Craven Cottage is the name of a football stadium located in Fulham, London. It has been the home ground of the English Premier League team Fulham F.C. since 1896. After major refurbishment work was carried out in 2004, the ground's capacity has increased gradually from 22,000 to its current capacity of 25,700. Fulham recorded four record attendances in the 2009Ц2010 season, in their 0Ц1 loss to Arsenal and their 3Ц1, 3Ц0 and 2Ц1 victories over Liverpool, Manchester United and Hamburg SV respectively, each of which drew full capacity crowds. The official record with standing room remains 49,335 for the game against Millwall Dockers, 8 October 1938. It is located next to Bishop's Park on the banks of the River Thames. 'Craven Cottage' was originally a royal hunting lodge and has history dating back over 300 years. The stadium has been used by the Australian national football team for some friendly matches due to a large expatriate population living in England (mainly in London). The Republic of Ireland national football team also played two games at the venue during the construction of the Aviva Stadium. The original 'Cottage' was built in 1780, by William Craven, the sixth Baron Craven and was located on the centre circle of the pitch. At the time, the surrounding areas were woods which made up part of Anne Boleyn's hunting grounds. Several other sports may have taken place here, such as lawn bowls, croquet and possibly a version of the Aztec game called 'tlachtli' (scoring a ball through a hoop using your hips). This game is thought to be a distant cousin of association football and is arguably one of the earliest codes of organised football. The Cottage was lived in by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (who wrote The Last Days of Pompeii) and other somewhat notable (and moneyed) persons until it was destroyed by fire in May 1888. Many rumours persist among Fulham fans of past tenants of Craven Cottage. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jeremy Bentham, Florence Nightingale and even Queen Victoria are reputed to have stayed there, although there is no real evidence for this. Following the fire, the site was abandoned. Fulham had had 8 previous grounds before settling in at Cra
en Cottage for good. Therefore, The Cottagers have had 12 grounds overall ( including a temporary stay at Loftus Road), meaning that only their former 'landlords' and rivals QPR have had more home grounds (14) in British football. Of particular note, was Ranelagh House, Fulham's palatial home from 1886Ц1888. Under construction: 1894Ц1905 The 'Rabbit Hutch' stand along Stevenage Road before Archibald Leitch's redesign in 1904-5 When representatives of Fulham first came across the land, in 1894, it was so overgrown that it took two years to be made suitable for football to be played on it. A deal was struck for the owners of the ground to carry out the work, in return for which they would receive a proportion of the gate receipts. The first football match at which there were any gate receipts was when Fulham played against Minerva in the Middlesex Senior Cup, on 10 October 1896. The ground's first stand was built shortly after. Described as looking like an "orange box", it consisted of four wooden structures each holding some 250 seats, and later was affectionately nicknamed the "rabbit hutch". In 1904 London County Council became concerned with the level of safety at the ground, and tried to get it closed. A court case followed in January 1905, as a result of which Archibald Leitch, a Scottish architect who had risen to prominence after his building of the Ibrox Stadium, a few years earlier, was hired to work on the stadium. In a scheme costing ?15,000 (a record for the time), he built a pavilion (the present-day 'Cottage' itself) and the Stevenage Road Stand, in his characteristic red brick style. The stand on Stevenage Road celebrated its centenary in the 2005Ц2006 season and, following the death of Fulham FC's favourite son, former England captain Johnny Haynes, in a car accident in October 2005 the Stevenage Road Stand was renamed the Johnny Haynes Stand after the club sought the opinions of Fulham supporters. The facade of the Johnny Haynes stand Both the Johnny Haynes Stand and Cottage remain among the finest examples of Archibald Leitch football architecture to remain in existence and both have been designated as Grade II listed buildings.