YES, the sort of widespread disruption that once accompanied football
matches is a thing of the past, says Jim White.
The very idea of Chelsea fans arriving in Twickenham has apparently put some
locals in a state of high anxiety. They are terrified for their hubcaps,
petrified about their herbaceous borders, panicked about the long-term
effect on house prices. Football supporters at HQ? Locally
they are braced for a fortnightly visitation by Visigoths.
Chelsea fans were voted the fifth most attractive in the Premier League
Which makes you wonder if any of them have actually been to see Chelsea play.
Had they been recently, they would have noticed that the games take place in
a quarter of London so well-heeled it makes Twickenham look like downtown
Detroit. Yet astonishingly, matches pass off without any of the nearby
mega-valuable property being razed to the ground. They would have noticed
too that the ticket prices there act as a subtle mechanism for social
cleansing. In order to afford the £85 admission, those turning up tend to be
drawn from the same strata as those who hold debentures at Twickenham.
Chelsea is no longer home to the working man’s ballet. It is now the
hedgefunder’s Covent Garden.
Of course, as the recent film Riot Club would suggest, being well-heeled does
not necessarily prevent bad behaviour. But the sort of widespread disruption
that once accompanied football matches is a thing of the dim and distant
past. The truth is, these days Chelsea supporters are a model of
well-behaved sobriety, mocked by rivals for their polite decorum. Frankly
you are more likely to have your well-being compromised by the annual
gathering of the Dagenham Girl Pipers than you are the arrival of Chelsea
supporters in your neighbourhood.
NO, the move would appal rugby’s traditionalist followers, for whom
Twickenham is sacred ground, says Allan Massie.
It couldn’t happen next season when England are hosts of the Rugby World Cup,
but in 2016-17 Chelsea might play their home matches at Twickenham while
their own stadium, Stamford Bridge, is being redeveloped.
The suggestion will doubtless appal local residents who are unlikely to
welcome troops of football fans every second week, and it will also appal
rugby’s traditionalist followers for whom Twickenham is sacred ground. It’s
one thing to host pop concerts, Rugby League matches and even a Convention
of Jehovah’s Witnesses there, but Chelsea football club may be a step too
I’m with the traditionalists on this one. Twickenham is for rugby union, just
as Wimbledon is for tennis, Lord’s for cricket, and Ascot for racing.
Moreover, Twickenham is for special occasions, not for routine use.
The Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, is said to be a rugby fan himself. If so,
he should realise that Twickenham has its mystique, and respect it for this.
It’s not after all as if the RFU is skint and needs the extra income. On the
contrary it has money coming out of its ears. Time for rugby union’s old
buffers to assert themselves and say, loudly, “hands off Twickenham”.
But what’s the betting that money will talk? It shouldn’t, but those who are
rolling in the stuff always want more. This of course is another reason to
say “no”, for rugby to set itself against the corporate spirit of the age.
Slim hope, I fear, but the battle is worth fighting.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.