Supporters of every football club have their own set of values and traditions that are passed down through the years. From terrace chants to matchday rituals, these are the things that help to form the bond between the fans and the team. Once a good dose of magical thinking has been stirred in, traditions stick like glue.
Chelsea supporters can find a large number of their matchday rituals mentioned in the Suggs classic "Blue Day."
“…Strolling down the Fulham Road, meet your mates, have a drink, have a moan...” Granted, the only tradition in that list unique to Chelsea fans is the Fulham Road, but it is a lovely place for a stroll.
Once you’ve reached the ground, there are many different pre-match rituals to observe. Some people go to salute the statue of Peter Osgood, while others part with their hard-earned pounds in the Megastore. This writer goes to the picture of Gianfranco Zola and plants a kiss on the badge on his shirt before every big game, and the Sardinian legend is yet to let me down.
After bags have been searched, turnstiles have been navigated and beers have been bought, it’s time to meet the mascots.
Stamford the Lion is Chelsea’s matchday mascot, who can be found wandering 'round the pitch before the game. Adored by the fans, he has traveled over land and sea with the club.
After many years living alone, Stamford has been joined by Bridget the lioness for the 2013-14 season, which offers the potential for a whole pride of mascots in the near future. Shaking hands and having your photo taken with the mascots is something that is enjoyed by children and adults alike at Stamford Bridge.
As the stadium begins to fill up and the teams are read for the final time, "The Liquidator" by the Harry J All-Stars starts up.
This is generally repeated up until kickoff, when a variety of chants come into play. Please note, these videos contain some naughty words of the four-letter variety.
Depending on where you sit in the ground, you will likely have a steward come and tell you to take your seat at some point. Following up this request with a rousing chorus of “Stand Up If You Hate Tottenham” is standard practice.
One of the longest-running traditions at Stamford Bridge has been clamped down on in recent years. There is some debate as to the origins of the celery-throwing escapades of Blues fans. Some claim it was created by Gillingham Town supporters in the 1980s, when the Gills had the herb growing on their pitch. Others cite late, lamented Chelsea supporter Mickey Greenaway as the source of the song which began in the Shed End.
However it began, the charming song and accompanying salad tossing have fallen out of favour in recent years. Arsenal complained to the FA in 2007 that their players were pelted with the projectile at the Carling Cup Final, leading to Chelsea banning any match-going supporter from possessing a celery stalk at Stamford Bridge. Celery has subsequently been banned as far away as Prague but is still flung joyously at victory parades.
"Zigger Zagger" is a version of the “Oggy Oggy Oggy” chant that has been a standard at grounds up and down the country since the 1960s. It was Greenaway again who brought “Zigger Zagger” to The Shed, and since his passing the tradition has been upheld by some of the more vocal supporters.
During the winter months a few years ago, Chelsea supporters started doing “the bouncy.” Partly an exercise in warding off the freezing temperatures and partly to create a great visual spectacle, Chelsea fans have since bounced from Stamford Bridge to Wembley and back again.
After the full-time whistle, the PA system sparks up again with the official club anthem “Blue Is the Colour.” The accompanying video contains handy sing-along lyrics so that the uninitiated fans can join in.
Occasionally, after significant victories in the Champions League in particular, “Blue Is the Colour” is delayed by a rendition of the Madness classic “One Step Beyond.” Ska music has always been synonymous with Chelsea supporters, and this mainly instrumental anthem has accompanied some of the greatest triumphs of recent years.
As 42,000 people stream out onto the Fulham Road to begin their journey home, there’s just enough time to pick up a copy of the CFCUK fanzine, a bargain at only £1.
Taking part in these traditions throughout the years is what creates the bond between a supporter and their club. However you do it, whether at the Bridge, in a pub or from your sofa, the most important tradition to participate in as a Chelsea fan is making sure that you keep the blue flag flying high.