Monday, June 6, 2011
Birthplace of the Stadium Art Movement uncovered
June 6, 2011 (Montreal)--Here is Stamford Bridge in London, original home of the London Athletic Club. Most people are familiar with its current occupants--Chelsea FC. This is a photo of an original I did for a private collector who wishes to remain anonymous in order to keep his insurance premiums to a minimum. Also included are some old shots of the ground before the massive redevelopment. Stamford Bridge is one of the only grounds for which a team was specifically created, after the London Athletic Club folded. Any fan of the team knows how the history of the ground's ownership, construction and political back-room dealings put the entire club through the ringer for almost 30 years of uncertainty. However, Chelsea has always been a big club, attracting over 80,000 for the visit of Arsenal in the 1930s, and averaging over 40,000 these past few seasons. Often the butt of jokes for the massive injection of funds by their fairytale owner, nobody can deny the location of the ground makes it a perfect candidate for STADIUM OF THE DAY here at the Stadium Art Movement. I think people hate Chelsea because it was one of the original parts of London to be gentrified.
My granddad grew up in a Fulham slum around the corner, so my roots drive deep at this point. It must be said, this is the first football stadium this writer ever visited, August 1973, opening day of the season. I was only five and have no memory except at how upset I was that I wasn't allowed to play. "I thought we were supposed to be going to a football match!" I cried. Still, I understand how away fans in the old days would feel--marooned on a sketchy slope, weeds growing from the concrete and a menacing ambush-in-waiting en route to Euston Station--couldn't have been that pleasant. Nowadays the pub across the road serves food with French names and grub you'd have never found in a roadside caff on the way up to Newcastle. Would you rather go back to the days of wading through piss as you pushed through the mob to eat a dodgy 'worm-burger' as the team struggled to beat Rotherham or Shrewsbury and you struggled to get home in one piece? Hands down--no problem--sign me back up. Those days weren't a struggle, they were awesome.