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  • Jeremy Inson

Craven Cottage – Fulham FC


Photos by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Craven Cottage Stevenage Rd London, England SW6 6HH United Kingdom

Fulham FC website

Craven Cottage website


Year Opened: 1896

Capacity: 25,700


 

Back to the Cottage for Another Look

This past May, Fulham FC announced the demolition and development of the Riverside Stand at its home grounds Craven Cottage that will increase capacity and enhance amenities to both the stadium, supporters, and visitors, The new stands will increase capacity to 30,000 and create a more manageable access point for match day crowds.

Most importantly the design will open up the riverwalk and respect its position along the River Thames. The new stand will also feature modern concourses and hospitality rooms ensuring the club to remain at their home for the foreseeable future. The project will take two seasons to complete and temporarily reduce capacity at the stadium to 19,000 until the project is ready for the 2021/22 campaign.

Craven Cottage gets its name from an actual cottage that was built by William Craven in 1780 where the center pitch now sits. The cottage was surrounded by lush forests but after the building was destroyed by fire in 1888 the area became overgrown. Representatives from Fulham discovered the spot in 1894 and two years later built four wooden stands.

In 1905 the stadium received major renovations that would include both the present-day Johnny Haynes Stand and The Pavilion that was designed by Archibald Leitch who was known for his football designs in the United Kingdom. The grounds are only a handful that displays Leitch’s designs and aesthetics.

Fulham would make changes throughout the next nine decades until the English Premier League set standards for improvements at Craven Cottage. Changes were not made in time and the club moved to Loftus Road for the 2002/2003 season, but returned in 2004 after £8 million renovations were made to the 22,000 all-seaters.

Today, the Cottagers play in the EFL Championship after playing the Premier League from 2001-2013 and 2018-2019. The club also begins its 140th season of operations since being founded as the St. Andrews Cricket & Football Club. Craven Cottage continues to be a destination for both club supporters, fans, and visitors each and every season.

Food & Beverage 4

There is a good range of eating and drinking places in and around the Cottage, with plenty of options on offer. Visitors will be able to enjoy cheeseburgers, hot dogs, steak and ale pies, chicken balti pies, Bombay vegetable pie, and the iconic Craven Cottage Pie. The pies are hot and perfect for those cold-weather games during the football season.

For something more special, head around behind the Riverside Stand, you’ll find a kiosk serving tasty and filling chicken curry and rice at a pretty good price.

Atmosphere 3

Maybe it’s the location by the Thames, or maybe it’s the leisurely stroll through a riverside park, but Craven Cottage lacks the “fizz and crack” atmosphere produced at other grounds. While the fans are no less passionate than their counterparts at other clubs, there isn’t the hardcore rump of support that you find at other clubs around England’s capital.

Craven Cottage is dripping with well over a century of football history. The fans and players are in close proximity in a vessel that features sections that were built with the original structure in 1905. A lot has changed to the grounds but then again, quite a bit that has remained the same.

The Grade II cottage in the pavilion corner might be one of the more unique features at any stadium in the country. The small building along with the Johnny Haynes Stand is the only part of the stadium’s original construction from 1905. The cottage once served as a flat for a player and his family in the 1920’s. A balcony was later added and is now used by players and their families and guests.


Johnny Hayes Statue
Johnny Hayes Statue

A lot has changed to the stadium adding a roof on the Riverside Terrace (1973), the building of the Hammersmith End (1968), and the Putney End roof (2003). The influence of the building’s original architect Leitch is still evident on the exterior of the Johnny Haynes Stand today.

The Johnny Haynes stand originally called the Stevenage Road Stand when it was built, is the oldest remaining football stand in professional football in the country. It is also a grade 2 listed building and houses the ticket office, club shop, and Cafe at the Cottage. The upper tier has retained its original wooden seats and images of Haynes are displayed in the interior of the structure. Its exterior has a brick façade and features the club’s old emblem in the artwork.

The Putney End is a mix of both home and away fans who get along peacefully enough that it has been dubbed “Little Switzerland.” The grounds have never had a history of significant violence or trouble with opposing team’s supporters.

The Hammersmith End (Hammy) is traditionally where the home supporters sit and stand during matches. It is perhaps the most vocal stand and national flags of F.C.C. players are hung from the roof. The Riverside Stand backs onto the River Thames and is slightly elevated above the pitch for a unique angle of the match. It contains the corporate hospitality room McBride’s Bar located underneath but is restricted to supporters with a hospitality package ticket.

A Family Fun Zone begins 90 minutes before kickoff in Johnny Haynes Stand. The activities include face painters and entertainers, appearances by mascot Billy the Badger, and computer consoles for young fans to test their playing skills.

Neighbourhood 5

Fulham is one of the most salubrious suburbs of London, with tree-lined streets and seven-figure houses along the Thames. It provides a strong contrast to the likes of Tottenham Hotspur or West Ham United, which are teams based among the tightly-knit terrace houses. Fulham provides a calming atmosphere around match day.

In and around the houses are some fine restaurants and bars, which provide a non-traditional take on post-match food and drink. River Cafe and BrewDog Shepherd’s Bush are two options across the road from the nearest tube station – Putney Bridge – and they serve the usual range of sandwiches, cakes, light snacks, and non-alcoholic drinks.

The Eight Bells is the first pub fans get to as they walk from the tube to the stadium. It has traditional decor and range of drinks, snacks, and food on offer. It gets busy in the hours before kickoff, but if you can squeeze to the bar, it is a friendly pub which houses fans happy to discuss all things football with anyone.

Fans 4

While more reserved than other clubs’ fans, what Fulham supporters lack in singing, they make up for in their comportment and conduct towards other fans. The stadium has never had a history of violence or trouble between home and away supporters.

Again, whether it is the calming surrounds or something else, most Fulham fans are friendly, welcoming, and happy to chat. This is given further credence by the introduction of a neutral area in the Hammersmith Stand, which along with their position close to the centre of London, means the crowds are often a mix of home fans, away fans, and people just wanting to sample the Premier League’s atmosphere.

Access 3

The best way to get to Craven Cottage is to take the District Line on the tube, jump off at Putney Bridge, and walk the rest of the way. Putney Bridge overland railway station is just over a mile away and over the Thames from the Cottage and is served from Paddington and Victoria stations in central London.

The 74, 85, C4, 220, or 424 buses run by the stadium, but one way not to go is by car. There is barely any parking space, with the roads nearby restricted to residents’ parking. Then, of course, there is the nose-to-tail London traffic to contend with, too.

For a novel way of traveling to a match, a water taxi travels down the Thames from Blackfriars or Embankment Pier and drops fans at Putney, a 20-30 minute walk to the stadium. There are also bike racks in the park adjacent to the Cottage for those of a healthy disposition, and if it is a sunny day, the Thames walk from nearby Hammersmith is a pleasant way to spend 30 minutes ahead of the game.

Return on Investment 4

Ticket pricing for Fulham matches fall in four categories that include the following price points:

  • Category A (£35 – £45 / £30 – £40)

  • Category B (£30 – £45 / £25 – £40)

  • Category C (£25 – £40 / £20 – £35)

  • Category D (£20 – £35 / £15 – £30)

The return on investment depends solely on how much you want to pay to enjoy a football match in a historic ground.

The team shop near the main entrance offers the usual merchandise of kits, shorts, t-shirts and kids clothing. Prices are in line with other EFL Championship clubs and there are discount tables.

Extras 4

The Cottage and Johnny Haynes Stand date back to the stadium’s first major renovations in 1905 and is listed as a Grade II building. The classic design by famed architect Archibald Leitch provides a window to the past for visitors who get a glimpse of what stadiums once looked like in both England and Scotland.

For those who can get there away from match day, there is a stadium tour which costs £15 for adults and £12 for six to twelve-year-olds and free for under-fives.

The recent announcements of the Riverside Stand will improve the facility along the River Thames and modernize this section for fans and visitors of the club.

Craven Cottage earns a fourth point for the George Cohen statue that was unveiled to honor the 1966 World Cup champion English team. Cohen also played for FCC from 1956-1969.

Final Thoughts

Craven Cottage is one of the more historic grounds in English football and rich with history. The Riverside Stand redevelopment will modernize the venue and hopefully maintain its vintage charm when the team makes its plans to return to the top tier of English football.

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