Monday, 11 August 2008

Chelsea FC Stadium Tour

It has been a while since I awarded a Ding Dong for something or somewhere in London, but the second that I glimpsed the impressive Chelsea Football Club stadium, I had a feeling that this would be one of my London top tips.

Stamford Bridge is surprisingly easy to reach- taking only about 20 minutes from Oxford Street and then a 2 minute walk from Fulham Broadway tube station. We arrived about half an hour before the tour began to ensure our place and were directed along to the museum to await our tour guide and get our first view of the stadium in all its glory.

Tours take place every day (except home match days) on the hour from 11am to 3pm and you can book in advance on the Chelsea website or take your chance and turn up around half an hour before the tour starts. It’s probably a good idea to check availability beforehand in case there is a last minute tour cancellation.

While waiting to be called by our tour guide, my nephew and I made ourselves comfortable in what was once known as the family box but is now referred to as the WAGs box (Wives and Girlfriends). It is not particularly luxurious but it does afford a fabulous view of the ground (right). It is many many years since I visited a football stadium and I was astounded at the size of the pitch. My nephew reliably informed me that football pitches vary in size so it’s possible I hadn’t seen one as big as this before.

As our group were gathered together our guide, Elvis, introduced himself and led us out to the stands. I should point out that I am a West Ham supporter and my nephew is a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. However, whereas I was happy to hold my head up high and admit to being a Hammers fan, my self-conscious nephew actually borrowed a Chelsea shirt for the day for fear of standing out in the crowd! When Elvis asked if there were any other premiership team fans in the group, my nephew was horrified when I waved my hand thinking I might give away his secret – I was oblivious to his fear while enjoying a little friendly banter with Elvis!

We had chosen a fantastic day for the tour. With under a week to go before the start of the new season and just 24 hours before the clubs big fan and press day, it was all hands on deck in preparation. The grounds men were painting fresh lines on the pitch, other staff were cleaning and polishing each individual seat in the stadium (above right) and, most importantly, the kit man had been getting things ready in the changing rooms. The tour included all areas of the stadium and, as this is receiving a Sparkly Songbird Ding Dong, I shall save the details for next time!

No comments: