Friday, 23 December 2011

Chelsea - Stamford Bridge


Chelsea FC
Stamford Bridge
Fulham Road
London
SW6 1HS

0207 835 6000
Official Website
Twitter




Ground Number: 116
Sunday 19th February 2006
Chelsea 3-1 Colchester United
FA Cup 5th Round


TEN FACTS ABOUT CHELSEA FC

1:  Chelsea have been English League Champions on five occasions. They won the old First Division in 1955. Later, with the help of Roman Abramovich's millions, they won the Premiership in 2005, 2006, 2010 & 2015.

2:  The club have been regular competitors on the European front, winning the Champions League in 2012, the Europa League in 2013, the Cup Winners Cup in 1978 and 1998 and the Super Cup in 1998.

3: The FA Cup has been won on seven occasions, the last of which in 2012 came as they beat Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley Stadium. They may want to forget a 1980 3rd Round defeat to Wigan Athletic, however.

4: In the League Cup, Chelsea have been holders on five occasions, the last of which came in 2015 as they beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0. Conversely, they will want to forget the 1999 defeat to Huddersfield Town, which was their worst showing in recent times.

5:  Chelsea's famous song 'Blue Is The Colour' was made on the eve of the 1972 League Cup Final. It reached number 5 in the UK charts. More modestly, Suggs 1997 song 'Blue Day' was made for the FA Cup Final and reached number 22.

6:  Famous fans include Madness frontman Suggs, TV personality David Baddiel, TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson, chef Gordon Ramsay, former US President Bill Clinton and politician David Mellor who famously had his toes sucked whilst wearing a Chelsea kit by a woman he was having an affair with.

7:  Record appearance holder for the club is Ron Harris. He made 795 appearances for the club after graduating from the youth academy. His time in the first team at the club lasted from 1961 to 1990 before he moved on to Brentford and Aldershot, the latter of whom he was briefly manager of.

8:  Chelsea's record goalscorer is Frank Lampard who notched 211 times between 2001 and 2014. Record scorer in one season is Jimmy Greaves who hit the back of the net 43 times during the 1960-61 season.

9:  The record crowd to watch Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is 100,000 for the 1945 friendly against Dynamo Moscow. Amazingly, that was bettered last year for another friendly when 105,826 watched their game at the University Of Michigan Stadium.

10: Chelsea's record win of 13-0 came against Luxembourg side Jeunesse Hautcharage in a 1971 European Cup Winners Cup game. Domestically, they have recorded 8-0 wins in the Premiership against Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa in recent years. Their biggest defeat came in February 1913 as Sheffield Wednesday beat them 8-0 in an FA Cup 2nd Round replay.



VISIT 1: CHELSEA 3-1 COLCHESTER UNITED

My first visit to Stamford Bridge was actually for their game with Wycombe's bitter rivals, Colchester United. This was the year when I was trying to see a game in every round of the FA Cup - right from the extra preliminary round in August, through to the final in May. This was towards the end of this run - I actually only managed up until the Quarter Final, as semi-final tickets were only available for £400 from online touts! This was also back in the heady days when I got weekends off of work - what a plonker I was for giving them up. Anyway, as any sensible person would do, I went on the train after parking at Amersham, my local station. Pre-match was spent enjoying the atmosphere created by the Colchester fans in as local pub.

There was a decent crowd of over 41,000 present for this game. They watched as Colchester had Chelsea on the rack during the early stages. They'd already hit the post before a Ricardo Carvalho own goal had given them the lead on 28 minutes. Nine minutes later, Chelsea were level with a close range finish from Ricardo Ferriera. It wasn't until the final ten minutes that Chelsea took control of the game against a tiring Colchester side. The first goal came when visiting keeper Aidan Davison could only parry Hernan Crespo's shot and Joe Cole followed up. The best was saved until last. Just three minutes remained when Cole grabbed his second, following a great run with a stunning strike from 30 yards out.



VISIT 2: CHELSEA 4-0 WYCOMBE (LGE CUP SF 23/1/07)

My second visit to Stamford Bridge was, without doubt, the most memorable one. It was the culmination of my very own Wycombe Wanderers' run to the League Cup Semi-Finals. I'd seen the club reach the FA Cup Semis around 6 years earlier, though that time I missed a couple of games in the earlier rounds. By now, I was a fully committed Wycombe supporter in the midst of a 7-year run without missing a game. This run had started all the way back in August with a 3-2 win at Swansea City and on our run we had beaten Fulham, Doncaster, Charlton & Notts County to get to Stamford Bridge. The only downer to this was that in my attempt to see a game in every round of the FA Cup the previous season, the run had included trips to Fulham, Charlton & Chelsea, all of which would be repeated on this run. Though not technically a groundhopper, the lack of variety was a tad disappointing.




The day of the game involved a day out in London. Nowadays it would probably involve a pub crawl, but back in those days, it was all a bit more healthy and innocent. I took a tour of various football grounds in London that I had not yet got pictures of. I seem to recall visiting the likes of Bromley and Raynes Park Vale, but I am unable to recall the other five that I went to. I made my way to Stamford Bridge well in time for kick-off and recall picking up a free copy of the Evening Standard. It was probably overpriced even at that cost, given the slapdash journalism. Misspelt players Tommy MOONY and Stefan OATES were predicted to start for Wycombe.



I was in the ground an hour before kick-off to soak up the pre-match atmosphere. Though Wycombe had gained a credible 1-1 draw in the first leg at Adams Park, thanks to an equaliser from Jermaine Easter, we were always going to be up against it. Jose Mourinho was complimentary about Wycombe, but not so what he saw as jingoistic reporters who questioned Michael Ballack's performance, asking 'is it because he is German?' We were well beaten in the end, with Andriy Shevchenko opening the scoring following a poor pass from Tommy Doherty. Easter had the chance to become the hero once more, but he wasted his opportunity. We had a really good spell around that time but were undone by a goal on the break as Shevchenko got his second with a volley. From then on, it was all Chelsea. Frank Lampard chipped Ricardo Batista on 69 minutes when he came rushing out to deal with a shot and then got his second in injury time with a close-range finish. The scoreline had been harsh on Wycombe however, and it had been a bittersweet end to a great run.



VISIT 3: CHELSEA 3-0 SUNDERLAND (PL2, 7/4/17)


As I'd not really done a decent blog on Chelsea, I was always keen to revisit at some point in the future, especially with Wycombe having one of their most famous ever games there. With the ticket prices being fairly expensive though, I thought it might be some while before I got round to it. The 'Affordable Football' Twitter feed came up trumps around a fortnight before the game with news that the Premier League 2 game between Chelsea and Sunderland had been moved to Stamford Bridge. Even better, tickets were just £5 and it was on a Friday night when I'd not yet planned anything. Late competition came in from Peterborough Northern Star, but with fellow hopper Anwar taking his son Hicham to the Chelsea game, I decided to stick with my original plan. It would mean that the train would take (some of) the strain and even though I'd not be able to get a full day out in London due to work, I would at least be able to have a couple of drinks pre-game at somewhere decent.




On the day of the game, it was an easy day at work, and after starting at 5am, I was out of the door by 11.30. I came home and had a bath and caught up with various things. After some lunch, I got my stuff together, leaving home at 2.15. I parked up and was annoyed to miss the 2.39 train by the skin of my teeth, with it just pulling away as I went through the barrier. I had to wait another 10 minutes for the next one. I picked up a free copy of the Metro to read on my journey. After a seamless change at Finchley Road I got on the South Eastern service to Kew Bridge where my pre match watering hole was located. The Stable is a chain of cider and pizza places of which this was my 5th different location visited. I'd pulled a neat trick by signing up to a disposable email address so I could get a voucher for a free cider tasting board when you bought a pizza. It was a trick I has used previously on my genuine email address, but it didn't really work out good value without the offer. It turned out to be a great place as ever. I had a brilliant Ali Baa Baa Pizza and five new ciders, namely:

Bridge Farm - Kingston Black
Purbeck - Devils Leaf
Purbeck - Cheeky Cherry 
Purbeck - Number 10 
Ashridge - Devon Gold



It came to £12.50 and with the great service offered, I was sure to leave a tip. I made my way back to Kew Bridge station, catching the bus to Fulham which would take me pretty much all of the way to the ground. Dropped in Fulham Broadway, I stopped at Wilkinsons for a drink and a chocolate bar before making my way to the ground. It was a nice relaxed atmosphere with the stewards chilling which was nice. I went to sit in my normal seat, but Anwar spotted me and luckily there was a spare seat next to him. The game kicked off with Chelsea on the front foot and dominating. Richard Nartey's free-kick put them ahead after three minutes, though forward Ke Ugbo might have got the slightest of touches to help it in. The next goal on 38 minutes was pretty much the same, though this time Ugbo did get the decisive touch. Up to this point, Sunderland had offered nothing and were looking as woeful as their first team do in the Premiership. The visitors rallied briefly, but it was 3-0 on 50 minutes in. A cross was put in from the right, only half cleared and Ugbo was there to pounce for his second from within the 6-yard box. Sunderland actually looked the better side towards the end, but it was too little, too late and they never really mustered a serious threat on goal.



It had been a decent evening. Stamford Bridge had looked bland in daylight, but once night had fallen it was a far more intimate place under the lights, even with a small crowd. I made my way with Anwar and his kids to the station, getting the train to Edgware Road and then to Marylebone. That was where we said our goodbyes as his train was 20 minutes before mine. Eventually, just before 10, I got mine, reading a paper and listening to the Two Mikes podcast on the way back. I got back at 10.40, with me getting in just before 11. I was planning on finalising my blog, but with the Internet being a sack of arse I decided to leave it until the morning. Instead I watched TV for a bit whilst having a Dudda's Tun Cider.  Eventually, I got to sleep around 2 am, happy that I didn't have work in the morning.



THE GROUND

STAMFORD BRIDGE is a cracking ground. Even from the outside, it is one of the most aesthetically pleasing grounds in the top flight with attractive brickwork and glass. It's fairly small compared to other clubs of their stature, with capacity at just over 41,000. Plans are afoot to completely redevelop the stadium and replace it with a new 60,000 capacity arena but for now, you will get good views and atmosphere from the vast majority of seats in the ground, also with reasonable leg room.

As you'd expect from the Premiership, the food offerings are bland, boring and overpriced in the ground. All the bars at the ground are for executives, so it's a good job there is a great range around the ground. As I write this, I've not been for my latest visit, so my memories are hazy. I do remember a Sainsbury's in the station which provides good value and there is also a Wetherspoons here. Outside are a huge range of merchandise stalls and food and drink outlets to suit almost every taste.



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