The maiden Women’s FA Community Shield in 12 years will be the first ever staged at Wembley Stadium. However, Emma Hayes’ side, who take on Manchester City in Saturday’s showpiece, have already become regulars at the national stadium in recent years…
From Wheatsheaf Park and Kingsmeadow to Wembley, Chelsea Women have kept the Blue flag flying high at English football’s most famous ground since it began welcoming FA Cup finalists of both sexes in 2015.
We have so far appeared in three of the five Wembley women’s finals: the inaugural edition against Notts County and double derbies against Arsenal. We won two of them, scoring four goals and conceding twice. Here we recall these big occasions…
1-0 v Notts County (2015)
Like our upcoming meeting with Man City, Chelsea’s first trip to Wembley took place in August. The Blues were well on track for lifting our first Women’s Super League title in nearly its last summer season – but we had yet to win a major trophy and were still scarred by defeat to Birmingham City on penalties three years previously.
At Ashton Gate in 2012, we were underdogs making our debut in an FA Cup final, whereas Wembley in 2015 was a different story. This time, our opponents, Notts County, were the first-timers – and we had the burden of being the favourites for the highest-profile fixture in the modern history of the English women’s game.
As on the men’s side back in 2007, the first women’s final at the new Wembley belonged to the Blues. Again, it was our centre-forward who made the difference with a superb performance befitting of the big stage.
Eniola Aluko, who by then had switched allegiances from Birmingham City, inspired us to victory as we clinched our first piece of competitive silverware, setting up a domestic Double. She brought Chelsea to life in the 10 minutes before half-time, coming close twice herself before playing in Ji So-Yun for the decisive goal.
0-1 v Arsenal (2016)
Chelsea returned to Wembley within nine months, entering an elite group of clubs who have reached back-to-back FA Cup finals. Unfortunately, we were unable to consolidate our success from the year before.
Though we had beaten Arsenal convincingly in the league at Meadow Park three weeks earlier, on this occasion, the north Londoners proved their cup pedigree. The Gunners took the lead on 18 minutes through Danielle Carter, concluding a fine solo run, and despite our best efforts, they managed to hold onto it.
Our 2015 matchwinner Ji came close to volleying home a second massive Wembley goal with 20 minutes remaining, taking us inches away from a potentially game-changing equaliser. Gemma Davison also posed a persistent danger against her former club, and substitute Bethany England saw several shots blocked.
Arsenal defended for their lives and gave their in-form goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal the protection she needed against our attacking line-up, which was the top scoring across the WSL campaign. Even the most partisan Chelsea supporter would probably admit that our rivals deserved their victory – but only this once.
3-1 v Arsenal (2018)
Two years later, the tide turned. Chelsea had added to our 2015 Double with the one-off Spring Series in 2017 and were fighting off Man City for our second league title, which we wrapped up soon after our third Wembley visit. But our powerful, proficient display to take revenge on Arsenal was still a standout achievement.
After a quiet first half, Ramona Bachmann broke the deadlock shortly after the break and added a second on the hour-mark with two superbly taken strikes. Vivianne Miedema pulled one back for the Gunners on 72 minutes, which gave them a moment of hope until Fran Kirby put the Cup final to bed with another clinical finish.
The outcome completed a remarkable season for Kirby, who was crowned both PFA Women’s Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year for her prolific performances, as well as her starring role in our push to the Women’s Champions League semi-finals, confirming what we knew to be her world-class credentials.
At the other end of her career, it was a wonderful farewell for our retiring captain Katie Chapman, who secured a record-breaking 10th winners’ medal, almost exactly 21 years since she won her first aged just 14.
And the comfortable win was a relief for our manager, who braved the Wembley bench while she was 33-weeks pregnant and clung on to celebrate with the squad she created as we picked up our second FA Cup.
While our past three finals have been played in front of a crowd totalling more than 100,000 supporters – many of those sporting Blue – this weekend’s event will, of course, be very different. Yet, when the Community Shield kicks off at 12.30pm (UK time) on Saturday, the Chelsea world will be watching Wembley once again.
The fixture is being broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.