Tuesday 02 July 2013
Premierleague.com profiles all 20 Premier League venues, continuing with Fulham's home ground, Craven Cottage.
Year built: 1896
First League match: Fulham 1-0 Hull City, 3 September 1907
Sitting on the bank of the River Thames in West London, Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium has been steeped in tradition since opening the doors to the Cottagers in 1896. Despite recent development making Craven Cottage a state-of-the-art Barclays Premier League venue, the ground has maintained the unique 19th-Century exterior that makes it one of the most eye-catching venues in the English top flight.
Fulham, the oldest professional football club in the capital, played their first national Football League match at the stadium in 1907 after a rapid rise through the Southern League divisions.
The oldest stand was built in 1906 and its red brick facade remains to this day. It has even been named after the legendary Johnny Haynes, the former England and Fulham forward who spent 18 years with the club until 1970.
Craven Cottage expanded over the first third of the 20th century and reached its record attendance in 1938, as more than 49,000 supporters watched Fulham take on Millwall.
The ground hosted matches during the 1948 Olympic Games and the club enjoyed nine seasons in the top flight in the 1960s but subsequently dropped to the fourth tier of English football.
However, in the mid-1990s Fulham began a remarkable ascent to the Barclays Premier League. After promotion to the old Division Two in 1997, Mohamed Al Fayed took control of the club and they fulfilled his ambitious promise of top-flight football within five years. French coach Jean Tigana led them to a record-breaking promotion charge from the second tier of English football in 2001 and the Cottagers embarked on a Premier League adventure that has continued to this day.
Craven Cottage was in need of significant redevelopment to become an all-seater venue ready for the Barclays Premier League, so they started life in the top flight at Loftus Road, home of Queens Park Rangers. The ground’s capacity was extended to just under 26,000 seats upon their return to Craven Cottage for the 2003/04 campaign. Since then they have enjoyed a fine record at the venue, with a seventh-place finish in 2008/09 and a run to the final of the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League among their highlights.
Al Fayed also commissioned a statue in honour of the pop star Michael Jackson, who was a friend. The statue overlooks the Thames outside the ground.
5 May 2007: Fulham 1-0 Liverpool
Coming in to this match against Liverpool, who harboured hopes of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League group stages automatically, Fulham had gone 11 matches without a win and were a point above the relegation zone with two matches remaining. Lawrie Sanchez’s side resisted some heavy pressure from the visitors and had substitute Clint Dempsey to thank for a priceless winner. The American sidefooted past Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina with 20 minutes left, and the win proved enough to keep Fulham up after they lost their final match of the season against Middlesbrough.
21 Mar 2009: Fulham 2-0 Manchester United
Fulham earned their first home victory against Manchester United in 45 years in a hard-fought clash with Sir Alex Ferguson’s title challengers. Roy Hodgson’s side took the lead with a Danny Murphy penalty, after Paul Scholes’ red card for handling Bobby Zamora’s goalbound header. The visitors were in pursuit of their third consecutive Barclays Premier League title and piled pressure on the hosts, but Zoltan Gera put the game to bed with a magnificent control and finish on the break. Wayne Rooney was also dismissed for United soon after and Fulham recorded a win that helped them to finish seventh. This earned the club a spot in the UEFA Europa League, in which they were runners-up the next season.
2 Oct 2011: Fulham 6-0 Queens Park Rangers
Fulham earned their first victory of the 2011/12 Barclays Premier League season with an emphatic rout of their West London rivals. Andrew Johnson scored a hat-trick, including a goal inside the first two minutes. Danny Murphy added a first-half penalty, while Clint Dempsey made it five after a flick from Bobby Zamora, who wrapped up the win for Martin Jol’s side with a fine strike.
“They’ve been great, they really have. We’ve lost to Arsenal here, lost to Chelsea, lost to Manchester United and Liverpool but on each of those occasions they have appreciated the players’ efforts and there has been no negativism on their side and that is quite surprising, when we’ve been at the bottom for as long as we have, you don’t expect your fans to turn out in such great numbers and turn out with the great support they have today.”
Roy Hodgson after Fulham's vital 2-0 win over Birmingham in May 2008.
For a 3D tour of Craven Cottage and a video profiling Fulham and their home ground, click here >>