To the casual European soccer fan, only Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham might come to mind for catching a football match in London. But tickets to watch London’s most successful teams are pricey and harder to come by. If you’re only in London a few days, it’s possible that the teams will be playing away games. A fantastic alternative to catching Arsenal at the posh new Emirates Stadium or Chelsea at historic, Stamford Bridge, is to watch Fulham FC at the oldest football stand, Craven Cottage.
Premier League Match Atmosphere
Any sports fan should plan to catch a football match while in the United Kingdom for the cheers, jeers, vibrant crowds, chanting and flares. And yes, there is flare but I mean actual flares occasionally lighting off in the stands after an important goal. It’s an atmosphere you just won’t find at any NFL stadium.
Premier League Venues
Emirates Stadium holds over 60,000 spectators, Stamford Bridge over 41,000, but Craven Cottage holds just 24,000, meaning every seat in the house offers an intimate view. Tickets can be had for as little as £20-£30 ($32-$48). And you can sit in the oldest active football stand on Earth, the Johnny Haynes Stand.
The Johny Haynes Stand at Fulham’s Craven Cottage dates to 1905
The Johnny Haynes stand dates back to 1905 and amazingly, many of the original wooden seats remain today. It’s a designated section for home fans, and they don’t play around in the English Premier League. Nobody outside football hooligans wants brawls in the stands. So wearing away colors in the Johnny Haynes stand will get someone tossed out of the Craven Cottage.
Beer on the Pitch Isn’t Allowed at Craven Cottage
You can buy beer from the concession stands at Craven Cottage, but you cannot take it on “the pitch.” Obviously they do not want beer flung at players. So halftime was a log jam to get beers and generic drugs because people do not leave their seats during the action as there are no real breaks during play asides from when a serious injury occurs. Again, this is a major departure from American sports where constant breaks in action allows for continuous shuffling in the stands.
The day I attended, American star mid-fielder Clint Dempsey, who now plays for Tottenham Hotspur, scored the only 2 goals over lowly Wigan in a raucous 2-0 home victory for Fulham FC. It was a great day to attend as an American with a few scattered emphatic chants of “USA USA” bouncing around amid all the other noise.