There is much to see for those who are interested in football in London. Just to clarify for any readers of this article from outside the UK, football means the ‘beautiful game’, what is commonly referred to as Soccer around the world.
London has a proud tradition of famous football teams with much competition between them to be the top club. There are generally four or five London teams in the Premier League and there are many commentators who believe that this is one of the biggest obstacles to any one of them winning the league. A ‘local derby’ between two London football teams could produce an electric atmosphere and turn current form on its head they are so well contested.
Premier League tickets are sometimes difficult to obtain, but a bit of persistence often gets results. There are a number of ticket agencies that can get them for a price.
In the last decade, both Arsenal and Chelsea have each won the illustrious Premier League title twice and reached the final of the European Cup.
Here are some details about the top 10 football clubs in London and to avoid any accusations of being partisan, they are listed in alphabetical order:-
The Gunners, Arsenal have played in the top division of English football in consecutive seasons since the 1919-20 season. They have been champions on 13 occasions and achieved a unique record for modern times in 2003-04 season when they went the whole season without being beaten.
Arsenal have won the much coveted ‘double’ (league and cup winners in the same season) three times, in 1971, 1998 and 2002
In recent years they have moved to a new venue, The Emirates Stadium, with a 60,000 capacity. The Arsenal Museum is well worth a visit and is open every day.
The Bees, Brentford Football Club are currently playing in Football League I. They were founded in 1889 and play their home games at Griffin Park their home stadium since 1904. Brentford’s most successful spell came during the 1930s, when they achieved consecutive top six finishes in the First Division.
Since the War, they have spent most of their time in the third and fourth tiers of English football. Brentford have been FA Cup quarter-finalists on four occasions, and have twice been Football League Trophy runners-up.
The Addicks, Charlton Athletic have seen better days. There halcyon days were in the 1930s and 40s. In recent years they have struggled after being relegated from the Premier League in 2005 and then from the Championship in 2008.
They play at The Valley just south of the River Thames in Greenwich. The club was founded in 1905.
Historically, Charlton’s most successful period was the 1930s, when the club’s highest league finishes were recorded, including runners-up of the league in 1937, and after World War II, when the club reached the FA Cup final twice, winning in 1947.
The Pensioners or the Blues, Chelsea Football Club was founded in 1905, and play in the Premier League. Chelsea have been champions three times (1955, 2005, 2006), and have won the FA Cup five times, the League Cup four times and the UEFA Cup Winners Cup twice. They reached the UEFA Champions League Final in 2008
Chelsea play at Stamford Bridge in West London and their ground capacity is 42,000.The Chelsea Museum is open most days and is well worth a visit for those interested in museums and football history.
The Eagles, Crystal Palace Football Club was formed in 1905. The team plays its home matches at Selhurst Park, where it has been based since 1924. The club is currently competing in the second tier, The Championship.
Crystal Palace’s most recent successful period began in 1988-89, when the club finished third in the Second Division and were promoted to the First Division. Reaching the 1990 FA Cup Final only to lose the replay against Manchester United and finishing 3rd in the First Division in 1990-91.
Since then Palace have been relegated from and promoted to the FA Premier League on a number of occasions, their most recent relegation from the top flight was in the 2004-05 season. This is all despite the club being almost bankrupt in July 2000.
The Cottagers, Fulham Football Club was founded in 1879, they celebrated their 125th anniversary in 2004, and are in the top tier of English football, the Premier League. Fulham are the oldest professional football team in London.
In 2009, Fulham had their highest-ever finish in the Premier League, coming 7th to qualify for Europe.
The club has produced many great British footballers including Johnny Haynes, George Cohen, Bobby Robson, Rodney Marsh and Alan Mullery and Jim Langley. They play at the historic Craven Cottage, their home since 1896, a riverside ground on the banks of the River Thames in Fulham.
Queens Park Rangers
The Hoops or just QPR, Queens Park Rangers Football Club based in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. They currently play in the Football League Championship, and their honours include winning the League Cup in 1967, and being runners-up in the old First Division in 1975-76 and FA Cup in 1982.
Queens Park Rangers Football Club was founded in 1882, and its traditional colours are blue and white. Owing to its proximity to other West London clubs, QPR maintains long-standing rivalries with several other clubs in the area, the most notable of these being Chelsea, Brentford and Fulham with whom they contest what are known as West London derbies.
In 2007 QPR was taken over by Italian tycoon Flavio Briatore and rank among the top 10 richest sporting clubs in the world. Other major shareholders include Lakshmi Mittal & F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone. So watch this space!
The famous ‘Spurs’ side of 1961, is still reckoned by many football enthusiasts, to be one of the best football teams in English football history. They achieved the ‘double’ which had not been achieved at that time since Aston Villa won it in 1897.
This has given recent Spurs’ teams a lot to live up to. But Spurs have a long tradition of playing good football so there are many exciting matches at White Hart Lane especially with their close North London rivals, Arsenal.
In 1963, Spurs became the first British club to win a major European trophy – the European Cup Winners’ Cup. In the 1970s, they won the Football League Cup on two occasions and were the inaugural winners of the UEFA Cup in 1972. In the 1980s, Spurs won several trophies: the FA Cup twice, FA Community Shield and the UEFA Cup 1983-84. In the 1990s, they won the FA Cup and the Football League Cup and in 2008, they beat Chelsea in the final of the Football League Cup. This victory means that Tottenham have won a trophy in each of the last six decades – an achievement only matched by Manchester United.
Spurs have planned a new stadium to be completed by 2012 and it is expected to be one of the best stadiums in the UK.
The Hornets, Watford Football Club based in Watford, Hertfordshire. They play in the Championship. The club was founded in 1881, and played at several grounds before moving to a permanent location at Vicarage Road in 1922, where they remain to this day. Since 1997, they have shared the stadium with Saracens Rugby Club. Watford have a long-standing rivalry with Luton Town.
The club is best known for two spells under the management of former England manager Graham Taylor. The first lasted from 1977 to 1987, when the club rose to the old First Division from the Fourth Division. Once in the highest division of English football, Watford finished second in the league in 1983, reached the FA Cup final in 1984 and competed in the UEFA Cup in the 1984-85 season.
The second period spanned from 1997 to 2001, when Taylor took the club from the renamed Second Division to the Premier League in successive seasons. Taylor is currently a non-executive director of the club, and honorary life president alongside Sir Elton John who owned the club during both of these eras and has continued a long association with the club.
West Ham United
The Hammers, West Ham United Football Club have play at Upton Park (Boleyn Ground), in East London since 1904 having been formed in 1895.
They featured in the first FA Cup Final to be held at Wembley in 1923 against Bolton Wanderers. The club have won the FA Cup three times: in 1964, 1975 and 1980. They have also been runners-up twice, in 1923 and 2006.
In 1965, they won the European Cup Winners Cup, and in 1999 they won the InterToto Cup.
Their players are considered an important factor behind England’s triumph in the 1966 World Cup, as England’s captain at the time was West Ham’s Bobby Moore, and both goalscorers Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters were West Ham players.
West Ham currently compete in the Premier League, their highest finish in the Premier League was 5th in 1998-99.