If you’re looking for a measure of how women’s football is progressing, look no further than the scarf sellers outside Kingsmeadow. As fans arrived for the recent Chelsea Women v West Ham United Women match in the Women’s Super League on Groundhog Day, Sunday February 2, awaiting them at the entrance to the stadium was
If you’re looking for a measure of how women’s football is progressing, look no further than the scarf sellers outside Kingsmeadow.
As fans arrived for the recent Chelsea Women v West Ham United Women match in the Women’s Super League on Groundhog Day, Sunday February 2, awaiting them at the entrance to the stadium was one of the scarf, flag and souvenir sellers who usually congregate on the approaches to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea’s men’s games attract crowds of over 40,000, so it’s no surprise that there are numerous competing scarf-sellers… particularly ones selling the so-called half-and-half matchday souvenir scarves, with one half of the knitted garment blue and the other half in the colour of the away team.
Legal wrangles down the years mean that these unauthorised scarves (as opposed to the official ones in the club shop) are not allowed to use the word ‘Chelsea’ and have to settle for strange alternatives such as ‘Chels’ or ‘The Chels’ or ‘Chel3ea’.
But for the first foray into Chelsea Women souvenir scarves, the sellers had no inhibitions about labelling their half-and-halves ‘Chelsea Women’ v ‘West Ham Women’, complete with a note of the stadium name, Super League and the match date.
As with the men’s scarves, the selling price is initially a tenner before the game, and then drops to a fiver afterwards, for fans on their way out of Kingsmeadow, if there are still spares available.
The sign for Jack Goodchild Way provided a suitable display point, to hold up a version of the scarf using bulldog clips. With 3,304 fans in the stadium (AFC Wimbledon had 3,674 for their last home game at the ground, in January, by the way), there’s clearly the potential for unofficial sales on top of the ones sold in the Chelsea Portakabin near the entrance.
Blues manager Emma Hayes recognises the difference that the Blues’ attendances are making to her squad’s development. As she picked up her January manager of the month award she acknowledged their part by saying: “A big shout to the fans, who are growing in numbers at home and away and becoming louder every game and really driving us forward.”
How long will it be before Chelsea Women have their first fanzine, with someone like the “Urry up, ‘urry up, Chelsea fanzine, only a pound” seller who bellows at supporters in Fulham Road – near Fulham Broadway station – when the men have a home game?