Sadly, coordinated chants are an element sorely lacking in American sports. No shortage of academic and casual fan attention has been devoted to the sing-song among soccer fans, but here’s an interesting bit of trivia: One particular Chelsea chant has led to a produce ban of sorts.
And that isn’t a typo: The chant didn’t “produce a ban” it led to the banning of a particular sort of produce inside the gates of Stamford Bridge.
Confused? Blues’ supporters “Celery” chant is as short as it is bizarre and obscene. If you’re unfamiliar, acquaint yourself with the video below (NSFW, unless your coworkers/boss enjoys food play). Also, probably not an advisable practice in the bedroom, if you’re wondering.
The bawdy chant, which traces its origins to the 1980s, has led some big thinkers to bring the vegetable to the pitch. Pretty obvious sequence of events, right?
Also predictably, stalks of the stuff soon began finding their way onto the field of play, particularly in the rowdy Shed End of the Stamford Bridge—and often hurled at opponents taking corner kicks. But hey, it’s much better than getting a pig head hurled at you, ala Luis Figo.
Things escalated when in 2002, in an FA Cup duel with Fulham, five fans were actually arrested for throwing celery. The charges were summarily dropped as the defense argued that throwing celery was a long-standing tradition among supporters of the club. Not sure exactly how that makes the behavior more defensible, but you have to admire the lawyer’s resourcefulness.
Unfortunately, the heroic defense didn’t give fans carte blanche to fling the veggie. On the contrary, the Chelsea brass hardly approved, however, as they made clear in a 2007 statement on the club’s website following a few referees’ official reports of the pitch disruption via salad ingredient.
“The throwing of anything at a football match, including celery, is a criminal offence for which you can be arrested and end up with a criminal record. In future, if anyone is found attempting to bring celery into Stamford Bridge they could be refused entry and anyone caught throwing celery will face a ban.”
Even better, the club encouraged fans to be celery snitches, setting up a hotline to report any fans with celery in their possession and promising to treat all calls “in confidence.” Not sure if that hotline is still in effect, but if you’re, say, the type of person who likes to phone in rules violations when watching golf on T.V., you’ll definitely want to look it up.
While the Celery chant can be traced to the 1980s, the specifics of its origin are debatable. Some think Chelsea superfan Mickey Greenaway merely heard the song elsewhere and introduced it to his fellow faithful. Others think League One side Gillingham’s fans conceived the chant after their pitch was populated by celery stalks for a time. Either way, like so many chants, it makes very little sense, but is an important thread in the tapestry of supporter behavior.
Remember: Don’t bring celery to Stamford Bridge, unless you want to suffer the consequences!