Fulham FC has made a home for itself at Craven Cottage, which has been its home ground since 1896. Before then, Fulham did not have a home, and the team spent a lot of time shuttling between one ground and the other. It wasn’t until they found a home in Craven Cottage that they finally settled. And their fans can also now rejoice in having something they can call their own.
For a start, the ground had a capacity for 25700 people, all with seating capacity. Changes took place upon the closure of the Riverside stand in view of the 2019 season. To date, the record attendance stands at 49335 people. This record was a result of a game against Millwall on 8th October 1938. In the future, there is hope that the current developments will lead to more record attendance.
Did you know that Craven Cottage was originally a royal hunting lodge? That adds to the mystery of these beautiful grounds which date back to more than three centuries ago. This land measures 100 by 65 meters and has a fibroelastic surface. It came to be in 1780, where it served as a cottage before its conversion to a stadium in 1896. Fulham is not the only team that has played here.
Other teams, such as the Australian national football team and Canada men’s National Football Team, have also used it. It helps to note that Craven Cottage was once the home ground for the rugby league team known as Fulham RLFC.
You may wonder why the ground is known as Craven Cottage. Well, this naming date back to the 18th century. Back then, William Craven, the 6th Baron Craven, came up with the idea of building a cottage on this land. Around the building were woods that served as hunting areas. Edward Bulwer-Lytton lived here for a while. You may know him as the author of the last days of Pompeii.
Other notable people also occupied this building before a fire razed down in 1888. While it is not clear who else lived here, there are many compelling rumours on the same.
Possible tenants include Jeremy Bentham, Florence Nightingale, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Queen Victoria. Once the fire destroyed the cottage and its surroundings, it was a while before anyone else occupied it.
Having played on other grounds for quite a while, Fulham found that the Craven Cottage offered the team what is needed. Their move to this site earned them the name The Cottagers.
However, the move to this site was not as easy as you may have thought. At the time, Fulham representatives were working on finding a home for the team. They came across the Craven Cottage in 1894, 6 years after the fire.
The land had not been in use for a long time and was pretty much destroyed to a great extent. Their representatives realized that if they wanted to make this their home, they had their work cut out for them. They set out on rehabilitating the site, an action that took two years.
The agreement was that the ground owners would carry out the maintenance work and will benefit from part of the gate receipts. In October 1896, the grounds were now suitable for a football game and people to pay gate receipts.
On the 10th of the same month, again took place between Fulham and Minerva in the Middlesex Senior Cup. It would surprise you to know that the game took place without a stand. The building of the stand took place after the game, with a seating capacity of 250 people. Fans were eager to use the stand, which had an Orange Box resemblance.
Later on, people came to describe it as the rabbit hutch with much fondness.
For the eight years that followed, the Craven Cottage came home to Fulham, with no significant challenges in play. It was not until 1904 that the London County Council raised questions regarding the safety level of the grounds.
According to the authorities, the grounds were not fit for use and called for the closure of the same. Their stand led to a court case the following year, which saw Archibald Leitch taken the project of improving the state of the stadium.
Archibald was a Scottish architect who had earlier worked on the Ibrox Stadium. He built a Pavilion as well as the Stevenage Road Stand using red bricks. The Stevenage Road stand letter came to be renamed at the Johnny Haynes stand, following the death of the former England captain. These two structures remain standing as grade two buildings, a show of Archibald’s football architecture.
Craven Cottage has undergone a myriad of changes from establishing itself as a stadium to date. It now comprises Hammersmith end, Putney end, Riverside stand, Johnny Haynes stand, and the pavilion. These changes make for a great story that adds to the appeal of Fulham as a team.