Tales From The Fulham Road

Chelsea vs. Liverpool : 26 October 2008.

So, the match report I was hoping I would never have to write.

But let’s not be too down-hearted. Think back on those 86 games and I think I can remember a few where we were a little lucky to escape with this beautiful record intact. How about being 0-2 down against Villa last year – or United just a few games ago? I personally think that this record will stand forever. It will go down in the record books as one of the great records, akin to DiMaggio’s 56 games hitting streak.

So, let’s take a moment to look back in wonder on this record – and a grateful word of appreciation to every Chelsea player involved.

Thank you.

The gang of five left Frome at 9am and, via a coffee stop on the A303, we were in the café for 11am. A horrible rainy old day in deepest London. The news about Harry Redknapp jumping ship and joining Spurs was the main topic of conversation. I was amazed, but – after a few moments – it makes sense. How far further could he take Pompey? I like Redknapp to be honest, but this will have to be put on hold while he is at Tottenham for a year or two.

We trudged the few yards to The Goose. Only time for three pints this time – another reason why I yean for 3pm kick-offs. One of these days, maybe when the match report is of a particularly poor game, I will go into some length about my closest CFC mates, about how we all met up.

Let’s have a roll-call though.

Frank, Andy and Mark were already in The Goose. The Frome Five ( Dave and Karen, Glenn, Paul and myself ) arrived, soon to be joined by Daryl, Simon and Milo, Rob, Walnuts and Gary. Plus there are a few Goose regulars we know, but not really in our crew…Dutch Mick and his mates Nish and Gary, Zigger Zagger Martin and his lot, Alan and Bob from Eastleigh, plus a few we “nod” to, but don’t really hang out with. A simple “alright mate” is enough in some cases. It’s a good crowd. Many a happy hour has been spent within those four walls. It has been our regular at Chelsea since we moved out of The Harwood in about 1999. And it’s cheap. A round of four pints cost me just over £9.

On Friday afternoon at work, Daryl, Alan, Andy ( oh – one of the Nuneaton lot, some six or seven strong, but they frequent another pub ) and myself were having a great email session at work. Like me, Daryl appreciates the significance of the 1983-84 “Silver Jubillee”. He, too, has a great memory for Chelsea facts and figures. However, on this occasion music and not football was the topic as we discussed the music that was in the charts 25 years ago. I correctly guessed that “Karma Chameleon” was at number one, but then the email thread hopped about all over the place. Some fifty emails later, we departed for our respective homes, but our memories of that 1983-84 season had been refreshed by the kaleidoscope of musical memories from 1983.

Music and football – the twin staples that got us British males through our teenage years.

Anyway, this discussion was continued in the boozer, along with a colourful discussion on the terrace fashions of that time, inaugurated by the presence of Glenn’s new pink Robe Di Kappa polo-shirt.

Damn, the time flew past and it was time to get ourselves to the game. Sometimes you just wish these pre-match chats could go on forever.

The rain had continued unfortunately. Into the ground and we wondered what fates lay ahead.

I guess you all saw the game. I think that Liverpool, as the away team, deserved the win. Too much of our approach play was laboured, but Liverpool did not make it easy for us with a packed midfield. Again, I thought John Obi Mikel played very well – our best player. But too many players underperformed – Deco, Malouda and Kalou especially.

Gerrard bossed the midfield as much as it hurts me to admit it.

I met up with Pete from San Francisco again at half-time…his season ticket seats are in the back row of the MHU in the next section over. We were a bit disgruntled to say the least. He has promised me that he will get involved with the CIA site and will try to get his little gang of West Coast Ex-Pats involved too. They were at all of the California games last summer. He comes over a few times each season and will be back again for the West Ham home game before Christmas.

We had a lot of possession over the course of the whole game, but how many times did we really threaten? Liverpool’s shots on goal seemed to be nearer the mark.

Our support was very poor.

Hardly heard The Shed Singing Section. And I swear that the 12,000 in the West Stand never sang once. Pitiful. We clearly dislike Liverpool, but I – for one – won’t join in with the “Murderers” or “You Killed Your Own Fans” chants which get louder and louder every time we play them. Whoever was responsible for Hillsborough ( and the Liverpool fans do not come out blameless ), I feel it dishonours the dead and does nothing for us as football supporters. Just my opinion. Please respect it.

So, the game drifted away from us. The Scousers were singing. We were silent.

The final whistle and – for the first time since February 2004, a home league defeat. I wonder how my mate Russ feels ( he is on holiday in NYC and Vegas this week and rarely misses ANY home games ). He will be thinking it’s all down to him.

I spotted Daryl queueing up for a burger along the Fulham Road.

“See you at Hull.”

“Yes, mate.”

I texted a few people – got my “congratulations” in first to a couple of Liverpool fans. Glenn and me were very philosophical about the defeat. Let’s not be too downhearted. I texted Teri in LA with a comment about Rudyard Kipling’s wonderful poem “If “ and I love the lines about “treating the two imposters the same!”

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Back to Frome at 6pm, just in time for five-a-side. As fate had it, three Liverpool fans were on the opposing team and I did my best to “out-skill” them.

I did OK.

Hull on Wednesday will be a corker.

Let’s move on.

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