Address: Stevenage Road,
Capacity: 25,700 (All-Seater) (Restricted to 19,359 due to Renovation)
Very soon, this is going to be a stadium that quite literally has the old and the new on opposite sides of the pitch.
The stadium and the site it is based on have a long history.
The Craven Cottage name comes from the cottage that was originally built here in 1780 by William Craven, the sixth Baron Craven. Several notable people would live at the cottage over the next century until it was destroyed by a fire in May 1888. The site remained abandoned following the fire until 1894, when representatives of Fulham Football Club came across the then-overgrown land.
It would take two years for the site to become suitable for football to be played on, and the first form of the Craven Cottage Stadium was built in 1896.
Starting off with just a single stand, work by Scottish architect Archibald Leitch in the early 1900s saw a pavilion and large stand built along Stevenage Road on the eastern side of the pitch. Those two structures have been in place ever since and are now designated as Grade II listed buildings as the finest examples of Archibald Leitch architecture.
Craven Cottage would host several football games at the 1948 Summer Olympics. Floodlights would be erected in 1962. Fulham Rugby League Football Club, nowadays known as the London Broncos, based themselves at the stadium between 1980 and 1984.
Fulham FC briefly moved across London to Queens Park Rangers' Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium (Loftus Road) between 2002 and 2004 whilst Craven Cottage went through necessary conversions to an all-seater stadium.
Further renovations have taken place since then, including work on the stadium’s western side during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons which temporarily reduced the ground’s capacity as a result.
Location and Getting There
Craven Cottage is located in the Fulham area of the Hammersmith and Fulham Borough, roughly five miles southwest of the Centre of London.
The stadium is well known for being located right on the west bank of the River Thames, with Bishops Park based to the south of the ground and Charing Cross Hospital based roughly one mile to the north. Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge is located around 1.5 miles away to the east.
As with all London grounds, I would recommend against coming to Craven Cottage by car. The stadium doesn’t have car parks around its immediate vicinity, and the nearby streets are limited to a one hour ‘pay and display’ system which isn’t always clearly notified on meters. You would likely have to park a good distance away from Craven Cottage in order to find free or legal parking, and navigating the streets of London both before and after kick-off can prove time consuming.
The closest railway station to Craven Cottage is Putney, which is actually on the opposite side of the River Thames. The walk from here to the stadium takes you across the Thames via Putney Bridge and takes around 25 minutes.
You can get closer to the ground by using Underground stations instead, with the nearest being Putney Bridge that is part of the District Line. It’s based on the same bank of the Thames as Craven Cottage and walking from the station to the stadium takes around 15 minutes along a fairly simple route through Bishops Park.
Outside the Stadium
With Craven Cottage surrounded to the north and south by parks and to the west by the River Thames, there is a limited part of the stadium’s exterior that you can actually walk right alongside. Fans will approach the ground from Stevenage Road on its eastern side, and the stand running alongside this road is named after Johnny Haynes.
Born in Kentish Town on 17th October 1934, Haynes was an inside forward who signed for Fulham as a 15-year-old and would go on to play almost 600 times for the Cottagers, scoring almost 150 goals between 1952 and 1970. A former England captain who earned 56 caps and played at two FIFA World Cups, Haynes is widely regarded as Fulham’s greatest ever player.
He passed away on 18th October 2005 at the age of 71, and the eastern side of Craven Cottage, which was originally known as the Stevenage Road Stand, became known as the Johnny Haynes Stand soon afterwards.
The Johnny Haynes Stand is the oldest remaining stand in professional football, dating back to 1905.
Designed by famous Scottish architect Archibald Leitch, it is considered a Grade II listed building.
The exterior here is one of the grandest looking around. It consists mostly of brickwork with large black doors and three rows of different-shaped windows higher up. Truth be told, it looks more like the outside of a public building than it does the stand of a football ground.
All of Craven Cottage’s main entrances are found along the base by Stevenage Road. Fulham’s Matchday Media Office has its entrance down next to the stadium’s southeast corner, with a statue of Johnny Hayes based close by to it. Fulham’s Main Ticket Office is based further along towards the centre of the exterior, with the Craven Cottage Reception and Fulham Stadium Store based nearer to the northeast corner.
Turnstiles for the Jonny Haynes Stand itself, numbers 20-29, are based along the stand’s brickwork exterior.
At either end of the Johnny Haynes Stand’s exterior are two large sets of turnstiles, these are the entrances for the other three sides of Craven Cottage as it is not possible to walk right around behind them.
When you head in a clockwise direction from the Johnny Haynes Stand, the exterior of the Pavilion comes into view. It is the other Grade II listed building at Craven Cottage, also built by Archibald Leitch in 1905.
The Cottage is also known as the Clubhouse and holds not just the changing rooms, being traditionally used by the families and friends of supporters who sit on the balcony to watch the game.
The upper parts of the Pavilion can be seen from outside the stadium on Stevenage Road, but immediately in front of there is the set of turnstiles for both the stadium’s western and southern sides.
The South Stand at Craven Cottage is known as the Putney End after the area of London out beyond it.
Backing right onto Bishops Park, there is a footpath that passes along behind the stand but is considered part of Bishops Park and there is no way of reaching the Putney End itself from here. What you can see from here however is the upper parts of the Putney End’s corrugated iron exterior.
Turnstiles for the Putney End are based outside the pavilion off Stevenage Road. Numbers 1-13 are designated for use by those with seats in the Putney End.
Craven Cottage’s West Stand backs onto the River Thames and is known as the Riverside Stand.
During the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, the stand has been demolished and rebuilt with the aim of completion in time of the 2021-22 season. The closure of this stand led to a notable decrease in Craven Cottage’s capacity whilst Fulham continued to play there, and the club’s matchday camera has been based on this side of the stadium during games.
Information around exactly what this stand will look like upon completion is still limited, but there are artist’s impressions available that show concept designs.
The new-look Riverside Stand is expected to use a much more modern exterior that includes a giant glass façade, with restaurants, conference facilities, bars and flats including in the redevelopment. Fulham chairman Shahid Khan additionally announced in November 2019 that a walkway outside the stand known as Fulham Pier will be developed.
Prior to its demolition, access to the Riverside Stand came via turnstiles off Stevenage Road. They can still be found at both the southeast and northeast corners of the ground, with numbers 14-17 used at the southeast set of turnstiles and numbers 44-47 used at the northeast set of turnstiles. It is not clear yet whether these turnstiles will remain in use once the new-look Riverside Stand is opened.
Craven Cottage’s North Stand is known as the Hammersmith End after the area of London out beyond it.
Backing right onto Stevenage Park, there is a footpath that passes along behind the stand but is considered part of Stevenage Park and there is no way of reaching the Hammersmith End itself from here. What you can see from here however is the upper parts of the Hammersmith End’s corrugated iron exterior, including the stand’s roof which was paid for by the transfer of Alan Mullery to Tottenham Hotspur back in 1964.
Turnstiles for the Hammersmith End are based off Stevenage Road on the eastern side of the ground. Numbers 32-43 are designated for use by those with seats in the Hammersmith End.
Inside the Stadium
The Johnny Haynes Stand consists of two tiers that you can freely get between.
Whilst the smaller lower tier contains black plastic seating, the upper tier consists of original ‘Bennet’ wooden seating.
Supporting pillars come down at regular intervals towards the front of the stand’s roof, which has the Fulham badge and the words FULHAM FOOTBALL CLUB attached at the top. These supporting pillars will not get in your way if you are sat in the front rows of the lower tier but will get in your way partly if you are sat behind them. There are also some seats that are positioned right behind these pillars and your view could end being massively restricted here. The very front rows of the Johnny Haynes Stand offer perfectly clear views of the pitch but are not fully protected by the roof above.
Windshields at either end of the stand provide protection to all the rows of the upper tier, but none of the lower tier rows. Each windshield is decorated with pictures of Johnny Haynes.
The Pavilion in Craven Cottage’s southeast corner has the stadium’s tunnel attached to it, with the changing rooms located inside. There is a balcony above the tunnel with two rows of wooden seats which have traditionally been used by friends and families of the players during matches.
Views can end up being slightly restricted here by the presence of supporting pillars both at the front of the balcony and at the near end of the Johnny Haynes Stand.
The Putney End is single-tiered, though the blocks further back are smaller and a different shape to the blocks further forwards.
The vast majority of the seats inside here are coloured black, though the letters FULHAM are spelt out in white across the front. At one end of the stand, next to the stadium’s southwest corner, you can find executive boxes stacked on top of one another with rows of black seating based down in front of them. An electronic scoreboard hangs down from the stand’s roof which can best be seen by those at the opposite end of the stadium.
Three supporting pillars come down towards the back of the stand. Your view as a result is perfectly clear if you are sat in the front or middle rows of the stand, but will be slightly restricted if you are sat up towards the back of the Putney End.
There is a small windshield at the end next to the Pavilion which only provides protection to the back rows of the stand, whilst the stack of executive boxes offers a better amount of protection at the other end.
The new-look Riverside Stand is expected to be the largest of the four at Craven Cottage and split into two separate tiers.
The lower tier is much smaller, consisting of entirely black seating with the stadium’s dugouts down at the front and a row of executive boxes at the back.
The much larger upper tier is expected to also consist of black seating, with executive seating in the middle and an executive area up at the back that includes a gantry for the matchday camera.
The roof is expected to be supported from the back and so your view from anywhere inside the Riverside Stand is expected to be perfectly clear.
At either end of the stand are plans for two buildings that will double as the windshields for most of the upper tier.
Information at this stage is still limited and will become clearer once the new Riverside Stand is officially opened.
The Hammersmith End is similar in design to the Putney End opposite.
It is single-tiered, though the blocks further back are smaller and a different shape to the blocks further forwards. The vast majority of the seats inside here are coloured black, though the letters FULHAM are spelt out in white across the front. At both ends of the stand are executive boxes stacked on top of one another with rows of black seating based down in front of them.
Your view from most of the Hammersmith End is clear, but there are two pillars coming down along the very centre of the stand and these may restrict your view slightly if you are sat in the rows behind them. They will not restrict your view at all if you are sat in the rows towards the front.
The Hammersmith End doesn’t have natural windshields, with the two stacks of executive boxes instead offering a decent level of protection for the rows further back.
Away fans are housed behind the goal in the Putney End.
This stand is split between home and away supporters, with the blocks nearer to the stadium’s southwest corner given to the travelling crowd. A row of stewards is then used to separate these away fans from any home supporters sat nearby. Additional blocks in the Putney End are made available for larger away followings.
The Putney End has clear views of the pitch if you are sat in the middle and front rows, but supporting pillars can restrict your view if you are sat up towards the back of the stand. A stack of executive boxes next to you does provide good protection from the side though.
Entrance to this part of the stadium comes via a set of turnstiles outside the pavilion off Stevenage Road. Home supporters in the Putney End will use this set of turnstiles as well.
Craven Cottage in the past has used the block nearest to the Pavilion (P1) as a ‘neutral area’ that is freely available for home, away and neutral supporters. It has been designated exclusively for home supporters however whilst the Riverside Stand is being rebuilt.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Crabtree (Rainville Road, W6 9HA) (Non-Rival Away Supporters Welcome)
-The Eight Bells (89 Fulham High Street, SW6 3JS) (Popular with Away Supporters) (Located near Putney Bridge Underground Station)
-The Kings Arms (425 New Kings Road, SW6 4RN) (Away Supporters Welcome) (Located near Putney Bridge Underground Station)
-The Rocket (Putney Wharf, SW15 2JQ) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located beyond the southern side of Putney Bridge)
-The Temperance (90 Fulham High Street, SW6 3LF) (Popular with Away Supporters) (Located near Putney Bridge Underground Station)
There really isn’t another place like Craven Cottage. This is a stadium that gives you the chance to sit in wooden seats that form part of a Grade II listed building, with a famous cottage located adjacent to it that continues to be used by the players when not on the pitch.
Whilst Craven Cottage’s eastern side dates back to the early 20th century, its western side is set to become a new behemoth that will rival the very best designed stands around both inside and out.
It will be quite interesting to see just how these two look together when fully operational.