A game day experience at Fulham’s Craven Cottage is almost unmatched with its old-school charm and feel. Groundhopper Guides dives into the club that supporters often refer to as the Cottagers.
Introduction to Fulham FC
Fulham, named for the posh neighborhood where it is based, is London’s oldest football club. The club has spent 27 seasons in England’s top tier, the majority of which came in the 1960s and again in the early 2000s.
Fulham have reached two major finals but are still awaiting their first team trophy. In 1975, they fell in the FA Cup Final, as a second division squad, to West Ham. In 2010, they lost in extra time to Atlético Madrid in the Europa League final.
They first donned their traditional white shirt and black shorts kit in 1903.
Fulham was formed in 1879 as Fulham St. Andrew’s Church Sunday School F.C. The club gained professional status in 1898, becoming the third London club to turn professional, after Arsenal and Millwall.
After winning a couple of regional league trophies, Fulham joined the Football League in 1907-08, but it wouldn’t be until the 1949-50 campaign that they reached the top tier of English football.
One interesting note: Fulham became the first British team to sell hot dogs at their ground in 1926.
After three seasons in the top tier from 1950-51, Fulham were back to Division Two for seven seasons before another nine-year stint in the top division through the 1967-68 season. Their hero in those days was Johnny Haynes, an England international for whom the oldest stand at the ground is named. His statue is just outside the stand.
Starting in 1968-69, Fulham spent the next 31 seasons bouncing between Division Two and Division Three before returning to the top tier in 1999-00.
At the turn of the 21st century, Fulham enjoyed their most successful run playing in the top tier of English football. Fulham played 15 straight seasons in the Premier League, finishing in the top half of the table in 2009, 2011 and 2012. They have played five of the last seven seasons in the Championship, with stints back up in the Premier League in 2018-19 and 2020-21.
Fulham were relegated to the Championship for 2021-22, after an 18th place finish in the Premier League.
Fulham’s Stadium, Craven Cottage
Located in West London, Craven Cottage has been the home to Fulham FC since 1896 and is located on the banks of the River Thames. This ground might be unlike any other you can visit, as after you exit the Tube station, you walk through a park and among many luxury homes to get to the stadium.
The original ‘Craven Cottage’ was a royal hunting lodge that burned down in 1888. The famous “cottage” that sits in the corner of the ground today was built in 1905, along with the Haynes Stand, and houses both (tiny) locker rooms. Fulham players’ families sit on the balcony to watch the game.
A new Riverside Stand will open during the 2021-22 season and increase capacity to 30,000.
Ask a Fulham fan, and they will say Chelsea are the biggest rivals; Craven Cottage and Stamford Bridge are only 1.8 miles apart. But it’s not a particularly competitive rivalry, with the Blues beating the Whites 45 times with just nine losses. Games against Brentford would also qualify as a West London Derby, but they are in the Premier League this season.
A secondary rivalry, according to Fulham fans, is with Queens Park Rangers, whose Loftus Road home is just three miles from Fulham. The two teams will meet twice in 2021-22, as both are in the Championship.
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