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FLAMES FOR SPORTING EVENTS

FULHAM F.C – CRAVEN COTTAGE

All major football stadiums might look very similar to the average fan coming to watch the match. Large rectangle of grass, white painted line, set of goal posts at each end and surrounded by seats.  That does pretty much cover a basic description of a stadium, but as event professionals we look at a lot of different details which can affect our operations on a match day.  These include:

  • Average wind speeds and prevailing direction. More modern stadium designs where there is a continuous bowl of seats are affected less by the wind than more traditional stadiums with 4 separate stands and gaps in the corners where wind can channel through and swirl around in unexpected directions.
  • Distance from the fans to the pitch, do we have sufficient safety parameters if we position our products on the touchline or do we need to push further onto the pitch?
  • Access points, where can we exit the pitch, often very quickly? Can we get a van nearby, is there parking, which roads have been closed?
  • Slopes at the side of the pitch, these are common and can affect the stability of our products. It also makes moving the SFX around the pitch more challenging

We were delighted to be asked by Fulham to help enhance their match day experience for the visit of Liverpool in the Carabao Cup Semi Finals, one of the biggest games in the recent history of the club.  The match was held at Craven Cottage in Fulham, located right on the bank of the Thames.  It’s a very unique and beautiful stadium combining the Original Cottage which was built in 1780 and is a listed building and incredible modern architecture. The stadium has just undergone a significant expansion with state of the art facilities on the Riverside stand.

CHALLENGE

Craven Cottage provided some significant challenges for us and the H&S team at the stadium.  This was the first time that any form of SFX had been used for pre-match entry, and its common for the H&S team to be apprehensive about bringing large flame jets into the stadium.

Craven Cottage also has quite a unique layout, with the team entrance taking place in the corner of the stadium (by the original cottage). The regular location for the teams to walk on the pitch is on the halfway line by the dug outs and technical areas, providing a short walk before lining up and shaking hands.  Corner tunnels are not totally uncommon, but they are usually on the same side as the dugout, so the players walkalong the touchline to get to the centre line. At Craven cottage the tunnel as well as being in the corner is also on the opposite side of the pitch.

 

SOLUTION

To aid Fulham’s apprehension about the safe operation of our products, we we’re happy to attend the ground on a non-match day to complete a demonstration of a range of FX, so the team could choose which ones they preferred.  We offered the 15m single jets, CO2 Jets by the tunnel and they opted for the 5-Finger flames. Key stakeholders from H&S Ops, marketing and the groundsmen attended. The basic operation of the machines were shared, test fired, videos and photos taken. There was a concern about the heat of the product damaging the pitch but after the demo was completed and we highlighted that pitch protective matting could be placed under the machines this concern was alleviated.

The route the players had to walk also represented a challenge for the positioning of the products. We like to keep the products as close to the centre of the pitch as possible, because that’s where the focus of the team is and where the products are caught in camera shot. We worked collaboratively with the H&S team in order to maintain the required safety distance from the players and any other staff. We completed a second demo of the flames on the matchday where again the key stakeholders attended including the local Fire marshal team. We decided to push the flames further away from the centre line creating a larger gap for the staff to walk through in their route to the dugout.

RESULT

 

The flames were a great success, as you can see from the pictures above and below. The weather conditions were absolutely perfect with no wind ensuring the flames performed to their maximum capacity.  We exited the pitch promptly, despite having quite a long route to travel but were well clear before KO. Unfortunately despite a spirited performance, Fulham were not able to be victorious and find their way to the final.

fireworks and flame effects at the opening of rugby game
flame jets used at a rugby tournament

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