One of the nicest football grounds to visit as an away fan.
The iconic cottage and old Stevenage Road Stand are great reminders of good times in the game long gone.
Hope they're never altered.
Top Day out. 5☆
The original 'Cottage' was built in 1780, by William Craven, the sixth Baron Craven and was located close to where the Johnny Haynes Stand is now. At the time, the surrounding areas were woods which made up part of Anne Boleyn's hunting grounds. The Cottage was lived in by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (who wrote The Last Days of Pompeii) and other somewhat notable (and moneyed) persons until it was destroyed by fire in May 1888. Many rumours persist among Fulham fans of past tenants of Craven Cottage. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jeremy Bentham, Florence Nightingale and even Queen Victoria are reputed to have stayed there, although there is no real evidence for this. Following the fire, the site was abandoned. Fulham had had 8 previous grounds before settling in at Craven Cottage for good. Therefore, The Cottagers have had 12 grounds overall (including a temporary stay at Loftus Road), meaning that only their former 'landlords' and rivals QPR have had more home grounds (14) in British football. Of particular note, was Ranelagh House, Fulham's palatial home from 1886–1888. Under construction: 1894–1905
When representatives of Fulham first came across the land, in 1894, it was so overgrown that it took two years to be made suitable for football to be played on it. A deal was struck for the owners of the ground to carry out the work, in return for which they would receive a proportion of the gate receipts. The first football match at which there were any gate receipts was when Fulham played against Minerva in the Middlesex Senior Cup, on 10 October 1896. The ground's first stand was built shortly after. Described as looking like an "orange box", it consisted of four wooden structures each holding some 250 seats, and later was affectionately nicknamed the "rabbit hutch". In 1904 London County Council became concerned with the level of safety at the ground, and tried to get it closed. A court case followed in January 1905, as a result of which Archibald Leitch, a Scottish architect who had risen to prominence after his building of the Ibrox Stadium, a few years earlier, was hired to work on the stadium. In a scheme costing £15,000 (a record for the time), he built a pavilion (the present-day 'Cottage' itself) and the Stevenage Road Stand, in his characteristic red brick style. The stand on Stevenage Road celebrated its centenary in the 2005–2006 season and, following the death of Fulham FC's favourite son, former England captain Johnny Haynes, in a car accident in October 2005 the Stevenage Road Stand was renamed the Johnny Haynes Stand after the club sought the opinions of Fulham supporters.
Both the Johnny Haynes Stand and Cottage remain among the finest examples of Archibald Leitch football architecture to remain in existence and both have been designated as Grade II listed buildings. Establishing itself as a stadium An England v Wales match was played at the ground in 1907, followed by a rugby league international between England and Australia in 1911. One of the club's directors Henry Norris, and his friend William Hall, took over Arsenal in the early 1910s, the plan being to merge Fulham with Arsenal, to form a "London superclub" at Craven Cottage. This move was largely motivated by Fulham's failure thus far to gain promotion to the top division of English football. There were also plans for Henry Norris to build a larger stadium on the other side of Stevenage Road but there was little need after the merger idea failed. During this era, the Cottage was used for choir singing and marching bands along with other performances, and Mass. In 1933 there were plans to demolish the ground and start again from scratch with a new 80,000 capacity stadium. These plans never materialised mainly due to the Great Depression.
On 8 October 1938, 49,335 spectators watched Fulham play Millwall. It was the largest attendance ever at Craven Cottage and the record remains today, unlikely to be bettered as it is now an all-seater stadium with currently no room for more than 25,700. The ground hosted several football games for the 1948 Summer Olympics, and is one of the last extant that did. Post-War
It was not until after Fulham first reached the top division, in 1949, that further improvements were made to the stadium. In 1962 Fulham became the final side in the first division to erect floodlights. The floodlights were said to be the most expensive in Europe at the time as they were so modern. The lights were like large pylons towering 50 metres over the ground and were similar in appearance to those at the WACA. An electronic scoreboard was installed on the Riverside Terrace at the same time as the floodlights were installed and flagpoles flying the flags of all of the other first division teams were flown from them. Following the sale of Alan Mullery to Tottenham Hotspur in 1964 (for £72,500) the Hammersmith End had a roof put over it at a cost of approximately £42,500.
Although Fulham was relegated, the development of Craven Cottage continued. The Riverside terracing, infamous for the fact that fans occupying it would turn their heads annually to watch The Boat Race pass, was replaced by what was officially named the 'Eric Miller Stand',Eric Miller being a director of the club at the time. The stand, which cost £334,000 and held 4,200 seats, was opened with a friendly game against Benfica in February 1972, (which included Eusébio).Pelé was also to appear on the ground, with a friendly played against his team Santos F.C. The Miller stand brought the seated capacity up to 11,000 out of a total 40,000.Eric Miller committed suicide five years later after a political and financial scandal, and had shady dealings with trying to move Fulham away from the Cottage. The stand is now better known as the Riverside Stand. On Boxing Day 1963, Craven Cottage was the venue of the fastest hat-trick in the history of the English football league, which was completed in less than three minutes, by Graham Leggat. This helped his Fulham team to beat Ipswich 10–1 (a club record). The international record is held by Jimmy O'Connor, an Irish player who notched up his hat trick in 2 minutes 14 seconds in 1967. Between 1980 and 1984, Fulham rugby league played their home games at the Cottage. They have since evolved into the London Crusaders, the London Broncos and Harlequins Rugby League before reverting to London Broncos ahead of the 2012 season. Craven Cottage held the team's largest ever crowd at any ground with 15,013, at a game against Wakefield Trinity on 15 February 1981. Modern times
When the Hillsborough disaster occurred in 1989, Fulham were in the second bottom rung of The Football League, but following the Taylor report Fulham's ambitious chairman Jimmy Hill tabled plans in 1996 for an all-seater stadium. These plans never came to fruition, partly due to local residents' pressure groups, and by the time Fulham reached the Premier League, they still had standing areas in the ground, something virtually unheard of at the time. A year remained to do something about this (teams reaching the second tier for the first time are allowed a three-year period to reach the required standards for the top two divisions), but by the time the last league game was played there, against Leicester City on 27 April 2002, no building plans had been made. Two more Intertoto Cup games were played there later that year (against FC Haka of Finland and Egaleo FC of Greece), and the eventual solution was to decamp to Loftus Road, home of local rivals QPR. During this time, many Fulham fans only went to away games in protest of moving from Craven Cottage. 'Back to the Cottage', later to become the 'Fulham Supporters Trust', was set up as a fans pressure group to encourage the chairman and his advisers that Craven Cottage was the only viable option for Fulham Football Club. After one and a half seasons at Loftus Road, no work had been done on the Cottage. In December 2003, plans were unveiled for £8 million worth of major refurbishment work to bring it in line with Premier League requirements. With planning permission granted, work began in January 2004 in order to meet the deadline of the new season. The work proceeded as scheduled and the club were able to return to their home for the start of the 2004–05 season. Their first game in the new-look 22,000 all-seater stadium was a pre-season friendly against Watford on 10 July 2004.Fenway Sports Group originally partnered with Fulham in 2009, due to the perceived heritage and quirks shared between the Cottage and Fenway Park, saying no English club identifies with its stadium as much as Fulham.
The current stadium was one of the Premier League's smallest grounds at the time of Fulham's relegation at the end of the 2013–14 season (it was third-smallest, after the KC Stadium and the Liberty Stadium). Much admired for its fine architecture, the stadium has recently hosted a few international games, mostly including Australia. This venue is suitable for Australia because most of the country's top players are based in Europe, and West London has a significant community of expatriate Australians. Also, Greece vs. South Korea was hosted on 6 February 2007. In 2011 Brazil played Ghana, in an international friendly, and the Women's Champions League Final was hosted. Craven Cottage often hosts many other events such as 5-a-side football tournaments and weddings. Also, many have Sunday Lunch at the Riverside restaurant or the 'Cottage Cafe' on non-match days. Craven Cottage hosted the Oxbridge Varsity Football match annually between 1991 and 2000 and again in 2003, 2006 (the same day as the famous 'Boat Race'), 2008, 2009, and 2014 as well as having a Soccer Aid warm-up match in 2006. The half-time entertainment often includes the SW6ers (previously called The Cravenettes) which are a group of female cheerleaders. Other events have included brass bands, Michael Jackson (all though just walking on the pitch, as opposed to performing),Travis playing, Arabic dancing, keepie uppie professionals and presentational awards. Most games also feature the 'Fulham flutter', a half-time draw; and a shoot-out competition of some kind, usually involving scoring through a 'hoop' or 'beat the goalie'. On the first home game of the season, there is a carnival where every Fulham fan is expected to turn up in black-and-white colours. There is usually live rock bands, player signings, clowns, stilt walkers, a steel (calypso) band, food stalls and a free training session for children in Bishops Park.
The Fulham Ladies (before their demise) and Reserve teams occasionally play home matches at the Cottage. Other than this, they generally play at the club's training ground at Motspur Park or at Kingstonian and AFC Wimbledon's stadium, Kingsmeadow. Craven Cottage is known by several affectionate nicknames from fans, including: The (River) Cottage, The Fortress (or Fortress Fulham), Thameside, The Friendly Confines, SW6, Lord of the Banks, The House of Hope, The Pavilion of Perfection, The 'True' Fulham Palace and The Palatial Home. The Thames at the banks of the Cottage is often referred to as 'Old Father' or The River of Dreams.
The most accessible route to the ground is to walk through Bishops Park from Putney Bridge (the nearest Underground station), often known as 'The Green Mile' by Fulham fans (as it is roughly a mile walk through pleasant greenery). The Telegraph ranked the Cottage 9th out of 54 grounds to hold Premier League football. Plans On 27 July 2012, Fulham FC were granted permission to redevelop the Riverside Stand, increasing the capacity of Craven Cottage to 30,000 seats. Beforehand various rumours arose including plans to return to ground-sharing with QPR in a new 40,000 seater White City stadium, although these now appear firmly on hold with the construction of the Westfield shopping centre on the proposed site. The board seem to have moved away from their ambition to make Fulham the "Manchester United of the south" as it became clear how expensive such a plan would be. With large spaces of land at a premium in south-west London, Fulham appear to be committed to a gradual increase of the ground's capacity often during the summer between seasons. The capacity of Craven Cottage has been increased during summers for instance in 2008 with a small increase in the capacity of the Hammersmith End. Fulham previously announced in 2007 that they are planning to increase the capacity of Craven Cottage by 4,000 seats, but this is yet to be implemented. There was also proposals for a bridge to span the Thames, for a redeveloped Riverside stand and a museum. More substantial plans arose in October 2011 with the 'Fulham Forever' campaign. With Mohamed Al-Fayed selling Harrods department store for £1.5 billion in May 2010 a detailed plan emerged in the Riverside Stand as the only viable area for expansion. The scheme involved the demolition of the back of the Riverside Stand with a new tier of seating added on top of the current one and a row of corporate boxes; bringing Craven Cottage up to 30,000 capacity. Taking into account local residents, the proposal would: reopen the riverside walk; light pollution would be reduced with the removal of floodlight masts; new access points would make match-day crowds more manageable; and the new stand would be respectful in design to its position on the River Thames. Buckingham Group Contracting were chosen in March 2013 as the construction company for the project. In May 2019, the club confirmed that work on the new Riverside Stand would commence in the summer of 2019. During construction, set to occur through the 2020-21 season, the ground's capacity will be temporarily reduced to 19,000.