's current spell in the Premier League is the only top flight run in the club's history.

They play at the JJB Stadium, which they share with the rugby league club Wigan Warriors. It has been their home since 1999; before that they played at Springfield Park for 67 years.

Wigan Athletic are currently the newest club in the Premier League, having only been formed in 1932.

Wigan Athletic F.C. was formed in 1932 following the demise of Wigan Borough the previous year. Wigan Athletic was the fifth attempt to stabilise a football club in the town following the demise of Wigan County, Wigan United, Wigan Town and the aforementioned Wigan Borough. Springfield Park, the former home of Wigan Borough, was purchased by the club and they were elected to the Cheshire County League.

In the early history of Wigan Athletic, the most notable exploits came in the FA Cup. In the 1934–35 season, Wigan beat Carlisle United 6–1 in the first round, setting a cup record for the biggest victory by a non-league club over a league club, a record which still stands today; although it was equalled in 1955 by Boston United, and in 1957 by Hereford United.

In 1945, Wigan were elected to a different league, the Lancashire Combination, and in 1950 came close to election to the Football League, narrowly losing out to Scunthorpe United on a vote. In the 1953–54 season, Wigan played an FA Cup match against Hereford United in front of a crowd of 27,526, a Wigan Athletic record and also a record for a match between two non-league teams at a non-league ground. In 1961, the club moved back to the Cheshire County League.

In 1968, Wigan were founder members of the Northern Premier League, known in recent years as the UniBond League. After 34 failed election attempts, including one controversial but headline-making application in 1972 to join the Scottish League Second Division, Wigan were elected to the Football League in 1978.

Wigan's first match under their new floodlights was against Manchester City. City brought a full strength team to Springfield Park and won 4-0.

Wigan had finished in second place in the Northern Premier League in the 1977/78 season, behind winners Boston United. But as Boston's ground and facilities did not meet the Football League criteria for a League club, whereas Springfield Park did, Wigan were put forward for election to the League. There was no automatic promotion to the Football League until 1987, before when, a club had to be ‘voted out’ of the League to allow a non-league team to be promoted in their place. At the end of the 1977/78 season, Southport finished next to bottom of the old Fourth Division, and faced off with Wigan Athletic for their place in the League. The first round of voting ended tied, with both clubs receiving 26 votes, but after a tense re-vote Southport lost out 20-29 and lost their place in the Fourth Division. Wigan Athletic became an English League club on 2 June, 1978.

In the club's first season of League football, Wigan finished in sixth place, just six points off promotion in their first League season and in front of an average crowd of 6,701. Two more top-half finishes came in the following seasons. Latics gained their first Football League promotion in 1981/82, when a points tally of 91 saw them join the old Division Three for the first time, beginning a 10 year spell in the third tier of English football. The next three seasons all saw Latics finish in the bottom half of Division Three, but the club did win its first silverware as a League club in 1985, winning the Freight Rover Trophy. They were beaten in the Northern Final of the same competition the following season by Bolton Wanderers.

The 1985/86 season saw a marked improvement in the club’s league form, eventually finishing in fourth position, a then-club record high which would stand for 17 years, until 2002/03. In fact, Latics finished the season just one point outside the promotion places in the final season before the Football League introduced the play-off system for promotion and relegation. Wigan managed an identical fourth place finish in the 1986/87 season, but this time were rewarded with the chance to compete for the final promotion place in the new play-off system. (In the first two years of the play-off system, teams finishing 3rd, 4th and 5th joined the team finishing 20th in the division above to play off for the promotion place; this was changed to the teams finishing 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th from the 1988/89 season). Latics lost at the two-legged semi final stage to Swindon, who went on to win the final promotion place.

The fourth place finishes of the 1985/86 and 1986/87 seasons proved to be the high points of Wigan Athletic’s first stint in Division 3. For the next five years, they finished in mid-table, flirting with relegation in 1988-89 and 1989/90, until they were relegated for the first and only time in the club’s League history in 1992/93. Wigan finished in 23rd place, amid tumbling attendances which had fallen from averages of 3,000-4,000 in Wigan’s Division 3 years to 2,593 in 1992/93. A year later, with the club back in the fourth tier of the English League, Latics finished 19th - fourth from bottom – to complete their worst-ever league season. Attendances would fall to a lowest-ever Wigan Athletic League average of 1,845 by 1995.

In February 1995, local millionaire and owner of JJB Sports Dave Whelan purchased the club, which was then playing in the Third Division (fourth tier), and stated his ambition to take the club to the Premier League, a statement which was widely ridiculed at the time. 10 years later Wigan were playing Premier League football.

At the end of Whelan’s first season as Chairman, Wigan finished in 14th position in the old Third Division, or on the 84th rung of the 92-club English Football League ladder. Whelan and Wigan made headlines in the summer of 1995 when Whelan’s business connections in Spain helped him attract three Spaniards to the club – Roberto Martinez, Isidro Diaz, and Jesus Seba – who became known as ‘The Three Amigos’. Martinez and Diaz would later become the first Spaniards to play in the F.A. Cup, and the trio became the on-pitch symbols of Whelan’s ambitious plans.

His replacement John Benson led the squad that he inherited from Mathias to a commanding position at the top of Division Two in his first six months, including the demolition of local rivals Preston North End 4-1 away, only to collapse in the second half of the season. This was largely attributed to the dropping of leading goalscorer Stuart Barlow who was responsible for much of the side's early success, which coupled with a series of poor quality signings of ageing, and reputedly highly paid players and a run of poor performances led to strong disapproval of the management among fans. The 1999/2000 season ended in failure at Wembley as Wigan lost 3-2 after extra time to Gillingham at the last ever Division Two play-off final to be played at the old Wembley Stadium.

Benson moved 'upstairs' to the new post of Director of Football in the summer of 2000, when former Arsenal manager Bruce Rioch took the manager’s job for the 2000/01 season. Rioch was hampered by severe injury problems and after a difficult and often unimpressive first half of the season left the club in February 2001. He was temporarily replaced by club stalwart Colin Greenall, before the surprise appointment of Steve Bruce for the final eight games of the season. His arrival brought renewed vigour to Wigan performances, but the club ultimately lost in the play-offs once again, this time against Reading. Following this blow, Bruce left for Crystal Palace after repeatedly pledging his future to Wigan, leaving behind a club both grateful for his help in getting so close to promotion and also angry and bitter at his betrayal.

In the summer of 2001, highly regarded young manager and former Latics forward Paul Jewell took over as manager following an unsuccessful spell at Sheffield Wednesday. His first season in charge saw mixed results and an embarrassing defeat to non-league Canvey Island in the F.A. Cup first round, although the club eventually finished in mid-table. Jewell’s second season in charge was far more successful. Wigan went on a run to the quarter finals of the League Cup, beating Premier League opponents West Brom, Manchester City and Fulham en route. Wigan won the Division Two championship in 2002-03 with a points total of 100, powered by the goals of then-record £1.2 million signing Nathan Ellington, with a run of 10 consecutive wins along the way. The club lost only four times all season, and Wigan secured promotion to the second tier of the English Football League for the first time in their history.

After losing their first ever game in Division One, Wigan confounded expectations to go unbeaten for the next 17 games and sit atop the division by November 2003. A weak finish saw Wigan win only three of their last 10 games to finish seventh in Division One - a last minute goal by West Ham's Brian Deane in the final game of the season saw Latics drop out of the play-off places in favour of eventual play-off winners Crystal Palace.

Hoping to build on the previous season’s disappointing finish, Latics went one better than 2003/04 by remain unbeaten for the first 17 games of the 2004/05 season. Along with Sunderland and Ipswich, Latics remained in the promotion hunt all season. By the last day of the season, Sunderland had already won the title and Wigan needed at least a draw against Reading - who themselves needed to win to finish in the last play-off spot - to beat Ipswich to automatic promotion. A 3-1 victory in front of their home fans at the JJB Stadium earned Wigan Athletic promotion to the top division of the English football league system for the first time in their 73-year history.

Wigan were only the fourth English team in the last 20 years to win promotion to the top division for the first time. The club's first ever Premier League game was a home match against Champions Chelsea, a game they lost only to a 94th minute winner by Hernán Crespo. A successful run followed, and by November Wigan were second in the league. Good league form was coupled with an equally strong performance in the Football League Cup, with the Latics reaching their first ever major cup final after defeating Arsenal on away goals in the semi-final. In the final, Wigan were defeated 4–0 by near neighbours Manchester United. Wigan eventually finished the season in 10th place - the club's highest ever league placing. Right-back Pascal Chimbonda was included in the 2005–06 PFA Team of the Season. Wigan failed in their bid for European football and opted not to take part in the UEFA Intertoto Cup.

During the close season, Wigan sold many who had starred in their first season in the Premier League, as Jimmy Bullard left for Fulham, Jason Roberts joined Blackburn Rovers, and Stephane Henchoz was released. Wigan brought in high-profile replacements including Emile Heskey, Denny Landzaat, Chris Kirkland and Antonio Valencia to try to build on their successful Premier League debut. After a mid-table start to the 2006–07 season, Wigan's fortunes dipped dramatically with eight consecutive losses from mid-December, but after arresting the slump Wigan stood 15th in the Premiership in early March and finally seemed to be moving away from the relegation mire. But a series of defeats and the resurgence of rival strugglers meant Wigan faced the serious threat of relegation. On the final day of the season, Wigan battled to a 2–1 away win against Sheffield United, guaranteeing their Premiership status for another year and in doing so relegating Sheffield United to the Championship. The following day, Paul Jewell unexpectedly resigned as manager; his assistant Chris Hutchings was appointed as his replacement.

Wigan's third Premier League campaign saw the club trying to fully establish itself in the division following a disappointing second season. The playing squad had changed almost entirely from the promotion-winning side. Ageing fan favourites Arjan De Zeeuw, Matt Jackson, John Filan made way, along with Lee McCulloch, who sealed his dream move to Rangers, and Leighton Baines, who rejected a new contract and signed for his boyhood team Everton. Titus Bramble, former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot, Jason Koumas (for £5.3 million) and much travelled striker Marcus Bent were among the players brought in. Melchiot was installed as the new club captain. For the 2007–08 season, Wigan's home shirt returned to the club’s traditional blue and white stripes, having been blue with white sleeves in 2006–07. The away shirt became white with black trim, with black shorts and black socks. A slate grey third kit with royal blue trim was also introduced.

The 2007–08 season began well for Wigan, topping the Premier League after four games for the first time in their history. Wigan's strong start saw Emile Heskey recalled to the England Squad for the first time since 2005. He became the first Wigan player to represent England whilst a full member of the squad (Chris Kirkland earned his first cap while at Wigan, but was on loan from Liverpool at the time). However, Heskey broke his foot immediately after his England call-up, and was out injured for six weeks. The club's league position subsequently worsened, and on the back of a run of six consecutive defeats Wigan plummeted into the relegation zone. Chairman Dave Whelan took the decision to sack manager Chris Hutchings on 5 November 2007, after only 12 games in charge.

Former Manchester United defender Steve Bruce replaced Hutchings. Bruce had just resigned as Birmingham City manager, and signed a £2m-a-year deal to try to keep Wigan in the Premier League. Wigan had to pay a reported £3 million in compensation to Birmingham for Bruce's services. His appointment saw Wigan end their losing streak, but consistency evaded the Latics, although Bruce did soon achieve something neither Jewell nor Hutchings had managed previously - a 1–1 draw at Anfield against Liverpool; the first time Wigan had taken points off one of the so-called 'Big Four' Premier League clubs. Bruce eventually oversaw a comparatively comfortable end to the season for Wigan, who finished 14th in the final table with 40 points - three places and two points higher than their finish the previous season.

The summer of 2008 was Steve Bruce's first pre-season with the club and his overhaul of the playing squad continued. The two biggest deals saw Lee Cattermole sign from Middlesbrough for £3.5 million, and highly rated Egyptian striker Amr Zaki sign on an initial one-year loan. Zaki had scored 10 Premier League goals by February 2009, as Wigan reached seventh place in the table with 34 points from 25 games and looked likely to remain in the Premier League for a fifth successive season. Once more, the team's kits were altered for the new season, in part due to the club signing a new contract with Champion (sportswear).

Wigan Athletic's stadium is the 25,138 capacity JJB Stadium, part of the Robin Park complex in Wigan. It has been the club's home since the 1999-00 season. Wigan Athletic share the stadium with rugby league team Wigan Warriors. The ground cost £30 million to construct. Previously, home games were played at Springfield Park, the former home of Wigan Borough.

The record attendance at the JJB Stadium for Wigan Athletic is 25,133 for a match against Manchester United on May 11, 2008.

The JJB Stadium was the fourth attempt at re-development/re-location for Wigan Athletic, the first coming in 1986 when then-chairman Bill Kenyon revealed plans for a 15,000 all-seater development at Springfield Park including a hotel and shopping facilities. The club were to play at the nearby Woodhouse Stadium (formerly Wigan Municipal Stadium - now demolished) while the building work took place. In 1990, Kenyon submitted his second scheme which would cost £3m, hold 12-15,000 fans and involve moving the pitch nearer to the car park. Neither efforts got past the planning stage. The next chairman, Stephen Gage, spent most of 1993 and 1994 trying to relocate Latics to the then Robin Park Stadium (now demolished) until his plans were scuppered by Wigan Council when the local authority announced plans for their own ground involving Wigan Warriors. Mr Gage finally admitted defeat when he sold Latics to Dave Whelan on 27 February 1995 for around £1m. Plans for the JJB Stadium were first published in 1997.

Contracts for the new stadium were signed in late 1997 with work starting immediately. Originally the ground was to be built for Wigan Athletic and Orrell R.U.F.C., as grants were only available for multi-use stadia at that time. Wigan Warriors did not figure in the equation until Dave Whelan bought the rugby club some 12 months later after protracted negotiations with the directors of the rugby club. The modern all-seater stadium was officially opened on August 4, 1999. Its inauguration was marked with a friendly between Wigan Athletic and neighbours Manchester United, who were then reigning European Champions, with Sir Alex Ferguson officially opening the stadium. However, Wigan hosted Morecambe three days earlier on August 1 as a dress rehearsal for the official opening against Manchester United. 4,020 supporters braved a fierce electrical storm and torrential rain but the game ended in a goalless draw. The first competitive football match took place on August 7, 1999, with Wigan Athletic facing Scunthorpe United in a Division 2 match. Simon Haworth scored twice, including the first competitive goal at the new stadium, as Athletic won 3-0.

On March 7, 2005 Greater Manchester police announced that they would stop policing Wigan Athletic matches at the stadium from April 2. This move would almost certainly have resulted in the stadium's safety certificate being revoked, effectively forcing the team to play behind closed doors. The move was part of an ongoing dispute between the police force and Dave Whelan surrounding £300,000 in unpaid policing costs. (Under current arrangements, football clubs have a minimum legal requirement to pay for any costs incurred inside their stadiums or property). The situation was temporarily resolved on March 8 with both sides reaching an agreement that would allow Athletic to play at the ground until the end of the season. Four months later, Wigan, facing the prospect of playing their home games in the Premier League in an empty stadium, grudgingly paid the money they owed to the police. However, following the ordeal the club appealed against the payments in court and won it, with the claims expected to earn the club around £37,000.

On March 25th 2009 it was announced that Wigan would change the name of their stadium to The DW Stadium, after chairman Dave Whelan's commercial venture, DW Sports Fitness.

Curiously for an English football club, Wigan Athletic's chief rivalry is not with another football club, but with the local rugby league club, Wigan Warriors. It is a long-standing rivalry and in fact predates the club's formation, as previous football teams within the town are said to have struggled to attract support due to the success of the local rugby league club.

Relative fortunes have also fostered resentment. In the 1989-1990 season, Wigan Athletic, deep in financial trouble, were given a lifeline as they were drawn against Liverpool in a two-legged tie in the second round of the Football League Cup. When approached, the Wigan RL board refused to allow the football club use of their Central Park ground, which would have given the home side a greater share of the gate revenue (due to the fact Central Park had a larger capacity of around 32,000) forcing both ties to be played at Anfield. The need to move the game came as Springfield Park had recently had its capacity cut from 20,000 to 10,800 in 1985 by Wigan Council due to safety concerns.

It must also be noted that some fans support both teams and have tried to discourage the animosity.

Relations have not been improved by both clubs' move to play their home fixtures at the JJB Stadium. A poor playing surface for football matches at the JJB Stadium in recent seasons has often seen Athletic fans blame the rugby matches for ruining the pitch. The rivalry resurfaced recently when a Wigan Warriors match against Bradford Bulls on September 12, 2008 was moved from the JJB Stadium to Widnes due to the Latics playing Sunderland a day later. The decision was made by Whelco, owners of the JJB Stadium, following alleged pressure from the Premier League suggesting that Wigan Athletic will get preference in the event of such clashes.

Wigan Athletic's rapid rise to the Premiership has been one of the most well-documented success stories in English football in recent years, but the club's image in both the eyes of the public and footballing establishment has not risen as high as its league standing. The English media and fans of rival clubs have frequently criticised Wigan Athletic for their poor attendances at home matches. This was compounded by the League Cup semi-final game against Arsenal, a crucial game in Wigan's run to their first major final, where they eventually lost to Manchester United 4-0 at Cardiff's Millenium Stadium. The attendance for the home leg of the semi-final was 12,181 - just 48 percent of the JJB Stadium's capacity. The club's management argued that this low attendance was due to the match being televised, it being played on a weekday evening, amid a backlog of games created by the shortening of the Premier League season by a week.

Attendances at Wigan Athletic games are certainly disappointing by Premier League standards but easily outweigh those of the Wigan Warriors Rugby League, showing the shift in popularity from the Super League side. By the end of the 2007/08 Premier League season, the club had the lowest average attendance of any club in the division. Yet, supporters argue that, for a club that has only been playing league football since 1978, year-on-year increases in average attendance (from 1,845 in 1995 to 19,046 in 2008) in fact represent a huge success. These figures are notable considering the proximity of more established, 'fashionable' clubs: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton, Bolton Wanderers are all within 20 miles of Wigan, and Blackburn Rovers only slightly more, and all are currently playing in the Premier League. Many fans of Wigan Athletic see the growing fanbase of what is a comparatively 'newer' team as something that does not deserve to be criticised; that they are 'a club on the rise'.

Nevertheless, attendance growth at the JJB Stadium has stagnated since Wigan's first season in the Premier League (average attendance: 20,233) - it has been around 18,000 for the last two seasons - and the growth the club has experienced over the last decade is being to look as if it may have peaked. For the 2006-2007 season, chairman Dave Whelan raised ticket prices, angering fans. Responding to criticism and falling attendances, Whelan not only reduced ticket prices but also promised they would remain low in following seasons at a time when ticket prices are driving many away from attending live matches. The price cut had a positive effect on attendences for Wigan's 2007-08 Premier League campaign, as crowds increased on average by almost 1,000 fans.

As at 8 March 2009 Wigan's average attendance was 17,884. On 8 March 2009, as well as the other 19 Premier League clubs there were a number of Championship and League One sides that had a better average attendance than Wigan Athletic. Ten Championship clubs had better average attendance figures for the 2008-2009 season (Derby County, Sheffield United, Norwich City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town, Charlton Athletic, Reading and Birmingham City) and two League One clubs (Leeds United and Leicester City)). As at 8 March 2009 Wigan Athletic was, in terms of average attendance, the 32nd best supported club in England.

Wigan's average attendance is good by international standards. If Wigan was in the French Ligue 1 then it would be the 10th (out of 20) best supported club in terms of average attendence; the 8th (out of 18) best supported in the Dutch Eredivisie; the 4th best supported in the Portuguese Liga and American Major League Soccer; and the 3rd best supported in the Scottish Premier League and Russian Premier League respectively.

Wigan Athletic have many fans in Honduras due to the signings of Honduran Maynor Figueroa. In Ecuador, Wigan have fans due to the international star Antonio Valencia. There is also recognition of Wigan Athletic in Egypt with their link to Amr Zaki and Mido.

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Hull City A.F.C. season 2008–09

Phil Brown, manager of Hull City

The 2008–09 season is Hull City's first season in the Premier League. Home games are played at the KC Stadium, which has a capacity of 25,404. On Friday 6 June 2008 Hull City announced they had sold out all 20,500 season tickets. Hull City's first ever top flight fixture was a home game against Fulham.

Hull City were linked with a vast number of players during the summer transfer window. Most of these were just rumours, however. Craig Fagan rejoined the club from Derby County, having spent the latter part of the previous season on loan at Hull City. On Saturday 5 July 2008 Hull City completed the signing of Brazilian star Geovanni on a free transfer, following his release from fellow Premier League side Manchester City. On 8 July Nick Barmby spoke about new signing Geovanni saying "He's fit in straight away and certainly looks a good player." Peter Halmosi soon followed, and the day after he signed for Hull he talked about signing the contract stating it was a dream come true to play in the Premier League. Hull were also eager to sign Fraizer Campbell who played for Hull on loan in the 2007-08 season. On Thursday 14 August Hull made Anthony Gardner's loan into a permanent deal for £2.5 million; breaking their transfer record. On 1 September 2008, Hull City made a bid that would have shattered the club record, £7 million for Fraizer Campbell. However, Campbell instead joined Tottenham Hotspur on a season-long loan, as part of the deal that took Dimitar Berbatov to Manchester United .

On 23 January 2009, Jimmy Bullard was purchased from Fulham for £5 million on a four-and-a-half-year contract, which became the record highest fee paid by the club.

Hull's annual player of the year is decided at the end of the season.

For the 2008-09 season Hull are using the most common tiger stripes as their home kit. They are using a Flint coloured shirt as their away shirt. The goalkeeper kit is light blue, a similar colour was used as an away shirt in seasons before. Hull's kit was produced by Umbro and the home shirt has Karoo printed on the front as the sponsor, as does the goalkeeper's shirt; the away shirt however has Kingston Communications as the sponsor on the front.

Hull were one of the first clubs in the Premier League to start preseason training. The players took part in a test to assess their fitness. From 4 July to 11 July Hull are training in Bormio, Italy. Hull's first day of training took part at FC Bormio's training ground. On day two, Hull players went bike riding in the morning, gym work mid day and pitch work and swimming sessions afterwards. On Day three Hull training started at 7:15 with a bike ride, then a session on the pitch. Paul Duffen came to visit the players. On 7 July Andy Dawson admitted that the training was a great experience. On 8 July Dean Marney said "Obviously it's been a great experience once again," and said it has helped with his fitness. On the same day Goalkeeper Boaz Myhill said how positive the trip has been.

Hull's first season in the top tier of English Football in their 104-year history.

Hull's Premier League opener was at home to Fulham. Hull started rather poorly and went behind after eight minutes from a Seol Ki-Hyeon header. Hull's comeback came when Geovanni scored from a shot from outside the box, the goal was Hull's first Premier League goal and Geovanni's first as a Hull player. In the second half Hull scored the winner from substitute Caleb Folan's shot when he slotted the ball into the net from Craig Fagan's low cross. Hull won the game putting them joint top of the league, joint second on goal difference and 3rd on alphabetical order. Hull's second game was against Blackburn Rovers away. The home team scored first when Jason Roberts scored in the 39th minute. Hull came back to get a draw; before halftime Australian Richard Garcia scored with a header from a Craig Fagan cross. There followed a home game against Wigan which turned out to be a heavy 0–5 defeat. Sam Ricketts turned a corner from Kevin Kilbane in to his own net after 5 minutes to open the scoring. Antonio Valencia scored after 13 minutes and provided the cross for Amr Zaki to stroke home in the second half. Five minutes later Emile Heskey scored from a poor clearance by Wayne Brown. Nine minutes from time Amr Zaki drove in off the crossbar to inflict the first defeat of the season on Hull.

An away game at manager less Newcastle United followed. Nicky Butt's foul on Péter Halmosi resulted in a penalty which allowed Marlon King to open the scoring for City. He slotted home a second 10 minutes into the second half. Newcastle United tried to get back into the match and a Charles N'Zogbia shot rebounded off the post to Xisco who pulled a goal back. As full time approaced Danny Guthrie was sent off for a tackle on Craig Fagan. Giving City a deserved 1–2 victory.

A home game against Everton followed in which City took the lead from a Dean Marney corner which was headed home by Michael Turner. Early in the second half another Dean Marney corner was turned in by Phil Neville for an own goal. Everton pulled one back when a Tim Cahill shot bounced in off the crossbar. They drew level minutes later when Leon Osman scored from close range to secure a 2–2 draw.

A trip to Arsenel provided a test for the City but they withstood the pressure during the first half. Following the re-start the home team were soon in front when a Cesc Fàbregas shot found the net after coming off Paul McShane. City responded with a 25-yard (23 m) shot by Geovanni quickly followed by a Daniel Cousin header from an Andy Dawson corner. Arsenal's William Gallas hit the crossbar and Boaz Myhill saved a late shot from Cesc Fàbregas to give the visitors a 1–2 victory.

A further away game at Tottenham Hotspur followed. City raced into the lead with a 30-yard (27 m) free kick by Geovanni after just nine minutes. Tottenham's Gareth Bale and Jonathan Woodgate hit the post, as did Dean Marney before half time. Neither side managed to score in the second half giving City a 0–1 victory.

After a break for internationals a home game against West Ham United was next up. City's Marlon King created the first opportunity with a cross to Daniel Cousin who volleyed just passed the post. At the other end Carlton Cole shot straight at Boaz Myhill. Dean Marney came close twice for City before Hérita Ilunga headed wide, Valon Behrami shot passed the post and Craig Bellamy shot over the crossbar. Missed chances left the game goalless at half time. Soon after the restart a corner by Andy Dawson was headed home by Michael Turner to break the deadlock. Almost immediately Carlton Cole nearly levelled but his shot came off the crossbar. Kamil Zayatte almost had a second for Hull but shot over the bar leaving Hull with a 1–0 victory over the visitors.

An away match at West Bromwich Albion was the next action by the Tigers. Albion opened the strongest with Ishmael Miller being blocked by Andy Dawson who picked up an injury which saw him being substituted by Sam Ricketts after only 10 minutes. Albion's Borja Valero had a shot that was saved by Boaz Myhill, Jonas Olsson hitting the rebound off the crossbar for Roman Bednář to miss the second rebound. On a break City gained a corner but Kamil Zayatte headed wide. A Daniel Cousin shot was deflected and Scott Carson scooped the ball off the line to leave the game goalless at half time. Soon after the restart City gained a corner and Kamil Zayatte volleyed home. Albion's Ryan Donk and James Morrison had shots saved before Marlon King put the ball in the area for a diving Geovanni to head in. Minutes later Marlon King was also on the score sheet after slotting in to the corner of the net. Leaving it another away victory of 0–3 for the City.

A mid-week home game against leaders Chelsea followed, with a record crowd at the KC Stadium. Chelsea were soon in the lead when Frank Lampard lobbed in. Both teams missed opportunities the nearest being Daniel Cousin hitting the post for City. Soon after the break indecision in the City defence allowed Nicolas Anelka to run in and slot home. After missing several attempts Florent Malouda finally scored from six-yards from a Ricardo Carvalho cross. City losing 0–3 in a match which could easily have been a much heavier defeat.

Then on 1 November the Tigers travelled to Old Trafford to play Manchester United away from home. The match was gripping, and after 3 minutes United scored only to be brought back to earth by the Tigers free kick headed in by Daniel Cousin. United went on to score a further 3 goals, but after half time the Tigers looked back on track and regained 2 goals in the final few minutes thanks to Bernard Mendy and Giovanni. The final score 4–3 to Manchester United.

Last updated: 22 March, 2009. Source: Hull City Results Ground: A = Away; H = Home. Result: D = Draw; L = Lose; W = Win; P = Postponed.

Hull entered the FA Cup at the third round stage and were handed a home tie against Newcastle United. The match took place on 3 January 2009 at the KC Stadium and though both sides had chances neither were able to break the dead-lock. A replay at St James' Park took place on 14 January 2009. Newcastle had the better of the first half. After 21 minutes Butt headed a free kick onto the crossbar and later after a clash of Hull defenders, Owen shot high with only Matt Duke to beat. After half-time Owen had a low shot low turned round the post by Duke and Charles N'Zogbia had a shot blocked by Zayatte. Cousin broke the dead-lock on 81 minutes by turning in a Garcia cross. Newcastle hod opportunities to equalise but failed to find the target.

Hull's 0–1 win at Newcastle put them in the draw for the fourth round and they were given another home match this time against Football League One team Millwall. The match took place on 24 January 2009 at the KC Stadium. Hull fielded a changed team which saw goalkeeper Tony Warner getting a debut. Turner put Hull in the lead with a header following a Dawson free kick. Millwall failed to make the most of their opportunities and Hull sealed the match with a late strike by Ashbee.

Hull entered the fifth round for the first time since 1989 and were given an away tie with local team Sheffield United. The local derby match took place on 14 February 2009 at Bramall Lane. Sheffield were quickly on the score sheet with a header by Greg Halford from a cross by David Cotterill. Hull responded before half time when Kamil Zayatte headed in an Andy Dawson centre. There were opportunities for both sides in the second half but no one was able to break the 1–1 dead-lock.

The fifth round replay took place on 26 February at the KC stadium. Hull took the lead when a header from Sheffield defender Kyle Naughton bounced off his own crossbar and crossed the line for an own-goal. United levelled soon after with a Billy Sharp shot. City sealed the match early in the second half when Péter Halmosi shot in from a Nick Barmby cross. Hull's 2–1 win gave them a place in the last eight for the first time in 38 years.

A quarter final game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on 17 March 2009 was the prize for getting to this stage in the competition. Hull started the best and after 13 minutes took the lead when a Nick Barmby shot from an Andy Dawson cross was deflected into the Arsenal net. A Geovanni free kick was pushed over by Cesc Fàbregas followed by a Nick Barnby goal being disallowed for off-side. Kamil Zayatte also came close with a header before Arsenal started to reply before the break with an Andrei Arshavin shot blocked by Sam Ricketts. Following the break Arsenal continued to apply pressure with Abou Diaby heading wide and then Andrei Arshavin being blocked by Sam Ricketts. A Robin van Persie header was blocked on the line by Andy Dawson and Alexandre Song shooting the rebound wide. Though following sustained pressure Hull were pegged back by Robin van Persie after 74 minutes. Hull almost regained the lead from a Geovanni shot which went wide. Though Samir Nasri lofted a free-kick into the area which keeper Boaz Myhill failed to hold and Gallas headed home he winner from what looked like an off-side position. Hull could not respond and lost the match 1–2 on the night with Arsenal going on to play Chelsea in the semi-final.

On Wednesday 13 August the draw for the Carling Cup second round was made. Hull were seeded so they couldn't get another premier league side. Hull City were drawn away to Swansea. The game took place on 27 August. Hull scored first with a Dean Windass goal in the 11th minute. Gorka Pintado equalised for Swansea in the 63rd minute, then he missed a penalty in extra time. The game went to added time. Swansea scored a penalty 14 minutes into added time, taking Hull out of the Carling Cup in the first round.

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Source : Wikipedia