London – Football City

To get the best from London on any particular day it is important to set priorities.  Such is the size, pressures of travel, expense and the depth of the numerous attractions available a failure to prepare will almost certainly leave any visitor to this super sized city disappointed.

London has an allure to many millions of visitors and residents thanks to its potent mixture of continuity and tradition.  At times you are just never sure what is around the corner due to the depth of variety and historical landmarks on offer.

London, same say, is unrepresentative of the United Kingdom but despite being an ancient city (it dates back to Roman times and 43 AD) it is a modern city where the best and worst of UK living is visible.  Thanks to the incoming of cosmopolitan populations and the diverse range of cultural venues things have changed greatly over the last 50 years not least in stadium architecture.

The rich diversity of old and new on offer in London hides the fact that this was a city relentlessly bombed during World War II. Like other huge cities such as Buenos Aires and New York, it has suffered the slings and arrows of financial boom and bust but London is more than just another destination. Instead it is a collection of communities and villages once independent but long since swallowed up (along with huge areas of surrounding countryside) by an ever expanding complex metropolis.

At the centre of this ever developing patchwork city are contradictions from the towers of global international finance in the City to the grave of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery.  From the vast London underground transport network to the hundreds of theatres, London has many woven patchworks.

While it may be down the list of priorities for lovers of theatre, cinema or art museums crucial to this tapestry is the common theme of football.

London – Fussball Haupstadt

London can be described as a fussball haupstadt or, the like the capital of Argentina, Ciudad de los Estadios. Nobody has enough fingers to count the football clubs and its possible to calculate around 44 football clubs that are spread throughout the league ladder. These teams range from the elite of Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs to the ‘lesser’ though no less popular names of Crystal Palace, Watford, West Ham and Fulham even right through to minor clubs like Metropolitan Police FC.

While once all the major clubs were pillars of working class communities, representative of the smaller areas in which they grew up, the prosperity and attractions of the English Premiership has meant that many of the clubs have moved onto new pastures at the first chance often solely in an effort to increase wealth and value.

Thankfully things are not as extreme as the NFL where some teams rebrand and change franchise seemingly overnight but the theme of ‘uprooting at the first chance of leaving an original home’ continues. So many of London’s football clubs from Barnet to Arsenal have broken free from rich historical roots and tradition, wholly you could say, in pursuit of increased commercial revenues.

It may be hard to understand for many that some of London’s most illustrious clubs were not so long ago C-listers at least in European football terms. Chelsea were a English second tier team during the late 1980’s with a disjointed open stadium that had changed little since the 1950’s.  However, thanks to huge foreign investment from a Russian billionaire the likes of Chelsea have managed to attain the title of European Champions and are now ranked amongst the elite in Europe at least in terms of playing squad and wages paid.

Some would say this growth is a distortion of history yet for lots of football fans the money spent is money well invested.  And, perhaps those who rejoice in the multi-million pound wages have a point in the true spirit of London’s history and tradition. The UK capital was, after all, a city founded on the principles of trade and commodity.

The object of the photo set is to explore football in London from the glamour of Stamford Bridge through to images from the smaller more unfashionable clubs. With many clubs on the brink of departure to new pastures (Arsenal moved relatively recently and Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United are close to moving home) the aim is to capture new and old venues and expand the album over time with a diverse range of images.

You can view the set here.