Friday 28 June 2013
Premierleague.com profiles all 20 Premier League venues, with Chelsea's Stamford Bridge the latest under the microsope.
Year built: 1887
First League match: Chelsea 5-1 Hull City, 11 September 1905
Having officially opened in 1887, Stamford Bridge is the oldest stadium in the Premier League and it has undergone a huge transformation since its humble beginnings as the home of London Athletic Club in the 19th Century.
For the first 28 years of its existence, Stamford Bridge was predominantly used for track and field before football was introduced to the ground in 1905. Near neighbours Fulham turned down the chance to play their home matches there so a new team was formed, Chelsea Football Club, and they began life in the old second division there that year.
In its early stages, Stamford Bridge was a vast bowl shape into which over 82,000 fans gathered for a league match against Arsenal in 1935, which is still their biggest attendance to date. The first sign of transformation was the introduction of the famous ‘Shed End’ terrace in 1930, which became associated with die-hard Chelsea supporters and has been steeped in the club’s history ever since.
The stadium underwent significant development in the 1960’s and 1970’s but, due to financial problems and the club selling Stamford Bridge, it wasn’t until 1992, when owner Ken Bates bought back the ground, that the transition to its modern-day status truly began.
The deteriorating stands of the '60’s and '70’s have been replaced by four, state-of-the-art, all-seater sections that are close to the pitch and can create an electric atmosphere. The terraced Shed End kept the same name but it was replaced by a modern stand. The West Stand is arguably the most impressive, with 13,500 fans accounted for, and the whole 12.5 acre site of Stamford Bridge is now complete with two four-star hotels, restaurants, conference facilities, a health club, music venue and business centre.
Now, the ground holds nearly 42,000 supporters and it has also hosted international fixtures, including a Brazil team featuring current Chelsea stars David Luiz and Oscar against Russia, and the 2013 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final.
3 October 1999: Chelsea 5-0 Manchester United
Chelsea ended Manchester United's unbeaten start to the 1999/00 campaign with an impressive performance against the defending Barclays Premier League champions at Stamford Bridge. Gustavo Poyet capitalised on an error from Man Utd goalkeeper Massimo Taibi inside the first minute to open the scoring and the Uruguayan scored a second on 54 minutes, after Chris Sutton had doubled the hosts' lead early on. A Henning Berg own goal and a strike from Jody Morris gave the Blues a surprise victory over the in-form visitors. The result took Chelsea to within three points of the top of the table with two matches in hand, but the Red Devils bounced back to win the title.
11 May 2003: Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool
On the final day of the 2002/03 Barclays Premier League season, both Chelsea and Liverpool were level on points and they faced a straight shoot-out for fourth place in the table and an all-important pathway in to the UEFA Champions League. Claudio Ranieri's Chelsea side rose the occasion when Danish winger Jesper Gronkjaer set up Marcel Desailly's equaliser after Liverpool had taken an early lead. Gronkjaer then scored the winner with a long-range strike. The match also involved a superb cameo from Italian playmaker Gianfranco Zola in his last match as a Chelsea player. This encounter also proved integral to Roman Abramovich's decision to buy the club, and the Blues have not looked back since.
29 Apr 2006: Chelsea 3-0 Manchester United
Going in to this match, Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side needed just one point to clinch their second successive Barclays Premier League title against their closest rivals in the table, and they duly obliged in a pulsating clash at Stamford Bridge. William Gallas headed the hosts in front after five minutes but playmaker Joe Cole made the match safe against a dangerous United side with a brilliant individual goal on the hour mark. He evaded three defenders with a skilful turn before running through on goal and rifling past goalkeeper Edwin van de Sar. Ricardo Carvalho made the match safe as the Blues won the League in front of their home crowd.
For a 3D tour of Stamford Bridge and a video profiling Chelsea and their home ground, click here >>