Chelsea FC: And Now Are You Going To Believe Us | Photographs by John Ingledew

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A 25 year photographic record of Chelsea and their fans as they regain their place at the pinnacle of English and European football.

Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Tunnel vision. Chelsea run out against Liverpool, May 1991. Copyright: John Ingledew
John Ingledew at the back of The Shed, 1984/85 season. 

Fan and photojournalist John Ingledew has followed every kick along the way. From just off Chelsea’s fashionable King’s Road to kings of Europe, John’s pictures tell the story.

Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
The Shed End. Chelsea vs Oldham Athletic, 1982. Copyright: John Ingledew

For 25 years and beyond John Ingledew has focussed on the fans as the club’s roller coaster existence saw them plummet out of the top tier of the English game, down into mid table obscurity in the division below, then all the way back up again.

That led to the publication of his book, And Now Are You Going To Believe Us, a photographic record of the fans who witnessed the club’s transformation into champions of Europe.

Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
The West Stand steps, 1990. Copyright: John Ingledew

Chelsea were packed with flair when John first started taking his camera to matches in the 1970s. Alan Hudson was John’s favourite, and he and his teammates had Stamford Bridge buzzing.

“I’d always been a Chelsea fan,” he says, “and living in Battersea you could hear the crowd when a goal went in.”

Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Fans in the Matthew Harding Lower Stand, 2000. Copyright: John Ingledew
The Shed Terrace, 1980. Chelsea, Stamford Bridge
The Shed Terrace, 1980. Copyright: John Ingledew

“I understood what it was like to be a fan and I was photographing as a participant rather than an outsider.”

John Ingledew
The Shed End, 1990. Chelsea, Stamford Bridge
The Shed End, 1990. Copyright: John Ingledew

Everything clicked into place when his photography tutors at college encouraged him to take pictures of whatever was on his doorstep. Those Chelsea fans fitted the bill, and what’s more, John was one of them.

Stewards often quizzed him about his camera, but although once confiscating his Doc Martens boot laces, they let him go about his business. “I understood what it was like to be a fan and I was photographing as a participant rather than an outsider”.

Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Fan at Selhurst Park. Wimbledon 2 – 1 Chelsea, December 1998. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Chelsea vs Leeds United, Stamford Bridge, 1984. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea promoted. Some people are on the pitch... Chelsea 5-0 Leeds United, 1984. Chelsea, Stamford Bridge
Chelsea promoted. Some people are on the pitch… Chelsea 5-0 Leeds United, 1984. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Tiers of joy. The East Stand celebrates promotion to the Canon League Division One. Chelsea 5 – 0 Leeds United, 1984. Copyright: John Ingledew

“I’d always been a Chelsea fan and living in Battersea you could hear the crowd when a goal went in.”

John Ingledew
DJ Carl Chapman plays the Liquidator DJ booth in the East Stand, 1999. Chelsea, Stamford Bridge
DJ Carl Chapman plays the Liquidator, DJ booth in the East Stand, 1999. Copyright: John Ingledew
The East Stand facilities, 1990. Chelsea, Stamford Bridge
The East Stand facilities, 1990. Copyright: John Ingledew

Any good photographer is always at the ready for the unexpected and one such moment gave John a prized picture. Back in 1991 stewards would open a gate 20-30 minutes before the end to allow the first few early departures, giving chancers the opportunity of sneaking in for free for the closing stages. John intended to photograph them, but instead was transfixed by a line of fans glued to the action and framed by the tunnel and the floodlights.

Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
The Shed End, Bovril Gate Terrace. Chelsea 2 – 0 Queens Park Rangers, 1991. Copyright: John Ingledew

No women, no kids, no replica kits, no seats. “Just men standing in the elements,” said John.

“It made for a strong,  brutal composition”.

John’s photographic instinct preserved that sliver of time, when it could easily have been one of those moments missed.

“Sometimes you look at a possible photo and think I won’t bother taking that, it doesn’t seem important. That was almost one of those”.

Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur. Stamford Bridge, 1990.
Chelsea vs Tottenham Hotspur. Stamford Bridge, 1990. Copyright: John Ingledew

“Football was quite unfashionable in the 70s and 80s. You could be on the dole and still go to a game. Then suddenly Gazza cried and everybody was interested…”

John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Fanzine seller. Fulham Road, 2004. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Fans at Old Trafford. Manchester United 2 -3 Chelsea, 1990. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Pauline. Fulham Road, 1983. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Pauline. Clapham, 1998. Chelsea. Copyright: John Ingledew

What began as a “personal project” took on a whole new meaning once Gazza’s tears and England’s World Cup Italia 1990 exploits completely transformed the game, raising its profile from the unfashionable 70s and 80s.

Chelsea dropped down a division, then hauled themselves back.

Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
A date in The Shed End. FA Cup third round. Chelsea 0 – 0 Barnet, 1994. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
A Chelsea wedding. Stamford Bridge, 2000. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Restricted view. 1998. Copyright: John Ingledew
A Chelsea funeral. Headington, Oxford, 2002.
A Chelsea funeral. Headington, Oxford, 2002. Copyright: John Ingledew

Then in came Jose Mourinho and with the backing of Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich Chelsea had lift off, their resurgence culminating in winning the Premier League in 2005 and 2006.

Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Wembley Way. FA Cup Final day, 1997. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Baker Street station. FA Cup Final day 1997. Copyright: John Ingledew
The dressing room at Highbury. Champions League Quarter final. Arsenal vs Chelsea, Highbury, 2004.
The dressing room at Highbury before the Champions League Quarter Final second leg, 2004. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Tears of joy. Fan cries at the final whistle at Highbury Stadium. Champions League Quarter Final second leg. Arsenal 1 – 2 Chelsea, April 2004. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Fans celebrate Claudio Ranieri’s greatest result as Chelsea take the Clock End. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Wembley way, FA Cup Final day. Chelsea 2 – 0 Middlesbrough, May 1997. Copyright: John Ingledew
Dr Fun with Liverpool Charlie, Kop End, Anfield 2005
Dr Fun with Liverpool Charlie, Kop End, Anfield. Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea, 2005. Copyright: John Ingledew
Defeated fans at Cardiff, May 2002. FA Cup Final, Chelsea 0-2 Arsenal, May 2002.
Defeated fans at Cardiff, May 2002. FA Cup Final, Chelsea 0-2 Arsenal, May 2002. Copyright: John Ingledew

John Ingledew, the football fan, relished the access his passion for photography gained him, once sitting behind Mourinho among the substitutes, alongside Didier Drogba, happily snapping away as Chelsea piled on still more points in their quest to rule England, and then Europe.

Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Fans in Drake’s bar at Stamford Bridge watch Micheal Owen take a penalty during live TV broadcast of a Liverpool vs Chelsea game. Liverpool 1 – 0 Chelsea, October 1999. Copyright: John Ingledew

He lit up a celebratory cigar in the bar at Bolton when Chelsea clinched their first title in 50 years. 

They had finally succeeded, and so has John Ingledew. His book, And Now Are You Going To Believe Us, has the pictures to prove it.

Gianfranco Zola, 2002. Chelsea, Stamford Bridge
The Greatest: Gianfranco Zola, 2002. Copyright: John Ingledew
Frank Lampard bursts out of the tunnel at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea 3-1 Leeds United, 2003.
Frank Lampard bursts out of the tunnel at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea 3-1 Leeds United, 2003. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Frank Lampard congratulates Eidur Gudjohnsen after scoring against West Ham in the Premier League. Matthew Harding Stand End. Chelsea 5 – 1 West Ham, January 2002. Copyright: John Ingledew

“One thing though, that all fans know: it is the fans that make every club unique, you are a fan of your club for life. Players and managers come and go. And so do owners too.”

John Ingledew
Chelsea Fans on the ferry en-route to the Champions League game in Rotterdam. Feyenoord 1-3 Chelsea, March 2000.
Fans on the ferry en-route to the Champions League game in Rotterdam. Feyenoord 1-3 Chelsea, March 2000. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Fans display their new signings, Harlington, 2002. Copyright: John Ingledew
Chelsea book. And Now Are You Going To Believe Us: John Ingledew
Stamford the Lion welcomes Newcastle United fans to The Bridge. Chelsea 1 – 0 Newcastle, September 1999. Copyright: John Ingledew

A selection of John’s photographs are available as high quality prints through Lower Block.

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