Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Football Cities

Football ruined my weekend. There I said it. Football ruined my weekend because my team (Manchester United) lost on Saturday afternoon and I never really recovered from this disappointment. Some people might think this is ridiculous but when you, like me, have your life consumed by a passion like football you end up taking these things pretty hard. I’m not alone in this, there are great masses of people who feel the same; in fact there are whole cities that reverberate with the sounds and sights of football.

In the first part of my look at the worlds top football cities I’m going to check out what London has to offer the beautiful game.


A population of 7 million people can’t be wrong; football is London’s most popular sport both for playing and watching. The city is home to 13 professional football teams (with only Istanbul and Buenos Aires boasting more in one city), several of which play at the highest levels domestically and indeed in Europe.

Teams like Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United are famous around the globe for playing in the Premier League (England’s highest league) and draw huge crowds each week to their respective stadiums.

Arsenal (‘The Gunners’) play in the modern Emirates Stadium which comfortably (all seats are padded) seats 60,000 fans. In the past opposing fans used to sing ‘boring-boring-Arsenal’ but those days are long gone and in recent seasons Arsenal have been known to play some of the worlds most attractive football so if you do manage to get a ticket you should be in for a treat! Those tickets don’t come cheap though, ranging from about £35 to £100. This is London after all!

Chelsea (‘The Pensioners’) are relative newcomers to football compared to most other major English clubs, but now they have the chance to cement themselves as one of the worlds most successful modern clubs if progress under a new billionaire Russian oil tycoon continues. Chelsea’s home ground is Stamford Bridge and games are attended by approximately 41,000 fans. Despite its name the club isn’t actually in Chelsea but instead the area of Fulham. Match tickets cost in the region of £35 to £60.

Fulham (‘The Cottagers’) are the oldest professional team in London and play in Craven Cottage with a capacity for 26,000 fans. Usually considered a mid-table premiership team Fulham have struggled in recent seasons to keep up with the large amounts of money being spent around them. Ticket prices range from £25 to £55 depending on the opposition.

Tottenham Hotspur (‘Spurs’) are England’s perennial underachievers; always promising so much but usually failing to deliver. Spurs always entertain, whether the result is positive or not, and there is always one or two exciting players on display. White Hart Lane is where Tottenham call home and each match-day over 36,000 fans don their whites and head to shout on their team. If you’re looking for tickets expect to pay between £35 and £75.

West Ham United (‘The Hammers’) are famed for producing some of England’s finest players, although these players don’t always stick around once a big contract comes from elsewhere. The hammers have a passionate following which makes hearing them sing the club anthem ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ (accompanied by the blowing of bubbles!) seem almost macho! The home ground in Upton Park and tickets are in the region of £35 and £65.

There are of course many other teams in London - too many to go through right now! If you're in the city at a time when there are no matches you can always visit each stadium for a tour. Speaking of tours there's also Englands largest football stadium and home to the national team: Wembley! A super-expensive, state-of-the-art, 90,000 seater giant of a stadium that is fast becoming a new London landmark. The tour costs £15 per adult, £8 for the kids!

For information on the best places to stay in London check out http://www.hostels.com/london and for a London city guide have a look here http://www.hostels.com/guides/viewguide.php/London-Guide 

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