Everything you need to know about London’s football clubs

Football is unofficially Britain’s national sport. Brits love football so much that, to some, the level of passion and dedication it ignites is comparable to that of pretty much any religion you could name.

Britain’s national sides – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland – haven’t enjoyed much in the way of success during international competitions in recent years, aside from Wales’ 2016 Euros shock run where they were knocked out at the semi-final stage by eventual winners Portugal.

Football
However, domestically, Britain is rife with triumphant football clubs, especially in London where you have Chelsea – winners of the Champions League and Europa League in 2012 and 2013 respectively – as well as Arsenal, who have won the FA Cup more times than any other team (12).

London is home to many other high-profile clubs too, such as Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Queens Park Rangers.

In total, there are literally hundreds of football clubs in London, but what do you actually need to know?

Chelsea

Established: 1905

Home ground: Stamford Bridge (capacity: 41,631)

Nicknames: The Blues, The Pensioners

Notable managers over the years: Jose Mourinho, Antonio Conte, Gianluca Vialli, Dave Sexton

Chelsea Football club

Bankrolled by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich since 2013, Chelsea were recently ranked as the seventh most valuable football club in the world (£1.15 billion).

They remain the only British football team to have won all three main UEFA club competitions: Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup. They have also come away with the FA Cup seven times, most recently in the 2011/12 season, and they’ve been named Premier League champions four times, not including their top-flight triumph in 1954/55.

Frank Lampard is one of their most notable players. He is Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer with 211 goals in all competitions, and was named the club’s player of the year a record three times. He remains the club’s most capped international player with 106 appearances for England (101 whilst still at Chelsea).

Other players worth knowing about include Eden Hazard (Chelsea’s player of the year for 2014 and 2015) and Didier Drogba (the club’s fourth highest goalscorer who played a big part in Chelsea winning their first league title in 50 years back in 2005).

John Terry, Petr Cech, Roberto Di Matteo, Jimmy Greaves are just some of the other notable names to have appeared on Chelsea’s team sheet over the decades.

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Arsenal

Established: 1886

Home ground: Emirates Stadium (capacity: 60,432)

Nicknames: The Gunners

Notable managers over the years: Arsène Wenger, George Graham, Bertie Mee

Arsenal Football Club

Arsenal is London’s other big club and Chelsea’s main rivals. They share the record for the most FA Cups wins with Manchester United (12). The Gunners are the only team to go all 38 games in the Premier League season without losing. They also hold the longest win streak and longest unbeaten run.

Arsene Wenger is the club’s longest-serving and most successful manager, winning the FA Cup six times and Premier League title three times since 1996.

Thierry Henry is the club’s top goalscorer with 228 goals in all competitions between 1999 and 2012, surpassing Ian Wright’s total of 185 in October 2005.

Other big name players include Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gaël Clichy, Robin van Persie, Alexis Sánchez, Mesut Özil and Tony Adams.

Tottenham Hotspur

Established: 1882

Home ground: White Hart Lane (capacity: 36,284)

Nicknames: Spurs, The Lilywhites

Notable managers: Mauricio Pochettino, Harry Redknapp, André Villas-Boas, Bill Nicholson, Tim Sherwood

Tottenham Hotspur Football Club

Tottenham or Spurs, as they’re often referred to as, are Arsenal’s North London rivals and the only team to win a major trophy in the last six decades, aside from Manchester United. They have won the League Cup four times and the FA Cup eight times, most notably in 1901 when they became the first non-league side to triumph in the FA Cup competition.

Some of Spurs’ best-known players include Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, Gary Lineker, Teddy Sheringham, Jürgen Klinsmann, Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe – Spurs’ highest scorer in European competitions (23 goals) – and Jimmy Greaves, who is the club’s all-time top scorer (266 from 379 appearances).

West Ham United

Established: 1900 or 1895 as Thames Ironworks

Home ground: London Stadium (capacity: 60,000)

Nicknames: The Hammers, The Irons, The Academy of Football

Notable managers: Sam Allardyce, Harry Redknapp, John Lyall, Syd King

West Ham United Football club

Up until the end of the 2015/16 season, West Ham United were based at Upton Park – officially known as the Boleyn Ground – ahead of their permanent move into the London Stadium, which was originally built as the Olympic Stadium for 2012 Summer Olympics.

The Hammers have won the FA Cup three times (1964, 1975 and 1980) and last made it to the final in 2006. They’ve also reached the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965 and 1976.

Despite dipping in and out of the Premier League in recent years, West Ham are one of eight clubs to have never fallen below the second tier of English football.

The club’s all-time top goalscorer is Vic Watson, who found the net 326 times between 1920 and 1935. The legendary Sir Geoff Hurst – who bagged a hat-trick during England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany in the infamous 1966 World Cup final – is West Ham’s second highest goalscorer, with 252 goals between 1959 and 1972.

West Ham have strong rivalries with many of their fellow London clubs, but their mutual hatred of Millwall is one of the most notorious within the world of football.

When the two sides were drawn to play each other in the second round of the 2009/10 League Cup, the tie was marred with considerable violence, with one Millwall supporter being stabbed. Several West Ham supporters invaded the pitch during the game and the club was eventually fined after being found guilty of violent, threatening, obscene and provocative behaviour and of failing to prevent their fans entering the field of play. Millwall were cleared of all charges.

Fulham

Established: 1879

Home ground: Craven Cottage (capacity: 25,700)

Nicknames: The Cottagers, The White, The Black and White Army

Notable managers: Roy Hodgson, Phil Kelso, Bill Dodgin Sr

Fulham Football Club

Fulham, who were relegated from the Premier League in the 2013/14 season after 13 consecutive seasons in the top flight, have never won a major honour, but they did reach the final of the FA Cup in 1975 – as a second-tier side nonetheless. They were also runners-up in the UEFA Europa League in 2010, losing 2-1 to Atletico Madrid in extra time.

Many English greats have emerged from Fulham, namely Bobby Robson and Rodney March, but their current all-time leading goalscorer is Gordon ‘Ivor’ Davies, who bagged 178 goals for the Cottagers.

Crystal Palace

Established: 1905

Home ground: Selhurst Park (capacity: 25,456)

Nicknames: The Eagles, The Glaziers

Notable managers: Sam Allardyce, Neil Warnock, Iain Dowie, Steve Coppell

Crystal palace Football club

Crystal Palace were one of the original founding members of the Premier League. However, they have never been named champions, with their highest position being third in 1990/91. They have topped the second tier twice though. The Eagles have also reached the final of the FA Cup twice, in 1990 and 2016, losing to Manchester United on both occasions.

Some of their most prolific players include Wilfried Zaha, Scott Dann, Ian Wright, Chris Coleman and Andy Gray.

Queens Park Rangers

Established: 1886

Home ground: Loftus Road (capacity: 18,439)

Nicknames: The Hoops, The Rs, QPR

Notable managers: Ian Holloway, Harry Redknapp

QPR, as they’re often referred to as, were relegated from the top tier of English football in the 2015/16 season. Their highest honour was winning the League Cup in 1967, as well as topping the second tier in 1983 and 2011.

Rodney March, Gerry Francis, Paul Parker, Les Ferdinand and Trevor Sinclair are just some of the big names to pass through their first-team line-up over the decades.

Due to their close proximity to other London clubs, QPR have many long-running rivalries with other clubs in the capital, most notably Chelsea, Fulham and Brentford.

However, in the past, some of their most bitter rivalries have been reserved with teams outside of London, such as Watford, Luton and Cardiff.

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