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Chelsea FC | Life Without Roman Abramovich

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Chelsea fans have been there before, and lifelong fan and photojournalist John Ingledew has followed every kick along the way.

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
John Ingledew at the back of The Shed, 1984/85 season. 

His 25 year photographic record of Chelsea captures the spirit of the club in the days before the Abramovich Billions helped propel the club to the very summit of the game.

Although not all plain sailing in those early days, big name players and managers were already bringing Stamford Bridge to its feet, and the arrival of Roman, super yachts and all, triggered a full on assault on every piece of silverware available.

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

“The Roman years have of course been absolutely brilliant for every Chelsea fan,” says John Ingledew.

“One thing though, that all fans know: it is the fans that make every club unique. Players and managers come and go.

“And so do owners too.”

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

For 25 years and beyond, Ingledew has focused on those fans as the club’s roller coaster existence saw them plummet out of the top tier, down into mid table obscurity and all the way back up again.

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

His pictures bring it all back to life, but also provide more than a hint that Chelsea were all ready well on their way long before Abramovich took the financial helm.

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

“One thing though, that all fans know: it is the fans that make every club unique. Players and managers come and go. And so do owners too.”

John Ingledew
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

Gianfranco Zola was banging in the goals, Frank Leboeuf was sweeping up at the back, and young fans wore their names face painted on their faces in tribute, captured for posterity by 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

The money was already being spent to assemble a squad more than capable of challenging for trophies, £15m for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink banked by Atletico Madrid proof of Chelsea’s commitment to challenging at the top.

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
At the Bridge. Copyright: John Ingledew

Chelsea’s trophy haul since then, and in the period Abramovich has been involved, has been staggering.

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

As Ingledew says: “WWIA! is the sign-off to many a text between Blues fans.

We’ve Won It All”.

“It used to be traditional that successful businessmen owned their local football club’ he said, “but like many traditions greed and a total lack of any sensible regulation brought things to an end.

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

“Dodgy regimes, porn barons and the opaquely mega-wealthy were all waved-through to buy our English football clubs. All fans were powerless in this. 

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

“One thing though –that all fans know – it’s 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 club owners too. 

Photographer John Ingledew is a lifelong Chelsea FC fan, he is the author of two books of photographs about the club, AND NOW ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE US and A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE.

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
Tunnel vision. Chelsea run out against Liverpool, May 1991. 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
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

“It’s the fans that make every club unique, you are a fan of your club for life.”

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

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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