“Fulham is in my blood” – chairman of the SA Fulham Supporters Club, James Preston

By Sameer Naik19 April 2024

“Fulham is in my blood” – chairman of the SA Fulham Supporters Club, James Preston

Fulham face off against Liverpool on Sunday, 21 April at 17:30pm at Craven Cottage (streaming live on Showmax Premier League). Fulham will be pushing for all three points to continue their push for their best season in years. Liverpool will know that nothing less than a win will ensure they stay in the race for the title. Catch all the action live on Showmax Premier League.

James Preston is what you would describe as a die-hard football fan. Despite moving thousands of kilometres from his home in Guildford, South of London, all the way to South Africa, his unwavering support for his home club Fulham never changed. Preston moved to South Africa together with his family in 1991, and despite the big move, his love for Fulham never changed.

Chairman of the Fulham Supporters Club in SA, James Preston, holding up an SA flag at Fulham's stadium, Craven Cottage along with other fans.
Chairman of the Fulham Supporters Club in SA, James Preston, holding up an SA flag at Fulham’s stadium, Craven Cottage, along with other fans

“I’ve been a Fulham fan since I was born, all the way back in 1985,” Preston tells Showmax Premier League. “My dad was involved in the club back in the 70’s. He’s supported them throughout. So I was born into the family heritage. Being born in Guildford, South of London, it made it easier because I was away from any top six teams, and easily picked up my dad’s passion.

“When we moved to South Africa in 1991, we carried that heritage with us, despite Fulham being in the third tier of English football at the time.”

His love for Fulham has only increased over the years, with Preston now having launched an official Fulham Supporters Club in South Africa. While the supporters club may not be that big, it is filled with passionate supporters from every corner of the country. “Supporting Fulham has become a part of who I am,” says Preston.

“The club, its history, its players, its staff, its supporters, its location, its stadium Craven Cottage, feels like part of me. I feel like I am part of them all. Fulham is literally in my blood, and I don’t know what I would do if the club ever ceased to exist.”

Chairman of the Fulham Supporters Club in SA, James Preston, holding up an SA flag at Fulham's stadium, Craven Cottage along with other fans.
Chairman of the Fulham Supporters Club in SA, James Preston, holding up an SA flag at Fulham’s stadium, Craven Cottage along with other fans

Preston was determined to continue his die-hard support for his boyhood club Fulham and took the decision to start a supporter’s club in South Africa after the London club contacted him.

“We formed the supporters club on Twitter after our last promotion back in 2022 (our third promotion in five years!). It was a record year for us, with Mitrovic scoring 43 goals in a single season. And winning the Championship Title was a huge achievement for the club considering we had been promoted via the playoffs the last two times this decade.

“Part of why I started the Twitter page was actually because I ranted too much on my personal Twitter page, which had work colleagues following it, so I started the Fulham ZA page to express my passion there without getting into trouble. It organically grew, and I was contacted by FFC to start an official supporters club! Starting the Twitter page has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

Preston says while there aren’t many Fulham supporters in the country, it is a club filled with passionate Fulham fans.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of FFC supporters in South Africa, especially in Durban. But they do pop out of the woodwork here in there, even in my hometown of Westville. I’ve converted a few friends, and we’re growing a bit of a base here in Durban, but we’ve been in contact with supporters in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and it’s growing.

“Supporting a non-big six team is very tough. But it’s also niche and almost ‘hipster’ (although no-one wants to be hipster on purpose – it’s much better to have a reason, a good story, for why you support a certain club).” He says while the bulk of Premier League fans support the traditional big six clubs, he is delighted that there are sections of supporters that back smaller teams. “Honestly, if you add up all the big six supporters and then every other English football supporter in South Africa, you’d probably still not have the same number of supporters. The number of-big six supporters is phenomenal.

“But with the way MultiChoice and Showmax have brought PL to South Africa, I think the ‘other-14’ support base is growing. And I hope our supporters club can contribute to that.”

LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 14: Fulham’s Andreas Pereira celebrates scoring his side’s first goal with Rodrigo Muniz during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Fulham FC at London Stadium on April 14, 2024 in London, England.(Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Speaking about Fulham’s performance this season, Preston says he has been delighted by his team’s effort.

“It’s been a fantastic season! One of our best ever. We had a phenomenal Cup Run in the League (Carabao) Cup, beating Tottenham and Everton to get to the semi-finals, losing by a single goal (3-2 on aggregate) to Liverpool, who went on to win it. Oh, what a final that would have been against our Fulham rivals Chelsea (in the district of Fulham!).

“The PL has also been great, with massive victories like two 5-0’s against Nottingham Forest and West Ham and 3-0 against Tottenham, the first team in 37 games to prevent Spurs from scoring.

“We also got 4 points off Arsenal with a 2-1 win over them at home on New Years Eve, and a 2-1 win away at Old Trafford.

“There have been sensational results and it’s been a wonderful season, but we’ve unfortunately stuttered a bit at the end.

“We’ve lost the drive, despite having a shot at Europe, we drew to Sheffield United and we lost our fire power, our panache. It seemed to be there against West Ham recently, but whether we can keep it up for the remaining games will be tough.”

Despite the slight dip in form by his team, Preston is confident they can derail Liverpool’s title challenge when they face them on Sunday, 21 April (stream it live on Showmax Premier League).

“There is absolutely no doubt we can beat Liverpool this weekend! Liverpool have been very poor of late, and we are great at home. We literally can and have beat anyone! So, we can definitely do it! Whether we do is another story. The Reds will be looking to bounce back after two defeats in the PL and Uefa Europa League.

“Also, my grandmother is from Liverpool, and to be quite honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing them win the League (anyone but City, right!?) so it’s a tough one. I don’t want to be the team to make them lose sight of the title. But I also don’t want Fulham to lose! Ideal situation? We draw, and then we beat City at home in the second-last game of the season.”

Preston has also given a glowing review to Fulham players Andreas Pareira and Rodrigo Muniz, who he considers the clubs best players this season.

“Last season it was Joao Palhinha. And even now he remains the best tackler in all of Europe (go look at his stats), but I think Andreas Pareira and Rodrigo Muniz might have had better seasons than Joao this year.”

As you can imagine, Preston doesn’t miss a single minute of game time when Fulham are in action.

He says he is grateful to Showmax for introducing the Premier League on mobile.

“I have had to watch many games on my phone this season. Showmax has saved my life, because I HATE missing a game.”

Sign up for the Showmax Premier League mobile plan for R69 p/m at www.showmax.com  for all the Premier League action.