At the weekend, Grosvenor Casinos treated me to a trip to Craven Cottage to watch Fulham FC take on Preston North End in their twelfth championship game of the season. I’ve been to quite a few football matches in my time as my dad and brother are football mad, but this one was definitely the best day I’ve experienced as a whole. From as soon as we arrived we were treated like VIPs and really enjoyed the entire day…
I’ve never been to the grounds of Fulham, even though I currently only live about 3 miles away and I was rather surprised to see that the stadium really didn’t look like a football stadium from the outside (apart from the evident turnstiles – can we just talk about how thin they were, if you were quite large I think you may have a little trouble), quite often they have surrounding areas where you are able to walk through to the correct entrance or where the fans can congregate. However Craven Cottage has all of its entry on one side (I think – I may not have been paying attention as we were rushing), meaning that after we’d signed in at reception and received our passes and tickets, we had to walk around the pitch to reach the Riverside stand. This was where our seats were located as well as the Sponsors’ lounge where we spent our time before the match, during half time and afterwards.
The riverside stand is (yep, you guessed it!) next to the river Thames which provides a nice setting as you walk down to find the correct door to your stand. We walked all the way to the end before a lovely lady helped us and took us upstairs to the Grosvenor executive suite.
We entered to the warmest of welcomes from Kasia and Violet who explained the day’s timings and offered us a drink. We opted for a lovely elderflower & cucumber cocktail (I can’t completely remember what was in it but it was a nice pink colour and tasted fabulous). She showed us to some seats at one end of the suite where we were on a table with three other lovely elder men who we later ended making friends with and went for a drink at the pub!
We were a little bit late and were meant to be there at 1:30 so that we had an hour and a half before kick-off, and so were a little flustered when we arrived and needed to catch our breath before heading to the gorgeous buffet to select our lunch. It was a very difficult task to decide what to eat as the spread hosted a variety of different and tasty-looking dishes and side accompaniments including salmon (and two other types of fish), couscous, pasta and tagine. Yet, in the end my friend and I both chose the mashed potato and the lamb shoulder stew with carrots and parsnips. We wolfed it down as we’d clearly worked up an appetite from our mad dash through Bishop’s park to the football grounds, we followed this up with some Tiramisu. It was all scrumptious, exactly what we needed to line our stomachs for the abundant amount of champagne we’d end up drinking throughout the day…
There weren’t many people in the suite, perhaps 20 or so (I wish I’d taken more pictures but I didn’t want to annoy everyone whilst they were eating) and had a television on each end which were playing alternative matches. At one end of the room there was a small bar which a tower of Taittinger champagne bottles resting on one end of it. (Also wish I’d got a photo of that – I was aiming to) and a male and female toilet at the other end – perfect as it meant that you didn’t spend half of your day in a queue! The staff were VERY attentive and so as soon as our drinks were finished we were being asked what we’d like next. (I’ve previously worked at a football club as a box host and this is one of the hardest things to keep your eye on. ALSO – Kasia remembered EVERYONE’s name and what jacket they were wearing. Crazy.)
Soon after our second (maybe third) glass of champagne, Violet returned to take us over to our seats in the stadium. We were in block V (the director’s box) which was located not far from the lounge in the riverside stand, practically on the halfway line. These really were great seats (also they were slightly more padded than the usual plastic seats which helps a lot, no numb bum for me!).
It was my friends first ever football match and she was so excited to watch Fulham hopefully kick Preston’s butts (It didn’t happen but we can dream). So after explaining to Abi which way each team was scoring and discussing which team had the better looking players it all went very well (I mean, it could’ve gone better if Fulham had won but oh well), and with a last minute goal in the (quite hefty amount of) extra time it meant that the match ended in a draw. We put our first ever bets on using the Grosvenor Casino website as we felt that this would enable us to get fully immersed in the match, and it did – we were full on Fulham fans for the day! (and even managed to win £30.72 from our bets even though I can’t remember what I bet on), so all in all a success!
One of the great things about being in a suite for the day is the lack of a half time queue, for both the toilets and the bar. We made a quick dash back to the lounge for a few quick glasses of Champagne, a cheese board and teas and coffees. Doing the football in style! We continued to drink after the match as we chatted to the people on our table (who stayed in the suite for the second half) before Violet returned to take us down to the side of the pitch, I was unaware that this would be happening so it was a lovely surprise and meant we could get some nice photographs to remember the day by.
We returned to the suite for the final time for the last hour before closing where we moved onto the G&Ts and tried to continue our fabulous day for as long as we possibly can. Being treated by Grosvenor Casinos has taught me that hospitality at a football match truly makes the day one to remember, thank you so much for having me!
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