Craven Cottage is such an iconic stadium in West London, the oldest stadium in the capital and on the banks of The River Thames between Putney and Hammersmith Bridges. On March 24th there will be over 250,000 people lining the banks to watch the annual Oxford v Cambridge boat race, first the women and then the men's eights.
Now a 27.000 all seater stadium The Cottagers have had 14 differentt homes, mostly in the late 19th Century and about 15 years ago spent 2 seasons sharing with Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road while The Cottage was converted to an all seater. The origianl main stand, now The Johnny Haynes Stand was built for £15,000 at the turn of the last century by Archibald Leitch, a legendary stadium designer, and is a Grade ll listed building.
As part of Sam's Soccer Paloosa weekend, the 2nd of 4 matches, we spent an hour nearby at the large Crabtree Pub with a mass of home and Wolves fans with a pleasant riverside beer garden.(firstname.lastname@example.org) prior to the 10 minute walk along the Thames to our warm 25 person Johnny Haynes Suite at the Hammersmith 'Hammy End, where the home fans like to meet, chant, sing ,rattle their programmes and stand most of the match. We had an awesome feast and free drinks, hot and cold.
Johnny Haynes was captain of both Fulham and England..at the 1962 World Cup, and played 658 matches ,scoring 158 goals for the club before going to Durban City in 1970. After he passed away in 2005 a statue was erected outside the stand named after him in 2006. In 1961 I remember the sensational news than Chairman Tommy Trinder was going to pay Haynes £100.00 a week. the first such high wages. Recently another statue at the corner of the Riverside and Hammy End of George Cohen,1966 World Cup winner was unveiled. It repalced an unloved Michael Jackson statue..now still unloved at the National Football Museum in Manchester.
An early international England v Wales was played at The Cottage and many national teams have used the stadium in recent years. I was a guest in The Riverside a decade ago for Australia v Nigeria. USA. Ghana Republic of Ireland and others have used it due to many of their players earning a living in England. It was used in the 1948 London Olympics and Benfica with Eusebia and Santos with Pele have played there.
In the late 1970's we had George Best, Bobby Moore and Rodney Marsh entertaining the fans. When Best was signed..for £500.00 a week crowds shot up from under 9,000 to over 25,000. Americans Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride, Kasey Keller, Marcus Hahnemann, Eddie Lewis, Eddie Johnson, Carlos Bocanegra and Emeron Hyndman played here and at present TIM REAM, plus Bobby Robson, Chris Coleman,Alan Mullery, Jimmy Hill, Edwin Van der Saar and more. It was 25 years ago this week that Bobby Moore passed away too early of bowel cancer.
"RYAN SESSEGNAN, HE'S ONE OF OUR OWN" was the chant from the Hammy End faithfull as the young 17 year old opened the scoring against league leaders Wolverhammpton Wanderers in the 38th minute. Indeed Ryan was been a Fulham player since age 7 and last summer was joint top scorer for England's u19s who won the European Championships for the first time. Valued at £50 million by the club he is destined for the big time. Wolves lead The Championship with 73 points followed by Cardiff City 67, Aston Villa 63, Derby County 60 and then Fulham with 59 points. Eight home wins in a row now for the black & whites.
Aleksanda Mitrovic made it 2-0 in the 71st minute and on a bitterly cold Saturday evening the fans were happy and singing on the way home again.