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Craven Cottage
Fulham v Blackpool
Sunday, April 3rd 2011, 4pm
Premier League
By Dean Williamson
(Blackpool fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I have visited all but two of the London grounds so I was looking forward to crossing another off. Added to the fact Fulham were unveiling a Michael Jackson statue the day was bound to be surreal from the start.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

As with most London stadia reaching each ground is accessible via the tube network. Given the lack of car park spaces I would advise commuting to the outskirts of London and travelling in via a rail service. The ground is a 10-15minute walk from Putney Bridge tube station. Simply turn left then your first right and continue straight on to the ground. The walk itself is very scenic with a walkway directly adjacent to the river Thames or if it's raining make your way through the leafy Bishops Park which is located between the tube station and the football ground.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

As we arrived 10 minutes before kick off we didnít have time to check out any local pubs on the way but there are a couple of vendors along the way such as the Eight Bells pub which is located on your way to the ground. There is also a chippy along the way and a cafť in Bishops Park where you can use the toilets if needs be. The Fulham fans are very hospitable and are very respectful before, during and after the game. This is a refreshing change and you almost don't feel as bad if you lose there given the lack of baiting or fans trying to wind you up.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Craven Cottage is an old school ground in every sense and is a welcome respite from the newer 'soulless bowls' you find in the top two leagues in English football. The ground itself holds around 27,000 and is a tightly packed stadium with boxes on each corner and the famous cottage situated in one corner of the ground, giving the impression that this could be a cricket ground. The seats in the ground are evenly spaced but each stand is still compact so you can create a lot of noise once inside. The away stand is split up into a home, neutral and away section. Fulham look to capitalise on a lot of tourists visiting and this is the reasoning behind the neutral section which if you miss out on the away tickets is quite handy should you still wish to visit the ground. Both home and away fans who are in the Riverside stands can enjoy a pint at half time whilst looking over the River Thames which adds to the family friendly and relaxed nature of this stadium.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

Today's game was a relegation '6 pointer' and Blackpool enjoyed very little chances in the first half with Fulham clinical from the start going into a 2-0 half time lead. The second faired better for us but we didnít capitalise on the periods where Fulham took their foot off the gas. The game ended 3-0 and you couldn't really argue with that. Surprisingly the Fulham supporters only really got behind their team when the score was still 0-0 and it was left to the Blackpool fans to create the atmosphere towards the end. The facilities of the ground are top notch with as many toilets, beer and food stands as you can count. On offer there are hot dogs, pies (both £3.80 and PIPING hot) and chocolate bars. You could get a pint of Carlsberg but for a steep £4.00. Finally, the stewards took a back step all game and help to ease any tension you get at a lot of grounds.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

On a nice day as it was today the stroll back to the station is pleasant and there are several routes the home supporters take on getting away from the ground and thus making it a quick exit either on foot or via tube away from the ground.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Aside from the result this was one of my favourite away days this season as is a must for anyone 'doing the 92'. I would visit here every season provided we don't get relegated!


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