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Go to a football match
If you enjoy watching football there’s plenty of choice in London. And while it can be hard to get tickets for matches at the biggest clubs, you’ll often have more fun at one of the smaller grounds. Our own favourites are
~ The Valley where Charlton play – a shame they were relegated last season as we’ll miss our visits there ;( The fans are welcoming and there’s a good family atmosphere
~ Upton Park, West Ham’s ground – their fans have a poor reputation but maybe we’ve been lucky because we’ve usually found them quite friendly
~Craven Cottage (in the photo), Fulham’s ground and another family-friendly club
~ Loftus Road, the more old-fashioned home of Queen’s Park Rangers, one of the lower league clubs.
If you want to try for tickets for the “big three” (Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal) I would recommend the last of these – a great new ground and more friendly to opposing fans than the other two. Personally I hate going to Stamford Bridge where Chelsea play – the fans are hostile to visiting supporters, the ground though modern has poor facilities in the away end, and the prices are unreasonably high.
Talking of prices, these are high everywhere compared with the rest of Europe - £30 would be cheap and £45 normal for a Premiership Club.
Go to a footie game!
The Brits are football - footie - mad. Being of Antipodean (NZ and Australian makeup) when I got offered free tickets (usually between £20-£40) to see Australia play footie with Nigeria at the Fulham stadium which is not far from me - and with my NZ/also Australian connected cousin in town what better thing to do then go soak up the excitement and frenzy of a full on decent footie match!
It was freezing - and the score was Zero all! - but the crowd were loving it, acting up with blow up kangaroos making their way around the grandstand and Aussie chants going on for entertainment to keep our minds off the numbing toes and feet!
All over, crowds and queues for the loos aside we would recommend a visit to a good footie match while youre here in the UK!
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Sourbugger's guide to London's football...
London does not have the reputation as a 'footballing town' in the way that Liverpool, Manchester or Newcastle do, but there is quite a range of professional football teams in the Capital for you to see the beautiful game in all it's glory.
This is Sourbuggers' indispensible guide. It deals in well-worn cliches, sterotypes and and generalisations.
ARSENAL : Top of the food chain. Commonly referred to as 'boring, boring Arsenal'. Despite their supposed style of play, it has not prevented them picking up Premiership titles and Cups over the past few years.
Their great rivals are Tottenham in London and Man U in the Premiership. Virtually impossible to get a ticket.
CHELSEA : Currently beating everybody in sight after the Russian oil tycoon spent millions and millions on assembling an all-star team. But what happens when Roman gets bored with his plaything ? Based in west London, tickets are the most expensive in the Premiership - and again like Golddust.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR : They may win the FA cup every 10 years or so, but this Premiership teams have been perennial under-achievers for along time now. They change their manager about once every three weeks.
FULHAM : A once mighty club (in the 1960's) who dropped right down the pecking order. Now a team with Harrod's millions behind them who can give the bigger boys a good run for their money.
WEST HAM : Again a team living off past glories, but the Upton Park faithful still support their team in their weekly uphill struggles.
CHARLTON : Based south of the river they are perhaps better known in recent years for their epic political battle to bring football back to 'The valley'
CRYSTAL PALACE : A south London outfit again. Their supporters sing "Oh South London, Oh South london, It's full of T*ts, F***y and Place, Oh south London is wonderful". Avoid.
MILLWALL : Their supporters have a 'boisterious' reputation. Maps of London where their ground is (the New Den) are marked 'There be dragons'.
Equipment: QUEEN'S PARK RANGERS : West London underachievers. Rivals of Fulham.
WATFORD : Almost Yorkshire to most Londoners. Used to have Elton John as the Chariman. Strugglers.
LEYTON ORIENT, BRENTFORD, BARNET Somewhere down the football food chain just below plankton.
WIMBLEDON : Thankfully. they no longer exist, as the crazy gang have moved to Milton Keynes to become the MK Dons.
Tickets are easier to get the further you move down the professional leagues.
The Famous Three Kings
This is a tip for all you football fans (and by football, US friends, I mean “soccer”!) who find yourselves in London when your team is playing and need somewhere to go to watch the game. The Famous Three Kings is a great pub for just this situation, as there are 3 big screens, 11 large plasma screens and 2 regular TVs situated in various parts of the large bar area, and at times they will all be showing different games! Obviously there is a bias towards English clubs, and after that Scottish ones, but most of the big European games will be screened, and the obliging landlord is always ready to listen to requests to screen a particular match – indeed we’ve known him put on a lower league German game for a single fan before now.
We go here often to watch Newcastle United and always have a good time, although it’s best when plenty of other fans turn up as for a recent derby against Sunderland – which we won! In fact we regard this as something of a “lucky pub” as we’ve seen very few defeats here. We also love it on big European football nights (although sadly we aren’t participating in those right now) – not only can you follow your own team’s progress but also keep an eye on how others are doing with frequent checks of the other screens, or simply by listening for the cheers and groans elsewhere in the pub ;)
It’s not just football either – I’m told this is also a great venue for rugby matches, and they show other sports too, such as cricket and tennis. If the game isn’t exciting enough for you there are a couple of pool tables. There’s a reasonable selection of beers and a decent food menu, and during exciting games the friendly wait staff are happy to take drinks orders at your table (not usual in English pubs). I should point out though they although the staff are friendly the service can be a little slow and chaotic – last time we were there two of the bar staff told Chris they didn’t serve the very beer our friend had already had two pints of!
The website below has more information, and you’ll see that this pub is rated very highly indeed!
The National Sport - Football
Football to anyone in Britain has nothing to do with oval shaped balls, stupid amounts of body cladding or being able to pick the ball up and run around with it (we are talking FOOTball after all). That is a later bastardisation of a noble sport ;-).
The original game of Football was invented in England well over 100 years ago. If you wish to watch a professional game of Football in London, you have a lot of possibilities. The current two best sides in England both play in London (Chelsea and Arsenal). There are also other London teams such as Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs), Fulham, Queens Park Rangers (QPR) and Brentford. There are others, but this is just a list off the top of my head.
If you want to play, at the weekend, you can see ad-hoc games being played in most of the parks, normally just using a couple of coats as goal posts. This picture was taken in London's Hyde Park.
BTW, In most London Parks, walking or running on the grass is not a problem, unless there are signs stating otherwise.
Equipment: Some coats and a ball in the worst case!
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My Team: Chelsea football Club
1 goalkeeper and 10 players in blue shirts playing the best football you could ever see......! What game am I watching I hear you ask....? Maybe I should ask my friend VT'er and huge Chelsea fan whitecliff ;-)
Equipment: Stamford Bridge officially opened on 28 April 1877. For the first 28 years of its existence it was used almost exclusively by the London Athletic Club as an arena for athletics meetings and not for football at all. In 1904 the ownership of the ground changed hands when Mr H A (Gus) Mears and his brother, Mr J T Mears, obtained the deeds, having previously acquired additional land (formerly a large market garden) with the aim of establishing a football team there on the now 12.5 acre site.
Initially the stadium was offered to Fulham FC to play there, they turned down the chance and so instead a new side, Chelsea FC, was born in 1905 and moved into the new Stamford Bridge stadium.
Football in London
London is home to many football clubs playing in the various leagues from Premier down to Third League. The most famous clubs in the Premier League are Arsenal London, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea FC, Fulham FC, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic FC. Other popular clubs are Crystal Palace, Watford FC and Queens Park Rangers.
In the early 1990's I attended a match of Arsenal London in the famous Highbury Park.
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Arsenal Football Club
Arsenal are the biggest football club in London. They have won more league championships and FA cups than the other teams in London. They play at the newly built Emirates Stadium at Ashburton Grove with a capacity of about 60,000. Despite this increase in capacity it is still almost impossible to get a ticket for a league game.
Go to the Footy
Football (or Soccer if you are from the USA) is the main game of the English. They are totally passionate about the game. To understand what I mean you have to go to a match and see for yourself.
There is a huge amount of chanting, singing, abusing and joking that goes on. You just can't start to understand the passion without going. The level of passion hits a real high point when there are local derbys played (eg Spurs vs Arsenal, Man Utd vs Man City, Liverpool vs Everton). Tickets are very hard to find for these games as they are normally sell-outs but you can try contacting the club of which game you want to go to and find out how you can get tickets.
Generally tickets are sold as season passes with the rest up for grabs for clubs members first. The price of a ticket is around 20 pounds unless you get one from a scalper - then it's either much more or really cheap if you find one who can't sell his tickets!
Equipment: Make sure that you plan ahead and either wear the colours of the local team or something that is different to both. Wearing the oppositions colours and sitting with the home supporters could be asking for trouble - especially if the home team has a loss!!
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Football by the Thames
By the banks of the Thames in Fulham a Premiership venue awaits you. Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham Football Club. So says the club website and I'd agree...
The newly converted Craven Cottage is well worth a visit especially in the summer where you can enjoy a few beers before the match on the embankment behind the Riverside Stand. The Putney End has a large section for neutral supporters where tickets can be bought with cash at the turnstyles. I last visited in April 07 to see Fulham host Portsmouth, not a bad game and Fulham got a well deserved 93rd minute equaliser.
I also visited in July 05 to see the Celtic fans outnumber the home support by 2-1. The game was a 0-0 draw with Zurawski missing a penalty.
Chelsea Football Club - Stamford Bridge
Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club. I haven't been to game here and as I am not a Chelsea fan I probably won't ever be seeing the inside of the stadium but for anyone who wants to go, the nearest tube is Fulham Broadway or West Brompton.
Check the Official Chelsea website below for everything else you could possibly want to know about this famous London club.
Equipment: For £15, its possible to take a two hour tour of the stadium which includes, the dressing rooms, press room, players tunnel, manager's dug out and also the Cententary Museum covering the 100 year history of the club. Tours are Mon-Fri at 11am, noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm and Sat & Sun at 11am, noon, 1pm and 2pm.
The number to call for information about the tour is 0871 9841955 and you will need to book as the tours are popular and fill up very quickly.
(C'mon you Spurs!!!! ;-)
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) are Arsenal's local rivals. Typically they are a very good team in Cup competition, but have not won the league title since 1961. They play at White Hart Lane Stadium. One of my friends supports Tottenham so I hope that they lose pretty much every week ;).
I hope to visit the stadium again when Leeds (my team) return to the Premiership one day in the very distant future.
Chelsea Football Club
Chelsea play their games at Stamford Bridge. They are the richest club in London and are bankrolled by their owner Roman Abramovich. These riches have translated into league and cup success for the team who won the league in 2005 and 2006, and the FA Cup in 2007.
Chelsea are the sworn enemies of Leeds United stemming from the 1970 FA Cup final.
Chelsea FC Stadium Tour
A must for Chelsea fans from all over...! Go on this fully guided tour where you will visit the areas usually reserved for the players: the Press Room, Home and Away Dressing Rooms, the Players ' Tunnel (and the sound of the capacity crowd), Pitchside and the Manager 's Dug-outs. The tour also stops in the Shed Upper Tier for a magnificent, panoramic photo opportunity of Stamford Bridge. The tour lasts about 40mins and finishes up in the Centenary Museum. Don't forget to visit the Megastore too :)
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Fulham Football Club
Fulham are the oldest professional football team in London. They have been in the Premiership since 2001 and are owned by Mohammed Al Fayed who also owns of Harrods Department Store. They play at Craven Cottage, a riverside ground on the banks of the River Thames in Fulham.
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