Starting in 1879, Fulham St Andrew’s – a church team – played at various grounds in west London before moving to Craven Cottage in 1896. The first stand (known as the Rabbit Hutch) held 1,000 spectators and due to safety concerns – in 1905 – had to be replaced. The new stand, designed by Archibald Leitch, is still in use as the Johnny Haynes Stand and is now over 100 years old. Leitch also designed the Cottage, a corner pavilion that was common at Scottish football grounds (both the stand and the cottage are now Grade II listed).
The Club gained access to the Football League in 1907. There was little change at the ground for the next 50 years. Despite the limited facilities, it accommodated a record crowd – of 49,335 – in 1938.
The Club undertook various improvements in the 1960s and 1970s, including erecting floodlights and building the Riverside Stand that was originally named after Eric Miller (a late Fulham Director).
In both town planning and football terms FFC had a complicated and controversial existence for some 20 years, from the mid-1970s. In 1987 severe financial difficulties meant that the Club came dangerously close to extinction. In 1997 Mohamed Al Fayed purchased FFC and stated it would return to top flight football within five years; this goal was achieved in four years. The Club “ground shared” with QPR, returning to an improved Craven Cottage in 2004.