Chelsea vs. Fulham : 2 May 2009.
I think I am suffering from battle fatigue at the moment. It’s not surprising. Fulham at home was match number fifty for me this season and I think it’s all starting to take its toll.
I even went to a game on Friday evening. My local non-league team, Frome Town, are on the brink of promotion to the Southern League for the first time in their history. My mate Steve tried to round up a few old school friends, but I was the only one who joined him and his two sons Harry ( United ) and Charlie ( Chelsea ) for the game with Bitton. Harry’s claim to fame was being an England mascot at a game in Manchester four years ago – and Frank Lampard was the player he held hands with. Lampard, back in the days when he wasn’t booed by Ingerland’s supporters, even scored a goal that night.
A crowd of around two-hundred watched as Frome scored twice within a five minute period in the first half to beat the champions 2-0. The ex-Southend player Mark Salter even missed a penalty just after the second goal. Salter is a bit of a cult hero at Frome and is The Robins’ highest ever scorer. It wasn’t a bad game…under lights, with the misty rain creating its own particular atmosphere, it was a nice place to be on a Friday evening.
The Frome Five assembled at around 9.15am, but we were met with some bad news. It seems that Dave and Karen are not renewing their Shed Upper season tickets next season. They have recently moved house and I think the “spend” was more than they budgeted. They are doing the FA Cup Final though – we all have tickets. We all overdosed on pig flu’ jokes on the drive up. There was a rugby game on at Twickenham ( what a waste of a Saturday! ) and this held us up somewhat. I spotted that there seemed to be a baseball tournament taking place in the park next to Richmond RFU ground. I even spotted a Yankee fan in a Thurman Munson shirt…respect!
You all know the score by now – we parked up at 11.30am, a breakfast and straight around the corner to The Goose. This was yet another manic pre-match, with me meeting many Americans in the boozer. For those that are new to this website, maybe some people are wondering why I contribute to this site. Without wishing to go into my whole bloody life story, I first visited North America in 1989 and love going back. I know New York, St Augustine in Florida and the Asheville area in North Carolina very well. Chelsea toured America in 2004 and, at first, I was unable to afford to go. However, thanks to being left some money in a will, I decided to go to the Roma game in Pittsburgh in that year. I really do have to thank my aunt Julie for leaving me that money. It has since opened up my Chelsea-supporting life and has been a fantastic experience. I went again in 2005 – games in DC and NJ – but I only really got involved on this site just before the 2006 trip to Chicago. There are around seven or eight UK fans ( Mark, Cathy, Mo, Ian, Kevin, Anna and myself… maybe some more ) that have been to most of these US tours and I love being able to pass on my passion to new people. You might have guessed.
We arrived in The Goose bang on midday and the first people to great me were Pete ( “PJK” ) and Becky from San Francisco. I first met Pete on the coach back from the Suwon game in LA in 2007. He’s a season ticket holder, despite having lived in America for twenty years or more. He comes over a few times each season. Parky was in the pub with the Trowbridge boys and I reintroduced him to Pete, who he last met for the Roma home game last autumn. I walked out into the beer garden and briefly chatted to Rob about Barcelona. The beer garden was drenched in sun and had never been more packed.
As I got the beers in, I spotted Jenni ( “bluebelle” ) and Mo ( “shovelgirl” ) and – after a few words – the girls were directed to our section of the beer garden. Alan, Daryl, Ed, Glenn, The Youth, Seb, Andy, Lovejoy, Chopper, Gary, Simon, Tim, Georgie and what seemed like a million others were milling around, drinking and laughing. Jenni had sat next to Alan and Gary in Barcelona. I was aware that Andy ( “wrayman” )from the OC Chapter was in town for one game, but I think he stayed close to The Bridge. I texted Beth ( #26 ) a few times, but didn’t meet her this time.
Simon arrived, minus his son Milo, who came in for a scathing attack from us all.
“Typical fair-weather JCL Chelsea fan…as soon as we are out of the league, off he goes paintballing – disgraceful.”
Milo is eleven.
We all laughed.
Next to arrive was Brian from LA, who I met in 2007 too. He is originally from Belfast and has a “Norn Iron” / London / LA accent…he had just flown in during the morning and was pumped. He’s over for The Specials too. He posts on the board as “cfcshed65”. On another walk to the bar, I detected a few American accents amongst a group of around seven sat quietly at a table. Before I knew it, Parky was ploughing straight in and it transpired that “comeonyoublues” was at the head of the table and so I introduced myself to his little group and welcomed them all to The Goose. They were all from the DC area, so I asked if they were going to the Baltimore game. The four chaps were, but not so sure about the three ladies, one of whom I had to correct –
“Football, not soccer!”
Before I knew it, the DC lot and Brian had all left to acquire their match tickets and I was able to spend a bit more time with Jenni and Mo. Then, the time came for them to leave.
Daryl, Parky and myself were the last to leave the pub at 2.40pm – we would be cutting it fine for sure. As we strolled past Fulham Broadway, we could hardly believe our eyes…two slow-moving police vans, with about fifteen OB on foot, were escorting a mouthy little mob of Fulham fans. They numbered no more than twenty-five and were certainly enjoying their five minutes of fame. No doubt they told of this to all of their school friends by text.
“Yeah – we walked right through. Chelsea didn’t want to know.”
What a lovely free-flowing move which lead to Anelka’s first league goal in ages. Just a shame I was still climbing the last of the stairs when it was scored! Yep – I missed it. I don’t miss many.
As I sat down next to Alan, I shared his surprise at the strength of team we put out…very surprising indeed. “I hope Guus knows what he’s doing.” Before I had a chance to get my camera out, Fulham equalised with a shot which Cech really should have saved. The 3,000 away fans roared their approval.
A lovely sweeping shot from Malouda made it 2-1. Just a shame I was outside in the gents – alone – at the time. Yep – I missed that goal too. I came back with a sheepish grin on myself and quite a few so-called mates were shooing me away
I laughed – I’ve never missed two Chelsea goals in the same game before. Oh boy. This pre-match drinking has a lot to answer for…
This game had the air of a friendly…heaven knows what the game against Blackburn will be like. We played OK, without overdoing it. I had a drink with Brian ( who was sat ten seats away ), Becky and Pete in “Dixons” at half-time…but sadly Andy wasn’t spotted. Next time, mate!
At last I saw a Chelsea goal, with that inch-perfect pass from Anelka to set up Drogba. We were well deserving of our three points. The Fulham fans made a bit of noise. Let’s hope we make a hell of a lot more noise against Barca. After a little bit of Fulham banter, the MHU replied with –
“ You never won fuck all!”
Call me a pedant, but this really annoys me – this is a double negative and it grates every damn time I hear it. It should be – roll on drums…
“You’ve always win fuck all!”
On the walk out of the ground, I found myself next to a young Fulham kiddie and he was talking to his mate.
“Yeah, really poor Chelsea support.”
“Well, at least we don’t need thunder sticks mate.”
He bristled with annoyance at me upsetting his applecart and blatantly lied…
“We don’t have thunder sticks.”
Footnote – I got back to Frome at 7.30pm, but soon drove over to Judy’s home town of Westbury for a party at the old railway social club, opposite Westbury train station. The train station was where I used to depart for Chelsea back in those heady days of 1983-84 and was recently featured in the “hoolie porn” flick “Green Street” ( in the guise of Macclesfield train station, for some reason. )
There you go – obligatory 1983-84 reference completed.