Following on from our recent blog on Premier League football in London, in which we told you how to watch Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, we thought we’d shine a light on some of the capital’s less internationally-known clubs. West Ham, Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace may not currently grace the upper echelons of the EPL table, but watching a game at any of their historic London grounds will provide plenty of edge-of-the-seat football action – not to mention affordable last-minute tickets.
Affectionately known as the ‘Hammers’, West Ham are an East London club that have been playing the beautiful game since the turn of the 20th century. They are preparing for a move to the state-of-the-art Olympic Stadium in Stratford for the upcoming 2016-2017 season. But for now, you’ll find them in their longtime home, the Boleyn Ground – also known as Upton Park – In East London.
As hardcore fans flock here to bid farewell to the club, the demand for tickets is high, so you’ll have to book in advance on their website. If you do nab a ticket for a home game, refuel after with a bite to eat at Cassettari’s or Ken’s cafes – firm favourites for a post-game snack. Or join football-mad Londoners in the Black Lion pub in Plaistow, where you can revel in all the excitement of the matchday atmosphere. When you want to return to Strand Palace, take a westbound District line Tube to Embankment station.
Queens Park Rangers (QPR) are a professional West London club with a long football legacy. The team was founded in 1882 and went through a string of different home grounds, before settling in the current 18,000-capacity Loftus Road location in 1917. Tickets for QPR fixtures can be purchased through their website and the stadium can be easily reached from Strand Palace Hotel by taking the Central line from Holborn to White City.
The bars of nearby Uxbridge Road in Shepherd’s Bush are a stronghold for QPR fans both pre- and post-game, and are a great place to catch a big match. Away fans, however, are better off heading to neutral ground. If you’re based at Strand Palace Hotel, consider the Round House pub in Covent Garden, a five-minute walk from Strand Palace Hotel, or the nearby Coal Hole, both of which may screen QPR matches.
South of the Thames, Crystal Palace Football Club have a dedicated following. The team was founded in 1905 and takes its name from a huge glass and iron exhibition building that failed to survive the 20th century. Nowadays, their home ground is the 26,000-capacity Selhurst Park, which was built in the early 1920s. Tickets for games at Selhurst Park can be purchase online.
Among the upcoming Crystal Palace home fixtures is one against Hull City on 25 April and a showdown with mighty Manchester United on 9 May. Popular matchday pubs near the home ground in Croydon include Flora Sandes and the Railway Telegraph – both of which welcome away supporters as well as the Palace faithful. To get to Selhurst from Strand Palace Hotel, take the District line from Embankment to Victoria, then catch a train to Thornton Heath.
Strand Palace Hotel makes a great base for a football getaway to London, with direct connections to major stadiums and a host of nearby sports bars.