Tales From London Town

Chelsea vs. Aston Villa : 5 October 2008.

To start, let’s not forget – 86 Home League Games Without Defeat.

This was a great team performance.

Left a cold and wet Frome at 9am. The talk in the car on the way to London was dominated by Paul and Dave voicing concerns about their jobs…they are both working on “the tarmac” and my home town has many “Boys From The Blackstuff” as Somerset’s limestone quarries are close by. A few local gangs are going under it seems. The awful wet weather outside mirrored the gloomy mood in the car – economic worries for sure, but also worries about a competent Villa team beating us. Even a few comments about the game taking place at all – the rain was lashing down. We all remembered a game from autumn 1998 – also against Villa – that was called off at 2.15pm. We hoped and prayed the game would go ahead.

Karen pulled into our parking spot at 11am…then into The Caff for a fry-up. The five of us from Frome were soon joined by five more West Country Blues, from Trowbridge this time.

Then the short walk to The Goose for 11.30pm…the troops slowly arrived one by one. It was a good sesh. I had five pints of lager and Rob bought me a sambuca. Rob had been over in Cluj and had spotted the photos of the boys on the Cluj website…

http://www.sport365.ro/Suporterii_echip … 12622.html

Popped over to have a few words with Dutch Mick. He was over in Cluj too and reckoned that only around 600 Chelsea were at the game. He confirmed that a good time was had by all – he won at the local casino, so was in pocket on the trip. Spoke to one of his mates, from Huddersfield, and we happened to mention a sad incident from that 1983-84 season ( which I am keen to shoe-horn into my current reports as you know. ) In October 1983, Chelsea were towards the top of the Second Division and played a game at Huddersfield Town’s old Leeds Road ground. At the end of the game, a young Chelsea fan, Richard Aldridge, was attacked with a pool cue and very sadly died. I attended the next home game ( versus Cardiff City ) and remember the minute silence held in his honour. The Cardiff game was my first ever sighting of Pat Nevin in Chelsea blue…anyway, mixed memories from 1983. Let’s not always view the past with blue-tinted spectacles.

My good mate Alan arrived and he told a few stories of the Cluj trip too. A few of you have met Alan ( have known him since 1984 – yep, that season again! ) and he has been a regular in the gym all summer. The Big Man is now looking a lot slimmer and looking great. He was modelling a new Stoney pullover and was in good form.

There was such laughter in the pub – everyone giving as good as they got. The Carlings were going down well. We watched as West Ham lost 3-1 at home.

Good times.

I had been in contact with CIA founder member Mike ( dutter44 ) who has been living in the UK for about a year. After living in Edinburgh, he has been down in London for a while. I realised on Saturday that we were yet to meet up…to be honest, we have only ever met once before, on the double-decker in Chicago and probably only said a few words then. Anyway, he found his way to the pub and arrived at about 2.15pm ( far too late, Mike, you must do better next time! ) and we had a good old natter, both in the boozer and on the walk to the ground…thankfully the rain had subsided. Mike and myself barely touched the surface – think we were both aware that he is going to love this season ( he has a season ticket the jammy get! ) and I have already said he needs to come with us, the Bada Bing Firm, for an away game. Looks like about ten of us are doing West Brom away in November. Mike is a Yankee fan too, so be sure we’ll be yakking about The Bronx Bombers on our next pre-match. Something to look forward to.

I was surprised that Villa only brought 1,500 away fans. All teams are offered 3,000 tickets at Chelsea. Considering they were flying high in the league, I was amazed they only took up the smaller allocation.

My grandfather – although more a cricket fan – used to play football for the village team and did tell me that he used to favour Villa and Newcastle as a young man. The reason for Newcastle being that the village rector, with whom he became friends, was from Newcastle. I never got to the bottom of the Villa link. I am sure he never visited Villa Park.

I reminded my mate Glenn that Villa’s John Carew played against us way back in 1999 for the Norwegian team Vaalerenga. Anybody else realise this?

The game? We needn’t have worried about Villa beating us. To use a well-worn Southern Californian phrase, we were awesome.

I thought Frank was immense – as good a game as he has had for ages. He was everywhere, box to box, sublime control and wonderful passes. A real performance for the ages.

Impressed with Mikel too, doing the simple things.

And Ivanovic, covering for Alex in the middle. Funny really – we had concerns about the paucity of our squad, but no worries on this showing. And how well did Ashley Cole play?

A couple of women who sit below us in Row C were featured in the programme. There was a photograph of them in their seats ( and our good friend Tom’s chin was in the background – I asked if he could sign the programme! )

A feature of the programme this year is the players being asked about their home towns ( Alex – Rio, Petr – Prague, etc ) with photos and a brief resume of attractions. Well, it was Scott Sinclair’s turn and a couple of pages were devoted to Bath ( my place of birth too…). He mentioned the Roman Baths, the town’s famous rugby club ( and a famous player, Jeremy Guscott, born in Bath the day after me…wonder if our mothers were in adjacent beds! ) and also the town’s two non-league teams, both playing in the Blue Square South this year. Bath City is long established, but Team Bath is the new upstart, being the university team. In fact I’m watching Team Bath play at Frome Town next Saturday in the FA Cup. Anyway, a good piece on my local city.

Glenn and myself had another pint at half-time ( we rarely do this ), but it was a shame no more goals ensued. The beer took its toll on Glenn – he momentarily dozed off during the last part of the game…Alan and myself were two sniggering schoolboys. It isn’t the first time this has happened, either!

We were over the moon that Hull had won at Tottenham ( what is going on there, eh? Ho ho ho ), not so chuffed about the Mickies at Manchester City.

Definitely a good – no great – day at the office.

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