Can Norwich City break their Craven Cottage hex?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Here we go again, it's time to talk about the Craven Cottage hoodoo, yet again.
Dare we start with a hint of optimism this time though? If the past nine trips to Fulham are anything to go by, probably not.
That's because a generation of Norwich City fans have not seen their team win at the home of the Cottagers. The winless streak at the West London Theatre of Canaries Nightmares now stretches beyond 30 years.
Five former City managers have tried to break the hex: Bruce Rioch, Nigel Worthington, Paul Lambert, Chris Hughton and Neil Adams.
The closest any of them came was Bruce Rioch in October 1999, when Iwan Roberts cancelled out Kit Symons' opener for the hosts to earn a point – the last time City picked a point up at Craven Cottage.
That was when the curse was in its infancy, after a lengthy 13-year gap in encounters as Fulham floundered in the lower leagues for a prolonged spell.
Before those fallow years began however, a Norwich side did actually win in SW6, on New Year's Day 1986.
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Kevin Drinkell scored the only goal that day, one of 22 he scored in helping Ken Brown's Canaries to win the Second Division title and bounce back from top-flight relegation at the first time of asking.
In the team that day were players including Chris Woods, Steve Bruce, Mike Phelan and David Williams – who could have had no idea of the significance that win would eventually take on.
Just two further goals have been scored at Fulham by City players since Drinkell's last-minute header that day, Aaron Wilbraham adding to Roberts' equaliser, in March 2012.
Top-flight relegation nightmares have also been played out at Craven Cottage since, in 2005 and 2014, as well an awful 5-0 opening-day defeat in 2012.
Could Alex Neil be the manager who can finally end the agony?
The Scot isn't one for gratifying talk of such things yet he has proven pedigree. He led Hamilton to a first win at Celtic in 76 years and Norwich to their first victory at Old Trafford in 26 years, as well as a first Wembley appearance in 30 years.
He's even responsible for the one Canaries win over Fulham – home or away – in the last 18 attempts, when the Cottagers were thrashed 4-2 at Carrow Road in May 2015.
It's time to end the hoodoo...