Getting around the Premiership and international football stadia of London is a potentially confusing business. In the future, we’ll look at the Football League clubs in London too, but that can of worms is for another day. The way it’s going for QPR, they’ll probably get mentioned in both if it takes us a few months to write the next one.
Things you never knew about London Football Stadiums
• Arsenal play at the Emirates Stadium, formerly known as Ashburton Grove. They were originally based in Woolwich, where an ‘arsenal’ or storage area for guns and ammunition existed from the 1650s, with a secret canal for transporting cannon without spies finding out! Now a taxi to the Emirates Stadium takes you through leafy Islington, home to many a major politician.
• Chelsea are based at Stamford Bridge. A club with a stellar history – having won the very last FA Cup final at the old Wembley in 2000, they triumphed in the inaugural one at the new Wembley seven years later. Funnily enough, when it was built, Stamford Bridge was offered to Fulham FC, but they declined and a new team called the Chelsea Football Club, was born. A cab to Stamford Bridge is likely to take in the stunning Brompton Cemetery.
• Travelling to Craven Cottage by taxi, to watch Fulham play, is a journey through the past. Their ground really was once the site of a cottage surrounded by fields where athletic events were held! Nowadays, Craven Cottage is an important landmark on the Boat Race course, with the crews surging past it a couple of minutes into the race.
• Queens Park Rangers play at Loftus Road … sometimes! Since 1917, they’ve regularly switched between Loftus Road and White City Stadium, causing headaches for taxi drivers who have to relearn ‘the Knowledge’ each time they move. A cab to Loftus Road would also have delivered you to Fulham’s home ground between 2002 and 2004 as they borrowed the stadium for home games.
• Tottenham Hotspur, Spurs, were established in 1882 from the Hotspur Cricket Club and boys from the local Grammar School. White Hart Lane, their home ground, is smack on Tottenham High Road so a taxi to White Hart Lane takes you to the centre of the exciting multicultural borough of Haringey.
• West Ham United have the most romantic football ground of all: the Boleyn Ground, which is better known as Upton Park. When you take a taxi to Upton Park you are actually travelling to Boleyn Ground. It was once an empty field in the grounds of a castle owned by Anne Boleyn. When she was beheaded the castle was left to decay. Since 1904 it’s been the home of ‘The Hammers’ whose imposing stadium even has castle turrets!
• Wembley – the ‘New Wembley’ may have lost the Twin Towers of the old Wembley, aka the Empire Stadium, but is has gained ‘The Arch’, which is the longest single-span roof structure in the world, necessitating warning lights for low flying aircraft. It’s a Category Four football stadium and hosts the England football team as well as the FA Cup final. A taxi cab to Wembley may well pass another London icon, the BBC Television House.