Celery, or Apium graveolens, is a plant species in the family Apiaceae. There has been a long standing tradition of Celery being thrown at Stamford Bridge (and plenty of other venues where Chelsea end up playing) from atleast 1980s, accompanied with the saucy, somewhat bawdy, vintage chant. The chant predates the throwing of celery by fans.
Here goes the chant:
If she don’t cum,
I’ll tickle her bum,
With a lump of celery.
The song generally gets bawdier as fans get more drunk.
My old mum,
said tickle her bum,
with a stick of celery.
my old mum,
said you can make her cum,
with a stick of celery.
Through the history
In April 2002, four supporters were arrested for throwing the vegetable at Villa Park. The occasion was FA Cup semi-final against neighbors Fulham which ended in a victory for the Blues. The fans, who all pleaded guilty to throwing celery, avoided a ban and saw their charges subsequently withdrawn after the defence successfully argued that it had been a tradition among Chelsea supporters for more than 20 years.
The most high profile occasion was during the Carling Cup final against Arsenal in 2007, when the game was interrupted because of celery tossing.
Consequently, Chelsea were forced to ban it from their ground after the FA launched an investigation following repeated instances of the item being thrown on the pitch. Two referees mentioned Celery being thrown onto the pitch during their official reports of Chelsea matches, while Arsenal’s players complained of being pelted with the vegetable when they tried to take corners during the first half of the Carling Cup final.
Chelsea released a statement reading:
‘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.’
The club provided a number for a hotline that fans could call to report others seen in possession of celery, claiming ‘all calls will be treated in confidence’. Although it is not seen regularly around Stamford Bridge any more, fans love bringing it on their travels and clubs that haven’t done their homework pay the price.
On Chelsea supporters were issued a warning by the UK government which informed them they were not allowed to bring drinks, poles, flares, weapons and Celery in to Sparta Prague’s stadium.
Why do Chelsea supporters love tossing Celery around?
There is no one, definitive, explanation. The club’s official history says the celebratory song began in the early 1980s, partly derived from knees-up number ‘Ask Old Brown’.
The original version goes:
Ask old Brown for tea and all the family,
if he don’t come,
we’ll tickle his bum
with a lump of celery
The version Chelsea fans sing is somewhat cruder.
Another popular version of events is that renowned Chelsea fan Mickey Greenaway (now passed away) started the chant, leading to it being thrown around in the famous Shed End.
Gillingham FC fans claim it was them who started the chant because celery was found growing on their pitch during pre-season and Chelsea fans who visited their stadium brought the chant back to Stamford Bridge.
An lesser known claim is that the song was made up for Chelsea Midfielder, Mike Fillery and the rhyme went : Fillery, Fillery.. if she don’t come i will tickle her bum , with a stick of Celery.
However it came to be, it is now an integral part of Chelsea’s history and Celery tossing often occurs on the road.