The 1902-03 season was Fulham's 5th season of professional football and as members of the Southern League Division Two.
The teams kit for this season changed slightly, this time incorporating the familiar black shorts and black and white striped socks that would be seen in their first ever white strip the following season in their debut in first-class football. The red tops with white sleeves still remained however, and would be the last of the red strips that the club would see as their home kit.
It was also a successful season financially for the club, with growing attendances and an admission fee of 6d. (up on the previous fee of 4d.)
There were only six teams left in the Southern League Second Division by the start of 1902-03. The crowd potential was beginning to grow and it was only lack of ambition on the part of the management committee and the peculiar system for promotion that was holding the club back. There were three new signings during the season and these did not make much of an impact. Scotsman David Cowan arrived from Swindon Town but returned to Scotland only months after joining. Jack Hilsdon, a forward from Luton Town who joined midway through the season did not impress and failed to score a goal. Alec Mills joined from Catford Southend and was mainly a reserve player. Freddie Hopkinson, David Lloyd and George Sheeran returned from the Boer War in South Africa but James Miller move in the opposite direction to live in the country. Hopkinson replaced the departing Kennny McKay, Lloyd was converted into a centre half and Bill Lacey replaced Miller at right half. Fulham scored a massive 114 goals in the Southern & London Leagues, FA Cup and Friendlies with Tommy Meade hitting a total of 37 goals
There were two very unusual matches during the season. When Fulham visited Grays United on 27 December 1902, Jack Head conceded his first Southern League goal of the season but they still won 4-1. Tommy Meade arrived at the ground without his boots and had to rush off to the local market to buy some new ones. He returned to score all four Fulham goals that afternoon but unfortunately the match was ordered to be replayed as Fulham had included an illegible player in H Easter. Easter was a reserve team player who had not been registered 7 days previous as per the Southern League rules. The club were very lucky not to have been docked points of receive a heavy fine. Fulham lost the replayed game in April 2-1. The other strange game came at Chesham Town. Cabbo Dwight, Fred Spackman and Tommy Meade were out injured, and when George Tuthill failed to arrive, the "Reds" looked up against it and found themselves 2-0 down at half time. Tuthill finally arrived at scored two of Fulham's six second half goals to turn the match around.
Despite only drawing 0-0 at Wycombe Wanderers and losing at Grays United, Fulham took the title on goal average from nearest rivals Brighton & Hove Albion. However, Fulham disastrously the Test Match against Division One's Brentford by 7 goals to 2 at Shepherd Bush's Wormholt Farm Ground. This was the third Test Match lost by Fulham in four seasons. Fulham had a good run in the FA Cup and reached the fifth qualifying round before losing 5-1 at Luton Town.
At the end of the season the club had to act quickly, especially as the Division they were stuck in was to become a league for the reserve teams of Division One sides. The chairman of the Fulham committee, James Hitchcock contacted the Southern League management committee after the disappointment of the Test Match defeat and was informed that if the club could raise a first class team by 30 May 1903, then their application to go up into Division One would be considered. Fulham straight away formed a Limited Company, raising a share capital of £7,500 and signed 14 new professionals from Football League sides. John Dean then became chairman and Herbert Jackson, a former player, was appointed as the club's secretary. Fulham were finally elected to the top division after a vote. Plymouth Argyle received 33 votes followed by Fulham with 22 and Watford, the unlucky club with 13 votes. The Fulham committee had been slow to make progress even though the game had really taken off in the South during the 1890's, but it seemed they were now on the road to becoming a Football League club.