Chelsea vs. Sunderland : 1 November 2008.
So – Game Number 701.
The weather was pretty miserable on the drive up from Frome…or “Dodge” ( as in Dodge City ) as a few people now call it…a bit of a Wild West town, we like to think.
It’s the usual drive up to London – through the rugby heartland of SW London, past Twickenham ( England play there ) and the home grounds of Harlequins and London Scottish. As we approach Chelsea, we drive past Queens Club, home of the pre-Wimbledon tennis tournament. We drive along Lillee Road, too – one of the original sites of the F.A.Cup final, way back in the nineteenth century.
I had arranged to rendezvous at the Chelsea Hotel with Bob from Fremont, CA and Jamie from Richmond, VA. We arrived at 11.30am – and I soon spotted Bob outside the Megastore. I had arranged a little treat for Bob and Jamie – Ron Harris used to live near us in the West Country and we got to know him over the last 14 years. I had spoken to him on Tuesday and he was happy to meet them in the hotel bar area. Bob was “in” on this, but Jamie ( this was her first ever Chelsea game ) wasn’t. I waived to Jamie for her to come upstairs to join us.
A “proper” Chelsea welcome!
Glenn and myself chatted to Ron, catching up on a few things, and Bob and Jamie were photographed with Ron. As luck would have it, Bob was able to purchase a Ron Harris testimonial programme from one of the stalls on the Fulham Road – which was duly signed. Ron signed Jamie’s match programme. With these formalities finished, Glenn disappeared off to The Goose, while I popped into the lovely Fox & Pheasant pub, just over the railway bridge. I usually take visitors on a circumnavigation of the ground, pointing out various things, but as the weather was so poor, we headed inside. I did have time to point over to The Butcher’s Hook pub, opposite the main gates, where our club was formed in 1905.
I was kinda falling over myself with “Chelsea Facts” – trying to make Jamie, especially, feel at home. Maybe I should think about pre-printed fact sheets to hand out!
Then the long march down the Fulham Road to Fulham Broadway, then up the North End Road to The Goose. It was packed, everyone squashed together, chatting and drinking. There really is no better place to be. I rentroduced Bob to the members of the Bada Bing Firm, as we humourously ( ? ) call ourselves…Bob had met all of the boys before the ill-fated Carling Cup Final last season. Jamie stayed for one drink, but – not surprisingly – wanted to get inside the ground nice and early. I will be seeing Jamie again at Blackburn and so will be able to bombard her with more Chelsea trivia then!
Bob had been present at the Paul Canoville book signing on Friday and very kindly bought me a signed book. I was well-pleased! I am relishing reading this book – it was shortlisted for the Sports Book Of The Year, but I heard it missed out on the final six. A shame.
Anyway, needless to say that there was the usual barrage of blokey, jokey banter during the two hours ” pre-match.” Bob secured a ticket for the game in Rome on Tuesday – he is travelling out ahead of Alan, Gary and myself, but we are all staying in the same hotel.
Alas, it was soon time to leave the warm confines of the pub. We did up our coats and battled against the elements as we re-traced our steps back towards the ground. I bought Bob the latest copy of CFCUK – an article by Clint Steele struck a chord with me…he requested that we petition the club for a different Chelsea pensioner to lead the team out each week. A fine idea.
As Bob and myself went our seperate ways – “see you in Rome” – he commented that it seemed almost wrong for people to be allowed to have this much fun. I knew exactly what he meant.
I guess you all saw the game. We overpowered Sunderland and completely dominated. Has there ever been a game in which all five Chelsea goals came from virtually inside the six yard box? I have to say, though, after watching the highlights on TV, we did ride our luck…the second goal was offside.
The Shed definitely won the singing – the Matthew Harding seemed quite subdued. I noted a fantastic new banner draped over the Shed balcony…an image of Peter Osgood with the simple message…
“BORN IS THE KING.”
Classy and a lovely tribute.
From a personal perspective, and Alan agreed with me, this game ( once we were 3-0 up ), this seemed like an appetiser ( an anti-pasto ) for the mammoth game in Rome.
Good to see Drogba return.
I took a series of photographs of Frank celebrating his 100th league goal right in front of us. Keep a look out for those on my Facebook page.
Bob texted me ‘training session” and I knew exactly what he meant.
We had heard that the Goons had lost at Stoke – STOKE! As Karen battled against the driving rain on the drive home, Glenn and myself fell asleep in the back seat. I was awoken by the commotion of a Spurs equaliser against Liverpool…only to be bettered by the late winner. Good old Tottenham!
I texted everyone –
“CHELSEA – TOPOTHELEAGUE.”
A lovely result – our goal difference is now superb – and I’m off to Rome on Monday morning.
Life is good. Life is very good.