There’s only one place to be every other Saturday, and that’s strolling down the Fulham Road. Chelsea have been located on the road in West London since their foundation in 1905, having played at Stamford Bridge throughout their whole history.
The road stretches 4km through the heart of West London, one that Chelsea fan finds themselves walking down on a matchday. It’s a sign that you are back home; back where you belong ready to watch Chelsea.
How do you know you’re on Fulham Road approaching the Bridge? Well, the simple answer is the street signs. But the fan’s answer is seeing the players, emblazoned on huge banners hung up on lampposts all along the road. That’s the sign you get that you’re in SW6.
You usually walk out of the shopping centre at Fulham Broadway Station, but if you’re lucky enough to be there on a matchday, you’ll go through the matchday exit. Pouring onto the empty platform below, which fills up with hundreds of fans within seconds, and with the odd shopper confused as to why the crowd is so large.
You walk down the platform and towards the exit, bubbling with the life and energy of football fans on a matchday. You may have your own matchday traditions, whether you’re making your way through Fulham Broadway or making your cup of tea on the other side of the world.
I certainly have my matchday traditions, the ones which I have vividly described in my previous match experiences. As I step out onto the platform, I pull my blue and white scarf out of my coat pocket and wrap it around my neck.
Pouring out onto Fulham Road with thousands of other fans starts one of the best parts of the matchday: the united walk to the ground. You are out of the station and are surrounded by all things Chelsea, in every sense and form.
Everything about that walk down the road encapsulates everything great about Chelsea, starting with the calls of, “Chelsea Fanzine, only a pound, hurry up!” Rain or shine, he’s always there, selling the cfcuk fanzine.
Your eyes are drawn to the bright royal blue of the stalls selling half-and-half scarves, classic Chelsea shirts and retro matchday programmes. The stalls are headed with massive blue flags, rightly keeping the blue flag flying high. Not to mention the official matchday programmes, with their stalls littered all around the ground.
Whether you’re walking down Fulham Road for the first time or the hundredth time, the experience never ever gets old. Everyone walking in unison down towards the ground, seeing familiar faces wherever you go. Whether they’re selling fanzines, having a drink outside Dip In Brilliant or walking alongside you, it’s that matchday feeling.
That walk down Fulham Road is how you know it’s a matchday, and how you know you’re at Chelsea Football Club. You get that same feeling, that same buzz of excitement every time you stroll down it, the anticipation building with every step.
Finally, after two or three minutes walking down the road, you turn left to see the complex. Stamford Bridge in all its glory; right there off Fulham Road.
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Edited by: Dan