FOREST AWAY: Fulham, Wednesday 6th December – Fan Guide
One of the things I’ve really come to enjoy about being a Premier League team is that there is blessed gaps in the midweek scheduling. I think I’m right in saying that this is the only scheduled away fixture on a regular evening slot. It’s actually quite bizarre how in the Championship that they shoe-horn in consecutive midweeks to Preston and Blackburn (it was always Preston and Blackburn it seemed) with various other not so exotic destinations regularly peppering the midweek diaries from August to May.
Obviously, there are more games in the Football League which explains much of it, but, looking back, it wasn’t half a bloody pain. I still have cold sweats about previous jaunts back from Norwich and Reading in particular, although there has often been a camaraderie about midweek away games I’ve found enjoyable.
It was only 18 months ago that we visited Craven Cottage for a night game as we aimed to join them in promotion to the top flight. That night there was momentum and excitement on a pleasant spring evening. This time it’s worry and frustration on what is probably going to be a chilly night by the Thames. I certainly don’t need to tell you just how wonderful a win would be.
Wrap up warm, sing your hearts out and keep the faith.
TRAINS: You won’t be surprised this isn’t particularly straightforward for a London midweek away game, but train travel is achievable.
The last train direct from Nottingham which should comfortably get you to Craven Cottage in good time is the 16:50 which arrives into St Pancras at 18:26. The TFL app suggests a 35-40 minute journey on the underground from here using the Piccadilly line to Earls Court and onto the District Line.
Unfortunately, the return journey looks like it is severely hampered by strike / engineering action. The 22:35 from St Pancras (which should just about be manageable after the game) gets to East Midlands Parkway with a bus connection back to Nottingham Station, arriving at 00:56.The 23:35 does the same but doesn’t land at EMP until 02:27 with a bus from there not scheduled to get back until the 03:07. So don’t miss the first train!
ROAD: Probably the preferred option for many. With the abundance of London games, we have each season it feels little repetitive to keep trotting out the same suggestions. The main decision is likely whether to try and drive to somewhere north of London and use trains to get in or navigate around the M25 and try and get closer to Craven Cottage.
If the former, consider options such a Stanmore / Edgware / Canons Park around Jct 4 of the M1. Do note, however, that these areas now fall under the ULEZ charging areas and there is a hefty daily fee to pay if your vehicle falls below the required threshold.
Our Fulham fan below suggests some parking may be available around Putney / Hammersmith with some free street parking coming available in the early evening. Alternatively, there may be options to park somewhere towards the ends of the District or Piccadilly lines and work your way in from there on the tubes.
As a final point, consider road closures on the way home. It’s always better to plan in advance as it may impact your decision on where to park. The Highways England social media feeds and website carry updates on planned overnight closures and it can be a huge time saver to avoid them.
As referenced in the Q&A below, it’s a real shame that this hasn’t fallen on a Saturday. It perhaps goes under the radar but a visit to Craven Cottage offers some of the best pub combinations in the Premier League. But alas, pub crawls are likely not to be an option for most of the travelling Reds on this occasion.
The Temperance is usually the main away venue. Pretty much cross from Putney Bridge station. It’s big and does often get busy but it will likely be a little calmer for a midweek game. Even closer to the station is the Eight Bells. The Kings Arms and while it isn’t a traditional away pub usually seems content to let home and away supporters mix.
You could also cross Putney Bridge (the actual bridge over the Thames) and sample a few of the pubs around Putney. The Rocket (Wetherspoons) is on the left at the other end but we have regularly visited the Coat & Badge which is another mixed pub.
If coming in from the north of the ground (Hammersmith), then we found plenty of really good drinking spots on the river including The Dove and the Black Lion. But again, these will likely be beyond reach for most on a Wednesday night.
Q&A with Drew of @FulhamishPod
I saw it pointed out recently that (taking Everton’s recent point deduction to one side) the bottom six of the Premier League is the most recently promoted teams followed by the promoted teams of 2022. While Fulham bucked this trend with an impressive campaign last time, is there something to be said for how hard it is to not only survive in the top flight but also properly establish yourself there?
They say the second season is, in many ways, harder than the first, right? Particularly today, with FFP, and the rolling three-season window of allowed losses. If you’ve spent big to get up and stay up, then your finances will be tight.
We were – and are – in a decent place, FFP-wise, as we didn’t break the bank upon promotion (yo-yo-ing will do that). So, the real frustration is not taking that opportunity to kick on. Particularly after selling Mitro and not replacing him.
This season now becomes all about survival – again.
On Everton’s punishment, as one of the teams (like ourselves) getting some benefit from it, what do you think of the deduction imposed?
I think it’s probably a bit harsh, but it’s fine if it’s implemented consistently. We know that the charges against Man City, for example, are different – but if proven the punishment will need to be relative. If it is, then no one can have any complaints. But I think we’re all sceptical aren’t we?
When we spoke last season, we discussed the completion of the new riverside stand. I’ve seen fans in there this season; is it now fully open? And are we therefore back to the normal away allocation as I believe it had been reduced while some of the ground remained under construction?
Ahh, the Riverside Stand! Nope, it’s not fully open. The middle section of the upper tier won’t be open until the start of next season.
It’s a funny one – it was always going to be a tough project based on where the stand is located, but the struggles of the initial contractor hasn’t helped (look at Liverpool), then there was Covid. So, it’s not all in the club’s control, but if you look at a project like Everton’s new stadium, for example, you have to wonder why it’s taken quite this long.
Fulham supporters have recently been vocal about ticket pricing, while culminated in protests before a recent game. What was the cause of these grievances and has there been any progress with the campaign?
How long do you have? The crux of the ticket price issue is this: we’re pricing out the next generation of Fulham fans by making it unaffordable to go. Ignore the new Riverside Stand and its £3,000 season tickets – every club has posh seats. It’s tickets to Wolves at home on a Monday starting at £77, it’s the fact it’s cheaper to take your family to Spain for the week than it is to buy them all tickets to watch 90 minutes of (sometimes crap) football.
Selling tickets to day-trippers and allowing away fans of the big six to easily buy home tickets so long as they buy a £50 membership might fill the coffers when we’re in the Prem, but once we’re back in the Championship – and we will be one day – it stops being a viable strategy. The ticket price protest was well-intentioned, and so long as it’s step one in the process of making the club take notice, and not a one-and-done scenario, then it was an OK start. What’s crucial is what happens next.
Do you have any suggestions on parking, either around the ground or at any well placed underground / rail stops which offer decent spots to get in and out of?
Evening games are slightly easier for parking, with restrictions on many residential roads in Hammersmith and Putney ending at 5.30 or 6.30.
Many of us were disappointed when we realised our trip to Fulham was a midweek game. It’s a really good away day, especially for pre-match pubs. For those looking for somewhere close to the ground for a drink, where would you recommend?
We feel the same with games at the City Ground. Whatever happened to Saturday 3pm? Particularly for two clubs that aren’t in Europe!
The Temperance and The Eight Bells by Putney Bridge tube station are your best bets for a pre-match pint.
Is there any pressure on Marco Silva right now?
No. He’s got plenty of credit in the bank – and we’re all delighted (if a little surprised) he recently signed a new deal. He wasn’t backed in the summer the way he should’ve been. The fact he’s staying means he must have assurances about transfers.
Finally – let’s have your predictions, please:
Where will Fulham finish?
Where will Forest finish?
Which three teams do you think will get relegated?
With thanks to Drew for his insight.
See those of you travelling down there.