I am going to hazard a guess that, with a bit of thought, you might be able to reason why Fulham are called the Cottagers?
If you can’t, shame on you! Haha!
In all seriousness, it is fairly obvious, but it also reveals some interesting history about London’s oldest professional club.
So without further ado, let’s get started…
Why Are Fulham Called The Cottagers?
Fulham are called the Cottagers after the Craven Cottage ground they play at. The ground was originally the site of a hunting lodge built by William Craven, the 6th Baron Craven, in 1780 and named after him. The lodge burnt to the ground in 1888, and six years later the football club bought the land and set bout converting it into a football ground, retaining the Craven Cottage name.
Founded way back in 1879 as Fulham St Andrew’s Church Sunday School F.C, Fulham lived a pretty nomadic life in the early period of its history.
Its first games were played on an area of land close to the church it was founded at, on Star Road in Fulham.
A few years later, in 1884, the club was playing in Lillie Road in Fulham. Then in 1886, they played at Ranelagh House right next to the River Thames and changed their name to the much more succinct Fulham St. Andrews.
Two years later they were on the move again, this time to Barn Elms in Putney, almost exactly opposite the club’s current Craven Cottage ground.
The next year (1889), the club dropped St. Andrews and became known just as Fulham.
That same year Fulham moved to a ground at Purser’s Cross in Parsons Green. However, it never looked like being a long-term home, especially as there was a tree on the pitch!
In 1891 Fulham’s transient existence continued, playing first at Eel Brook Common in Fulham and then at a pitch adjacent to Half Moon Public House in Putney.
The club then had the most settled period of its short history, staying at the Half Moon ground until 1895.
However, aware of its wandering existence, plans had already been put into place in 1894 to give the club a permanent ground.
It is the ground Fulham takes its nickname of the Cottagers from…
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Baron Craven and the Hunting Lodge
You shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that Fulham are called the Cottagers because their home ground is Craven Cottage.
They moved in in 1896 and have been there ever since.
But have you ever stopped to consider why the ground is called Craven Cottage?
It is a slightly unusual name for a football ground, although once you hear the history behind it, it all makes sense.
Going back over a hundred years before Fulham became its tenant, Craven Cottage was originally a royal hunting lodge.
It was built in 1780 by William Craven, the 6th Baron Craven and great-great-great grandfather of Newsround presenter John Craven (ok I made that second part up).
Around the building were the woods that served as hunting areas.
It was home to many notable figures until it was destroyed by fire in 1888.
So it was in 1894 that the club spotted its potential as a permanent ground of its own and bought the almost completely destroyed Craven Cottage and the surrounding land.
Fulham’s New Home
It took two years for the club and volunteers to clear the derelict cottage and clean the area enough to make it fit to be the home of a football club.
A small changing room facility was also built, and on 10 October 1896 Fulham opened the gates to its new home for the first time, with it retaining the Craven Cottage name. The game was a 4-0 victory over Minerva in the Middlesex Senior Cup.
In the months after this game, the club started work on the ground’s first stand.
Affectionately called the ‘Rabbit Hutch’ it held 250 supporters and for the 1903/04 season it was improved to house 1,200 spectators.
Unfortunately, that season London Country Council effectively condemned the ground and the ‘Rabbit Hutch’ stand was demolished.
But with the security of the club having obtained a 99-year lease on Craven Cottage, in 1905 significant redevelopment could start.
In fact, so significant was the redevelopment that the club sought the services of renowned Scottish architect Archibald Leitch for a scheme costing £15,000, which was a record at the time.
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The Redeveloped Craven Cottage Opens
In September 2005 a new 5,000 seat stand was unveiled for the opening fixture of the season.
During the redevelopment scheme, Leitch also noted that the stand was so close to the street that there was little space for changing rooms. As an alternative, he built the now infamous Cottage Pavilion.
By 1907, the ground had been improved to such an extent that it hosted a full international match between England and Wales.
By the 1930s it was regularly seeing attendances of over 40,000, including the club’s record attendance of 49,335 for a game between Fulham and Millwall on 8 October 1938.
In 1962 Fulham became the last top-flight side to install floodlights, and the development of the ground continued over the next few decades despite the club being relegated out of the top flight in 1968 and not appearing there again until 2001.
Fulham ground shared with QPR for the 2002/03 and 2003/04 seasons whilst work was done to rebuild Craven Cottage as an all-seater stadium.
The club was back in residence for the start of the 2004/05 season and has been there ever since.
The reason why Fulham are called the Cottagers is pretty straightforward, it is because they play at Craven Cottage.
The ground itself takes its name from a royal hunting lodge built on the site 1780 by William Craven, the 6th Baron Craven.
The lodge burnt to the ground in 1888, and six years later the club bought the derelict lodge and the land with the intention of converting it into a permanent home for Fulham who had lived a nomadic life up until that point.
That they did and in October 1896 the stadium was officially opened and retained the Craven Cottage name.
So without Baron Craven, who knows what Fulham’s nickname might be…