It’s the FA Cup final at Wembley this Saturday, with two of London’s biggest clubs competing to lift the Football Association Challenge Cup. First played for in the 1871-72 season, it is the oldest association football competition in the world.
Here London Blue Badge Tour Guide and member of the Football Writers Association Kevin Molloy, tells us ten things about Arsenal and Chelsea.
Few teams can claim a more consistent trophy haulage in English football than Arsenal, and few could argue that where this club is concerned, the word ‘tradition’ applies like no other. They were originally a south London club who settled cuckoo-like into the north London nest of Tottenham Hotspur. Not surprisingly the two are big rivals.
- Formed: 1886 as Dial Square FC. 1893: Elected to Football League as Woolwich Arsenal (thus, the first London league club).
- Club badge: Cannon, representing roots at former Woolwich gunnery.
- Colours: red and white (Nottingham Forest donated a set of old strips).
- Nickname: ‘The Gunners’, representing roots at former Woolwich gunnery.
- Owner: Arsenal Holdings, plc, with American tycoon Stan Kroenke and Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov the two major shareholders.
- World famous fans: (who have actually attended matches!) include Kevin Costner, Mo Farah, Lewis Hamilton, Mick Jagger, Spike Lee, John Lydon, and… Osama bin Laden (!).
- World famous players: Thierry Henry (top goalscorer with 228 goals), Dennis Bergkamp, Petr Cech, Cesc Fàbregas, Alexi Sanchez.
- Records: 28 major trophies (most successful club in London). Most consecutive seasons in the top flight (90 to 2016). Longest unbeaten league run (49 games, 2003-04). Only team unbeaten in a Premier League season (2003-04). Most consecutive Premier League wins (14, 2002). First London club to reach Champions League final (losing 2–1 to Barcelona in 2006).
- Ground: Emirates Stadium (60,000). An impressive super-soccer-drome opened in 2006 in the London Borough of Islington., and named after the club’s current sponsors Emirates Airways. It is located just a stone’s throw away from the club’s former art-deco HQ Highbury stadium, which formed the backdrop to one of the earliest football-related films, The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939). The nearby underground station, Arsenal, is the only one named after a football team. Arsenal’s record attendance is 73,707 for a match played at their temporary home of Wembley Stadium in 1998.
- Stadium tour: Adt tkt from £15. Family & group rates available. Pre-booking only. Tour dates dependent on match fixtures.
Despite a fairly thin return of success in the first hundred years of their history, the last decade has seen Chelsea power-launched into one of the most famous clubs in global football. In 2016, they sold more replica shirts around the world than any other English club.
- Formed: 1905. Elected to Football League: 1905 (thus, the only league club never to have played at amateur level).
- Club badge: Lion rampant holding staff. Lion represents arms of local landowner Lord Cadogan. Staff represents the abbots of Westminster Abbey.
- Colours: Royal blue with white trim.
- Nickname: ‘The Blues’. Their more traditional nickname is the ‘Pensioners’ after the Royal Hospital soldiers who regularly attend home games in uniform.
- Owner: The club is owned by Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich. The club name and pitch is owned by the fans.
- World famous fans: (who have actually attended matches) include Richard Attenborough, Boris Becker, Michael Caine, Bill Clinton, Lord Coe, Henry Kissinger, Steve McQueen, Laurence Olivier, Gordon Ramsey, Steve Redgrave, Guy Ritchie, Raquel Welch, Tiger Woods, Renee Zellwegger.
- World famous players: Frank Lampard (top goalscorer with 211 goals), Petr Cech, Didier Drogba, Cesc Fàbregas, Ruud Gullit, Eden Hazard, John Terry, Gianfranco Zola. Famous former coach: Jose Mourinho.
- Records: 21 major trophies. Most Premier League points (95, 2005). Most Premier League goals scored (103, 2010). Fewest goals conceded in a league season (15, 2005). First London club to win Champions League (2012). Only British club to win all three European trophies. Only European club to have held both Champions League and Europa League trophies at once (2013).
- Ground: Stamford Bridge (42,000). Opened in 1877, it is the oldest professional football venue in London and one of the oldest sports venues in the world, having hosting various sporting events including three FA Cup finals, athletics, boxing, cricket, rugby, American football, speedway, greyhound racing and cheetah racing (!). Stamford Bridge holds the league attendance record for a club playing at their own stadium (82,905 Chelsea v Arsenal, 1935). It’s not the usual working-class area for a football stadium, located as it is in one of the world’s most affluent neighbourhoods in the London Borough of Fulham. An ambitious plan for the rebuilding of the stadium by architects Herzog & de Meuron (influenced by the gothic architecture of Westminster Abbey) will see the capacity increased to 60,000.
- Stadium tour: Admission ticket from £15. Family & group rates available. Pre-booking only. Tour dates dependent on match fixtures.
Contact Kevin about a football-related tour of London here. Or to find other London Blue Badge Guides, click the link below.