Most cities have just the one resident major football team and some have two. London? Here, you will find new fewer than five Premier League clubs (as per the 2018/19 season) in Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham, West Ham United, Chelsea and Arsenal (Watford are officially in Hertfordshire).
With so many clubs dining at England’s top table in the capital, it is little wonder why young girls and boys fall in love with the game of football so easily. Away from the Premier League, clubs such as Queens Park Rangers, Millwall and Charlton Athletic also receive massive support from fans in their local boroughs.
When you hear people talking about football cities, London should always be heralded as number one.
That First Match Day Experience
The great Sir Bobby Robson said it best: “What is a club in any case?
“Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes.
“It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.
“It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.”
Whether your first experience was sitting on the famous Shelf at White Hart Lane or standing on the Clock End at Dagenham and Redbridge’s Victoria Road, no doubt it is something you will remember for the rest of your life. No one forgets the first time they hear the roar of the crowd as the ball nestles into the back of the net. As Sir Bobby said, you helplessly fall in love and it’s a weight you will carry for the rest of your existence.
Where to Play in London
Football should not just be a spectator sport. Young boys and girls should be encouraged to try their hand at kicking a ball, whether as just part of a kick-around between them and mum and dad, or as part of a team. The London FA is responsible for all junior and youth leagues in Central London, so if you are looking for a team for your little one you won’t go far wrong getting in contact with the local body.
If you are just looking for somewhere for your youngster to learn the game, as well as experimenting with a range of other games, aimed at developing their physical and social skills there are a number of venues in West London that children as young as two can participate in. Playball London runs various classes in the Chelsea and Fulham areas that are the ideal introduction to sport.
As football is thoroughly ingrained in London’s fabric, there are many local legends for youngsters to look up to. Arguably, the most famous and iconic footballer born and bred in the city is England’s 1966 World Cup winning captain, Bobby Moore. Born in what is now the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, there is a statue of the late defender outside of Wembley Stadium, on looking Wembley Way, while West Ham, the club he is most associated with, retired his number six jersey as a mark of respect.
In the modern era, stars such as Harry Kane, John Terry, Luke Shaw, Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham were all born in the capital. It just goes to show that the sky is the limit for Londoners who fall in love with the beautiful game.