Football Commentator & Columnist
Fulham: Martin Tyler shares his favourite memories of Craven Cottage
Last Updated: 22/04/20 11:07am
At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we've asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of clubs around the world.
This week, Sky Sports' Voice of Football is looking at the top five clubs in the Sky Bet Championship and takes us on a virtual visit to Fulham's Craven Cottage.
Keep an eye on The Football Show on Sky Sports News and @SkySportsPL for some special Tyler's Teasers from Martin.
How I get there
Craven Cottage is very close to home for me in Surrey. A drive up the A3 and then across Putney Bridge. It can take longer to park than the actual drive.
There are stringent matchday regulations to protect local residents, but a walk of any distance is usually pleasant because Craven Cottage is in such a lovely area. The underground District Line station Putney Bridge is close so train and tube are also possibilities.
What's it like to commentate there
Fulham are in the process of rebuilding the stand on the Riverside part of the ground and that will involve a new gantry. The previous construction had a perfect view, though there was a ground regulation banning hot drinks on it so a half-time cuppa for the commentators and camera crew was not on the menu, a big miss in the winter months.
This season there has been temporary scaffolding erected behind the dugouts for television and that will remain until the new stand is finished. It will be an impressive structure because the building will be extended out over the existing river bank and will incorporate a walkway outside the stadium linking Putney and Hammersmith Bridges.
- Emirates Stadium | Villa Park | Vitality Stadium | Amex Stadium | Turf Moor | Stamford Bridge | Selhurst Park | Goodison Park | King Power Stadium | Anfield | Etihad Stadium | Old Trafford | St James' Park | Carrow Road | Bramall Lane | St Mary's | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium | Vicarage Road | London Stadium | Molineux
Did you know?
Fulham have been playing at Craven Cottage since 1896 but it was already their ninth home. Football's most famous designer of grounds in the 20th century Archibald Leitch was the architect and the Johnny Haynes, Stevenage Road stand is one of the game's listed buildings.
My memories of the ground
One unforgettable occasion was being asked to be part of a set-up at Craven Cottage for the very popular "This is Your Life" programme. It was around the time Fulham reached the FA Cup Final in 1975.
The Fulham first team were playing a local school in an event specially arranged for this "trap". I was ostensibly the ITV reporter with a camera crew covering the game seemingly at face value.
The host of the biographical programme, Eamonn Andrews, tucked in behind us with his famous red book as I led the camera crew out on to the pitch to get some close ups during what was of course a very low-key football match. All the players were in on the secret except the Fulham number four.
Eamonn was hidden behind the camera until the last moment when he jumped out and declared: "Alan Mullery, This Is Your Life!"
As for a match, I have plumped for March 2006 and a 1-0 win over neighbours Chelsea. Jose Mourinho's side were running away with the Premier League title and would secure it for a second season in a row. Fulham were battling to stay in the division and helped their chances with a gutsy performance.
Their only goal, after 17 minutes, was fortunate with Paulo Ferreira in an attempted tackle hitting the ball on to the foot of Luis Boa Morte and it flashed into the net. The match is also memorable for Mourinho's double substitution less than 10 minutes later.
He hauled off Joe Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips and brought on Didier Drogba and Damien Duff. But in the end it was a D-Day for Fulham and when Chelsea's William Gallas was sent off near the end a famous victory was in the bag.
They have not beaten Chelsea since!
What I like about this ground
It is - and will be even more so - a rare combination of the historic and the modern. The Main Stand on Stevenage Road, now named after Johnny Haynes, is virtually unaltered with its red brick façade a unique feature in English football.
Even this, though is topped by the Cottage itself, a pavilion in the corner which houses the dressing rooms and some club offices, plus a balcony view of the pitch. Unique.
The future of Fulham's home was under threat around the time of the ground sharing with Queens Park Rangers but that crisis was averted and the new development will add high-class facilities to the essential homeliness of the older part of the stadium.
On Thursday: Martin brings us his guide to Brentford's Griffin Park