Have you ever wondered if there any dog-friendly football teams in London? It’s not something we had given a lot of thought to until we were invited to the London Non-League Dogs Day at Fisher FC earlier this month by four-legged football aficionado Pie the French Bulldog and her owner Andy. And much to our surprise we really enjoyed our first dog-friendly football game, so when Pie and Andy offered to share their tips on where to watch a dog-friendly football match in London, we said, absolutely!
So without further ado, we’ll pass the ball (sorry, couldn’t resist) over to Pie and Andy…
Taking your dog to the football might not initially seem a great idea – what about the big crowds and noise – and how do you know where they are even allowed? We have been going to matches since Pie was a puppy, and she really enjoys it – plus staff, fans and players are generally happy to see a four-legged fan on the sidelines. Just look at all the dogs having fun on the @nonleaguedogs Instagram and Twitter accounts – that’s what inspired me to start taking Pie along with me in the first place!
But which football clubs allow you to take a dog, and how do you make sure they have a good time? Look no further – I’ve put together this guide to dog-friendly football teams in London.
So where are four-legged fans welcome, and why would you want to go along? Here are Pie’s top five London dog-friendly football teams in London…
Fisher Football Club
Fisher plays at one of the most photogenic grounds in London, with the iconic Canary Wharf skyline looming large in the background. They are also arguably the most dog-friendly, as four-legged visitors get the warmest of welcomes from everyone right the way from the turnstile to the club shop and bar and even the players, who come to shake the fans’ hands (and paws) at full time.
The team, which plays in black & white stripes and is nicknamed ‘The Fish’, has an artificial pitch, which means their matches don’t often get postponed when it rains. As with the rest of the top five clubs pulled out here they have covered standing and seating areas, and Fisher also has wheelchair-friendly toilets as well as step-free access around the ground.
We actually put on a special ‘Non-League Dogs Day’ event at a recent Fisher match, which this site’s editor Teresa came along to. We had a total of ten dogs on the terraces that day, including celebrity Pomeranian Burly Bear, Vinnie from PAAW House, Rolo the Whippet and Willow the Wader.
The match was sponsored by the wonderful PAAW House, with highlights including a raffle with hampers stuffed with dog prizes and a humorous interspecies team photo after the final whistle. We plan to run this event again in the future, and full details will, of course, be made available here on The Dogvine.
- Postcode: SE16 5EF
- Rough usual attendance: 100-150
- Entry cost: £8 adults, £5 concessions, under-16’s go free
- Website: http://www.fisherfc.org
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/fisherfc
Clapton Community Football Club
This team currently plays home matches at Wadham Lodge, although they plan to move back to their brilliantly-named Old Spotted Dog ground in the summer. ‘The Tons’ play in red & white stripes and have a very inclusive attitude, from supporting local causes such as food banks to promoting teams for non-binary people and making a stand against fascism with their shirts made in the style of the International Brigade flag.
There were several other dogs at the match we went to, so it’s a good option if your pup is particularly sociable! Pie felt right at home when we visited – so much that she ended up charging after a ball that came whizzing past where we stood, wiping out a player in the process! Luckily nobody was injured and people seemed to see the funny side, with Pie even starring in the match report – I will hold the lead a bit tighter next time!
They also have a women’s team that plays on Sundays to slightly smaller crowds, which could be a better option than the men’s team if you fancy something slightly quieter, or would prefer to watch women play.
- Postcode: E17 4JL
- Rough usual attendance: 600 – 1,000 (men’s team) and 200-300 (women’s team)
- Entry cost: By donation, the suggested amount is £3
- Website: https://www.claptoncfc.co.uk
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/claptoncfc
Sutton United Football Club
*** Update May 2021 – Sutton United Football Club no longer allow dogs ***
These guys play in ‘The National League’ (the fifth level of the English league system), making them the highest-placed team in London a dog can go to watch. They are famous for pulling off some big upsets in the FA Cup over the years, beating big clubs including Coventry, AFC Wimbledon and Leeds United, and only just coming up short in a recent game they lost 2-0 against the famous Arsenal.
‘The U’s’, who play in an amber and chocolate coloured kit, are in a league with a number of traditionally big-name clubs including Wrexham, Notts County and Chesterfield.
The stadium has nice expansive banked terracing so you will be able to find a quiet spot if it all gets too much for your pooch. There’s also a large social club at the ground which is well worth a visit for a drink before/after the game – there’s usually the chance to have a pint with some of the players, which is a nice touch.
Sutton United women and another men’s team, Sutton Common Rovers, also play at the Gander Green Lane ground, so you’re never too far from the next match.
- Postcode: SM1 2EY
- Rough usual attendance: 1,500-2,000
- Entry cost: £17 adults, £10 concessions, £5 11-18 year olds (cheaper online in advance)
- Website: https://www.suttonunited.net
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/suttonunited
Dulwich Hamlet Football Club
The list wouldn’t be complete without a word for this famous old club, which is a real hot-spot for non-league dog action. They are regularly cheered on by a pug who helps run the club shop and sold a scarf to Pie when we visited and you’ll often see a bunch of dogs at their matches. There might even be one featured on a match programme / magazine, which recently ran a ‘Hamlet Hounds’ initiative with energy provider Bulb to shine a light on the club’s four-legged supporters.
The team plays in pink and chocolate colours and attracts big, well-natured crowds, which much like Clapton have a very inclusive and diverse mentality. As with Clapton, they also have a women’s team that plays home matches on Sundays which is a better option if you would like a slightly smaller crowd or just would rather watch women play.
- Postcode: SE22 8BD
- Rough usual attendance: 1,000-2,000
- Entry cost: £12 adults, £5 concessions
- Website: https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/dulwichhamlet
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/dulwichhamletfc
Sporting Bengal United
‘The Bengal Tigers’, who play in green and red kits, is an interesting club as it was formed to challenge the lack of Asian players in the game. They recently won a lot of admirers when manager Imrul Gazi took a firm stance and led the team off the pitch when faced with racist comments. Others (including the England national team) have not reacted in such a decisive manner in the face of such rubbish, so they are to be applauded.
This is another very central club, located at the famous Mile End Stadium that was used as a training base by the USA team during the 2012 Olympic Games. Supporters sit in a spacious stand which runs along the side of the pitch and gives a good view of the action.
- Postcode: E14 7TW
- Rough usual attendance: 50-100
- Entry cost: £6 adults, £3 concessions
- Website: https://m.facebook.com/SportingBengal/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/sportingbengal
Other clubs that we believe welcome dogs include Bromley, Chesham United, Corinthian Casuals, Enfield Town, Fire United, Haringey Borough, Lopes Tavares, Millwall Women, Wealdstone, Welling United and Welling Town.
To finish off our guide to the Top 5 dog-friendly football teams in London, here are Pie’s top tips for enjoying your day at the football:
- Bring water, food and a bowl to keep pooch happy. Hell, you could even bring a bottle of Brewdog Sub Woofer beer along if you really want to push the boat out!
- Bring a few layers (coat/jumper etc) in case it gets a bit windy or cold. Dogs look great sporting a stripy football scarf – most teams have these available for sale
- Keep your dog on a lead at all times, and keep a firm grip on the handle to avoid any accidents
- Don’t bring a dog who’s afraid of noisy environments or lots of people, and of course, be willing to take your dog home if they’re not quite ‘feeling it’
- Be prepared to have a chat – you’re likely to make a few friends and even field the odd photo request
We hope you get down to watch a match and please do shout if you have any questions – my Twitter handle is @a_lloydwilliams and Pie can be found on Instagram at @a_slice_of_frenchiepie