Though England’s rugby and cricket teams have done remarkably well in world-scale tournaments of late, there is no denying that football is the sport of most UK locals’ hearts. The Premier League sits at the centre of that, and a fair number of the league’s most beloved teams originate in London. So, if you are a football-fanatic staying in the Paddington Court Rooms and find you want to experience the football-fever from the area the teams come from, then this is what you need to know.
Arsenal Football Club
Arsenal Football Club is the pride of many Holloway residents, but also people from much further afield than the borough of Islington in which it originates. Arsenal FC, alongside Liverpool, Manchester United, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, has never been relegated from the Premier League, despite varying positions within it. Their crest features a canon, which earned them the player-nickname “The Gunners”, while the fans are referred to as “Gooners”, coincidentally similar to the former in reference to one of Arsenal’s firms, which was called “The Goon Squad”. Some of the team’s most famous players include: Ashley Cole, Thierry Henry, Tony Adams and Ian Wright, though the list is reasonably long. The team is managed by Mikel Arteta, a new addition to the managerial team after the retirement of legendary Arsène Wenger in 2018.
Arsenal fans are pretty lucky as their stadium, The Emirates Stadium (aka Ashburton Grove before airline sponsorship), in Holloway is prime location for pubs and is filled with places to watch the game (or to meet for a pint before heading to the game with your fellow Gooners). If you really want to clamber to the heart of the spirit of Arsenal supporters, head to The Gunners. Lively, covered in Arsenal memorabilia, and serving up fresh, cold pints to be rowsingly cheersed when the Gunners score a goal.
Address: Emirates Stadium, Hornsey Rd, London N7 7AJ
The Gunners, 204 Blackstock Rd, Highbury, London N5 1EN
Chelsea Football Club
Based in Fulham, and therefore not too mighty a trek from Park Grand London Paddington, in the royal borough of Chelsea and Kengsinton, amidst the high street chic of South Kensington and the plethora of museums, you will also find Chelsea Football Club, which has 145 million fans worldwide. Chelsea, like Arsenal, has never been relegated and its supporters wear the blues and white of its uniform with pride. Originally, Chelsea FC were nicknamed “The Pensioners”, retired ex-military people who reside at The Royal Hospital in Chelsea. Nowadays, they are more known as “The Blues” – their kit dictates that one. Some of their most famous players include: Frank Lampard (who is now their manager), Ashley Cole (as you will gather, players are sold between clubs relatively often), and Didier Drogba.
Like Arsenal fans and the pub-dense area of Holloway, you won’t have much trouble finding somewhere to share a pint and a hearty crowd cheer of “SCORE!” in unison with. The team play and train at Stamford Bridge Stadium, fondly shortened to The Bridge, is not sponsored, hence the retention of its name. Nearby, you will find The Chelsea Pensioner, proffering craft beers of a large variety and backing their teams in blue.
Address: Stamford Bridge, Fulham Rd, Fulham, London SW6 1HS
The Chelsea Pensioner, 358 Fulham Rd, Kensington, London SW10 9UU
West Ham United
West Ham United are based in Stratford, East London, and practice and play at the London Stadium, which was an olympic stadium in the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2012 Summer Paralympics. Donning blue and brown (and therefore quite a memorable kit), their crest is that of crossed hammers and a castle. They are fondly known as The Hammers and The Irons (as per their crest) and their most famous players include: Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, and Joe Cole (who was probably most famous for his time playing at Chelsea). Again, this is just to name a few. David Moyes manages West Ham at present, having previously managed Preston North End, Everton, Manchester United, La Liga club Real Sociedad and Sunderland – so he knows his way around the pitch.
West Ham is slightly further afield in the borough of Newham, but the east is not lacking rustic pubs, that’s for sure. Despite being a boozy, bustling hotspot when you are looking for a footie-pint, it is also considered a gastropub and the food is top-class – just like its neighboring football team.
Address: London Stadium, London E20 2ST
The Cow, 89 Westbourne Park Rd, London W2 5QH
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
While Tottenham Hotspur FC isn’t exactly close to The Shaftesbury Hotel or Central London is general, it certainly isn’t wholly inaccessible – in fact, it is a simple Victoria line tube all the way North to Seven Sisters, and then a quick bus to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. They are known shorthand as The Spurs, and their footie-alumni are, but are not limited to: Paul Gascoigne, Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Harry Kane. The Spurs are currently managed by former professional Portuguese footballer José Mourinho.
Tottenham is an up-and-coming area in London, slowly but surely establishing itself as a trendy must-visit area filled with cafes, restaurants and vibrancy – unlike a lot of London, it is expansive and has plenty of space to be filled with exciting activity. The Tottenham fans’ loca pub is The Bricklayers – Spurs football themed, with a bustling beer garden and festive matchday barbecues.
Address: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, 782 High Rd, Tottenham, London N17 0BX
The Bricklayers, 803 High Rd, Tottenham, London N17 8ER
So, if you are visiting London and wanting a taster of what keeps the country kicking (literally), then getting to know the football scene is a great idea. Especially in London, as there are an overwhelming number of top teams within this small area of space, with each team gathering a wealth of fans to the forefront, ready to cheer and support their teams until the very end. If you can’t get a ticket to see a game live – and you may not be able to, they are very popular and often season ticket holders make up the bulk of the crowd – then make sure you watch from a stadium’s local pub so you get all the energy possible.