After 50 years and £250m, the Blues are a side that can eclipse Sloane Rangers

Chelsea are finally champions again, and unleash celebrations among both the smart set and the street set
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The Independent Online

Chelsea, the club that has always mixed London attitude with the most fashionable of followings, reached the pinnacle of English football yesterday when they won the Premiership by beating Bolton 2-0.

Chelsea, the club that has always mixed London attitude with the most fashionable of followings, reached the pinnacle of English football yesterday when they won the Premiership by beating Bolton 2-0.

Their achievement, fuelled by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's money, Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho's guile, and the applied talents of some of the most valuable players in the world, comes 50 years after their only title win and precisely a century after their foundation.

Immediately a series of celebrations, both on the pitch, and several hundred miles to the south around Chelsea's Stamford Bridge ground, were uncorked. The importance of Abramovich, who has invested an estimated £250m into this club in two years, was underlined when, some 20 minutes after the end of the game, he took to the field with some of his prize purchases to accept the acclaim of the crowd. When, some time and many toasts later, the players were eventually ready to leave, the fans surrounded the team bus still cheering wildly. Striker Didier Drogba and midfielder Joe Cole responded by climbing through the skylight to dance on the roof of the bus, much to the joy of the fans - and the consternation of the coaching staff.

The scene around the Stamford Bridge ground was similar in exuberance, if not in personnel. The streets nearby were was awash with cheers, flag waving and whistle blowing as jubilant supporters flooded out of pubs in their hundreds to celebrate the victory, which came after two goals by the England midfielder Frank Lampard.

At the Shed Bar in Chelsea Village, one lifelong fan who could remember Chelsea's only other league title five decades ago, wiped tears from her eyes. "I never thought I'd live long enough to see them win it again,'' said 63-year-old Jackie Yates. "I've stood here in the pouring rain over the years, watching them play teams like York City - and now they've won the Premiership.''

Phil Smith, 37, who has been supporting the Blues for more than 20 years, said: "We've earned this. We've been waiting for weeks for it to finally happen and now it has. Everybody says it's about Abramovich's money but it's not; it's about Jose Mourinho and a splendid group of players who believe in each other.''

This success was a world away from that achieved in these parts in 1955, when a team of players including amateurs and ex-servicemen won the old First Division trophy, famously celebrating with a pot of tea and a plate of cheese sandwiches. Instead, the Fulham Road came to a standstill as blue-shirted fans drank beer in the street, sang and hugged strangers. Outside the Tube station, one group commandeered a passing bin lorry, and bare-chested fans danced on its roof.

Chelsea have already won the League Cup, and on Tuesday have an opportunity to reach the final of the European Champions League when they play Liverpool in the second leg of the semi-final, having drawn 0-0 at Stamford Bridge last week. Heady stuff for a club that always used to be perpetual bridesmaids to the Liverpools, Arsenals, Manchester Uniteds and Evertons.

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