Situated just metres from the banks of the Thames and featuring the unique red brick façade of the Stevenage Road stand; Craven Cottage is arguably one of the most picturesque stadiums in English football.
The site where the stadium now sits was stumbled upon by club representatives in 1894 and was in such a state of disrepair, it required two years of significant clearing and building work to prepare it as a sporting venue. Upon the completion of those works, Fulham played the first game with any gate receipts against Minerva in the Middlesex Senior Cup, before the first stand – the ‘Rabbit Hutch’ stand was built shortly after.
One of eleven stadiums to host football at the 1948 Olympics, Fulham’s home continued to be developed across the 1950s and 1960s in spite of the loss of their Division One status, and a roof was constructed over the Hammersmith End at a cost of £42,500 in 1964.
Former chairman Jimmy Hill tabled plans for an brand new stadium in 1996 when the Whites were in Division Three, but though Jean Tigana led them to the Premier League within just five years, the required developments to make the Cottage all-seater failed to materialise. Amid intense protests, the club relocated to local rivals QPR’s Loftus Road home in 2002, where they stayed until the summer of 2004, when Craven Cottage was reopened as a 22,000-seater venue, compliant with Premier League regulations.
The Cottage is currently operating with only three stands due to an £80 million redevelopment of the Riverside Stand, which will take the stadium’s capacity to 29,600 by its projected completion date in 2021, re-opening a disused stretch of the Thames’ riverside walkway in the process.
Craven Cottage has been a happy hunting ground for the Bees over the years, with just one league defeat suffered at the stadium in 20 trips since January 1954, when Frank Dudley scored the consolation in a 4-1 reverse.
Did you know?
The original ‘Cottage’ was situated where the centre circle currently lies and was used as a royal hunting lodge before it was burned down in 1888. When London County Council attempted to close the stadium in the early 1900s, architect Archibald Leitch built the present day Cottage and the Stevenage Road stand, both of which have remained open ever since.
How to get there
For those supporters coming from the south, drivers will need to leave the M25 at Junction 10 and take the A3 towards Central London. After around eight miles, leave the A3 at the turn off for the A219. Take the A219 towards Putney. Continue straight on this road, down Putney High Street and across Putney Bridge. You will see the ground on your left.
Alternatively, for those coming from the north or the west, drivers should leave the M25 at Junction 15 and take the M4, which then becomes the A4, towards Central London. After around two miles branch off left into Hammersmith Broadway and go around the ring road around central Hammersmith, keeping to the right. Then take the A219 Fulham Palace Road. Keep straight on this road, passing Charing Cross Hospital on your left. After about another half a mile, take one of the right hand turns for the ground. If you pass the Fulham Palace Garden Centre on your right, then you have gone too far.
Parking around the ground can be difficult due to the one-hour pay and display policy enforced until 9.30pm on matchday. However one option is the Westfield multi-storey car park in nearby Shepherd’s Bush. It’s around an hour’s walk, however the 220 bus departs every 8 minutes from the shopping centre’s Uxbridge Road bus stop.
Equally, public transport is perhaps the most viable option for supporters. The nearest station is Putney Bridge, which is on the London Underground District Line and is less than a mile away. Hammersmith London Underground station, on the Piccadilly, District, Circle and Hammersmith and City lines, is around 20 minutes away on foot.
Putney station is just over a mile from the ground. Train travellers can get trains to Putney directly from Brentford, Richmond, Twickenham, Clapham Junction and London Waterloo. Many London Buses also serve Fulham Place Road from Putney, Hammersmith, and central London.
Where to eat/drink
With Friday’s game being a feisty local derby, based on recent trips to the Cottage, there are strict restrictions in place as to where Brentford fans can and can’t drink before the game. Close to Putney Bridge tube station on Fulham High Street is the Eight Bells, a popular away fans pub that once housed the Whites’ changing rooms when they played at Ranelagh House. Also on the high street is the Temperance, which features a large round bar, screens football on a projector and offers food such as burgers and hot dogs for reasonable prices, while opposite is the popular King’s Arms.
It’s worth checking on the day which pubs are admitting away fans anyway, but the following have historically turned Brentford fans away: The Crabtree, The Durrell Arms, The Golden Lion, Zulu Bar, The Railway, The Fox. The Star & Garter, meanwhile, usually doesn’t admit football fans at all.
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