Before I continue on this post, I would like to caveat that I’m neither a Chelsea fan nor a football fan. I guess this renders my review of the Chelsea FC stadium tour less robust. I wouldn’t have parted ways with £19 if not for my Friend S, who has been an avid Chelsea fan since 8 years old. I would also like to mention that the only other stadium tour which I have been on would be by Real Madrid CF, hence I may make some annoying comparisons to it in process of this review. I was told that Real Madrid’s CF has more resources to furnish its Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. So it may not be an apples-to-apples comparison. Here’s my review of the Chelsea FC stadium tour, from the perspective of a non-fan.
The start of the tour is pretty standard. First you line up for the tickets. Unlike the Real Madrid stadium tour where you can do it on your own, the Chelsea FC stadium tour is led by a guide. The tour intervals are once every half-hour. Visit the Chelsea FC website to find out more.
The Press Conference Room
My biggest takeaway from the press conference room was not the little stage where the manager addresses journalists at a press conference. It was that they have buffets for the journalists! The work spaces were also well-equipped.
The Dressing Room (where all the action takes place)
We visited the dressing room, where players get ready for a match. They were nice facilities, given that Chelsea is a pretty wealthy football club. It was wide and spacious, and similar to Real Madrid, the dressing rooms had massage beds for sports therapy.
Chelsea’s trick for Away teams
In the Away team’s dressing room, Friend S shared with me a nugget of information – a trick that was used by Chelsea to make life a tad difficult for Away teams. Here, the whiteboard was positioned behind a fire-door that had to remain open throughout. This made it challenging for the teams to use the whiteboard to mark out strategies, before the match and at half-time. (This could be easily circumvented if the Away team brought their own whiteboard, which I hope they did think of it.)
I told Friend S I wasn’t surprised because this was Chelsea. In response, Friend S said that most football clubs would have little tricks in the dressing room to make life difficult for away teams, such as not providing warm water in the shower. All I can say to that is while visiting Real Madrid’s dressing room, the Away team’s dressing room was well-furnished – it appeared that adequate provisions had been made for the welfare of the Away team. But the ‘little trick’ wasn’t my biggest learning.
My biggest takeaway from visiting the dressing room was that Molton Brown was the choice of soap.
Similar to the Real Madrid stadium tour, we had the chance to walk through the tunnel, onto the pitch. Once again, I tried to picture myself in the really tense moment players had to face before a big game.
The Souvenir Shop
Like the souvenir shop at the Santiago Bernabeu, the souvenir shop at Stamford Bridge was dazzling. I guess it was because that was where the merchandise were sold, and merchandise was probably one of the biggest revenue generators for the club. Chelsea’s store spanned two levels, selling merchandise such as jerseys, suitcases, socks, scarves and key chains. The jerseys were of good value, vis-a-vis purchasing them from other retailers.
The Travelling Squid’s Take
I asked Friend S (the ‘raison d’etre’ (fundamental reason) for my visit to Stamford Bridge) if he found the tour enjoyable. He said that as a fan, it was good, but he had gone on a tour 8 years ago and found it better, as it was more intimate and there was banter with the guide and members of the group. The current tour led by a no-nonsense Chelsea guide was a tad brusque. I suspect that this could be because back then, Chelsea was a smaller club.
According to Friend S, a visit to Stamford Bridge would be good even for non-Chelsea fans. He said that there were many other players in the world football that he admired who were not from Chelsea, and he would definitely visit the stadium of rival teams if he was in town, to get a sense of the moment. That said, as a non-fan and non-follower of the league, I still can’t get why one would spend £19 on a ticket to see a rival team’s setup, but I guess, it’s one of those things that only those in the know can comprehend.
Would you go on a stadium tour of the arch-rival of your favourite team? Drop a comment in the box below.