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Top facts about Craven Cottage, The Fortress Fulham

Fri 18 March 2022 | 14:30

In this article, titled the Top facts about Craven Cottage, we have gathered all the details we could about the London-based stadium.

Craven Cottage is a football stadium in Fulham, London, England. Since 1896, it has been the home of Championship club Fulham. The Riverside Stand was closed for reconstruction during the close season of 2019, reducing the stadium's capacity to 19,359 seats.

On October 8, 1938, a game versus Millwall set a new attendance record of 49,335. Craven Cottage, which is located next to Bishop's Park on the banks of the River Thames, was formerly a royal hunting lodge with a 300-year history.

The United States men's national football team, Australia national football team, Republic of Ireland national football team (for a friendly match in 2012), and Canada men's national football team have all played at the stadium, which was once the home ground for rugby league team Fulham RLFC.

Top facts about Craven Cottage Worth Knowing

We start by telling you about the history of the arena, making our way up to the point where it is these days.

Craven Cottage History – Before Fulham (1780 to 1888)

The original 'Cottage' was built in 1780 by William Craven, the sixth Baron Craven, and was near where the Johnny Haynes Stand presently lies. The nearby surroundings were at the time woodlands that were part of Anne Boleyn's hunting grounds.

The Cottage was home to Edward Bulwer-Lytton (author of The Last Days of Pompeii) and other well-known (and wealthy) people until it was burned down in May 1888.

Former Craven Cottage renters are the subject of many rumors among Fulham fans, one of the Top facts about Craven Cottage.

There are rumors that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jeremy Bentham, Florence Nightingale, and perhaps Queen Victoria stayed there; however, there is no proof.

The location was abandoned after the fire. Fulham had previously played at eight different venues before settling down at Craven Cottage for good.

As a result, The Cottagers have had 12 home grounds overall (including a brief spell at Loftus Road), with only their previous 'landlords' and rivals QPR having had more in British football (14).

Ranelagh House, Fulham's stately mansion from 1886 to 1888, was particularly noteworthy.

Craven Cottage History – In the Midst of Making (1894–1905)

When Fulham's representatives first came upon the site in 1894, it was so overgrown that it took two years to get it ready to play football on. The ground owners agreed to do the work in exchange for a share of the gate receipts.

On 10 October 1896, when Fulham played Minerva in the Middlesex Senior Cup, the first football match with gate receipts took place. Shortly after, the ground's first stand was constructed. It was fondly termed the "rabbit hutch" because it resembled an "orange box" and comprised of four wooden constructions, each holding 250 seats.

The degree of safety at the ground became a worry for London County Council in 1904, and they attempted to close it down.

During a court case in January 1905, Archibald Leitch, a Scottish architect who rose to reputation following the construction of the Ibrox Stadium a few years prior, was appointed to work on the stadium, one of the Top facts about Craven Cottage. He designed a pavilion (the current 'Cottage' itself) and the Stevenage Road Stand in his trademark red brick style for £15,000 (a record at the time).

Following the loss of

Fulham FC

's favorite son, former England captain Johnny Haynes, in a vehicle accident in October 2005, the Stevenage Road Stand was renamed the Johnny Haynes Stand after the club sought feedback from Fulham supporters, another one of the

Top facts about Craven Cottage.

The Johnny Haynes Stand and Cottage are both Grade II listed buildings and are among the finest examples of Archibald Leitch football architecture still in existence.

Craven Cottage History – Eventually Turning Into an Actual Stadium (1907 to 1938)

In 1907, the ground hosted an

England

against Wales game, followed by a rugby league international between England and Australia in 1911.

In the early 1910s, Arsenal was taken over by one of the club's directors, Henry Norris, and his friend William Hall, with the intention of merging Fulham with

Arsenal

at Craven Cottage to become a "London superclub," one of the Top facts about Craven Cottage.

Fulham's failure to achieve promotion to the top flight of English football was a major factor in their decision.

There were also plans for Henry Norris to build a larger stadium on the other side of Stevenage Road, but since the merger idea failed, there was little need for it.

The Cottage was utilized for choir singing and marching bands, as well as other performances and Mass, throughout this time period.

In 1933, there were plans to demolish the stadium and build a new 80,000-seat stadium from the ground up. Due to the Great Depression, these ideas never came true.

Another one of the Top facts about Craven Cottage. Fulham played Millwall in front of 49,335 fans on October 8, 1938.

It was the largest crowd ever at Craven Cottage, and it is unlikely to be beaten now that it is an all-seater stadium with no place for more than 25,700 people.

The stadium played host to various football games during the 1948 Summer Olympics, and it is one of the last remaining examples.

Craven Cottage History – After the World War II (1949 to 1984)

Further modifications to the stadium did not occur until 1949, when Fulham was promoted to the

Premier League

. Fulham became the final team in the first tier to install floodlights in 1962.

Because of their innovation, the floodlights were said to be the most expensive in Europe at the time, one of the

Top facts about Craven Cottage.

The lights resembled gigantic pylons that towered 50 meters above the ground and looked similar to those at the WACA.

At the same time that the floodlights were built, an electronic scoreboard was installed on the Riverside Terrace, and flagpoles with the flags of all of the other first division teams were flown from them.

Following the £72,500 sale of Alan Mullery to Tottenham Hotspur in 1964, the Hammersmith End was given a roof at a cost of around £42,500.

Despite Fulham's relegation, Craven Cottage's construction continued. The Riverside terracing, famed for supporters turning their heads to watch The Boat Race pass by every year, was replaced by the 'Eric Miller Stand,' named after Eric Miller, who was a director of the club at the time.

The £334,000 structure, which seated 4,200 people, was completed in February 1972 with a friendly match versus Benfica (which included

Eusebio

). 

Pele

was also supposed to play in a friendly match against his former team, Santos F.C. Out of a total of 40,000 people, the Miller stand increased the sitting capacity to 11,000 people.

Eric Miller, who had shady ties with trying to relocate Fulham away from the Cottage, committed suicide five years later after a political and financial scandal. The Riverside Stand is what the stand is presently known as.

Graham Leggat scored the fastest hat-trick in English football league history at Craven Cottage on Boxing Day 1963, which took less than three minutes to complete.

This contributed to Fulham's 10–1 victory over Ipswich (a club record). Jimmy O'Connor, an Irish footballer who scored a hat trick in 2 minutes 14 seconds in 1967, holds the international record.

Fulham rugby league played their home games at the Cottage from 1980 until 1984. Since then, they've gone by the names London Crusaders, London Broncos, and Harlequins Rugby League, before reverting to London Broncos for the 2012 season.

On February 15, 1981, a game against Wakefield Trinity at Craven Cottage gathered 15,013, the team's greatest ever crowd at any ground.

Craven Cottage History – The Late 20th Century

Fulham was in the second tier of The Football League when the Hillsborough disaster struck in 1989, but following the Taylor report, Fulham's ambitious chairman Jimmy Hill proposed plans for an all-seater stadium in 1996.

These intentions were never fulfilled, owing in part to pressure from local residents, and by the time Fulham made it to the Premier League, they still had standing areas in the stadium, which was nearly unheard of at the time.

There was still a year to do something about it (teams promoted to the second tier for the first time are given three years to meet the required standards for the top two divisions), but no plans had been made by the time the final league game was played there, against

Leicester City

on April 27, 2002.

Later that year, the club played two more Intertoto Cup games there (against FC Haka of Finland and Egaleo FC of Greece), before deciding to relocate to Loftus Road, home of local rivals QPR.

Many Fulham fans skipped home games during this period in protest of the club's relocation from Craven Cottage, one of the Top facts about Craven Cottage.

The 'Back to the Cottage' campaign, which eventually became the 'Fulham Supporters Trust,' was formed as a fan pressure group to persuade the chairman and his advisers that Craven Cottage was the only feasible alternative for Fulham Football Club.

Craven Cottage History – The Contemporary Period

The Cottage had remained unfinished after one and a half seasons at Loftus Road. In December 2003, it was announced that £8 million worth of extensive redevelopment work would be carried out to bring it up to Premier League standards.

Work began in January 2004 after planning permission was granted, in order to fulfill the new season's deadline. The renovations went according to plan, and the team was ready to return to its home in time for the start of the 2004–05 season.

On July 10, 2004, they played

Watford

in a pre-season friendly at the new-look 22,000-seater stadium. Fenway Sports Group first partnered with Fulham in 2009, citing the Cottage and Fenway Park's similar heritage and eccentricities, claiming that no English team identifies with their home as much as Fulham.

One of the Top facts about Craven Cottage is that when Fulham got relegated at the end of the 2013–14 season, the present stadium was one of the smallest in the Premier League (it was third-smallest, after the KC Stadium and the Liberty Stadium).

The arena, which is known for its elegant architecture, has recently held a few international games, most of which involved

Australia

. Because most of Australia's top players are based in Europe, and West London has a sizable Australian Expat Community, this location is ideal for them.

On February 6, 2007, a match between Greece and South Korea was also held. In 2011, Brazil hosted the Women's Champions League Final and played Ghana in an international friendly.

Craven Cottage Used For Different Purposes

Other events held at Craven Cottage include 5-a-side football competitions and weddings. On non-match days, many people have Sunday Lunch at the Riverside restaurant or the 'Cottage Cafe.'

Between 1991 and 2000, Craven Cottage hosted the Oxbridge Varsity Football match yearly, as well as a Soccer Aid warm-up match in 2003, 2006 (the same day as the famed 'Boat Race'), 2008, 2009, and 2014.

The SW6ers (formerly known as The Cravenettes) are a group of female cheerleaders who frequently perform during halftime.

Brass bands, Michael Jackson (albeit only walking on the pitch rather than performing), Travis playing, Arabic dancing, keepie uppie professionals, and presentational awards have all been featured on previous occasions.

The 'Fulham flutter,' a half-time draw, and a shoot-out competition of some sort, generally involving scoring through a 'hoop' or 'beat the goalie,' are also featured in most games. 

The first home game of the season is marked by a carnival in which every Fulham supporter is supposed to dress in black and white.

In Bishops Park, there are generally live rock bands, player signings, clowns, stilt walkers, a steel (calypso) band, food vendors, and a free children's training session.

The Fulham Ladies (before their dissolution) and Reserve teams used to play at the Cottage on occasion.

Aside from that, they usually play at Motspur Park, the club's training site, or Kingsmeadow, the home of Kingstonian and AFC Wimbledon.

One of the

Top facts about Craven Cottage

is that it has many nicknames. 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 are just a few of Craven Cottage's endearing nicknames.

The Thames, which runs alongside the Cottage, is known as 'Old Father' or The River of Dreams.

Craven Cottage Development Ideas & Plans

Fulham FC was given permission to renovate the Riverside Stand on July 27, 2012, bringing Craven Cottage's capacity to 30,000 seats.

Various rumors had surfaced previously, including intentions to return to ground-sharing with QPR in a new 40,000-seater White City stadium, but these now look to be on hold as the Westfield shopping center is being built on the intended site.

As it became evident how costly such a plan would be, the board seemed to have backed away from its aim to make Fulham the "Manchester United of the south."

Fulham appears to be dedicated to gradually increasing the ground's capacity throughout the summer between seasons, with big areas of land at a premium in southwest London.

Craven Cottage's capacity has been expanded during the summers, for example, in 2008 with a minor increase in the Hammersmith End's capacity.

Fulham originally stated in 2007 that they planned to expand Craven Cottage's capacity by 4,000 seats, however, this has yet to be accomplished.

There were also plans for a Thames-crossing bridge, a rebuilt Riverside stand, and a museum.

With the launch of the 'Fulham Forever' campaign in October 2011, more substantial proposals emerged.

After Mohamed Al-Fayed sold Harrods department store for £1.5 billion in May 2010, the Riverside Stand was identified as the only suitable development space.

The plan included demolishing the back of the Riverside Stand and adding a new layer of seating on top of the existing one, as well as a row of corporate boxes, raising Craven Cottage's capacity to 30,000.

The concept, which takes into account local residents, would reopen the riverfront walk, minimize light pollution by removing floodlight poles, make match-day crowds more manageable, and design the new stand to be respectful of its location on the River Thames.

Buckingham Group Contracting was appointed as the project's construction company in March 2013. The club announced in May 2019 that construction of the new Riverside Stand would begin in the summer of 2019.

The ground's capacity was temporarily lowered to 19,000 during the 2019–20 and 2020–21 seasons, one of the Top facts about Craven Cottage.

Craven Cottage Hosting International Games

The Northern Ireland vs. Cyprus 1974 World Cup Qualifier was played at Craven Cottage on May 8, 1973, after the match was moved from Belfast owing to some issues. Northern Ireland triumphed 3–0 in the first half, with goals from Sammy Morgan and Trevor Anderson.

It hosted England's under-21 international friendly against

Argentina

 on February 22, 2000. With 15,747 spectators, the hosts triumphed 1–0 thanks to Lee Hendrie's sixty-seventh-minute goal.

Craven Cottage has hosted a number of international friendly matches in recent years, notably the Ireland national team's matches against Colombia and Nigeria in May 2008 and May 2009, respectively, as well as Oman in 2012.

In the past few years, the South Korean national football team has played three international friendly at the stadium, the first against Greece in February 2007, the second against Serbia in November 2009, and the third against Croatia in February 2013.

At Craven Cottage on November 17, 2007, Australia defeated Nigeria 1–0 in an international friendly. Craven Cottage hosted the 2011 UEFA Women's Champions League Final between Lyon and Potsdam on May 26, 2011.

In September 2011, Craven Cottage hosted a friendly match between Ghana and

Brazil

. Australia defeated Canada 3–0 at Craven Cottage on October 15, 2013.

Scotland drew 2–2 with a Nigerian squad that qualified for the 2014 World Cup Finals on May 28, 2014.

On March 27, 2018, Australia faced Colombia in an international friendly match, which concluded in a 0-0 draw, with both teams qualifying for the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.

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source: SportMob

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