A Sunday roasting at Stamford Bridge – Carl Marston’s Travels with Town
- Credit: PA
Football writer Carl Marston has visited 122 Football League grounds, many of them reporting on Ipswich Town. Here he recalls a Cup rout at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge
I rank Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea FC since the club was formed in 1905, as one of my favourite grounds to visit, which might sound strange given that my last outing coincided with Town’s last outing, a 7-0 thrashing.
In truth, managerless Town’s exit from the FA Cup, at the hands of Carlo Ancelotti’s stat-studded Chelsea outfit, was always to be expected.
True, the actual scoreline, and the manner of Town’s third round demise, was difficult to swallow for the Blues’ faithful away following.
But, with Ian McParland on the hot seat due to Roy Keane’s departure on Friday, there was always a good chance that the Championship strugglers would be roasted on this particular Sunday afternoon (on January 9, 2011).
Stamford Bridge itself, though, did not disappoint.
A venue oozing history from every pore, a big crowd (41,654), a packed press lounge with top-notch hot food (not just hot dogs) and that good old atmosphere that often typifies London grounds – I love them all, from Arsenal’s Emirates through to Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road.
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Like most of the London grounds, there is a lot of history attached to Stamford Bridge, not least that Fulham FC (the ground is actually situated in Fulham, adjacent to the Borough of Chelsea), were originally invited to move into the ground when it became available for staging football matches. Before then, it had hosted athletics meetings.
Fulham turned down the offer, for financial reasons, and instead the newly-formed Chelsea FC took up residence, where they have happily remained for the last 115 years.
It has never been a happy hunting ground for Town, with just three wins from 23 visits.
But it’s still a great place to watch football, and a good area to amble around, with some homely cafes and little restaurants.
I remember putting the finishing touches to my match report on a previous visit, when Phil Parkinson’s Colchester United gave Chelsea a scare before losing an FA Cup tie 3-1 in February, 2006, while sitting in a Brazilian cafe down the road.
The coffee, I’d like to think, helped me with my prose that day.
- Founded: 1905 (115 years ago)
- Ground: Stamford Bridge (opened in 1877, and initially home to London Athletic Club)
- Town’s first visit: 2-2 draw on April 21, 1962
- Town’s last visit: 7-0 away defeat on January 9, 2011
- Town’s overall record at Stamford Bridge: P23 W2 D4 L17
Stamford Bridge has had so many uses, over the years, in terms of hosting different sporting events. Here’s a selection of them:
- Athletics (from 1877): regular meetings well into the last century, meaning that the football pitch was initially sited in the middle of a running track
- Shinty: the World Championships of 1898
- Rugby Union: the All Blacks versus Middlesex in 1905
- Baseball: the touring New York Giants v Chicago White Sox in 1914
- Speedway: from 1929 to 1932
- Greyhound racing: from 1933 to 1968
- Cricket: hosted the first day-night floodlit cricket match, between Essex and the West Indies, in 1980
- American football: briefly the home to the London Monarchs, in 1997
Town’s visit/Carl’s experience
Sunday, January 9, 2011: Chelsea 7 Ipswich Town 0 (FA Cup):
As I revealed at the start of this article, hopes were not high of Town springing a surprise at Stamford Bridge. The club were in the bottom six, manager Keane had been axed just two days previously, and caretaker boss McParland had already stated that he envisaged he was only going to be in charge for one game.
That one game just happened to be a trip to Chelsea!
Alas, McParland’s record as Town boss reads as follows: P1 W0 D0 L1 F0 A7.
This was Town’s heaviest FA Cup defeat, a horrible surrender in a horribly one-sided third round encounter.
It was actually goalless for the first 31 minutes, until three quickfire goals before half-time from Salomon Kalou, Daniel Sturridge and a Carlos Edwards own goal paved the way for a second-half goal avalanche.
And as I wrote at the time – ‘the final score could have been even worse.’