Many may have been inspired by Oxford United’s courageous efforts against Premier League Newcastle United in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The Kassam Stadium lies about one mile east of the river, the nearest break point being Sandford Lock. But did you know the football grounds on the Thames Path? We list the Football League clubs within a mile of the Thames.
Football grounds on the Thames Path: Oxford to West London
Oxford United is the first you will encounter whilst travelling downstream, Swindon Town being too far away from the river to qualify. Next up would have been Reading if they hadn’t moved their base to the Madejski Stadium which lies approximately three miles south of the river in an out of town development alongside the M4. You will, however, pass Reading City FC shortly after rejoining the Thames near Tilehurst station.
There are no more football grounds on the Thames Path until you reach London, the first being Griffin Park, the home of Brentford, currently lying in the upper reaches of the Championship. This small ground of just 12,300 is 1/4 of a mile from the left bank of Thames, opposite Kew Gardens. They will soon be leaving this site for the newly-constructed Brentford Community Centre, slightly further downstream and closer to Kew Brige.
Next is the 25,700 capacity Craven Cottage, home of Fulham FC. You can’t get much closer to the river than this. It literally sits alongside the left bank of the Thames between Hammersmith and Putney bridges. Fulham FC, relegated kast season from the Premier League, are the oldest London club in the football league. The club was purchased in 1997 by Mohamed Al-Fayad, owner of Harrods. He sold Fullam in 2013.
2.5 miles downstream and 0.5 a mile from the leftbank is Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea FC and the only premiership club to make the list. Stamford Bridge is a large ground with a capacity of about 41,000. Under the ownership of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, they tried to purchase Battersea power station, 1.5 miles downstream and on the other side of the river. They were not awarded the sale and Stamford Bridge is currently earmarked for redevelopment to a 60,000 seater stadium. However, it is not straightforward as the stadium is in the heart of a residential stadium. A stadium tour is a pleasant diversion from the Thames Path.
Football grounds on the Thames Path: Central London to Thames Barrier
Travelling through the heart of London there are no further stadiums until you get past Tower Bridge. The other London Premier League clubs of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal ply their crafts a good 3 miles north of the river in north London with Crystal Palace much further away in the opposite direction. West Ham, which has its roots confusingly in East London and plays at the Olympic Stadium, about 2 miles north-east of the river, with lowly Leyton Orient a further mile or two north. The ground of Queens Park Rangers, in west London, is 1.3 miles from the river.
It’s not until you the river starts to snake around Canary Wharf (also known as the Isle of Dogs) that we come into contact with another team. The area south of Canary Wharf, on the tip of the Isle of Dogs and directly across from Greenwich, is known as Millwall where Millwall FC originated. Millwall now plays at the New Den which is less than a mile from the river at Rotherhithe.
As the Thames Path approaches its terminus at the Thames Barrier, our final ground can be revealed. Had Arsenal not left their home in Woolwich in 1913, it would have been them. Instead, just over 1/2 a mile from the barrier, lies The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic. In fact, Charlton is the closest tube station to the Thames Barrier so you may well pass by.