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London: a home for football

Exploring football in the the UK's capital city

black and white photograph, a very large crowd at a football match in a stadium
Adrian Murphy (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

London is renowned as a home of football.

The city - which hosts the finals of the Euro 2020 Football Championships - is home to many of England's top-flight teams, with 13 professional clubs.

From Chelsea to Crystal Palace, Arsenal to Millwall, London's legacy as a city of football is secured.

black and white photograph, five men running in a football field
black and white photograph, young boy holding a rattle standing in front of large crowd of spectators at a football match
black and white photograph, group of footballers celebrating and holding a trophy

This legacy stretches back to the beginnings of the modern game, with The Football Association - the world's oldest football association - formed there in 1863. In 1872, the first FA Cup Final match was held in London, with the majority of finals held there since, often at Wembley Stadium.

black and white photograph, large crowd watching a football match at Wembley
black and white photograph of Wembley Stadium in 1901

London's football history goes far beyond those professional clubs to a whole range of amateur teams and games.

To celebrate the UEFA EURO 2020 championships finally getting underway in 2021, the Museum of London have created Eleven, a film that highlights eleven personal stories of Londoners to create a contemporary London line-up and highlight the empowering nature of the 'beautiful game'.

The film captures a range of stories: from Globe Rangers in Walthamstow to Saint Matthews Project in Brixton, from the first Black Londoner to ever play football for England, Benjamin Odeje, to founder of Goal Diggers, Fleur Cousens, who created a team accessible to all women and non-binary people.

You can view the film if you are able to visit the Museum of London, as well as below.

Football is, of course, more than the players and teams - it's all about the fans too. The West London club Brentford was founded in 1889 and more than a a century later continues to have a loyal following.

This video - Push Up Brentford! An Oral History of Brentford Football Club - features 23 in-depth oral history interviews with fans, former players and staff of the club.

The project focused - set up and run by educational charity digital:works - was recorded as the club was about to move from its Griffin Park ground, home to the club since 1904.

As well as being a home for football, thanks to centuries of migration, London too is home to many different nationalities and people with a diverse range of heritages.

The photographs below show fans of Colombia and Greece celebrating in London during recent World Cup and European Cup tournaments. (See also: Germany, Ghana, South Korea, Spain, Ukraine

colour photograph, football fans in yellow Colombian jerseys celebrating
colour photograph, group of people in a cafe watching a football match on a television

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