The ghosts of Stevenage Road

One of the things that struck me while researching “When Football Was Football” was the view across the pitch from the river side of the ground. Whether it’s 1911, 1931, 1961 or 2011, in almost any photograph of a match you can see the silhouettes of supporters standing at the back of the Stevenage Road stand. This sort of boggles the mind: for all the changes in football that have passed before the old stand, in some ways nothing has changed at all. Throughout the book we see the same thing over and over, timeless views of fans back there in front of the windows. They might have been cheering on Johnny Haynes or Clint Dempsey, but they’re there, spookily there.  We can’t know who they are, what they did, when they left this earth, but at some point they’ve all sat there there to watch Fulham.  I think about this every game, now, which in some ways is odd, in others not. Part of what makes Fulham so magical.


(c) Mirrorpix

6 thoughts on “The ghosts of Stevenage Road

  1. I sat there once…..the match a few seasons ago when we had 99% of the play and lost in the last minute to Hull ! Never sat there since……but I must agree I’ve always looked at the heads and had similar thoughts to you. In a strange way it gives you an idea of the attendance. In most games, if every seat is full up there, you know it’s pretty well sold out.

  2. My first few seasons were viewed from where the Riverside Stand is today, so the effect of which you speak made an early impression. As you say, it is a common denominator across the generations. Only very occasionally have I been one of the figures silhouetted, but there must be supporters who feature in multiple photos, I wonder if they can ever recognise themselves. Individual identities dissolve in this context, though, as you imply.

    Speaking of the book, I have now had a chance to enjoy it, and it certainly lives up to expectation. Now I can see the print and not just what appeared on my computer screen when you forwarded it for comment, I would identify the bloke pushing Barrett on the swing as Earle.

  3. I remember many years ago, my Dad pointing out that those windows identify any photograph of the Stevenage Road stand, even when the gable on the roof is not visible.

    More recently I spotted them on the wall of a nearby pub as part of a montage of 1907 sporting events, which included Fulham v Stockport County in the FA Cup. This was near Warminster, in footballing terms John Atyeo territory. He was a regular for Bristol City during the fifties and early sixties although his England career was cut short by a refusal to give up the day job (teaching) and become a full time professional.

    Sadly, the pub has since had a refit and the print has gone.

  4. Same here! I sit/stand in Row R, block C in the Johnny Haynes. It’s really nice being able to stand up without bothering anyone with it.

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