Celery Throwing: A Chelsea Tradition

Chelsea fans' celery tradition
Chelsea fans have been throwing celery onto the field since the 1980s. Getty Images

One of English soccer’s weirder traditions is the Chelsea fans’ ritual of throwing celery onto the field of play.

Accompanied by a rather rude song, this peculiar act has been occurring on matchdays since the 1980s. As with many traditions, there is some debate as to how it started.

Questionable Origins

Some claim renowned Chelsea fan Mickey Greenaway (now deceased) heard the song and started singing it at Stamford Bridge. Others argue that the fans of lower league club Gillingham started the tradition when celery began growing on their pitch in pre-season.

Either way, this act started in Stamford Bridge’s “Shed End,” with fans pelting players with celery as they took corner kicks.

Ban Imposed

Five supporters were arrested after throwing the vegetable at Villa Park in April 2002 during an FA Cup semi-final victory over neighbors Fulham. The fans, who all pleaded guilty to throwing celery, avoided a ban and saw their charges subsequently withdrawn after the defense successfully argued that it had been a tradition among Chelsea supporters for more than 20 years.

In 2007 Chelsea released a statement warning that any fan found bringing celery into the ground would be refused entry and anyone caught throwing it risked a ban from Stamford Bridge. A few weeks earlier the Carling Cup final against Arsenal had to be stopped while celery was cleared from the field.

Although celery isn't seen around Stamford Bridge so much these days, it can still be seen when Chelsea fans travel to away fixtures, meaning clubs hosting the Blues are not spared this bizarre ritual.