Following the conclusion today of her final home game in charge of Chelsea Women, Emma Hayes on the screens at Kingsmeadow read out a letter she has written especially for the Blues fans who have followed her team.

For those supporters not present at the match, we have here the opportunity to read the manager’s words…

As I sit down to write this letter to you all, I don’t quite know where to begin, or how I feel. There’s sadness, of course, that in a few short weeks this will all be coming to an end. But every time I think about you – about what we have achieved over the last 12 years, together – I can’t help but smile. Because you made it. You made the experience, this journey that we have been on, far greater than you will ever know. There is nothing more special than the love between a team and its supporters, and I can’t ever thank you enough for what you’ve given us over the years.

I think back to those humble beginnings at Staines. Wheatsheaf Park might seem like a million miles away from what we’ve built at Kingsmeadow, but to me it was the start of something magical. A small, but dedicated, home fanbase quickly became a small travelling army. Those chants we heard at Wheatsheaf Park soon started popping up at Donny. Then Birmingham, Manchester, wherever.

You know I did everything I possibly could to make it the best experience for you, pushing the club to put on buses, even funding trips myself over the years – and plying you with wine gums and mints to keep you sugared up! More than that, I wanted to provide you with a team that’s reflective of you, a diverse group that we can all see ourselves in. One that is proud to represent the badge, that would run through brick walls for each other and do anything to achieve success. Because that’s what you would do for us.

We’ve created so many magical memories together. From the first FA Cup win at Wembley, quickly followed by a first WSL title at Staines, to those early Champions League trips – something special was building, and it’s just gone on and on from there. Honestly, there’s too many highlights for me to list.

When I think of the journey we’ve been on, I cannot imagine what it would have been like without you. We had a taste of that during Covid, and football just wasn’t the same. I feel sad that you weren’t able to be with us for the Champions League semi-final win over Bayern Munich, and I honestly believe it would have been a different experience if you’d been there with us in the final. But to come out of the other side of that with an FA Cup final at Wembley against Arsenal, on a cold afternoon in December, and being together again is something that will always live with me.

I love that you’ve created a community for yourselves, starting at Wheatsheaf Park and then onto Kingsmeadow, which has become like a fortress because of you, and now Stamford Bridge. As we’ve grown, so have you. Wherever we go, you’re there with us in huge numbers, developing your own memories from supporting the team across the country and Europe, over land and sea (and Leicester!). You’ve been amazing to our players throughout that time, and I know you’re going to keep creating memories together long after I’ve gone.

I want to thank you for all the songs, which kept me going so many times on the bench. I especially want to thank you in those losing moments, which fortunately there haven’t been too many of. I always heard you. Always. You show your appreciation for the team no matter the scoreline or how the game has gone. That’s what true fans are.

You’re the lifeblood of this club, the heartbeat, and I think you’ve been the envy of the entire league with the support you’ve given the team. I look forward to being one of you at some point, with Harry alongside me.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making this the experience of a lifetime.