Address: Fulham Road,
Capacity: 40,834 (All-Seater)
The kind of stadium you’d want to put against a wall so that people don’t have to see one side of it.
Commonly referred to as The Bridge, the stadium dates back to the 19th century.
The Stamford Bridge name is believed to derive from “Samfordesbrigge,” the bridge at the sandy ford. The bridge in question was built of brick between 1860 and 1862.
Stamford Bridge Stadium first opened in 1877 as a home for the London Athletic Club, and it wasn’t until 1904 that the lease was acquired by Gus Mears and Joseph Mears who wanted high-profile professional football matches to be staged at the ground. Fulham Football Club were initially offered Stamford Bridge but turned it down for financial reasons, and the Mears brothers instead decided to found their own team, Chelsea Football Club. Famous Scottish architect Archibald Leitch was hired to help construct the new-look stadium, which could hold around 100,000 people at the time.
What was then an almost fully open bowl with an athletics track around the pitch has developed into a fully enclosed professional football stadium. A new East Stand was built in the 1970s, but the rest of the stadium remained undeveloped due to financial issues that emerged.
Those new stands would finally be built two decades later as part of a re-building project that became required following the Taylor Report being published in 1990. It required all stadiums in England’s two highest tiers to have all-seater venues by the summer of 1994, and the major renovation work completely removed the running track that had been present around the ground for decades beforehand.
Stamford Bridge was used as the venue for the FA Cup Final between 1920 and 1922 before the fixture was moved to Wembley Stadium. Chelsea were not present at any of these three finals, with Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur and Huddersfield Town winning in 1920, 1921 and 1922 respectively.
Rugby union, baseball, rugby league, athletics, speedway, cricket, greyhound racing and American football have all had matches and events held at Stamford Bridge since the formation of the ground.
Location and Getting There
Despite being home to Chelsea Football Club, Stamford Bridge is actually based in Fulham, around four miles southwest of the Centre of London. The River Thames at its closest point is roughly 0.5 miles away to the southeast, Charing Cross Hospital is roughly 1.3 miles away to the northwest, and Fulham’s Craven Cottage is roughly 1.5 miles away to the west.
As with all London-based football grounds, I would recommend against coming to Stamford Bridge by car.
There are no parking spaces available for you around the stadium’s immediate vicinity, and with a number of resident schemes in operation nearby, you would likely have to travel a fair distance away from the stadium in order to find any legal parking, yet parking that’s free of any sort.
Reaching Stamford Bridge by public transport is much simpler.
The two nearest railway stations are both served by the same Southern Rail and London Overground line, West Brompton to the north, a 15-20 minute walk away, and Imperial Wharf to the south, also a 15-20 minute walk away.
Using Underground stations will get you even closer. Fulham Broadway is on the Circle Line and within a five minute walk of Stamford Bridge’s western side.
Several bus services have stops on the A304 to the south of the stadium, including the 14, 211 and 414 services.
Outside the Stadium
If you are walking to Stamford Bridge from Fulham Broadway Station, you will likely head through the Britannia Gate off the A304. This brings you to the stadium’s West Stand, which is the largest of the four.
Considered the primary external face of the stadium, the stand has a beautiful exterior design that consists of a most sand-coloured brickwork base, large silver panels and tinted glass windows higher up, and a blue-trimmed cantilever roof at the top. The very centre of the stand contains a tall brick façade which features the Chelsea badge, the Chelsea Football Club name, and often a large Chelsea flag flying from the flagpole at the top.
The Millennium Reception Entrance is based by this central façade and leads to the Millennium suites which are named after former Chelsea players. At either end of the West Stand’s exterior are Hospitality Entrances, which used to be named after former players but aren’t anymore.
Turnstiles for the West Stand itself are based along the brickwork base either side of the central façade.
Right in front of the West Stand is a statue of Peter Osgood.
Born in Berkshire on 20th February 1947, Osgood was a striker who played for Chelsea 380 times across two spells between 1964 and 1979, scoring 150 goals.
Regarded as one of Chelsea’s finest ever players, Osgood won a FA Cup with the Blues in 1970 and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971.
He passed away on 1st March 2006 at the age of 59, and his ashes were buried under the penalty spot of Stamford Bridge’s southern end. The statue of him has been in place at the stadium since September 2010.
Continuing round from the West Stand in a clockwise direction brings you to the North Stand, which is named after Matthew Harding.
Sussex-born, Harding was a lifelong Chelsea fan who became a director at the club in 1993 after responding to chairman Ken Bates’ call for new investment. He would invest more than £25 million in the club, including £7.5 million on the construction of the stand that is named after him.
Harding passed away in a helicopter accident following a Chelsea match on 22nd October 1996, aged just 42.
The exterior of the Matthew Harding Stand looks very different to the adjacent West Stand, consisting of a dark-coloured brickwork base, large grey panels higher up, large blue panels towards the top and a blue cantilever coming down from the roof. Sections of the exterior also protrude slightly outwards.
Turnstiles for the Matthew Harding Stand are based along the brickwork base. This includes the set of turnstiles accessible by a small staircase at the stadium’s northwest corner, and turnstiles underneath a protruding part of the exterior in the stadium’s northeast corner. The entrance to the Champions Club is based next to the turnstiles in the stadium’s northeast corner.
Right outside the Matthew Harding Stand is a building that houses the Chelsea Museum and Stadium Tour. It is built on the site of the former Shed Galleria and is connected to Stamford Bridge itself by an overhead walkway.
The building has been in place since June 2011 and has a few car parking spaces outside of it that are not permitted for use on a matchday.
Continuing round past the Matthew Harding Stand and Chelsea Museum brings you to the East Stand.
It admittedly has the oldest-looking and least aesthetically-pleasing exterior, consisting mostly of concrete and bricks that have been painted blue along the base. The underside of the stand’s very back rows can be viewed from outside, with cantilever coming down from them. The Players’ Collection Window is based towards the centre of this stand’s exterior, with the East Stand Reception Entrance based near to the stadium’s southeast corner.
Often used to park vehicles and store unneeded equipment, the exterior of the East Stand feels very out of place when in comparison to the rest of Stamford Bridge. Compared to the bright and eye-catching exterior of the West Stand opposite, it almost feels like Chelsea would have ideally liked to put this side of the stadium up against a wall so that people don’t have to look at its exterior.
To reach most of the East Stand, you can use a ramp over by the stadium’s southeast corner that leads into to a concourse inside the stand. Gates 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 are located in here. Gates 5 and 7 are located along the exterior of the East Stand up small staircases.
The South Stand of Stamford Bridge has become known as the Shed End having previously been named after Fulham Road.
Most of its exterior is dominated by large brick buildings that houses restaurants and hotels, including a Marco Pierre White, Frankie’s Sports Bar and Grill, The Tea Bar and the Copthorne Hotel which takes up the building’s highest parts. Detached from the stadium itself but close by is another large brick building that houses the Millennium Hotel, and the road entrance leading up to this part of the stadium from Fulham Road is known as the Stamford Gate. This part of the stadium was redeveloped during the Ken Bates era and for a time was known as ‘ Chelsea Village’ but the name isn’t that often in use anymore.
The southeast corner of the stadium next to the Marco Pierre White is made up of brick at the base, large blue panels higher up and a cantilever roof on top. It holds the turnstiles for away supporters on a matchday, with a ramp for disabled supporters entry located right next to the turnstiles.
The opposite end of the Shed End is made up mostly of sandy-coloured brickwork. The stadium’s Main Ticket Office is based here, with upper tier turnstiles based next door. The Main Reception Entrance, made mostly from glass, separates the upper tier turnstiles for the lower tier turnstiles. The Chelsea Megastore is next to these lower tier turnstiles, and continuing on from there brings you back round to the front of the West Stand.
There is a path leading from Fulham Road right up to the Main Reception Entrance, and this is known as the Bovril Gate.
Immediately outside the Shed End’s exterior is a large concrete wall that has been decorated with large images of some of Chelsea’s greatest and most influential players from over the years. The wall these pictures are attached to once formed the boundary wall of the original Shed End Terrace until it was demolished and rebuilt in 1994.
Alongside the features around the stadium’s immediate vicinity, there is also a Chelsea Matchday Store based off Fulham Road next to the start of the Stamford Gate. Stamford Bridge in total has three different shops around it, the Stamford Gate Shop off Fulham Road, the Megastore at the southern end of the ground, and a smaller shop inside the Chelsea Museum building at the northern end of the ground.
Inside the Stadium
The West Stand is divided into four tiers, with the first tier the largest of the four.
The majority of the seats in this tier are coloured blue, but there are also two rows of the letters CHELSEA spelt out in white across the blocks, each used a sliver of black seating to give the letters a 3D effect.
The much smaller second tier hangs partly over the back rows of the first tier and is made up of entirely blue seating. It is exclusively for hospitality use, and the wall at the front is normally decorated with Chelsea-related banners and flags.
The third tier is the smallest of the four and holds the Millennium Suites, executive boxes that each have a couple of rows of dark blue seating in front of them. The wall at the front of this tier displays the Chelsea Football Club name.
The fourth tier is the second largest of the four in the West Stand and made up entirely of blue seating. The wall down at the front is often decorated with Chelsea-related flags.
Your view from anywhere inside the West Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.
The first, second and third tiers are well protected by the stadium’s enclosed design and whilst the fourth tier is higher up than adjacent parts of the ground, large windshields at either end protect every row inside here.
The Matthew Harding Stand encompasses the stadium’s northwest and northeast corners. It is divided into two tiers of similar size.
The vast majority of seats in this stand are blue, but the letters adidas are spelt out in white across the upper tier blocks.
The upper tier hangs slightly over the back rows of the lower tier, and the wall between them is often decorated with Chelsea-related banners and flags.
A large electronic screen is attached to the roof above the stadium’s northwest corner and this screen can best be seen by those at the opposite end of the stadium.
Your view from anywhere inside the Matthew Harding Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above, and every row inside is well protected by the stadium’s enclosed design.
The East Stand is divided into three tiers with almost every seat inside coloured blue.
The bottom tier is the shallowest, containing the stadium’s dugouts and tunnel down at the front with the changing rooms located inside. The press area is up behind the dugouts in the central block.
The middle tier hangs over the back rows of the bottom tier. It is exclusively for hospitality use and has boxes up behind its back row. The wall at the very front is often decorated with Chelsea-related banners and flags and also has an extended area that can hold matchday cameras.
The top tier is the clear largest of the three, consisting of three rows of almost fully blue seating blocks. The exception here are the blocks in the middle of the back row which are darker in colour instead. There is a gantry hanging from the roof which can hold a matchday camera. The wall down at the front of this tier is often decorated with Chelsea-related banners and flags and also has an extended area that can hold matchday cameras.
Your view from anywhere inside the East Stand is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above.
The bottom tier, middle tier and half of the top tier are protected by the stadium’s enclosed design and whilst the other half of the top tier is higher than adjacent parts of the ground, large windshields at either end protect every row inside here.
The Shed End encompasses the stadium’s southeast and southwest corners. Very similar in design to the Matthew Harding Stand opposite, it is divided into two tiers with the upper tier larger than the lower tier.
Every seat in the lower tier is coloured blue, with its back rows forming part of the Centenary Hall that is separated from the rows in front by a small blue wall.
The upper tier hangs slightly over the back rows of the lower tier. It is made up of almost entirely blue seating, though the letters adidas and three horizontal lines are made out of white seating across the central blocks.
Stamford Bridge’s Stadium Control Box hangs down from the centre of the roof, and there is a large electronic screen attached to the roof above the stadium’s southeast corner that can best be seen by those at the opposite end of the stadium.
Your view from anywhere inside the Shed End is perfectly clear because of the cantilever roof above, and every row inside is well protected by the stadium’s enclosed design.
Away fans are housed in both tiers of the stadium’s southeast corner which forms part of the Shed End.
Smaller away crowds will take up just the blocks in this corner, but larger crowds can be allocated more blocks in the Shed End. Typical away allocations vary between 1,500 and 3,000.
You are given a perfectly clear view of the action from any of the two tiers in this away section, though it is worth noting that part of the upper tier hangs over the back rows of the lower tier.
The stadium’s enclosed design means that every row is well protected from the elements as well.
Away turnstiles can be found outside the Millennium Hotel and next to the Marco Pierre White. There is also a ramp next to these turnstiles for disabled supporter access.
Pubs available for supporters on a matchday include*:
-The Broadway Bar and Grill (474-476 Fulham Road, SW6 1BY) (Typically Home Supporters Only)
-The Courtfield Tavern (187 Earls Court Road, SW5 9AN) (Popular with Away Supporters)
-Goose Fulham (248 North End Road, SW6 1NL) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The King's Arms (190 Fulham Road, SW10 9PN) (Typically Home Supporters Only)
*Pubs closest to Stamford Bridge are typically for Home Supporters only, and my recommendation as a result is to look for a drink elsewhere before heading to the stadium. Earl's Court to the north tends to be a popular destination for away fans to find pubs before heading to the match.
Chelsea have called Stamford Bridge home since day one. What started as an athletics venue has grown into one of the most renowned stadiums anywhere in Europe. Accessible via Fulham Road on its southern side, it possesses a very eye-catching western exterior, and a southern area full of high quality restaurants and hotels.
The eastern side of the stadium however is simply not as attractive from the outside, and it does feel like in an ideal world Chelsea would rather have this end of the ground up against a wall so that people don’t have to walk round and see it. The presence of turnstiles here however requires this side to be accessible, for now.
The contrasting exteriors of Stamford Bridge may well not be in place in the future though. Chelsea have often talked about expanding the size of the stadium as part of a major renovation project that would see all four stands changed. Stamford Bridge’s location in a built-up area surrounded by railway lines has halted the progression of these plans in the past, but that is not to say that it will never come to fruition.
Chelsea Football Club is ever-growing in popularity, and there will surely come a stage where their current home simply isn’t considered big enough anymore.