Visiting Stamford Bridge, home of my favorite soccer team Chelsea Football Club, has always been on my to-do list; so as we were already in London in preparation for the Reading Music Festival, it seemed like the perfect time to check this off. Having apparently not learned anything since my last trip to Europe, I found myself in a strangely similar situation of having traveled for more than 24 hours, operating on very little sleep, and going to a late night soccer match.
After dropping the backpacks off at our Hyde Park hotel, we hopped on the tube and set off for the game. At every stop, flocks of fans in Chelsea blue packed into the train on their way to the stadium – and this was 3 hours before kickoff! After getting out at Fulham Broadway, we wandered to find some food before heading to the stadium. We settled on a couple salads (a nice change from airport food!) from a store resembling Nature’s Fare. Not knowing exactly where the stadium was, we did the obvious thing and just followed the stream of people chanting and singing their way down the street.
As we came around the corner, the familiar facade of Stamford Bridge came into full and magnificent view. Built in 1876 and remodeled many times, the historic building is still surrounded by brick rowhouses which give it a unique feel. We wandered over and painlessly collected our tickets (50 pounds each on the halfway line about 10 rows up) and then proceeded to meander around the outside of the stadium taking pictures in front of the posters of Chelsea legends. A quick stop in the Chelsea Megastore provided a premature birthday presents courtesy of Calli (two awesome new jerseys…we passed on the Chelsea branded rubber duck and bike locks). With an hour and a half still to go before kick off, we grabbed some fish and chips (for TJ) and found ourselves a seat to people-watch.
About an hour before kick-off they began letting people in to the stadium. We quickly found our seats and took some pictures of the impressive interior of Stamford Bridge. The atmosphere grew and grew as the rest of the 42,000 fans filed into the stadium. Eventually the players came out and warmed up to rousing cheers. The announcer introduced the three newest Chelsea signings – Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Marko Marin. Finally, it was time for the game to begin.
And what a game it was! Multiple lead changes, tons of chances, and 6 goals in total – a long range blast, a wonderful header, a penalty – all resulting in an exhilarating 4-2 Chelsea win over Reading. The screaming, the chanting, the cursing – it is unlike any other sport in the world and extremely good entertainment. We both left the stadium for the short train ride home with great big smiles on our face.