London is home to fabulous historical landmarks, large urban parks and 13 top professional football clubs, more than any other city in the world. It comes as no surprise that football is the city’s most popular sport. The growth in popularity of the sport has resulted in strong local allegiances to London football clubs, provoking some fierce rivalries amongst fans and players alike. These rivalries continue today and some of the London derbies are still passionately-fought events. Club supporters can often be found clustered in the areas around the stadium, but the influence of some clubs extends across the capital, the UK and even the world. We’ve taken a look at the six London football clubs currently playing in the top division.
London’s oldest and longest serving club is Fulham, which was founded in 1879 by church goers from West Kensington. The team have played at their current ground, Craven Cottage, since 1896. The stadium can be found in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, on the banks of the River Thames.
Also based in Hammersmith and Fulham are the high flying Chelsea F.C. In 1904, businessman Gus Mears acquired Stamford Bridge Athletics Stadium and planned to use it to home a new football club. As Fulham were already playing in the borough, the team was named after the adjacent borough of Chelsea. Fast forward around 100 years to the takeover of the club by Russian business tycoon Roman Abramovich. His investment has seen the club shoot into the realms of the European heavyweights.
In 1893, Arsenal were the first southern club to enter the Football League and the first London football club to turn professional in 1891. Today it stands as the fourth richest club in the world. In 2006, the Gunners relocated from the historic Highbury ground, which had been the club’s home since 1913, moving the short distance across Islington to the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal’s close North London rivals Spurs were founded in 1882 and became the first English club to win a European trophy in 1963. They have remained as one of the most popular London football clubs, with a reputation for playing an exciting style of football. Since 1899, Spurs have played at White Hart Lane in Tottenham, which was originally a disused nursery owned by local brewery chain, Charringtons.
Recently promoted Crystal Palace have had their fair share of ups and downs, having been promoted and relegated from the Premier League on four separate occasions. The club was formed in 1905 by workers at the nearby exhibition venue, Crystal Palace. Since 1924, all home games have been played at Selhurst Park in South Norwood, South London.
West Ham United
West Ham were accepted as a professional team in the early 1900’s. However, five years prior to this, the team existed as Thames Ironworks, comprising workers from a ship building company of the same name. The Hammers have also yo-yoed between the top two divisions in recent years, but the future is an exciting one. They plan to relocate to the Olympic Stadium in late 2016, possibly cementing their place as one of the top London football clubs.